St. Martin of Tours, who resigned his military commission--"I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight."
In 1968 I signed the statement required for I-O draft status:
“I am, by reason of my religious training and belief, conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any form and I am further conscientiously opposed to participation in noncombatant training and service in the Armed Forces.”
My draft board had only seen Quakers and other peace church members, before my Catholic application.
Here continues from last week, further answer to Selective Service form, Series II, section 1:
“Describe the nature of your belief which is the basis of your claim and state why you consider it to be based on religious training and belief.”
Conscientious Objector Application – Michael McCarthy – November, 1968 -- Cont.
Christ lived on the earth to explain trust and love.
God gave His Son to the people of the world with the most important message of love to teach them. When many would not listen to His words, He didn't attempt to institutionalize His movement and enforce an unenforceable code. Like Barabus, and many of the revolutionaries of the times opposed to Roman domination He must have felt compassion for His people in their distraught conditions. The crowds many times had tried to make Him their King. Their Messiah was supposed to establish and vindicate a new political freedom. Yet, unlike other revolutionaries, Jesus would not parochialize His commitments. The poor man and Zacchaeus were both His brothers. He could do no violence to one to further the cause of the other.
Christ’s revolution is a change of heart.
Christ commands Peter upon his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Put back thy sword in to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matt. 26:52) Christ calls us to change our defensive reactionary responses to violence. We are to love our enemy. We must put away the sword. He may destroy us but as long as the battle continues there is no chance for understanding. Jesus was crucified so that we might better understand. Complete trust in God transcends all human concerns, containing them, and is the only means to man’s full sharing in God’s life.
I must follow Christ in His refusal to compromise out of existence His message of Man’s reconciliation, by using violent means. As the armed forces has for its express purpose defense employing violence, I cannot in conscience participate in such an organization.
[ This part responds to next section: "Explain how, when and from whom or from what source you received the religious training and acquired the religious belief which is the basis of your claim."]
2. My parents are Roman Catholics and have raised my two sisters, three brother and myself as practicing Catholics. My religious education began, and continues to grow with their influence. They have given me those qualities which are fundamental to religious life. The strength of conviction expressed by my father and the sensitivity and compassion expressed by my mother have both become parts of my faith. As regards the particular issue of conscientious objection, neither of my parents profess the same attitude as I do, but both sympathize with my believing this way.
I went to Catholic school for all of the twelve years of elementary and high school education. In all these years of religious instruction, war was never advocated. It was viewed as an existing evil that a man might participate in if he felt in conscience that this was his duty. At the same time, many examples were praised of those who had rejected violence and war. St. Francis of Assisi was always one of the most revered saints. He left the army to form an order of friars, contemplating God’s love and bringing peace into the world. All the saints were described as persons who had made love of God more important than any other worldly concern.
More to follow next week.
ow decades along from having professed these statements, I’ve still much to do to live them out. Our parish is giving a Spirituality of Nonviolence course that closes at four sessions next week--the final one titled, “Jesus’ Call to Nonviolence, our Response.” These are some of my thoughts as that approaches.
Pacifism is not passivism. What to do to stand up for your rights when you’re being mowed down? Noncooperation and nonviolent action and prayerfulness. Be mercifully inspired, wherever that leads. The ultimate answer is belief in the Resurrection. Our temporal life “success” is maybe a 70 year blip in a promised eternity of happiness—so we should live this brief moment in the way of Jesus who made this promise. The problem is remembering this biggest of promises, within our smallness and strife, from moment to moment in our lives.
Chaplet of Divine Mercy