By Theodore Shoebat
The Christian warrior is superior to all fighters; for he surpasses all temporal desires, he breaks through all the material world, and strives with every effort to reach the eternal realm of pure light, where passions and earthly attachments are absent, and all that is reached is the most supreme of love: divine union with God.
The Muslims fighters, and all other pagan fighters, on the other hand, are inferior to the Christian warrior. When they fight, they do so with a hope that does not surpass the temporal, but that remains within the earthly desires.
The Muslim fighter hopes for martyrdom with the desire for infinite sexual gratification, debauchery, pederasty and drunkenness. And so when he fights, his mind is still in the temporal — nay — it is imprisoned within the fetters of the impulses; he can never surpass the earthly and break into the heavenly. He never reaches selflessness, because his goal pertains only to the pleasing of the self, and not to the sacrifice of it.
Such a fleshly disposition is utterly contrary to the Christian spirit.
The transcendence of the material into the eternal, is what brings the Christian warrior to burn with all zeal. It is the light of God, of which David said: “Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us” (Psalm 4:6), that fans the flames of holy desire to partake in the good fight, and “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:3)
It is the light of God that brings into the Christian warrior (and to use the words of St. Gregory Palamas) “the fire of love for God which burns in him.” (St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads, 1. iii. 23)
This zeal that burns within the warrior is as the zeal of Christ, when He took up a whip and with His own divine hands drove the thieves from His Temple, fulfilling the prophetic word: “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” (John 2:17) It is the same zeal of Jehu when he lead the crusade against the pagans, and said: “Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord.” (2 Kings 10:16)
In doing this they abide by the first commandment: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Christ said: “Is not the life more than mean, and the body more than raiment?” (Matthew 7:25) The body goes beyond the material and the aesthetic, for it is to be used for that which is ineffable and completely transcends the corporeal, that immaculate place that “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard” (1 Corinthians 2:9), and that is Heaven.
This is the highest state of the spiritual ladder that the Christians can reach, to where they offer as their “bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1) They crucify themselves, and say with St. Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20) and “have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24)
They with the Apostle boldly proclaim by both word and action, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” (Galatians 6:17) They are like Simon of Cyrene, trembling with all labor alongside Christ, carrying the Cross with Him.
The willingness to die for the Faith is the greatest point for the Christian to reach in his spiritual path, for it is here where he fulfills what the Apostle wrote: “glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)
St. Stephen glorified God in both body and spirit when he was martyred; for he gave up his body as a sacrifice, emulating the Christ and bearing the wounds of his Master, our Crucified Savior; and when he on that point, between transience and eternity, declared, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:9), no doubt the Lord received his spirit, because he glorified God in spirit.
He proved himself a worthy soldier of the holy combat, and through the divine love of self-sacrifice, obtained divine union with the holy and blessed Trinity. A glorious death for the cause of the Divine Truth is so great to the eyes of Heaven, that David wrote:
Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His saints. (Psalm 116:15)
The goal of martyrdom is not an infinite gratification of the flesh, but an ineffable crown of glory in eternal paradise, where the treasures of righteous labors which are done on earth, are enjoyed in everlasting life in union with God.
When the warrior fights, he does so with eternity in mind, and so in his effort, the mind, spirit, soul, and body, work as one for a divine aspiration. With both the bodily and spiritual faculties working in unity, all earthly passions are eclipsed, and all that is desired is the eternal reward of a blessed death.
The command of Christ, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24), brings the fighter to the divine union with Christ, and enables him to ignore all fear of death. As St. Maximus the Confessor said,
For he [Christ] put off the principalities and powers at the moment of his death on the cross, when he remained impervious to his sufferings and, what is more, manifested the (natural human) fear of death, thereby driving from our nature the passion associated with pain. (Maximus the Confessor, The Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ, Ad Thalassium 21, On Christ’s Conquest of the Human Passions, trans. Blowers & Wilken)
This spirit of the Christian warrior was fully exemplified by some of the most unheard of, obscured and ignored warriors in history: the Christian Samurai, the Samurai that most have never heard of.
These were Samurai who picked up their cross, but never dropped their swords. They picked up the cross to partake in the cosmic battle against the forces of evil.
Christianity first came to Japan in 1549, when St. Francis Xavier arrived at the shores of Kagoshima. With the spreading of the Gospel came converts, and amongst these converts would be many warriors.
What is quite amazing is that even though these Samurai became Christian, they never rejected their warrior prowess, but instead used it for a different objective: the advancement of Christianity.
