This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series This Age of Martyrdom

Will you have Courage to insist on your right to defend yourself in arms while celebrating Mass? Will you dialog with your Priests and Bishops to remove the absolute ban on firearms that may cover your diocese? Will you ignore that policy in order to protect your family, your clergy, your fellow parishioners, your Church? Your Faith? Your God?

Courage is required to stand up against unjust laws, as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has said vis-a-vis Obamacare and the HHS Mandate. Every year we have the “Fortnight of Freedom” to protest and rally against the Federal Government’s incursion upon our God-given right to freely worship and practice our religion – and we will defy the government if in the end we are required to pay for abortions through the HHS Mandate. We will break that law. My own Bishop has gone on record to say so.

From our own Bishops one might learn and gain Courage to defy any injustice that leaves a person defenseless. From the example of Saint Jacques’ martyrdom, we know that the killers were brought down by police at the Church. Why, then, would we parishioners want to wait for armed backup to do the same thing we could and would do more quickly with a result of saved lives and defended faith?

But this means you must have Courage to pull the trigger. Do not pretend to defend if you cannot defend or will not defend. You belittle the angst and concern our Bishops have for our souls if you defy them without dialog, purpose, and intent to serve The Lord and protect his sheep. Our Bishops struggle with the call to turn the other cheek while upholding the precepts of Just War and self-defense.

Bravado is not Courage. Courage instills leadership. As any ManHusbandDad should, you must lead with Courage.

As a 4th Degree Knight in the Knights of Columbus, I am sworn by oath to defend my Bishop by arms at his call. While my ceremonial sword might clock a vandal upon the head and give him a lump, the Bishop does not need me to handle these miscreants. But if he calls when the Feds come for him for defying the HHS Mandate, I will not hesitate to defend him – not with sword but with my M&P-15 and Taurus Judge – surrounding the cathedral with my fellow Knights.

So am I ready to defend Jesus himself and the Church he founded, as well as my family, when I attend Mass. St. Peter was at Jesus’ side, sword in hand. And he used it.

What’s good for the Shepherd is good for the Sheep.

Let us not allow Saint Jacques to die in vain. The Lord is allowing us to receive a message here. This message is loud and clear, no matter how deaf the ears may be that hear it.

While the Age of Martyrdom is upon us, no such Age has ever been led by cowards. There are no cowards in Heaven. As our bishops show and live daily, it takes Courage to believe in Jesus. It takes Courage to die for Jesus.

It takes Courage to kill for Jesus.

Is that scandalous? Yes, if taken in the wrong context. Indiscriminate killing in the name of Allah is not what I am talking about. One of the last things Jesus said was, “…all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”

And I’m not saying refuse to turn the other cheek. I am saying to dialog with your Shepherd about the Church’s well-known stance on self-defense: She says you have the right and obligation to defend yourself.

When you do not have the opportunity to turn the other cheek because dead men can’t move; and when you aren’t living by the sword but refusing to die by it, that is when taking up arms to protect yourself and your loved ones is not only justifiable…it is commanded.

Is it not the duty of the Man, the Husband, and the Dad to protect the Himself, his Wife, and his Children?

When one lays down his life for others, he does not just go up to the bad guy and say, “Shoot me,” assuming that such an offering will then satisfy the intent killer, who will miraculously walk away after blowing you to Kingdom Come.

When engaging your Bishop, know why he has made the decision to disarm his people at their most vulnerable. Your Church is on the ISIS hit list, and somebody is planning to attack it. They may not have specific plans yet, but ISIS encourages lone wolves and there is not a parish in the world that is safe from some terrorist or deranged lunatic who wants to go out in a blaze of glory. It’s just a fact.

If you do not think your Church is a target, then check out the list for yourself. Even if no single person has targeted your Church, ISIS, a sworn enemy of the Catholic Church, has. Eventually they will get down the list if they are not stopped.

Your Bishop may have good reason. Maybe he has armed guards in plain clothes at each Mass already. But maybe he doesn’t have a good reason, such as the Bishop of Dalla, who has a sincere misunderstanding of the Second Amendment. Most likely, your bishop’s reasoning lay somewhere in-between.

These misunderstandings are important to know so that you can dialog with your Bishop instead of outright disobeying him, as some Fort Worth parishioners are erroneously doing. Educating him on the statistics of firearm open- and conceal-carry laws as a deterrent to crime is a good place to start. And, in Texas, your bishop can ban the open-carry while still allowing the conceal-carry.

Legitimate gun owners are far-and-away safe, law-abiding citizens. The law says that if a rightful representative of a property asks you to not have a gun on the premises, you must obey. The only option to a stubborn bishop is to move out of that diocese – not thwart his authority. Our favorite Church in the Fort Worth Diocese, St. Francis of Grapevine, is one we no longer go to because I don’t want my family to be sitting ducks when terrorists get to it on the list. I still recommend Father Flynn’s homilies, though!

You would not put your family at risk by being unarmed. I understand and concur. And you should not put you and your family at risk of disobeying your bishop.

The only remaining option, in Texas, is that each building must have expressly visible signage forbidding open- and/or conceal-carry. If the building does not have the sign, then the law assumes you can carry.  Proclamation by the bishop announced in the bulletin or in the newspapers does not have the force of law and cannot be held as proper notice – unless you read that bulletin, then it becomes notice given by a property representative.

Be your bishop’s educator, not his tormentor. Join him on his side of the issue, and learn from each other. Very rarely in Catholicism is it “either/or” but instead almost always is there an “and/both.”

Find it. Have Courage.

Don’t be a martyr for a cause before you can be a martyr for your Lord.

UPDATE: 2018 July 10 – Bishop Michael Olson has ordered the removal of the signs from all Church properties and left notification and policy up to each individual parish priest. Apparently Dallas Bishop Edward Burns did the same last fall a year after he assumed the episcopate. He was considering changes as reported here, and NO weapons policy can be found on the Diocesan web site. The old policy is mysteriously absent, and a search of the site gives that address with no policy behind it.

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