The Winning Strategy

To win any war, the three most necessary things to know are: (1) that you are at war, (2) who your enemy is, and (3) what weapons or strategies can defeat him.

You cannot win a war (1) if you simply sew peace banners on a battlefield, (2) if you fight civil wars against your allies, or (3) if you use the wrong weapons.

Here is a three point checklist for the culture wars.

1. We Are at War

If you don’t know that our entire civilization is in crisis, I hope you had a nice vacation on the moon.

Many minds do seem moonstruck, however, blissfully unaware of the crisis—especially the “intellectuals,” who are supposed to be the most on top of current events. I was dumbfounded to read a cover article in Time devoted to the question: Why is everything getting better? Why is life so good today? Why does everybody feel so satisfied about the quality of life? Time never questioned the assumption, it just wondered why the music on the Titanic sounded so nice.

It turned out, on reading the article, that every single aspect of life that was mentioned, every single reason for life getting better, was economic. People are richer. End of discussion.

Perhaps Time is just Playboy with clothes on. For one kind of playboy, the world is one great big whorehouse. For another kind, it’s one great big piggy bank. For both, things are getting better and better.

There is a scientific refutation of the Pig Philosophy: the statistical fact that suicide, the most in-your-face index of unhappiness, is directly proportionate to wealth. The richer you are, the richer your family is, and the richer your country is, the more likely it is that you will find life so good that you will choose to blow your brains apart.

Suicide among pre-adults has increased 5000% since the “happy days” of the ’50s. If suicide, especially among the coming generation, is not an index of crisis, nothing is.

Night is falling. What Chuck Colson has labeled “a new Dark Ages” is looming. And its Brave New World proved to be only a Cowardly Old Dream. We can see this now, at the end of “the century of genocide” that was christened “the Christian century” at its birth.

We’ve had prophets who warned us: Kierkegaard, 150 years ago, in The Present Age; and Spengler, 100 years ago, in The Decline of the West; and Aldous Huxley, seventy years ago, in Brave New World; and C. S. Lewis, forty years ago, in The Abolition of Man; and above all our popes: Leo XIII and Pius IX and Pius X and above all John Paul the Great, the greatest man in the world, the greatest man of the worst century. He had even more chutzpah than Ronald Reagan, who dared to call Them “the evil empire”: He called Us “the culture of death.” That’s our culture, and his, including Italy, with the lowest birth rate in the world, and Poland, which now wants to share in the rest of the West’s abortion holocaust.

If the God of life does not respond to this culture of death with judgment, God is not God. If God does not honor the blood of the hundreds of millions of innocent victims then the God of the Bible, the God of Israel, the God of orphans and widows, the Defender of the defenseless, is a man-made myth, a fairy tale.

But is not God forgiving?

He is, but the unrepentant refuse forgiveness. How can forgiveness be received by a moral relativist who denies that there is anything to forgive except a lack of self-esteem, nothing to judge but “judgmentalism?” How can a Pharisee or a pop psychologist be saved?

But is not God compassionate?

He is not compassionate to Moloch and Baal and Ashtaroth, and to Caananites who do their work, who “cause their children to walk through the fire.” Perhaps your God is—the God of your dreams, the God of your “religious preference”—but not the God revealed in the Bible.

But is not the God of the Bible revealed most fully and finally in the New Testament rather than the Old? In sweet and gentle Jesus rather than wrathful and warlike Jehovah?

The opposition is heretical: the old Gnostic-Manichaean-Marcionite heresy, as immortal as the demons who inspired it. For “I and the Father are one.” The opposition between nice Jesus and nasty Jehovah denies the very essence of Christianity: Christ’s identity as the Son of God. Let’s remember our theology and our biology: like Father, like Son.

But is not God a lover rather than a warrior?

No, God is a lover who is a warrior. The question fails to understand what love is, what the love that God is, is. Love is at war with hate, betrayal, selfishness, and all love’s enemies. Love fights. Ask any parent. Yuppie-love, like puppy-love, may be merely “compassion” (the fashionable word today), but father-love and mother-love are war.

