Church Militant Field Manual
Pope Benedict XVI, while having lunch with the College of Cardinals on May 22, 2012, reflected on the topic of the “battle against evil” and said “though the term ‘ecclesia militans’ [church militant] is ‘somewhat out of fashion,’ it is true, ‘it bears truth in itself.’”
He went on to say:
“We see how evil wishes to dominate the world and that it is necessary to enter into battle with evil,” he explained. “Evil is seen in many forms of violence,” the Pontiff reflected, but also “masked with goodness and precisely this way destroying the moral foundations of society.” (emphasis added)
Father Richard Heilman, a parish priest from the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, took these words of Pope Benedict as a call to action and sought to bring greater light to this invisible “battle against evil” and made it a focal point of his book Church Militant Field Manual: Special Forces Training for the Life in Christ. He saw society crumbling before his eyes and so wrote a book that is aimed not only at combating spiritual evil and rescuing the souls of family and friends, but more importantly, adapting practical spiritual practices for personal holiness.
Throughout his book, Father Heilman takes full advantage of modern military terms to explain eternal truths. After setting a firm foundation in what exactly the “church militant” is, he sets forth to rally both men and women using strong military expressions such as “Semper Fi,” or “Go Weapons Hot” and applies them to spiritual truths.
The Church Militant Field Manual is divided up into two main parts. The first part is centered on practical habits for personal holiness as well as an important part of Catholic life that we too often neglect: praying for the souls of our family and friends. Father Heilman emphasizes the role of “indulgences” and offering up various prayers (such as the Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet) for specific souls. He also goes on to explain the vital role of the “church penitent” in purgatory and the “church triumphant” in heaven and how important it is to have both saints and souls in purgatory on your “rescue team” to save souls.
The second half of the book contains many resources, including a large collection of prayers and devotions as well as “worksheets” that help you keep track of your daily habits and souls that you wish to rescue from the wiles of the enemy.
Father Heilman writes in an accessible style that is aimed at the average Catholic in the pew. It is a worthy addition to any library, especially for those interested in mastering the art of spiritual combat. The Church Militant Field Manual is a great tool in the fight to restore our culture, precisely because it emphasizes the role of personal holiness and combatting the forces of evil through prayer, penance and sacrifice.
In the end, Father Heilman encourages us in the fight against evil, showing us that we are not alone, but in fact surrounded by an invisible army that is ready to do battle.
Review by Philip Kosloski, a regular contributor to the National Catholic Register and Aleteia.
You can find the Church Militant Field Manual at RomanCatholicGear.com