The Catholic Defender: Born for Combat Part 1
Spiritual warfare is a reality few really pray much about these days, perhaps many think that to really stand up for the Catholic Faith today is not "politically correct"? There are many reasons for this mostly because much of the faithful are not spiritually prepared to make such a stand.
I learned a long time ago a lesson on the importance of spiritual warfare, When my oldest son Nathan was about 15 months old, I received another dream that had a major impact on me. I dreamed that we were swimming with some friends at a creek. We were diving off rocks into the water and having a great time. I noticed Nathan along the creek bed on the other side of the creek. As I was about to dive in I noticed a water snake swimming towards Nathan. I jumped into the water swimming as fast as I could towards Nathan to save him from the snake. My heart was beating hard and loud. As I reached out for the snake, it was about to strike Nathan and I woke up just at that moment. I sat up in the bed all wet from sweat. It took me a couple of minutes to realize this was only a dream. I took a few deep breaths and thanked God it was only a dream.
As I thought about it for a while, I began to see that the devil is after my children. I began to pray the prayer to St. Michael and I have used this prayer routinely for nearly 40 years. Talk about a wakeup call! From that time on, I tried to take spiritual warfare seriously.
(The prayer to St. Michael - St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen..
The importance for Christians to hold the line, that we are born for spiritual combat comes from the Vicar of Christ, Pope Leo XIII (1810 - 1903):
"To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as truth of what he professes to believe. The only ones who win when Christians stay "quiet" are the enemies of truth. The silence of Catholics is particularly disturbing because frequently a few bold words would have vanquished the false ideas."
Pope Leo XIII is very clear the importance of giving witness to the truth! Jesus said that He is the "Way, the Truth, and the Life"! That truth is not subject to the human will, but is the height the human will reaches towards. St. Peter gives this explanation:
"but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear: having a good conscience; that, wherein ye are spoken against, they may be put to shame who revile your good manner of life in Christ."
St. Jude goes one step farther giving foundation for Pope Leo XIII's point:
"Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ."
Unfortunately, many people seem to think the responsibility for preaching the faith only belongs to the Clergy, but that is not true at all? Consider Ephesians 2:19-21:
"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the LORD."
The Apostles and their successors whom they have ordained is clear, they are the authority. Who are the "prophets"? These are the ones born for combat! Those who proclaim God's word i.e as a lector at Mass, as a father or mother reading scripture before their families, bible studies, prayer meetings as examples. Because of my baseball background, I see the priest as like a third base coach and the layman as a first base coach. The false prophet is one who preaches something contrary to what the teaching Magisterium of the Catholic Church teach.
There is a story about Pope St. Pius X (1835 - 1914, successor to Pope Leo XIII) when one day he was talking to a group of his Cardinals, he posed this question to them:
What is the need today to save society?
The group of Cardinals began to deliberate this question, one responded, "Build Catholic Schools", another one cried out, "build more churches", and yet another answered "speed up the recruiting of priests". Pope St. Pius X took the opportunity to say:
"No, the most necessary thing of all at this time, is for every parish to posses a group of laymen who will be at the same time virtuous, enlightened, resolute truly apostolic". Jean-Baptiste Chautard "The Soul of the Apostolate"
A major truth is that without the Catholic priest, there is no Catholic Church, yet, without the faithful laity, there would be no Catholic priests. The Lord Jesus calls all who hear His voice to follow Him. The Church gives us the Scripture to proclaim God's Word, the Church gives us the grace through the Ministry of the Church to live the life of truth. We are to stand up for it.
St. Paul writes: "Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. 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. 16 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.