These guys are hungry!

July 24, 2012


I woke up for the March for Life at “O’Dark-thirty,” a military term for those bleak, lonely hours between midnight and 05:00 a.m., when most people are fast asleep snug and warm in their beds while grunts, Army or Marine, are out in all types of weather training or in combat. The first time I heard the term “O’Dark-thirty” was from Captain Mark Ropel, who served in the 82nd Airborne with my sister Maureen. The paratroopers of the 407th often wake at “O’Dark-thirty” to get fuel to a forward area, transport critical ammunition, food and supplies, fix damaged vehicles, maintain the Brigade’s weapons systems, or to treat and evacuate casualties from the drop zone. The motto of the 407th, “Supply is Strength,” speaks a profound truth about your own role in helping the Catholic Church win this culture war. You are our strength which allows us to march forward in the new springtime of evangelization. Although there were at least 600,000 people in D.C. for the protest, I was able to meet up with my niece Kate, who I baptized over twelve years ago during my first Mass. I also ran into many friends and friars I haven’t seen in years, including Captain Mark Ropel. He no longer wears his Army uniform; rather, clerical garb. We both studied with the Dominicans at the Angelicum before entering the priesthood. Father Mark once told me that supply chain management is, and always has been, an important characteristic of any  military organization. Since ancient times, successful military leaders have recognized the importance of maintaining a supply line to keep their troops equipped. Alexander the Great incorporated supply chain logistics into his overall military strategy; the Roman Army also had tactics to both defend its own supply lines and attack the enemies’ supply lines. Although this aspect of military strategy may not be as exciting as battlefield tactics, it is no less critical to success. Often the battle is fought and decided by supply tactics before the shooting begins. Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “An army marches on its stomach.” If Catholics are not properly nourished with the Bread of Life, if they are not trained to wield the sword of truth and armed with the weapon of the Rosary, they are already defeated, which is why so many of the faithful have fallen from our ranks. This is also precisely why so many young men are joining the Dominican Friars. They know they are going to get the best training available. These young men have a great desire for holiness, truth and, most importantly, to reach souls who are in harm’s way. There are enemies who would like to cut off our supply lines by dramatically increasing taxes and reducing charitable giving. In fact, they are counting on this. What they have not calculated is your resolve to win this war. You are behind each of the stories in this website. You are our strength, and our sentinels in the Church’s honor guard. God bless you! Father Gabriel Gilen, O.P.

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