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Bishop Athanasius Schneider in Rome, April 7, 2018Diane Montagna / LifeSiteNews

(LifeSiteNews) – When there is no battle, there is no Christendom. When there is no battle, there is no true Church of God, no true Catholic Church. The dramatic situation of “the whole world [which] is in the power of the evil one” (1 Jn 5:19; cf. 1 Pet 5:8) makes man’s life a battle (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 409). The Christian life is indeed a warfare.

Saint Paul wrote that “we wrestle” against the powers of darkness. “Our battle is not with flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

The Baltimore Catechism teaches us:

“We are called soldiers of Jesus Christ to indicate how we must resist the attacks of our spiritual enemies and secure our victory over them by following and obeying Our Lord. We have good reason never to be ashamed of the Catholic Faith because it is the Old Faith established by Christ and taught by His Apostles; it is the Faith for which countless Holy Martyrs suffered and died; it is the Faith that has brought true civilization, with all its benefits, into the world, and it is the only Faith that can truly reform and preserve public and private morals. We should know the Chief Mysteries of Faith and the duties of a Christian…, because as one cannot be a good soldier without knowing the rules of the army to which he belongs and understanding the commands of his leader, so one cannot be a good Christian without knowing the laws of the Church and understanding the commands of Christ. By the expression ‘these evil days’ we mean the present age or century in which we are living, surrounded on all sides by unbelief, false doctrines, bad books, bad example and temptation in every form.” (Part 3, lesson 15).

In the time of the Fathers of the Church the Christians were aware to be spiritual soldiers of Christ and to fight for the truth even at the risk of one’s life. Saint Cyril of Jerusalem told to the catechumens: “You are to be enrolled in the army of the Great King” (Catech. 3, 3). The Christian duty to fight against the sin, the errors and the temptations of the world, includes also the fight against the errors inside the Church, i.e. the fight against heresy and ambiguity in doctrine.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola is one of the most eloquent teachers of the truth about the Church militant. He writes in his book of the Spiritual Exercises: “Consider the war that Jesus Christ came to bring from Heaven to earth.” People are used to the idea that Our Lord Jesus Christ came to bring peace. Yet St. Ignatius with all naturality begins the meditation by saying “Consider that war that Jesus Christ came to bring from Heaven to earth.”

A true Catholic spiritual knight of 20th century, Plinio Correia de Oliveira – a Brazilian layman who spent all his life in defending the Holy Mother Church from the spiritual attacks and infiltration of the unchristian spirit of revolution, modernism and communism – said:

“Every man is born a soldier, although not every soldier will use his arms. Yes, all men are born soldiers because, as the Scripture states, Militia est vita hominis super terram [The life of man upon earth is a warfare] (Job 7:1). Our life is a fight, and this is how we must consider it first and foremost. A man is born a soldier at the first moment he sees the natural light. Then when he is baptized, he receives the light of grace and is born a second time, now to the supernatural life, becoming a soldier in its defense. Further, the Church has a special Sacrament that confirms a man as a soldier in the full sense of the word. It is the sacrament of Confirmation. Not every soldier uses his weapons on the battlefield, but whoever does so is privileged. Since the duty of the soldier is to fight, when he takes up arms to enter battle he becomes privileged. Imagine a painter who does not paint, a musician who cannot make music, a singer who cannot sing, a professor who is unable to give classes, a diplomat prevented from engaging in politics. Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Catholic Church, comes asking us to join His Holy War inside the Church against progressivism, and inside the State, against communism. And He appeals to us to fight and not be soft or indifferent to this struggle, but to wage battle with all our soul.

Of course, St. Ignatius does not speak about progressivism. Since his meditation is destined for all times, he refers generically to the world, the devil and the flesh, which are the causes of all errors at all times, in which they simply change name. In his time, the error was Protestantism, supported by people who called themselves Catholics but who were deep down Protestants working for Protestantism inside the Catholic Church. In the civil sphere, those persons tended to eliminate all social and political inequalities. In other words, they were forerunners of the French Revolution.” (Plinio Correia de Oliveira).

