In His Mighty Power!

In His Mighty Power!

In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed the need for a “Year of Faith” that seeks to awaken humanity at a critical moment. “In vast areas of the earth the faith risks being extinguished, like a flame without fuel,” the pope warned, “We are facing a profound crisis of faith, a loss of a religious sense which represents one of the greatest challenges for the Church today … The renewal of faith must, then, be a priority for the entire Church in our time.”

In recent decades, we have seen Satan engage the world as never before. In all of human history we have never witnessed evil promoted so effectively while virtue and character and morals are roundly mocked and rejected.

Meanwhile, it could be said that the Mystical Body — the Church — has never been so unprepared for and unengaged in the challenging mission of spiritual warfare. It is obvious that Satan’s forces are well trained and well organized while ours are clearly not. At the very beginnings of our great nation, Sir Edmund Burke warned, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Here is a glimpse of the casualties of this lopsided spiritual warfare (these 2002 statistics have only accelerated in the past decade):

“In 1965, only one percent of U.S. parishes were without a priest. Today, there are 3,000 priestless parishes, 15 percent of all U.S. parishes. Between 1965 and 2002, the number of seminarians dropped from 49,000 to 4,700, a decline of over 90 percent. In 1965, there were 104,000 teaching nuns. Today, there are 8,200, a decline of 94 percent. A 1958 Gallup Poll reported that three in four Catholics attended church on Sundays. A recent study by the University of Notre Dame found that only one in four now attend. Only 10 percent of lay religious teachers now accept Church teaching on contraception. Fifty-three percent believe a Catholic can have an abortion and remain a good Catholic. Sixty-five percent believe that Catholics may divorce and remarry. Seventy-seven percent believe one can be a good Catholic without going to Mass on Sundays. By one New York Times poll, 70 percent of all Catholics in the age group 18 to 44 believe the Eucharist is merely a ‘symbolic reminder’ of Jesus.”

A society increasingly disengaged from the Divine Life has no place to go but down. Definitely not progress, but a radical descent away from our greatest potential.

“For the past 50 years, every major institution has been captured by the radical secular left. The media, Hollywood, TV, universities, public schools, theater,the arts, literature — they relentlessly promote the false gods of sexual hedonism and radical individualism. Conservatives have ceded the culture to the enemy. Tens of millions of unborn babies have been slaughtered; illegitimacy rates have soared; divorce has skyrocketed; pornography is rampant; drug use has exploded; sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS have killed millions; birth control is a way of life; sex outside of wedlock has become the norm; countless children have been permanently damaged — their innocence lost forever — because of the proliferation of broken homes; and sodomy and homosexuality are celebrated openly. America has become the new Babylon” (Jeffrey T. Kuhner, Washington Times, January 20, 2011).

Summoning us to courage, St. Augustine challenges us to fight: “Hope has two beautiful daughters: their names are anger and courage. Anger that things are the way they are. Courage to make them the way they ought to be.”

Yes, we are being called upon to fight the mother of all wars against powerful evil spirits in the heavenly realm, but we are sure to meet our demise unless we discover these battles cannot be won without first acquiring God’s strength and mighty power:

“Draw your strength from the Lord and His mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. Our battle is not against human forces but against the principalities and powers, the rulers of this world of darkness, the evil spirits in regions above. You must put on the armor of God if you are to resist on the evil day; do all that your duty requires, and hold your ground” (Eph 6:10-12).

St. Cyril of Jerusalem in his Mystagogical Catechesis insists, “Just as the Savior, after His baptism and the coming of the Holy Spirit, went forth to vanquish the Enemy (in the wilderness), so you too, after Holy Baptism and Mystical Chrismation, having put on the whole armor of the Holy Spirit, are to resist the power of the Adversary and to vanquish him, saying, ‘I can do all things in Christ Who strengthens me’ (Phil. 4:13).”

“Let us be filled with confidence,” St. John Chrysostom exhorts, “and let us discard everything so as to be able to meet this onslaught. Christ has equipped us with weapons more splendid than gold, more resistant than steel, weapons more fiery than any flame and lighter than the slightest breeze … These are weapons of a totally new kind, for they have been forged for a previously unheard-of type of combat. I, who am a mere man, find myself called upon to deal blows to demons; I, who am clothed in flesh, find myself at war with incorporeal powers.”

Excerpt from Father Heilman’s book, Church Militant Field Manual

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