Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Ranger Creed, Catholicism, and Life

The essential doctrine of the U.S. Army Rangers is embodied in the Ranger Creed and the essential doctrine of the Catholic Church is embodied in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If we examine both these doctrinal sources and contrast and compare them we find a philosophy, which if followed, cannot help but lead us down the path towards fully developing our potential as citizens, parents, children, and members of the human race. It is a philosophy that is not easy to follow, but as one of my Ranger Instructors once told me “If it was easy than anyone could do it.”
The Ranger Creed is comprised of six stanzas each beginning with a different letter comprising the word Ranger. The first stanza is as follows:
Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of my Ranger Regiment.

Unlike the old military cliché which encourages us to never volunteer for anything, Rangers are triple volunteers. They volunteer for the Army, they volunteer for airborne training and they volunteer for the Rangers. The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states “God wills that each might receive what he or she needs from others and that those endowed with particular talents should share them with others (Compendium 118).” God calls us to be an active participant in our community. Volunteerism is at the core of what it means to be a productive member of our democratic society. Without the thousands of volunteers from all walks of life volunteering for all manners of projects our country would experience a deficient of decency that would be difficult to recover from. So to be a good Ranger and to be a good citizen it is imperative that individuals volunteer for something and share their talents.
Stanza number two:

Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move farther, faster and fight harder than any other soldier.

Human beings are not just another member of the animal kingdom, we are the elite. We have been endowed by God with something that no other animal has; we have free will. God has given us the ability to make our own decisions with regards to our destiny. We can even make the choice not to believe in him!! “The right to exercise freedom belongs to everyone because it is inseparable from his or her dignity as a human being (Compendium 109).” As anyone who reads Spider-Man comics knows with awesome power comes awesome responsibility.
Just as the country expects Rangers to move farther, faster and fight harder God expects us not to waste the gift of free will that is bestowed only on human beings. “Freedom attains its proper perfection when it is directed toward God, the highest good and our beatitude. Freedom implies the possibility of choosing between god and evil. The choice of evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to the slavery of sin (Compendium 108).” It is our obligation to strive for the perfection that we have been given the tools to achieve.
Stanza number three:
Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be. One-hundred-percent and then some.

We must relentlessly hammer away at the human propensity for sloth and complacency. We must always continue to develop new goals and strive to achieve them. We must give one hundred percent to any task we are assigned. “ All men and women according to their place and role that they occupy participate in promoting the common good by respecting just laws and taking charge of areas for which they have personal responsibility such as care of their family and commitment to their own work (Compendium 118).” Workers must give employers an honest day’s work and not steal from their employer either by actual physical theft or by goofing off. Physical fitness must be maintained to the best of ones ability and spirituality must continue to be nurtured and explored. We must continue to improve mentally, physically and spiritually. To do anything less is to let down our family, co- workers and comrades.
Stanza number four:
Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.

Courtesy, neatness, and the proper maintenance of equipment; while some may think these are quaint relics of the past they are just as relevant today as they once were. With the “dumbing down” of our society to the least common denominator, media sources bombard us daily with images of rude and obnoxious behavior. This perpetuates an idea that every member of society is out for themselves. This idea manifests itself in our society when we discuss the issue of abortion which has been dumbed down to a discussion of the rights of the mother to make her own health care decisions. What are glossed over are the rights of the unborn child. “Human life must be respected because it is sacred. From its beginning human life involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator (Compendium 137). “Do not slay the innocent and righteous (Exodus 23:7).” Who is the advocate for the defenseless in a society where everyone is out for themselves? While some may consider this a stretch, a society that does not practice common courtesy toward each other is missing the glue that holds a society together and eventually murder of innocent parties is tolerated.
Stanza number five:
Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

Surrender is not a Ranger word; how often have we just given up when things got difficult? When our children have found our one remaining nerve and are starting to jump on it with big spikey boots, have we thrown in the towel? Of course not, we soldier on and resolve the situation. This stanza is about fighting the good fight and putting forth our best effort. It is also about helping others as once again the moral obligation to assist those in need is emphasized. . “The human virtues are habitual and stable perfections of the intellect and will govern our actions, order our passions and guide our conduct according to reason and faith (Compendium 112).”Whatever our personal problems may be we must continue to move towards their defeat. We never should surrender to despair, in the words of one of my favorite song lyrics “Quit ‘ur bitchin’ and fight your way through it!!”
Stanza number six:
Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.

“Fortitude assures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. In reaches even to the ability of possibly sacrificing one’s own life for a just cause (Compendium 112).” We must fight for what we believe in, a person without principle is a person adrift and aimless. Find your own philosophy and live it.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here I am. Send me!”
Isaiah 6:8


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