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.