By Theodore Shoebat
A recent development to the Christian militias in Syria has come to my attention. They call themselves “Sutoro” and they are a very organized Christian militia consisting of mostly Syriac Christians.
One of their mottos is “Our struggle is lightened by our martyrs,” and as one of the militants explained:
We would not be standing and eating here if there were no martyrs.
Here is another video of a Christian militia (its in Italian but if you click the cc button on the video you’ll get the English subtitles)
They keep beautiful icons illustrating the Lord’s Supper, and other serene images of our Savior.
The militants understand that a genocide is coming to the likes of the Sayfo Massacre, in which the Ottoman empire slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Syriac Christians, and they are willing to take up their crosses and fight in order to prevent his impending genocide from occurring. As one militant said:
Syriac people are generally adherents of the Christian faith. We do not love guns and violence… but history shows that massacres could be committed against us. Many Syriac Christians were systematically murdered during the 1890’s Sayfo massacre and Simel massacre in 1993. We fell another Sayfo massacre could return but we will fight to prevent it this time. Many of our people were systematically exterminated in the Syfo massacre. An estimated 750 thousand Syriac people were killed in the Sayfo massacre… this is without counting Chaldean, Armenian and Assyrian victims. We will not let such annihilations return against us during this Syrian revolution.
Another one of the militias valorously said:
We are not afraid of any enemy
May the angels of Heaven, who are “tens of thousands and thousands of thousands” (Psalm 68:17) surround these soldiers of God, who fight with both body and spirt, contending with the flesh through battling devils and subduing their own fears through the toils and penances of holy combat. For in the words of St. Gregory of Nysa,
Activity directed toward virtue causes its capacity to grow through exertion, this kind of activity alone does not slacken its intensity by the effort, but increases it. (St. Gregory of Nysa, Life of Moses, 2.226, trans. Malherbe and Ferguson)
And is not our exertion in partaking in virtue done in emulation of those saints who surround us, gazing upon us from heavenly Mount Sinai? “seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1), holy warriors such as Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” (Hebrews 11:33-34)
And such sacred combatants, who were both men of the soul and men of the sword, who struck with ineffable force with the spiritual sword, and inflicted blows with his physical sword that both ruptured the flesh of his enemies and impacted the cosmic war in which humanity is perpetually involved.
Through action, without which faith is dead, the warriors of God utilize their bodies, “the temple of the Holy Ghost” (1 Corinthians 6:19), in accordance to the heavenly, and becoming “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), do they then bridge their souls to God, emulating His justice and enacting His eternal virtues, and in so doing their bodies become tools for the destruction of evil. To use the words of St. Maximus the Confessor,
…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 the Confessor, Ambiguum 7, iv, trans. Blowers and Wilken)
Did not Joshua practice the virtues through the exertion of his body when he struck dead the Canaanites; and what of Jehu and Josiah when they purged Israel of wicked men and wizards?
In committing to the command, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:36), one as well is observing the greatest of all militancy. If one is attacked, one defends himself, therefore, by following this virtue, one must then defend his neighbor as he would defend himself, loving him as one would love himself.
In committing oneself to loving one’s neighbor, one observes the greatest love there is, that is, “that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) To lay one’s life consist of combat, and thus sacred war contains the greatest love.
Christ is the immaculate model of the warrior, destroying the darkest evils through the most laborious of toils on the holy wood, with arms stretched across, fulfilling the mighty Moses outstretching his arms, clasping onto the the sacred staff, as the valiant Joshua fought with Amalek (Exodus 17:10) and Israel prevailed (Exodus 17:11), majestically exemplifying the war between the spirit and the flesh, between the Kingdom of Heaven and the despotism of Satan.
There are those who will say that our war is spiritual, and they are correct, but it is an error to isolate this fact and exclude it solely to be spiritualized without any physical participation.
When Christ endured His passion, He was fighting a war, and His war was indeed spiritual, but it involved physical phenomena.
Christ, suffering imprisonment and enduring the end of the scourge, withstanding nails and lance, undergoing painful abandonment, with hands stretched out on the wooden cross, allowed Himself to be martyred, “that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). And mighty Samson too went through the laughs and the cheers of the scoffers, was forced into imprisonment, and presented for the sport of sadists, and with hands outstretched like a cross, chained to the temple of Satan, he pulled down the foundations of the diabolical house, allowing himself to be destroyed so that the work of Satan, in which he was confined, may be destroyed.