In fact, every page of the Bible bristles with spears, from Genesis 3 through Revelation 20. The road from Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained is soaked in blood. At the very center of the story is a cross, a symbol of conflict if there ever was one. The theme of spiritual warfare is never absent in scripture, and never absent in the life and writings of a single saint. But it is never present in the religious education of any of my “Catholic” students at Boston College. Whenever I speak of it, they are stunned and silent, as if they have suddenly entered another world. They have. They have gone past the warm fuzzies, the fur coats of psychology-disguised-as-religion, into a world where they meet Christ the King, not Christ the Kitten.

Welcome back from the moon, kids.

Where is the culture of death coming from? Here. America is the center of the culture of death. America is the world’s one and only cultural superpower.

If I haven’t shocked you yet, I will now. Do you know what Muslims call us? They call us “The Great Satan.” And do you know what I call them? I call them right.

But America has the most just, and moral, and wise, and biblical historical and constitutional foundation in all the world. America is one of the most religious countries in the world. The Church is big and rich and free in America.

Yes. Just like ancient Israel. And if God still loves his Church in America, he will soon make it small and poor and persecuted, as he did to ancient Israel, so that he can keep it alive. If he loves us, he will prune us, and we will bleed, and the blood of the martyrs will be the seed of the Church again, and a second spring will come—but not without blood. It never happens without blood, sacrifice, and suffering. The continuation of Christ’s work—if it is really Christ’s work and not a comfortable counterfeit—can never happen without the Cross.

I don’t mean merely that Western civilization will die. That’s a piece of trivia. I mean eternal souls will die. Billions of Ramons and Vladamirs and Janes and Tiffanies will go to Hell. That’s what’s at stake in this war: not just whether America will become a banana republic, or whether we’ll forget Shakespeare, or even whether some nuclear terrorist will incinerate half of humanity, but whether our children and our children’s children will see God forever. That’s what’s at stake in “Hollywood versus America.” That’s why we must wake up and smell the rotting souls. Knowing we are at war is the first requirement for winning it.

The next thing we must do to win a war is to know our enemy.

2. Our Enemy

Who is our enemy?

Not Protestants. For almost half a millennium, many of us thought our enemies were Protestant heretics, and addressed that problem by consigning their bodies to battlefields and their souls to Hell. (Echoes of this strategy can still be heard in Northern Ireland.) Gradually, the light dawned: Protestants are not our enemies, they are our “separated brethren.” They will fight with us.

Not Jews. For almost two millennia many of us thought that, and did such Christless things to our “fathers in the faith” that we made it almost impossible for the Jews to see their God—the true God—in us.

Not Muslims, who are often more loyal to their half-Christ than we are to our whole Christ, who often live more godly lives following their fallible scriptures and their fallible prophet than we do following our infallible scriptures and our infallible prophet.

The same is true of the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Quakers.

Our enemies are not “the liberals.” For one thing, the term is almost meaninglessly flexible. For another, it’s a political term, not a religious one. Whatever is good or bad about political liberalism, it’s neither the cause nor the cure of our present spiritual decay. Spiritual wars are not decided by whether welfare checks increase or decrease.

Our enemies are not anti-Catholic bigots who want to crucify us. They are the ones we’re trying to save. They are our patients, not our disease. Our word for them is Christ’s: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We say this of the Chinese communist totalitarians who imprison and persecute Catholics, and to the Sudanese Muslim terrorists who enslave and murder Catholics. They are not our enemies, they are our patients. We are Christ’s nurses. The patients think the nurses are their enemies, but the nurses know better.

Our enemies are not even the media of the culture of death, not even Ted Turner or Larry Flynt or Howard Stern or Disney or Time-Warner. They too are victims, patients, though on a rampage against the hospital, poisoning other patients. But the poisoners are our patients too. So are homosexual activists, feminist witches, and abortionists. We go into gutters and pick up the spiritually dying and kiss those who spit at us, if we are cells in our Lord’s Body. If we do not physically go into gutters, we go into spiritual gutters, for we go where the need is.

Our enemies are not heretics within the Church, “cafeteria Catholics,” “Kennedy Catholics,” “I Did It My Way” Catholics. They are also our patients, though they are Quislings. They are the victims of our enemy, not our enemy.

Our enemies are not theologians in so-called Catholic theology departments who have sold their souls for thirty pieces of scholarship and prefer the plaudits of their peers to the praise of God. They are also our patients.

Our enemy is not even the few really bad priests and bishops, candidates for Christ’s Millstone of the Month Award, the modern Pharisees. They too are victims, in need of healing.

