Faith, Courage & Humility

October 22, 2020

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by Kelly Mescher Collins

Nov. 11 is Veterans Day, an annual reminder of the service and sacrifice made by our veterans.

My Dad, Paul Mescher, was a veteran and a proud member of the local American Legion in Carroll County. When we buried him this null past May in my hometown of Halbur, he received military honors. During the playing of Taps, the 21-gun salute and folding of the American flag that had draped his casket before presenting it to my Mom, there was not a dry eye in sight.

My sister, Lieutenant Colonel Amy Price, also served for 26 years.

I have a strong respect and admiration for our veterans and military – and really anyone that embodies truth and justice and displays strength and bravery to do what is right - especially in the face of peer pressure, judgment or worse. 

History is filled with examples of courageous people of faith.

St. Joan of Arc was a young, pious teenage girl who felt called by God to lead the French army to its victory at the Siege of Orléans over the English in the 1400s. She was eventually captured and burned at the stake at just 19 years old.

The movie Hackshaw Ridge tells the story of U.S. Army Private First Class Desmond Doss, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in World War II. Despite being mocked by his peers and pressured by superiors, he held steady to his beliefs, refusing to bear arms while serving as a medic. Without a weapon to defend himself, he still saved 75 men in the Battle of Okinawa.

And who can forget the pivotal scene in the movie Braveheart and Mel Gibson’s rousing pep talk to Scottish warriors before later screaming, “F-r-e-e-e-e-d-o-m!” He portrayed William Wallace, considered one of Scotland’s greatest heroes and chief inspiration for Scottish resistance to King Edward in the 13th century. Wallace was eventually condemned to death, hung, disemboweled, beheaded and quartered.

Most of us have never engaged in military battle. But there’s not a human on this planet who has avoided battle with the unseen enemy – the evil one.

As Dan Burke writes in his book Spiritual Warfare and the Discernment of Spirits, “the battle is unavoidable.”

And in Ephesians, St. Paul says: “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.”

The Church offers protection and a place of retreat. The sacraments, especially the Eucharist and reconciliation, give us strength.

Great theologians, including St. Vincent de Paul and former soldier, St. Ignatius of Loyola, have pointed to humility as part of a strong arsenal.

“Humility and abandonment to the will of God in every moment is one of the most powerful weapons at our disposal in our daily spiritual battles for peace,” Burke writes. “The reason for this is if we are humble, and we are open to whatever the Lord brings, we are thereby attached to very little, and the enemy has little room to tempt us.”

Keeping my Bible at the ready and trusting in God are key for getting through life - though none of us ever get through it completely unscathed.

“In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” it says in Ephesians 6: 16-17.

I regularly take up my rosary, which St. Padre Pio called “the weapon against the evils of the world today.”

I find comfort knowing faithful have been praying the rosary for the Virgin Mary’s intercession for centuries.

In fact, Oct. 7 was the anniversary of the Holy League of 1571’s victory over the Ottoman Navy at the Battle of Lepanto, marking the entire month of October as the month of the rosary. Catholics celebrate Oct. 7 as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (formerly known as Our Lady of Victory).

A song by my favorite Christian band, Rend Collective, sums up my approach.

“When I stand accused by my regrets, and the devil roars its empty threats, I will preach the Gospel to myself, that I am not a man condemned – for Jesus Christ is my defense.”

 “When the doubt and shame hang over me… like the arrows of the enemy. I will run again to Calvary – that rugged hill of hell’s defeat – my fortress and my victory.” (Rend Collective, Nailed to the Cross

Kelly Mescher Collins is a multimedia journalist for the Diocese of Des Moines. She can be reached at kcollins@dmdiocese.org.