Catholic Worldvision: History as a Battlefield
Ignatians are men who have answered the summons of Our Lord Jesus Christ through His Mystical Body to give their lives to protect souls for the sake of their eternity. They are men who have determined to live with an alertness of spirit willing to face down the threats posed by the enemies of man’s soul.
“Our fight is not against human foes, but against cosmic powers, against the authorities and potentates of this dark world, against the superhuman forces of evil in the heavens. Stand firm, I say, fasten on the belt of truth. Take up God’s armour; then you will be able to stand your ground when things are at their worst, to complete every task and continue to resist.” ( Eph 6: 12,14,13)
This Catholic vision of history as a battlefield in which two loves combat for supremacy, in which the Church is a “resistance movement” and in which the true Christian is a combatant for Christ is everywhere present in the Old and New Testament.
Our Lord Jesus Christ has Stated our Default Position: Permanent War Footing
Therefore the Catholic default-position is a permanent war footing : we are to live in wartime. That’s what He said: we are saved but not safe! Regarding war with the world, the Master stated unequivocally: “You will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake” (Mt.24:9); regarding Satan’s attacks, he himself underwent the temptations of the Desert and tells us through his apostle: “Your enemy the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8); regarding concupiscence, his apostle asserted that “ I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members….with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Rm.7,23;25)
The Church will preserve the Spirit of God only on condition of being at war against the contrary spirit, the fallen spirit of Man. To be Catholic is to be militant. Therefore the Church has always recognized that there should be no non-combatants in her ranks on earth: “The Church consists principally of two parts, the one called Church triumphant and the other the Ecclesia Militans…… [it] is called militant, because it wages eternal war with those implacable enemies, the world, the flesh and the devil.” (Catechism of the Council of Trent).
While spiritual warfare is relentlessly present, its form varies with the different epochs of history. In this era under the “Dictatorship of Relativism” we witness a dramatic escalation of this spiritual warfare. “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;// Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,// The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere//The ceremony of innocence is drowned;//The best lack all conviction, while the worst//Are full of passionate intensity.”
Since 300 years ago we Catholics have been living in territory that has gradually been wrested from us becoming “enemy-occupied” where the oxygen we breathe is that of the wastelands of the Enlightenment. Within these lands although the threat of global-warming to man’s body is taken ever so seriously, the danger of glacial evil threatening man’s soul because of his fallen wounded nature is denied or ignored. Many even within the walls of the Church have dwarfed Christianity to a religion of peace, love, joy and brotherhood. That is damned nonsense. Of course Christianity is a religion of peace, love, joy and brotherhood – but it is a lot more besides! Peace, love, joy and brotherhood are not cheap; you pay a price in order to acquire them and conserve them – and the price is a relentless spiritual warfare made up of a bloody struggle with temptations and an ongoing self-conquest. Is there a single page in the New Testament where this truth is not hammered home?
If we decide to stand and hold our ground like the great priests of history, then the world will see the beginning of “God’s revolution” (Benedict XVI), the revolution of the Cross. This revolution has triumphed in the past and it will do so again over the present tyranny of relativism if we priests are what we should be: Alter Christus, leaders of men who march ahead of our people just as countless Catholic heroes and intellectuals who have marched before us building Western Civilization. Of course to be in the front line is to risk receiving a bullet but it is this heroic spirit that will re-build the Church. Because it is infectious, heroism will draw forth many and noble priestly vocations; it will summon the best of the Catholic laity to give battle in the heart of enemy-occupied territory; it will draw the upright “Gentiles” into the outer court and then into the inner sanctuary. It will be as if “at that moment, among the trees nearby, a horn rang out. It rent the night like fire on a hill-top” (J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings)