After Mass yesterday my family and I had the pleasure of speaking with a retired Naval Captain. He had served for 35 years in the Navy and was deployed during Vietnam. He was the kind of man I was excited for my boys to be around. The kind of man you just do not encounter very often anymore. He was there praying for friends he had lost in Vietnam.
On the way home as I was silently thinking about the conversation I had a solitary moment of regret that I never served the country in this incredible way. It’s not the first time I have had the feeling and I would guess it’s the same for many men my age who never served in the military. These men remind us of what it means to be willing to leverage your whole life in battle.
This got me thinking about heaven. About halfway through the day the thought came to my mind that in heaven we will all be Veterans. Every single soul who makes it to heaven will do so because they engaged in battle here below. We won’t end up in heaven by accident and so we must fight. This message has been a passion of mine for a long time and I have suffered for it. There are the people who role their eyes, people who say we should focus on Jesus and not talk about the devil and people who just think I am some overly dramatic conspiracy theorist but the hard truth is that I would love to stop speaking about spiritual warfare. I mean it. I would love it if every Catholic understood that we are at war with principalities and powers who want us estranged from God and dead. Unfortunately, my experience is that most Catholics have no idea that we are at war and even less idea that this is a war for the freedom of our will and our heart to be able to surrender to God. I talk about the extreme battles of spiritual warfare to shed light on the daily skirmishes with the World, the Flesh and the Devil that actually matter to our eternal end.
If you celebrated Memorial Day today and prayed for the souls of those who died for our freedom remember that they are among friends in heaven. Everyone is a veteran in heaven. Let us live like we are at war. We will all be veterans of the war for souls, so let us fight on!
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Dave VanVickle is a Catholic speaker and writer focusing on the Universal Call to Holiness and Authentic Catholic Spirituality. He is currently employed as the Director of Evangelization for the parishes of the Catholic Community of Wexford, PA.