Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day Is For The Chaplains

Today, Veterans Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in other parts of the English-speaking world, is November 11. It is not a coincidence that November 11 was chosen for these celebrations. Because today is also the feast day of Martin of Tours, a cavalryman for Rome and a saint for God. Martin of Tours is the patron saint of soldiers, alcoholics, beggars, and cavalrymen. 

God all powerful,
who called Martin from the armies of this world
to be a faithful soldier of Christ:
give us grace to follow him
in his love and compassion for the needy,
and enable your Church to claim for all people
their inheritance as children of God;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

From Wikipedia:
While Martin was a soldier in the Roman army and deployed in Gaul (modern-day France), he experienced a vision, which became the most-repeated story about his life. One day as he was approaching the gates of the city of Amiens, he met a scantily clad beggar. He impulsively cut his military cloak in half to share with the man. That night, Martin dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak he had given away. He heard Jesus say to the angels: "Martin, who is still but a catechumen, clothed me with this robe." In another version, when Martin woke, he found his cloak restored to wholeness. The dream confirmed Martin in his piety, and he was baptised at the age of 18. 
The part kept by himself became the famous relic preserved in the oratory of the Merovingian kings of the Franks at the Marmoutier Abbeynear Tours. During the Middle Ages, the supposed relic of St. Martin’s miraculous cloak, (cappa Sancti Martini) was carried by the king even into battle, and used as a holy relic upon which oaths were sworn. The cloak is first attested in the royal treasury in 679, when it was conserved at the palatium of Luzarches, a royal villa that was later ceded to the monks of Saint-Denis by Charlemagne, in 798/99. 
The priest who cared for the cloak in its reliquary was called a cappellanu, and ultimately all priests who served the military were called cappellani. The French translation is chapelains, from which the English word chaplain is derived.

Today, Veterans Day, is chaplain's day. It is a day to pray for the spiritual needs of soldiers, and to remember that on the Last Day, no one will be asked if he followed his officer. He will be asked if he followed the Man on a white horse, whose robe is dipped in blood and from whose mouth comes a sharp sword.

A prayer for our chaplains:

O Lord Sabaoth,
Let your chaplains with torn cloaks
Shield your soldiers from the world,
the flesh, and the devil.
Let each man who was born broken
Yield his heart to your sword,
then pick up spear and shovel.

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