Total Defence: The Armour of God
Every February 15, Singapore marks Total Defence Day, on the anniversary of the day that Singapore surrendered to Japan in World War II and began to suffer under the Japanese Occupation.
Total Defence Day emphasises that every sector of society is vital to the defence of the nation. It is not just the army, navy and air force that protects our country, but also the civil defence forces and the civilian populace.
We have six pillars of Total Defence: Military, Civil, Economic, Social, Digital and Psychological Defence.
Likewise, in the spiritual life, we have various means of defence against the wiles of the devil and temptations of this world. St Paul wrote to the Ephesians (6:10-17):
“… be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
How do we maintain our spiritual armour? We cannot simply go to church on Sundays and neglect our spiritual life during the rest of the week – our armour will become rusty. Faith is meant to infuse every aspect of our lives, guiding us to make ethical decisions and to grow ever closer to God as we prepare during this earthly pilgrimage to someday enter Heaven.
As Lent approaches, we can take up spiritual exercises and practise praying, fasting and almsgiving. In today’s modern materialistic and high-tech society, it can be all too easy to become distracted from our ultimate goal – God – and immersed in our possessions and entertainment media. Lent is an opportunity to reset our habits and polish up our spiritual armour.
We can take up spiritual reading and study apologetics to strengthen our belts of truth. The sacrament of Confession will give us the graces necessary to live righteous and upright lives, shielding our hearts like a breastplate. Frequent scripture reading – perhaps set aside 10-15 minutes each morning to contemplate the Mass readings for the day – and scriptural meditation through the Rosary will instil in us the sense of abiding peace that comes from being rooted in the Word of God.
We are never alone – our guardian angels are fighting right beside us for the good of our souls, and we are surrounded by a cloud of heavenly witnesses, the saints who have completed their earthly lives in the Church Militant and are now cheering us on as the Church Triumphant. Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).