From Michael Dubruiel, originally published in 2003.
The second reading from the office today is from St. Cyprian to the people of Thibaris:
The blessed Apostle teaches us how to arm and prepare ourselves: "Put round you the belt of truth; put on the breastplate of righteousness; for shoes wear zeal for the Gospel of peace; take up the shield of faith to extinguish all the burning arrows of the evil one; take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God."
Let us take this armour and defend ourselves with these spiritual defences from heaven, so that when the evil day comes we may be able to resist the threats of the devil, and fight back against him.
Let us put on the breastplate of righteousness so that our breasts may be protected and kept safe from the arrows of the enemy. Let our feet be shod in the teaching of the Gospel, and armored so that when we begin to trample on the serpent and crush it, it will not be able to bite us or trip us up.
Let us with fortitude bear the shield of faith to protect us by extinguishing all the burning arrows that the enemy may launch against us.
Let us wear on our head the helmet of the spirit, to defend our ears against the proclamations of death, to defend our eyes against the sight of accursed idols, to defend our foreheads so that God’s sign may be kept intact, and to defend our mouths so that our tongues may proclaim victoriously the name of Christ their Lord.
And let us arm our right hand with the sword of the spirit so that it may courageously refuse the daily sacrifices, and, remembering the Eucharist, let the hand that took hold of the body of the Lord embrace the Lord himself, and so gain from the Lord the future prize of a heavenly crown.
Dear brethren, have all this firmly fixed in your hearts. If the day of persecution finds us thinking on these things and meditating upon them, the soldier of Christ, trained by Christ’s commands and instructions, will not tremble at the thought of battle, but will be ready to receive the crown of victory.
This second reading deals with how we should be clothed, with an armor of Faith. We should pray like we are alive be willing to stand for the truth. This is not a time to attack the messengers of truth like our faith depends upon it. It is not a time to remain silent if we have something to speak.
There are those who have called this a time of "purification" and so it is. Cyprian's letter to the Thibaritans was an encouragement to them to meet the "persecution" by giving witness (martyrdom). Those who have tales to tell should now telling them so that the purification of the church might be complete.
There are those whose garments are clean, and there are those who have the armor of their faith in tact. Hopefully they will emerge from the ruins left behind when this crisis is over and take their place as leaders of the Church. We can look forward to such a day; when again the true faith will be proclaimed, the forgiveness of sins will be preached, our hunger to receive the Lord in the Eucharist will be stirred and the TRUTH will set us free.
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