I like that: Master Defender. That would be “Alexamenos” in Greek, you know, the donkey boy who worshiped the crucified donkey in that ancient graffito of the Imperial School in Rome. I wrote a novel of some 750 pages about someone named after him. I’ll have to revise that and publish that for real.
Anyway, O.K. So, this is all a brilliant marketing ploy, with the USCCA (of which I’m a platinum member thanks to a wonderful reader) betting that you’re going to fail some of the questions and then they can more convincingly sell you on their training packages which look to be worth the cost regardless. If you fail the questions, you can even retake the exam right away. I didn’t need to. I got all the questions right. Some were a little tricky. BUT, I agree with the BUT. One has to stay sharp. Especially about the “close-quarters” bit. Even though I practice with scenario based events, they are all so far at a distance as distance shooting under pressure is more difficult. But very close quarters training is also necessary. They are right.
And this goes for the spiritual life as well. Things are tough, are they not, when Satan is on the attack and we’re befuddled and cognizant of how much nothing we are, you know, a close quarters fight like that? That’s when training comes in handy, that is, training in God’s love, which cuts through Satan’s mind games as God’s love is on another level altogether and is stronger than our weakness, our befuddlement, stronger than death. Saint Paul speaks of us carrying treasures in ultra-weak earthen vessels, so easily shattered, yet giving us the dignity of being called the very tabernacles of the Holy Spirit, tabernacles that can have the purity of heart and agility of soul to follow the Holy Spirit whithersoever He would bring us. And He does bring us unscathed right through the worst battles with Satan, that is, if we have no fear. Why have fear. Love conquers all fear. The Holy Spirit brings us right across the battle ground of Calvary in close quarters battle with all of hell broken out, right there to Jesus on the Cross, to be with Him in all solidarity as He is in solidarity with us, watching, praying, as He draws others to Himself also with our intercession.
In the spiritual life we can never rest on our laurels (as we have none, as Jesus is our Savior). It’s misleading to give ourselves titles like Master Defender or to guess at what level in the spiritual life we are at such as by saying “I’m in the dark night of the soul now!” That’s all totally self-defeating, as that is giving into pride and emphasizing ourselves and making of ourselves our own saviors. How many want their spiritual directors to say, “Ooooh! You are now at this level!” That makes the spiritual director into a kind of palm reader and puts the directee at risk of going to hell. That would be as bad as the USCCA telling me that I’ve arrived (which they didn’t). I’m very wary of wearing that badge of Master Defender as all I did was answer questions the right way. There’s a difference between sitting in a chair and calmly answering questions on the one hand and then on the other hand being in the heat of battle when you don’t have the luxury of thinking things out. In the spiritual life, with God’s love saving us, we can be solidly before Him even in the dark night of the soul (however dark, however befuddling), and know always and be grateful that He alone is our Savior. Jesus is the one. He is the Master Defender of our souls.
P.S. Of course, our Guardian Angels bear the title of Master Defender.