The reason for this is that the missionaries who introduced to them the Faith were Catholics who held onto to the same theology as the crusaders, the warriors of God who with the sword fought for God and the Divine Law against Muslims and pagans.
The theology of Holy War is deep within the Orthodox Christian Faith, and as it was zealously maintained amongst the crusaders, it would come to the Samurai, a people most enthusiastic to battle and who would have never rejected sacred combat.
They did not accept compromise with the false religion of Japan, but honored the words of the scribe when told Christ: “there is one God, and there is no other but He.” (Mark 12:32) They maintained the exclusivity of the Christian spirit, and because of this, sparked a civil war within Japan between the Christians and the Buddhists, carrying out what Christ once declared:
Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. (Matthew 10:34)
With their zeal for Christ, they divided themselves from the heathens, and with their own swords did they advance the sword of Christ. They rejected the Buddha, and forever dedicated their bodies and their souls to fighting for Christ His holy Law.
In 1567, an anonymous Christian Samurai executed one of the greatest acts of holy war in Christian history: he burned down the emperor Shomu’s Buddhist Todaiji temple in Nara, where a disgusting idol of the Buddha sat.
In 1578, the Samurai leader Otomo Sorin converted to Christianity and received baptism. Like the righteous kings of Christendom, he declared that his subjects “would all have to become Christians and live with each other in brotherly love and concord”.
To fulfill this noble goal, he enacted a policy of Christian unity for his people, and so ordered that the false religions of Japan — Shintoism and Buddhism — would be outlawed in his lands, and ordered that their temples be destroyed and their idols shattered.
Antonio Koteda, another Christian Samurai who was of the land of Ikisuki, is said to have “had no greater pleasure in the world than to see them pull down idols out of the temples and houses, and burn them and throw them in to the sea”.
Another Christian Samurai, Omura Sumitada, was a lord who also partook in the destruction of pagan idols in Japan.
According to Luis Frois, a Catholic missionary who evangelized in Japan at this time period, recounted:
As Dom Barthlomeo had gone off to the wars, it so happened that he passed on the way of the idol. Marishiten by name, which is their god of battles. When they pass it, they bow an pay reverence to it, and the pagans who are on horseback dismount as a sign of respect. Now the idol had above it a cockerel. As the tono [lord, Omura Sumitada] came there with his squadron he had his men stopped and ordered them to take the idol and burn it together with the whole temple; and he took the cockerel and gave it a blow with the sword, saying to it, “Oh, how many times have you betrayed me!” And after everything had been burnt down, he had a very beautiful cross erected on the same spot, and after he and his men had paid very deep reverence to it, they continued on their ways to the wars.
There was one Christian Samurai named Hosokawa Akiuji, who himself destroyed several pagan temples by setting them on fire. (All of this information on Christian samurai can be found in Stephen Turnbull, The Samurai and the Sacred, pp. 91-96)
Let us never forget these Samurai. The world wants us to solely focus on the pagan Samurai, but never the ones who realized the errors of their people, and fought to destroy paganism.
It is of every Christian to hate all that is against God. Solomon said, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil” (Proverbs 8:13), and David beautifully wrote:
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord; am I not disgusted with your enemies? (Psalm 139:21)
David also wrote: “Be angry, and do not sin.” (Psalm 4:4) What this means is that when we hate evil, we prevent ourselves from falling into sin. It is when we make humor out of evil, when he laugh at it and see it as just a ‘choice’ or a silly thing, that we fall into the very vice that we make fun of. “To do evil is like sport to a fool,” wrote the wise Solomon, “But a man of understanding has wisdom.” (Proverbs 10:23)
Never once in the Gospels do we ever read of Christ having fun. He never smiles nor laughs; He weeps and bitterly cries; His body drips with blood; He goes to war and into combat; He is a warrior and a monastic. It is in the somber presence of His Passion where we receive our strength and the zeal to pick up a whip and drive the thieves from His Church. As St. Catherine of Sienna once beautifully wrote:
Let our hearts, our minds, and desires be lifted up with this Company of Bitterness, and let us go to the Temple of our soul, and there we shall know ourselves. Then the soul, recognizing itself not to be, will recognize the goodness of God towards it, who is He who is. Then the will shall be uplifted with zeal, and shall love what God loves and hates what God hates. (Catherine of Siena, letter to Monna Colomba of Lucca)
Who then will enter into the somber presence of the Christian spirit, where earthly desires are cast aside, where the fires of the passions are extinguished, where the sword of Christ declares war against the hordes of the devil, and where the armies of God are always vigilant and preparing for holy combat and martyrdom?
Who, but the Christian, the warrior superior to all warriors?
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