Today in the Church is the memorial of Saint Martin of Tours. Meanwhile, today in America it also Veterans Day.
Martin is most famous for having cut his military cloak in half to share with a beggar. Martin was a soldier in the Roman army before he became a bishop. We are also told that even while he was still in the Roman army he renounced warfare in the face of an approaching battle. He offered to be placed in the front, but refused to raise his hand against the enemy, saying: “I am a soldier of Christ. I cannot fight.”
Martin’s example reminds us of the lofty Christian tradition of renouncing violence.
At the same time, however, that example and that tradition do not take anything away from the lofty virtues of those who do fight to protect their country. We can celebrate both Martin’s memorial and Veterans Day.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that although war is to be avoided where possible, there is such a thing as just war. Sometimes it is necessary to fight, and those who do the fighting in those cases do a noble service. Here is a part of section 2310 of the Catechism:”Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace.”
St. Martin of Tours, pray for us and for our veterans!