Meditation: There are no atheists in foxholes

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 6, 2019

By Fr. Jonathan Filkins

It is the universal shout of immediate need heard over the din of the innumerable battlefields of history. “Medic! Medic!” The effect is to bring aid to those who had been wounded, or nearly dead. Often coming, at moments of extraordinary duress, the angelic heroism of the combat medical teams are legendary.

No one knows who related, “there are no atheists in foxholes,” but the phrase conveys the human condition when it is under duress. It may be noted, in September of 2001, attendance at religious institutions boomed, as America and the world was shaken by the despicable acts surrounding the destruction in New York and Washington, D.C. Extreme violence brought the masses to their respective altars.

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As the urgency of the times waned, worship attendance followed. In the seventeen plus years since, we have seen the necessity for returning to the emotional “foxholes” become a distant memory. Some may, as indicated by their faith abstinence, feel compelled to fill in the dusty voids with self-assurance.

Yet, as we know of the nature of ourselves, it is only a matter of time when we, once again, head for shelter. Some of us may be doing it even now.

Oh yes, it may be on a smaller scale. Perhaps it is the sudden loss of a loved one, or friend. The onset of a tragic disease, a car crash, loss of employment, homelessness, or any other of the myriad of stressors may drive us into the pit. In the dark gloom of our despair, having exhausted all of our options, we are left with a solution to our problem.

The solution is to only rely upon the infinite power of our God; while acknowledging our own limitations. As Christians, Jesus taught us to believe in this very point. He said, “I am.”

Here is the unambivalent statement of the existence of God and the necessity of Faith. It presupposes the existence of a Supreme Being and is before us; in the presence of the Christ. However, in order to be under His grace, we are also told of the most necessary actions in order to be with Him. Let us note, these are requirements; not merely suggestions.

Should we be, for what we shall call “Foul Weather Christians,” and only dive for shelter in His Church during times of stress, shouting “Jesus! Jesus!” then what may we expect from our Creator and His Son?

As this earthly life is fraught with constant challenges and stressors, both big and small, then the real calling is our spending much time in the protection of our individual “foxholes.”

This place is found in the recesses of our minds, hearts and souls, which provides the sanctity of the Slavic Words and performing the heroic deeds we have been proscribed. In our acknowledgment of the inspirational work of the Holy Spirit, we find ourselves not shouting, “Medic! Medic!” but instead shouting, “Thank you, Thank you.”