Who, then, is our enemy?

There are two answers. All the saints and popes throughout the Church’s history have given the same two answers, for these answers come from the Word of God on paper in the New Testament and the Word of God in flesh in Jesus Christ.

Yet they are not well known. In fact, the first answer is almost never mentioned today. Not once in my life have I ever heard a homily on it, or a lecture by a Catholic theologian.

Our enemies are demons. Fallen angels. Evil spirits.

So says Jesus Christ: “Do not fear those who can kill the body and then has no more power over you. I will tell you whom to fear. Fear him who has power to destroy both body and soul in Hell.”

So says St. Peter, the first pope: “The Devil, like a roaring lion, is going through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Resist him, steadfast in the faith.”

So says St. Paul: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of wickedness in high places.”

So said Pope Leo the XIII, who received a vision of the 20th century that history has proved terrifyingly true. He saw Satan, at the beginning of time, allowed one century in which to do his worst work, and he chose the 20th. This pope with the name and heart of a lion was so overcome by the terror of this vision that he fell into a trance. When he awoke, he composed a prayer for the whole Church to use to get it through the 20th century. The prayer was widely known and prayed after every Mass—until the ’60s: exactly when the Church was struck with that incomparably swift disaster that we have not yet named (but which future historians will), the disaster that has destroyed a third of our priests, two-thirds of our nuns, and nine-tenths of our children’s theological knowledge; the disaster that has turned the faith of our fathers into the doubts of our dissenters, the wine of the Gospel into the water of psychobabble.

The restoration of the Church, and thus the world, might well begin with the restoration of the Lion’s prayer and the Lion’s vision, because this is the vision of all the popes and all the saints and our Lord himself: the vision of a real Hell, a real Satan, and real spiritual warfare.

I said there were two enemies. The second is even more terrifying than the first. There is one nightmare even more terrible than being chased and caught and tortured by the Devil. That is the nightmare of becoming a devil. The horror outside your soul is terrible enough; how can you bear to face the horror inside your soul?

What is the horror inside your soul? Sin. All sin is the Devil’s work, though he usually uses the flesh and the world as his instruments. Sin means inviting the Devil in. And we do it. That’s the only reason why he can do his awful work; God won’t let him do it without our free consent. And that’s why the Church is weak and the world is dying: because we are not saints.

3. The Weapon

And thus we have our third Necessary Thing: the weapon that will win the war and defeat our enemy.

All it takes is saints.

Can you imagine what twelve more Mother Teresas would do for the world? Can you imagine what would happen if just twelve readers of this article offered Christ 100% of their hearts and held back nothing, absolutely nothing?

No, you can’t imagine it, any more than anyone could imagine how twelve nice Jewish boys could conquer the Roman Empire. You can’t imagine it, but you can do it. You can become a saint. Absolutely no one and nothing can stop you. It is your free choice. Here is one of the truest and most terrifying sentences I have ever read (from William Law’s Serious Call): “If you will look into your own heart in complete honesty, you must admit that there is one and only one reason why you are not a saint: you do not wholly want to be.”

That insight is terrifying because it is an indictment. But it is also thrillingly hopeful because it is an offer, an open door. Each of us can become a saint. We really can.

What holds us back? Fear of paying the price.

What is the price? The answer is simple. T.S. Eliot defines the Christian life as: “A condition of complete simplicity/Costing not less than/Everything.” The price is everything: 100%. A worse martyrdom than the quick noose or stake: the martyrdom of dying daily, dying to all your desires and plans, including your plans about how to become a saint. A blank check to God. Complete submission, “islam,” “fiat”—Mary’s thing. Look what that simple Mary-thing did 2000 years ago: It brought God down and saved the world.

It was meant to continue.

If we do that Mary-thing—and only if we do that—then all our apostolates will “work”: our missioning and catechizing and fathering and mothering and teaching and studying and nursing and businessing and priesting and bishoping—everything.

A bishop asked one of the priests of his diocese for recommendations on ways to increase vocations. The priest replied: The best way to attract men in this diocese to the priesthood, Your Excellency, would be your canonization.

Why not yours?

