Veteran’s Day took on a whole new, significant meaning in my life about seven years ago, when I first met my husband. I’m so proud of his service, and that of so many other family members.
In the Catholic Church, November 11th is also the Feast of Saint Martin of Tours. I didn’t know much about him, either, until I met the Hubs. Martin is one of his favorite saints.
Peter recently wrote this reflection on the life of Saint Martin and his feast day:
Veterans Day is a significant date for Americans. Originally inaugurated to commemorate those who died in service during the First World War, and embroiled in the political conflict between Congressional Republicans and the Democratic President Wilson over the onerous Treaty of Versailles, it has since come to honor all veterans, both living and deceased. The recognition given to these fellow citizens is well-deserved, given the sacrifices they continue to make across the globe during these troubled times.
Yet for Christians there is another reason to celebrate November 11th, and it dovetails beautifully with the secular holiday. This date is the Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, who lived from A.D. 316-397 and is most commonly remembered for cutting his cloak in half to share it with a naked beggar. He also was a soldier with life experiences similar to those of modern veterans. What he chose to do with his talents and experiences, however, established him as a giant of the Faith and a model for future soldiers.
Martin, whose name means “warrior,” was a member of the Praetorian Guard, which would most closely resemble a combination of the modern Secret Service and the Navy Seals. He was born in Hungary, grew up in Italy, and lived in Germany and France. His conversion to Christianity alienated his family and led him to realize that Emperor Julian the Apostate was an unjust ruler. This made him one of the first conscientious objectors in recorded history, although his version, to face the enemy naked and alone and armed only with faith, differs from ours somewhat.
Martin’s zeal for Christ and military knowledge proved a powerful combination. He used his organizational skills to build the oldest monastery in Europe and to create the diocesan system we know today. His operational tempo led him to travel thousands of miles across much of Europe, and his familiarity with danger enabled him to face sadistic brigands, violent pagan shamans, and even Satan himself. His humility led him to seek out reliable friends like St. Hilary and St. Ambrose when combating Arianism or Donatism. His deep faith enabled him to heal illness and raise the dead, and his submission to Divine Will led him to sacrifice his dream of being a hermit in favor of a more active apostolate. …
The organization Fathers for Good is featuring a guest post from Peter today in honor of Veteran’s Day. I hope you go check it out – it’s called Martin on a Mission: Fatherhood Lessons from a Saintly 4th Century Warrior. Armed with the above stories of who Saint Martin was and what he did, it’s easy to see how he is an excellent model for fatherhood and the faith.
Happy Veteran’s Day! And those of you who have served – thank you. Thank you so much.