Prepare For Spiritual War
To Engage The Enemy!
by Mary Ann Kreitzer
We are born for a great enterprise – the monumental conflict between the forces of good under the banner of Jesus Christ versus the forces of evil under the prince of this world. Every person on earth was delivered on the battlefield. Recognition of that fact is impressed on Catholics from the earliest moments of life. On our baptism day the priest anointed us as soldiers committed to fight in the Church Militant. Later, confirmation confirmed our duty and gave us the strength to persevere. The sacraments initiate us into the battle and give us the weapons we need to fight. Our demonic enemies, vicious and powerful, are a lot smarter than we are. So unless we put on the armor of God, make use of the weapons of spiritual warfare, and embrace the battle strategy of our generals we are no match for the evil power of the bad angels.
While baptism began our military life, those baptized under the new rite experienced a significantly different sacrament. The novus ordo ceremony eliminated most of the militant language of the rite as well as the direct assault on the enemy through solemn exorcism. The new rite, in contrast, focuses on welcoming the baby into the community of faith. In the traditional rite the parents and godparents speak for the child affirming the rejection of Satan and the child’s commitment to follow Christ. The new rite addresses those questions, not to the child, but to the congregation, diluting baptism’s individual call.
The traditional rite recognizes exactly how serious our earthly battle is and prepares even the tiniest soldiers for war. It does that, first of all, by rescuing the little one from the clutches of the devil. The rite begins outside the church, a powerful image, since the child is a prisoner in Satan’s kingdom as we all are at birth due to original sin.
Similar to the militant nature of Baptism, the traditional rite of Confirmation reaffirms and strengthens our call to battle. But the new rite completely changed the sacrament to make it more acceptable to Protestants. In fact, although both Confirmation rites contain about the same number of words, there is almost nothing in common between the “old” rite and its post Vatican II alterations. The new ceremony of Confirmation more closely corresponds to the non-sacramental Lutheran profession of faith and also contains elements from Calvin.
Dan Graham, in his book, Lex Orandi, compares the two rites of Baptism and Confirmation side by side (as he does with all seven sacraments). He points out that “Novus Ordo Baptism downplays the candidate’s individual relationship with God and promotes the importance of the candidates’ relationship with the congregation and, by extension, humanity.” As for Confirmation, changing the sacrament “to accommodate non-Catholics is a contradiction...The confirmed must profess the Catholic Faith openly, without compromise, especially when the Church is attacked. Consequently, the sacrament of Confirmation itself argues against accommodation and ecumenism.”
Pope Francis’ recent statement that fraternity is the “anchor of salvation” is in complete conformity with the altered forms of Baptism and Confirmation which focus more on the importance of the community than on freeing the baby from the clutches of the devil or confirming the Confirmandi in the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the purpose of fighting for the Catholic faith!
Do the changes in the sacramental rites matter? After all, the only thing necessary for baptism is for the minister, who can be anyone, even a non-Catholic, to pour the water and say the correct words. The Confirmandi still receive the sacrament of Confirmation. The question is, do we believe the adage -- Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi – which essentially means the way we worship affects the way we believe, and the way we live. If that’s true, then the form of the sacraments are, in fact, crucial to our faith formation.
Deacon Keith Fornier, not himself a traditionalist, nevertheless, affirms the truth of the adage:
The Church has long understood that part of her role as mother and teacher is to watch over worship....How we worship not only reveals and guards what we believe but guides us in how we live our Christian faith and fulfill our Christian mission in the world by manifesting the continuing presence of the Risen Jesus Christ.
Think about that for a moment. When the sacramental rites were changed after Vatican II to make them more acceptable to Protestants and advance ecumenism, did that in fact, have the reciprocal effect of making Catholics more Protestant in their prayer, belief, and life? Fournier goes on:
Worship is not an "add on" for a Catholic Christian. It is the foundation of Catholic identity, expressing our highest purpose. Worship reveals what we truly believe and how we view ourselves in relationship to God, one another, and the world into which we are sent to carry forward the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ. How the Church worships is a prophetic witness to the truth of what it professes. Good worship becomes a dynamic means of drawing the entire human community into the fullness of life in Jesus Christ. It attracts - through Beauty to Beauty. Worship informs and transforms both the person and the faith community which participates in it. There is reciprocity between worship and life.
Amen to that! Could the traditional mass ever have been debased like the novus ordo into clown
masses, polka masses, or the psychedelic sideshow Fr. Michael Pfleger celebrated on Christmas Eve at Chicago’s St. Sabina’s? Would the flock at a traditional parish receive a “guitar blessing” at the end of Mass like Fr. Terrence Keehan gave Holy Family parishioners in Inverness saying, "Loving God, rock with us as we roll with you. Affirm us, so that we may affirm others. Sing your song in us, that we may sing it with others.” Violation of the rubrics at Pfleger’s and Keehan’s masses were legion. And yet, Cardinal Cupich has done nothing to rein in these abuses while he is moving rapidly to suppress the TLM.
Among the worst recent abuses was the Pachamama monstrance with Christ Himself, placed in the belly of the Pachamama idol. This atrocity was committed by Fr. José Luis González Santoscoy while he was filling in for the vacationing pastor at St. John Macias parish in Zapopan, Mexico who knew nothing about it until he returned and condemned it. Pachamama worship is popping up in many places with the enthusiastic approval of Pope Francis himself. When the “Park of Encounter” opened in Argentina recently featuring a Catholic Church, a Protestant chapel, a Buddhist temple, a synagogue, and a mosque, surrounding a “Pachamama amphitheater” with an “obelisk of human brotherhood,” the pope praised it in a handwritten note to the architects. Once again, he promoted a syncretism which presents the Catholic faith as just one pathway to God. Is it any wonder that the soldiers on the battlefield of faith are confused and in disorder? Was Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre correct when, after the first ecumenical meeting at Assisi called by Pope John Paul II, he put his head in his hands and said, “It’s the death of the missions?” Why try to convert anyone when every religion, including paganism is a pathway to salvation?
