Father James Flynn, veteran and pastor, tells men to “put on the armor of Christ”
KELLER — For thousands of years, there’s been a war underway between people of faith and Satan. And Father James Flynn says that men must don the breastplate of righteousness and set the tone for their families and society itself in fighting for the salvation of souls in a troubled world.
Fr. Flynn, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Keller, delivered a powerful message in his presentation “Wearing the Armor of God,” Sept. 26 during the North Texas Catholic Brothers for Christ’s ExSpiritus 2020 Conference.
Fr. Flynn’s address was filled with personal experiences from his time fighting for his nation as a U.S. Army Ranger sniper in the first Gulf War, as well as scriptural lessons about using faith and courage in the fight against Satan.
“It’s important for men to take up their battle position. It’s important for men to be leaders,” Fr. Flynn said. “The only way to do that is to put on the armor of Christ.”
A native of Granbury, Fr. Flynn knows firsthand about putting on military armor in the defense of the nation, and his Catholic faith gives him insight and courage in the fight against Satan.
He joined the U.S. Army as a young man and went through both the U.S. and German Army ranger schools. Eventually, he was trained as a sniper and served in the first Gulf War where he witnessed intense battles and proof that having the right protective gear can save lives.
“I went through sniper school — it was a great experience,” Fr. Flynn said. “The Germans were very good marksmen and they were amazing teachers.”
As a soldier he learned that “it is important to have armor,” because armor gives you confidence. “It gives you the ability to do things you wouldn’t normally choose to do.”
Similarly, having the right spiritual armor is important in the battle against Satan.
Fr. Flynn reminded, “Satan never quits. He never gives up. He never tires. He doesn’t sleep. He doesn’t eat. He doesn’t do anything but think about the destruction of souls.”
In Ephesians 6:11-17, Fr. Flynn said, Scripture details the armor of God:
“Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.
Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.
So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Fr. Flynn has spent his adult life in service to nation and God.
During his military service, Fr. Flynn spent time in Oberammergau, Germany, which is famous for its Passion play that has been performed every 10 years since 1634 by the inhabitants of the village.
“After high school, I really got into atheism. I was not interested in God,” Fr. Flynn confided. “I was not interested in the restrictions of God and what He would put on me. And so, going to Oberammergau and that region really meant nothing to me.”
But Fr. Flynn said there was one image from his youth that stayed with him and helped steer him to a life in the Church.
“We would go to Mass every Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation in the household. Every Sunday, my father would come back from Communion, he would come back from receiving the Lord’s Body and Blood, and he would kneel down,” Fr. Flynn told listeners. “He would take off his glasses and put his hands over his face and he would pray. I remember that kind of burned into my brain. So even when I was away, even when I was away from the faith and away from God, and an atheist, that image always was there for me. And I think it was one of those things that helped bring me back.”
Fr. Flynn said, “You know, for a three-war Marine Corps colonel to have that sort of humility of faith, I think that’s what helped me gain a humility to bring me back to the faith. So, within that, we come to understand what it is the man is supposed to be doing — fighting the battle, going before the family, showing them the way to be a leader.”
It defines how a man must lead.
“We’ve learned far too often you can’t lead from the back. You can’t lead from cowardice. You have to lead with a sense of purpose,” he said.
“It’s important, maybe more important than ever, that men stand up and become the spiritual leaders of their household,” Fr. Flynn said. “You know, you can go through life and you can fake a lot of things, but when it comes to praying, your children know above all else whether you’re faking or not. They can see whether you pray or not, they can see whether you’re serious about faith or not, they can tell whether you’re hypocritical in your faith, or not.”
He continued, “That’s why it’s so important for fathers, especially, to be the spiritual leader of their household showing the love of our Heavenly Father.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event this year was a virtual gathering of Catholic men from across North Texas. It was livestreamed from the gymnasium at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton with social distancing and in-person attendance restrictions in place, said Bill Kula, the director of communications for North Texas Brothers for Christ.
Catholic Brothers for Christ was formed in 2011 to coordinate an annual North Texas Catholic Men’s Conference. It is made up of men from parishes throughout North Texas who are committed to building Christ’s body, according to its website.