For God and Country

March 30, 2013

Leo Peter Craig The remains of U.S. Army Chaplain Fr. Leo Craig, O.P., were brought back to New York City from Korea on September 25, 1951. His funeral mass was celebrated in the Dominican rite at the Church of Saint Vincent Ferrer. Fr. Leo paid the ultimate price for “God and country” while serving the men of the 1st Cavalry Division. It is the same Army division that later fought in Vietnam. During the opening salvoes of the Vietnam War a Forward Air Controller sent a coded radio message: “Broken Arrow, Broken Arrow.” It was a request that all available fighter-bombers come to the aid of “an American unit in grave danger of being overrun. Against nearly insurmountable odds, the men of C Company held their ground. In the same way, Fr. Leo Craig refused to back down when there was a dying soldier in harm’s way who needed Last Rites. Saint Dominic also held his ground nearly 800 years ago when the Church was in mortal danger. Adherents of a false ideology denying the fundamental goodness of creation were spreading heresy in the very center of Christian Europe. Mary heard Saint Dominic’s prayer for help in converting their hearts and defending the Church from their ideas, and so she gave him the Holy Rosary as a powerful weapon. “Courage!” This was Pope John Paul II’s rallying cry to a World Youth Day crowd of young Catholics struggling to live faithful to Christ in an increasingly hostile world. Certainly, there is no shortage of bleak assessments for our own society: The institutional breakdown of marriage; moral confusion and compromise concerning abortion and contraception; and an increasingly vocal and brazen opposition of Church teaching from within. Yet it is from this society that the Province of Saint Joseph is generously accepting the vocations of holy and courageous young men faithful to the teachings of the Church and anxious to carry Saint Dominic’s torch of “praising God, blessing His people, and preaching His Gospel.” Archbishop DiNoia, O.P., believes that these men “have experienced moral relativism” in “the culture and recognized it as a chaotic, but radical alternative to Christianity with which no compromise is possible.” Instead of acquiescing to this rejection of Christ, they are laying down their lives and talents for the service of the Church.

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