The abuses against the Catholic faith continue to take place all over the world. The Church in Germany is approaching apostasy with its determination to bless same-sex unions and allow those in invalid marriages as well as Protestants to receive Communion. The latest synod on synodality looks to be one more channel of error used by enemies within the Church to gut the faith.
Could any of this have happened if traditional rites had remained intact rather than a procession of never-ending novelties? What impact did Vatican II have on forming seminarians, our future priests and combat commanders? Did it prepare them to train their flocks to be valiant soldiers of Christ? What does liturgical abuse do to the preservation and transmission of the faith? Why do so many religious surveys show that the Catholic Church is losing more members than any other faith group? These are questions worth asking and worth studying. To fight a war, you first need to understand the nature of the conflict and the battleground where the fight takes place. The fight is in the Church and, to a large degree, it’s about how we worship!
Soldiers are trained at boot camp and the boot camp of the faith is spiritual formation through prayer and the sacraments. The two sacraments most necessary are Confession and the Holy Eucharist. But how many Catholics actually go to Confession? How many believe in the Real Presence? Religious indifferentism is fostered by turning the faith into Catholicism for dummies. The Church does not teach that all religions lead to God. And why should anyone go to Confession, an uncomfortable sacrament that forces us to accuse ourselves of sins and failings, if we can have a “reasonable belief that all are saved?” Why bother if I’m going to heaven anyway?
Real Catholics know the answer. The only way to defeat a spiritual enemy is through spiritual means. And to be an effective spiritual warrior requires putting on the mind of our General and joining the battle under His command.
So how do we do that? Pope St. Pius X told his advisors that what was most necessary for the rejuvenation of the Church was a holy body of laymen committed to the interior life to become leaders and models in their parishes which at that time all celebrated the traditional Latin mass and the tradition sacraments. "The greatest obstacle in the apostolate of the Church,” Pius said, “is the timidity or rather the cowardice of the faithful." Cowards run from the enemy. The true soldier, like the shepherd boy, David, runs to meet the enemy even when he appears to be a giant among men. The prescription for overcoming cowardice and timidity and defeating the enemy in battle is not a secret, nor is it complicated. Pius explained it well saying:
When the Lord cries out, “Whom shall I send?” will we answer, “Send me!”? One of St. Pius’ favorite books was The Soul of the Apostolate, a rule book for growing in the interior life. Those serious about serving in the Army of the Lord would be well advised to pick it up, study it, and put it into practice. When the mind of the soldier conforms to the mind and will of the general, only then will he be a good and faithful soldier. So let us examine what’s necessary for success. Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, in The Soul of the Apostolate, outlines it for us by describing the work of Dom Sebastian Wyart. Before entering the priesthood, Wyart served for ten years in the papal army under Pope Pius IX and later fought in the Franco-Prussian war receiving the medal of the Legion of Honour for bravery. After the war he traded his uniform for the habit and became the first Abbott General of the Order of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance. A soldier and a man of prayer, he is the ideal drill sergeant for the Catholic troops. Dom Chautard explains the three types of labor Wyart described as encompassing the Christian apostolate.
When we see the repeated victories of our infernal foes, we well wonder, in our anxiety, where to look for the salvation of our society. When will it be the Church's turn to win a few battles? The answer is easy: we can say with Our Lord, "This kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting." It will be our turn when the ranks of the clergy and of the religious orders will have begun to produce a body of mortified men who will make the great splendor of the mystery of the Cross blaze in the eyes of all peoples; and the nations of the earth, seeing in mortified priests and religious, how reparation is made for the sins of the world, will also understand the Redemption of the world by the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ. Only then will the army of the devil begin to retreat, and the ages of human history will no longer echo with the terrible anguished cry of our outraged Lord -- that cry that will at last have found some to make reparation: “And I sought among them for a man that might set up a hedge, and stand in the gap before me in favor of the land, that I might not destroy it, and I found none."
The first is manual labor, a duty no one on earth can avoid. We all have jobs to do that involve physical work. This labor, Wyart says, is easiest of all. The second type is much harder, the “intellectual toil of the scholar...in his often arduous pursuit of truth” which he communicates to others. Not only teachers do work of the intellect A general during a battle must “foresee and direct everything and make the proper decisions” requiring study and analysis. While this second labor is greater than the first, the third labor, fostering the interior life, is the hardest of all. It requires that one “takes unremitting domination of self and complete control over his environment in order to act in all things solely for the glory of God.” Sounds simple, but it’s a lifelong project that requires a daily commitment of practicing the presence of God.
All of the saints practiced both deep contemplation and mortification. You can’t develop an intimate friendship without spending time with a person. The same is true with God. Jesus gave us the example we need to follow. He spent thirty years in seclusion, then forty days retreating in the wilderness in prayer and mortification. He constantly went to quiet places to pray during his intense three years of activity. The active apostolate must be grounded in the interior life; otherwise we spin our wheels and the apostolate can become nothing more than a source of personal gratification. Mary Magdalene knelt at the feet of Christ and listened to His words. She chose “the better part.” Each of us is called to do likewise. Until we learn that, we are likely to be anxious and frustrated and will accomplish little. The monks’ motto is ora et labora, pray and work. The interior life of prayer and intimate union with God always comes first. This Lent, let us all carve out a block of daily time to sit with the Lord and hear the words of God at the river Jordan. “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him!” Then follow him onto the battlefield!