The Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Ignatius Aphrem II, has called for a Crusade in Syria to protect the Christian areas in Hasaka, an area where ISIS has invaded and from where around 4000 Christians escaped in the most recent exodus. 100 young men answered the call of the Patriarch and returned to Hasaka to fight against ISIS in the defense of the Christian homes and areas. The Patriarch declared in his speech:
Recently, over 100 young men have returned to Hasaka to defend the city. We are grateful and wish to thank the 100 youth for listening to our advice and for protecting our homes in the city of Hasaka. And we wish to thank especially the youth of Qamishli who, with love and joy, have received the internally displaced people in their homes and especially to those who have opened their hearts, homes, and the doors of the churches who have shown hospitality to their brethren.
At the same time, we are very grateful to our young volunteers who are members of the militias, who carry arms to defend and fight for your homes and city. May God bless and protect them. We honor the martyrs who have passed in defending our land and the heritage of our forefathers, who were present here before Islam and the Byzantine Empire. For this reason, we need a strong will because the will to survive exceeds the fear of death.
We also want and pray that the Syrian Army is able to protect us all, but because of the severity of the war they are not able to protect us in the way that is necessary. We know it is wrong that each person carries arms. We are not the type of people who want to carry weapons, but because the army is not able to protect us, it is imperative that we find another solution.
For this reason, when we see our youth carrying weapons and protecting our homes and lands, we give them our blessing and do not question their actions. We continually ask God to bless and protect them.
Our goal is not war, rather justice. Our goal is to protect ourselves under the severe circumstances.
Notice what he says in the last part of the speech, “our goal is not war, rather justice.” This one line succinctly expresses the spirit of Christian militancy: the goal is not war, but the establishment of justice, and thus the ushering in of peace.
In the words of St. Maximus:
The soul becomes godlike through divinization [theosis], and because God cares for what is lower, that is the body, and has given the command to love one’s neighbor, the soul prudently makes use of the body. By practicing the virtues the body gains familiarity with God and becomes a fellow servant with the soul. (St. Maximus, On the Cosmic Mystery of Christ, Ambiguum 7,iii, 1088B)
Notice how he says that the body, being used by God for His justice, becomes a means to loving one’s neighbor. What does the law say? Love God and love neighbor. This can be applied to both Holy War and righteous laws against the wicked, for to uproot evil is a part of justice, and, in the words of Augustine, “justice is the love of God and our neighbor by which the other virtues are pervaded: that is, it is the common root of the entire order between one man and another.” (Augustine, 83 quest. 1:61, in Aquinas, Summa Theoligiae, IIa IIae 58, article 8)
The soul reaches God, and is indwelled with His eternal virtues, and the body is used to partake in those virtues. In the words of St. Paul:
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are Gods. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
David strengthened himself in the Lord, his soul sublimely indwelled with the virtues of God, and filled with “zeal for the lord,” (1 Kings 10:16), and his strong arm striking in the spirit of that same zeal. In such a state did David glorify God in body and in spirit. The knights and crusaders who defended glorious Christendom glorified God in both soul and body, for their souls were filled with the divine virtues, and they used their bodies to fight for those very virtues. In the words of Ramon Llull, a Spanish knight who warred against the Muslims in Spain,
So then, just as all of these aforesaid practices pertain to the knight with respect to the body, so justice, wisdom, charity, loyalty, truth, humility, fortitude, hope and prowess, and the other virtues similar to these, pertain to the knight with respect to the soul. (Ramon Lull, 2.11, trans. Noel Fallows)
In Christianity, the holy warrior is continuously walking on the path of truth, on the path of the spirit, that is, the Divine Law of God. As he perseveres to defend and perpetuate the Law of God, the glimmering candlelight of the Christian spirit, he walks upon the path of justice, for “the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs 4:18) And he forever declares war on the ways of deceivers; the “way of the wicked is like darkness” (Proverbs 4:19) and it is dispelled by the path of justice. They dedicate their entire beings, with all might, soul, intellect, and spirit, to defend the foundation of Christendom, and that is, the holy laws of Christ, keeping within themselves the small flame that emanates from the words of Solomon,
Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
We have to prepare our minds and intellect for this spiritual war that we are in. This is why I made a 2-disk DVD series on teaching the warring spirit of the Christian Faith.
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