All baptized souls on earth, who possess and live the Catholic Faith under the authority of the Holy Father, are members of the Church Militant. The Church Militant has a solemn duty to advance the kingdom of heaven on earth by bringing souls to Christ.
The members of the Christ’s Mystical Body who still live on earth are traditionally referred to as the Church Militant.
The term militant is used because our souls are currently striving for eternal salvation; we have not yet obtained our heavenly reward.
As long as we live on this earth we must enter into spiritual battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil to save our souls. With the help of God’s grace, we must persevere in our Catholic faith until the end of our life.
THE CHURCH MILITANT IS CHRIST’S KINGDOM ON EARTH
We are the Church Militant because the Church is a kingdom where Christ reigns as Lord and King. We strive to do the will of our King by allowing Him to reign in our souls and in the world through our good works.
“To carry out the will of the Father, Christ inaugurated the Kingdom of heaven on earth and revealed to us the mystery of that kingdom. …The Church, or, in other words, the kingdom of Christ now present in mystery, grows visibly through the power of God in the world” (Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution of the Church).
Christ truly reigns in His kingdom on earth. He reigns in the tabernacle of His churches and in our souls through the Holy Eucharist. He also reigns through His Spirit who causes the Church to grow and spread – throughout the world and across the ages – until He returns from heaven as He promised.
Sitting at the right hand of the Father, [Christ] is continually active in the world that He might lead me to the Church and through it join them to Himself and that He might make them partakers of His glorious life… (Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution of the Church).
THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH MILITANT IS TO SAVE SOULS
The mission of the Church Militant is to bring souls to Christ until all men are joined together into His Mystical Body. This mission began at Pentecost and will continue until Christ returns at the end of time to bring His kingdom to its fulfillment.
“[The Church] receives the mission to proclaim and to spread among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God and to be, on earth, the initial budding forth of that kingdom. While it slowly grows, the Church stains toward the completed Kingdom and, with all its strength, hopes and desires to be united in glory with its King” (Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution of the Church).
In the kingdom of heaven, members of the Church Militant are the “soldiers of Christ.”
What does it mean to be a soldier of Christ? St. Paul the Apostle gives us the answer:
So you, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. … Bear your share of hardship along with me like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. … for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they too may obtain the salvation that is n Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory (2 Timothy 2:10).
To be a soldier of Christ means to bear the trials and sufferings of life with courage so that we may bring more souls into the kingdom of heaven.
The vocation of the Church Militant is to pray and labor for the salvation of souls – and this vocation belongs to each of its members. Just as the saints in heaven reign with Christ, the members of the Church Militant also reign with Christ by serving Him in this world.
When we as individual soldiers are faithful to the Church Militant’s mission on earth, her light of salvation is more clearly visible to lost souls searching for their Redeemer.
Now Christ has communicated [His] royal power to His disciples … so that serving Christ in their fellow men they might by humility and patience lead their brethren to that King for whom to serve is to reign. (Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution of the Church)
THE CHURCH MILITANT AWAITS CHRIST’S RETURN
Now that we understand our role in the Communion of Saints, how should we conduct ourselves in the world?
The Second Vatican Council said that we are “wayfarers” in this world, and that the Church Militant is a “pilgrim Church.” We do not live under the shadow of this passing world, but under the light of our future hope.
… until there shall be new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church in her sacraments and institutions … dwells among creatures who groan and travail in pain .. and await the revelation of the sons of God. (Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution of the Church)
We must always be ready to meet Christ by remembering who we are as soldiers of Christ and being faithful to our mission. Our actions should be directed towards the kingdom of heaven. The Church on earth must always be “militant” in working to save souls so that we may all enjoy the kingdom of heaven as one family.
We strive therefor to please God in all things and we put on the armor of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil and resist in the evil day.
Since however we know not the day nor the hour, on Our Lord’s advice we must be constantly vigilant so that, having finished the course of our earthly life, we may merit to enter the marriage feast with Him and to be numbered among the blessed and that we may not be ordered to go into eternal fire like the wicked and slothful servant…
Reckoning therefore that “the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that will be revealed in us”, strong in faith we look for the “blessed hope and the glorious coming of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” “ who will refashion the body of our lowliness, conforming it to the body of His glory, and who will come “to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed.” ...
For all of us, who are sons of God and constitute one family in Christ, as long as we remain in communion with one another in mutual charity and in one praise of the Most Holy Trinity, are corresponding with the intimate vocation of the Church and partaking in foretaste the liturgy of consummate glory. (Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution of the Church).
While the Church Militant labors for the salvation of souls until His return, Christ guides, protects, and assists us in this mission. Jesus will never abandon His Church on earth.
Our Lord Jesus Christ … before returning to his heavenly Father, promised that He would be with the Church Militant on earth all days, even to the consummation of the world. Therefore, He has never ceased to be present with His beloved Spouse, to assist her when teaching, to bless her when at work and to aid her when in danger. (Dei Filius, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith).
THE CHURCH MILITANT’S HOME IS IN HEAVEN
While we live in this world we must never lose sight of this truth: that this world is not our home. We must set our hope on eternal glory where the Church Triumphant awaits us.
“Since we live here below as strangers and travelers, let us sigh for the day that will restore us to home, and give us back our place in the kingdom of Heaven. Who, being in exile, would not long to return to his country? …
Heaven is our home, and the patriarchs, our ancestors, are there before us. Many who are dear to us are expecting us; a considerable number of relations, brothers, children, are anxiously waiting for our arrival. They are certain now of their own eternal happiness and are full of solicitude for our salvation. To see, to embrace them – what joy both for them and us!” (St. Cyprian of Caththage).
As wayfarers journeying through this world to our heavenly homeland, we should not forget those who have completed their journey of faith before us. Christ encourages us to remember the Church Suffering so that they may attain, by our prayers, their place among the Church Triumphant.
Original Source: Good Catholic The Four Last Things