Both were warriors, and both ardent on self sacrifice for the advancement of the light over the darkness.
Thus is the spirit of the crusader. In the beautiful words of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, when he described the soldiers of God upon the time when when they were fighting the cursed people of Muhammad:
Doubly armed, surely, he need fear neither demons nor men. Not that he fears death — no, he desires it. Why should he fear to live or to die when for him to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Gladly and faithfully he stands up for Christ, but he would prefer to be dissolved and to be with Christ, by far the better thing. (In Praise of New Knighthood, 1.2, trans. Greenia)
The warrior fears neither men nor demons, for he bears both the spiritual sword and the physical sword, driving away demons and defeating the men who worship them, crying out the war cry, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. (Judges 7:18)
In the travails of battle, in the heat and intensity of holy combat, in the wielding of consecrated swords, there are the eyes of the sacred priest who looks from an outlying distance, the cosmic clash between love and malice, compassion and maliciousness, those who strive to protect the innocent and the defenseless, against those who prey upon them, and he raises his arms as Moses did in the battle against Amalek, ascending his exhortations and cries for victory to the mighty armies of Heaven, to the chariots of the holy mountain, “the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.” (Psalm 68:17)
The angels, warriors in Heaven who repulsed the devils and their leader, stand amongst the warriors on earth, for the ardent fighters of the Holy Cross, who protect the churches and sacred icons against the heretics, “come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels” (Hebrews 12:22).
When Christians fight, the saints of Heaven fight alongside with them. When the Conquistadors battled with the pagan Indians, it is said that both the Christians and the heathens saw in the battlefield a woman, and a man riding a white horse, and they terrified the enemy, fortified the spirits of the Spaniards, and cut asunder their adversaries. In the midst of one battle, the Indians told the Conquistadors,
If we had not been frightened by the woman and the man on the white horse, your house by this time would be destroyed and you yourselves would be cooked, but not eaten, for you are not fit to eat; we tried your flesh the other day and it tasted bitter, so we shall throw you to the eagles, lions, tigers, and snakes, which will eat you for us. (Gomara, Life of Cortez, 105, trans. Simpson)
It was believed that the man and the woman who the Indians saw was non other than Mary and St. James. Is this not what will happen in the Final Crusade? in accordance with the vision of St. John in which “the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” (Revelation 19:14)
All of the saints will be with Christ, all those in Heaven and all those on earth, for St. Paul wrote:
When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (2 Thessalonians 1:10)
And Zechariah said, “and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.” (Zechariah 14:5)
As all of the saints will fight for Christ in the Final Crusade, so today does this same heavenly cloud gather around those who strive with great and virtuous exertion for the Kingdom of Heaven. There is a great story, one untold by the trends and modish books of historians, and that is the Battle of Mt. Gargano, amongst the earliest battles to be fought in Christian history, being done at around 493 AD.
The Italian people of Sipontus had discovered the true path of light, left paganism, and followed their Holy Knight, the Christ. The people of Naples and Beneventum, still ardent and fanatical about their pagan religion, declared war on the young Christians. The bishop of Sipontus urged the people to fast and pray for three days, and they, like righteous men having both the innocence of doves and the wisdom of servants, obeyed this command and armed themselves with swords and shields, making themselves ready for the slithering snakes that were coming their way.
On the night of the third day, after the sun descended under the midst of gleaming clouds, and its rays retracted their gleaming beams from the colossal clouds and the overbearing heavens, the angel Gabriel appeared before the bishop, and told him that victory will come on the fourth hour of daylight, upon the lofty mountain of Gargano.
When the sun ascended and its rays pierced through the clouds, and the fourth hour came, and the two armies stood before each other, each bearing arms but only one housing the Holy Spirit, Mount Gargano was struck by bolts of lightening; the heavens roared and the earth shook, and a battle of the cosmos commenced.
The swords of infidels stood no match to the tenacity and zeal of the saints, and on that day, six hundred pagans were slain, by both by the blade of Christians and by the lightening bolts of Heaven’s aid. (Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend, vol. ii, 145, trans. Ryan)
So let us pray for the intervention of God, and of His angels and heavenly saints in eternal Mount Sinai, that they may watch over these holy warriors, and fight for them, and with them.
Let their struggle be lightened by our martyrs!