We possess very apt and impressive affirmations of the Popes of the modern times about the essential militant characteristic of the Church. Pope Leo XIII taught: “The enemy forces, inspired by the evil spirit, ever wage war on the Christian name. They join forces in this endeavor with certain groups of men whose purpose is to subvert divinely revealed truths and to rend the very fabric of Christian society with disastrous dissent. Indeed, how much damage these cohorts, as it were, have inflicted on the Church is well-known. And yet, the spirit of all previous groups hostile to Catholic institutions has come to life again in that group called the Masonic sect, which, strong in manpower and resources, is the leader in a war against anything sacred.” (Leo XIII, Encyclical Inimica vis, 8 December 1892).

“To refrain from doing battle for Jesus Christ amounts to fighting against Him; He Himself assures us ‘He will deny before His Father in heaven those who shall have refused to confess Him on earth’ (Luke 9:26).” (Leo XIII, Encyclical Sapientiae christianae, 43).

“The enemies of the Church have for their object – and they hesitate not to proclaim it, and many among them boast of it – to destroy outright, if possible, the Catholic religion, which alone the true religion. With such a purpose in and they shrink from nothing, for they are fully conscious that the more faint-hearted those who withstand them become, the more easy will it be to work out their wicked will. Therefore, they who cherish the ‘prudence of the flesh’ and who pretend to be unaware that every Christian ought to be a valiant soldier of Christ; they who would faro obtain the rewards owing to conquerors, while they are leading the lives of cowards, untouched in the fight, are so far from thwarting the onward march of the evil – disposed that, on the contrary, they even help it forward.” (ibid., 34).

Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (the future Pope John Paul II), in an address during the Eucharistic Congress in 1976 in Philadelphia in the United States of America, said: “We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has ever experienced. I do not think that the wide circle of the American Society, or the whole wide circle of the Christian Community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the antichrist. The confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence. It is, therefore, in God’s Plan, and it must be a trial which the Church must take up, and face courageously.”

Our weapons are the weapons of justice, and these are the weapons in first place of prayer and of a saintly life, the weapons of the spiritual help of the Holy Angels, the weapons of the sacred science, of the sacred apologetics, the weapons of righteous and honest individual and collective protests against the de-christianisation and moral degradation of the society.

Already in 1946, Pope Pius XII made the following very apt and realistic analysis of the spiritual situation of the world and the Church in our times: “The subject, against which the adversary directs his assaults in our days, openly or insidiously, is not more, as it was usually in the past, the one or the other particular item of doctrine or discipline, but the whole of the faith and Christians morals up to its ultimate consequences. It’s a matter of a complete yes or of a complete no. In such real circumstances a true Catholic must remain all the more firmly and securely on the ground of his faith and demonstrate this with his deeds.” (Discourse to the youth of the Italian Catholic Action, April 20, 1946).

As soldiers of Christ every Catholic should be always conscious of the fact that he belongs to the army of the winners, because “Christus vincit,” and as Saint John Chrysostom concisely formulated: “It is easier to delete the sun, than to destroy the Church” (Hom. In Is. 7).

In holy Baptism according to the traditional rite of the Roman Church, we have been signed with seven crosses in order to be always reminded that the Christian is inseparably united with the Cross of Our Lord, in order to be spiritually protected and in order to lead a life of the holy battle for the Lord with the invincible sign of His cross. We were signed on the forehead to accept the cross of the Lord; we were signed on the ears to listen the Divine precepts; we were signed on the eyes to see the clarity of God; we were signed on the nose to smell the sweetness of Christ; we were signed on the mouth to speak the words of life; we were signed on the chest to believe in God and we were signed on the shoulders to take upon us the yoke of the service of Christ.

The most powerful help in our personal life as soldiers of Christ and in the life of the entire militant Church is the Blessed Virgin Mary and Mother of God, and She is the winner in all the battles of the Lord. To Her we turn ourselves praying: “August Queen of Heaven, sovereign queen of Angels, you who at the beginning received from God the power and the mission to crush the head of Satan, we beseech you humbly, send your holy legions so that, on your orders and by your power, they will track down demons, fight them everywhere, curb their audacity and plunge them into the abyss. Who can be compared to God? Oh good and tender Mother, you will always be our love and our hope. Oh divine Mother, send the Holy Angels and Archangels to defend me and to keep the cruel enemy far from me. Holy Angels and Archangels defend us, protect us. Amen.”

+ Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana