Enemy-Occupied Territory

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“Enemy-occupied territory – that is what this world is” said C. S.Lewis. He was merely echoing God’s word in the New Testament: “The whole world is in the power of the evil one.”(1 John 5:19).  As Tolkien put it:

And Arien, Morgoth feared with a great fear, but dared not come in nigh her, having no longer the power; for as he grew on malice, and sent forth from himself the evil that he conceived in lies and creatures of wickedness, his might passed into them and was dispersed, and he himself became ever more bound to the earth, unwilling to issue from his dark strongholds. (J.R.R. TOLKIEN, The Silmarillion, p. 113-114).

It is the homeland of all those who oppose Jesus Christ and his Kingdom of Truth, Goodness and Love – either explicitly or implicitly enlisting in the “Axis of Evil” because they have embraced sin, whether they call themselves Catholic or not. This is the teaching on every page of the New Testament.

Our Lord Jesus Christ has left no doubt as to what our attitude must be: “For all that is in the world is the concupiscence of flesh and the concupiscence of the eyes and the pride of life.”( 1 John 2:16). Elsewhere: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.” (1 Jn.1:16)

War therefore is inevitable and relentless: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…..If they persecuted me, they will persecute you;” ( John 15:18-20)

The priest, even though he loves every person, will be seen as an enemy by many, as someone who provokes the guilty conscience, who is a threat to the status quo.  This occurred right from our beginnings. The first Roman persecutions occurred largely because of the Christian provocation to the decadent Roman lifestyle:  by rejecting abortion and infanticide, all forms of sexual immorality and dishonesty, Christians became an unbearable pain to the immoral conscience of some Romans. Today is no different:  true Catholics in the “tolerant” West risk loss of job, promotion and reputation;  in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle-East our brothers and sisters  are not even allowed churches at times – and in some places open persecution is occurring.

“On one hand”, said Pope Benedict XVI on May 3rd 2009, “we exclaim as John did in his First Letter: ‘See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.’ And on the other hand, bitterly we attest: ‘The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him’ (1 John 3:1).”It is true, and we priests know this from experience: The ‘world,’ in the sense that John uses the word, does not understand the Christian, does not understand the ministers of the Gospel — in part, because in fact it does not know God and in part, because it does not want to know him.”

The world has a love-hate relationship with the Catholic priest. It hates him because his very existence is a condemnation of its sin and yet it is fascinated by the true priest because he symbolizes the supernatural and the heroic especially through his celibacy. Within some of the virulent cries of hypocrisy against the handful of priests who commit crimes there is a furious interior cry “We want to believe….we thought you were different……and you betrayed us!”

“Nevertheless, Benedict XVI cautioned, the “world” also ensnares the Church, “contaminating its members and even the ordained ministers.” This world, he explained, “is a mentality, a way of thinking and living that can contaminate even the Church, and in fact does contaminate it, and therefore demands constant vigilance and purification.” “We are ‘in’ the world and we also run the risk of being ‘of’ the world,” the Pope added. “And in fact, sometimes we are.”

The world seeks to either make you one of its own or else break you into submission by fear. It is constantly trying to “domesticate” the priest, to turn him into “a tame lion”, so that while he still gives lip service to God, performs vocal prayers and the breviary (although with omissions and without his heart being in it), he lives like a worldling in imagination, speech, behavior and on the internet.