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About the Author

Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and also at the King's College (Empire State Building), in New York City. He is a regular contributor to several Christian publications, is in wide demand as a speaker at conferences, and is the author of over 55 books including: Back to Virtue; The God Who Loves You; Heaven, The Heart's Deepest Longing; Everything You wanted to Know About Heaven; Your Questions - God's Answers; How To Win The Culture War; The Journey; Before I Go - Letters to Our Children About What Really Matters; and Jesus Shock.

Dr. Kreeft is a convert to the Catholic Church from reformed Protestantism. He earned an A.B. degree from Calvin College, an M.A. and Ph.D. from Fordham University, followed by post-doctoral work at Yale University. He has received several honors for achievements in the field of philosophy, including the Woodrow Wilson Award, Yale-Sterling Fellowship, Newman Alumni Scholarship, Danforth Asian Religions Fellowship, and a Weathersfield Homeland Foundation Fellowship.

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47 Comments

  1. Extremely powerful and on-point, Dr. Kreeft, thank you. So much bracing truth here. I will be returning to these words often as I struggle to rise above my stubborn “this-world” perspective. Thanks again.

  2. Definitely an article to print out and refer to often! Thank you, Dr. Kreeft. One question, though…as a Catholic convert of 2007 I have never before heard reference given to “the Lion’s prayer,” but a quick Google search yields many prayers as being “Lionine,” perhaps the most well known being the prayer to St. Michael. Would you be so kind as to tell me whether that is the one you have referenced, here?

    Thanks,
    Victoria Walters

  3. VIctoria- I think the following may be the prayer to St Michael referred to by Dr. Kreeft. One of our parish churches in Atlanta has resumed saying this prayer after mass. I had not heard it since I was a little girl. It was like “coming home” to hear it again!

    Saint Michael the Archangel,
    defend us in battle.
    Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
    May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
    and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –
    by the Divine Power of God –
    cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
    who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
    Amen.

  4. I forgot to commend Dr. Kreeft on this wonderful article! I have sent it to all my friends and family. Dr. Kreeft is a gift to our Faith!

  5. good article. Here’s what i don’t understand: what major event occurred in the 60s? Everyone acts confused about what has happened in the past 40-50 years. It was the second vatican council and the resulting reforms. Isn’t it obvious? I know the SSPX is widely disliked, but Marcel Lefebvre predicted this right after the Council. Come on. What is so confusing about it?

  6. Well done, Dr Kreeft!

    Excellent article, I shared it with a lot of my friends.

    My only niggling point is that Northern Ireland doesn’t really have echoes of Catholic/Protestant battles. It’s a conflict that has interchanged the words Catholic/Protestant with Nationalist/Unionist. Most of the people committing violence against the other side of the community are people who don’t pay any heed to religious issues.

    It’s basically a political divide, with relations between the actual religious denominations much the same as anywhere else in the world.

    1. Glad you mentioned that….Wonder if Dr. Kreeft has actually talked with the Irish from Ireland…It was in talking to a ‘cuzzin’ of mine from Ireland on an overnight train trip that I got that concept. We basically wrap our concepts and justifications for conflict in simple and easy to understand terms-regardless of accuracy. Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland can just as easily be interchanged with Property Winners and Property Losers….Same with the Israelis and Palestinians…Southern White Americans and Southern Black Americans…The only commonality that I can see is that through the generations the real reasons for conflict get further and further lost in the translation. Here’s a real simple algorithm Evil=Selfishness. Where you see Evil, you will see a root cause of selfishness. Now that wasn’t hard was it? No need for endless interpretations of who said what in which testament….

  7. soooooooo like, um…you really believe this stuff?? I mean, cuz if ya do, then we have a country full of Catholic Couch Potatoes, Cultural Catholics, so to speak, and “Casual Christians become Christian Casualties”! If we are indeed, in a war, and what you say is true, then we should be walking a different walk! Living different from the “culture of death”! Correct? I mean REALLY, prophetically, noticeably, different! Right?? Because just to have this awareness, or momentary inspiration, is not going to do anything to win the war!!! It requires a total, and complete, denial, of self. gezzzzzzzz
    YOU MUST BE NUTS!
    To take this to heart, would mean that everything that we have thought, or worked for, or aspired to, is, well. worthless, in light of the raging battle that nobody sees. If we really see it as a war, that souls ARE being lost, maybe our own, for-EV-er, we need to mobilize and get radical, NOW! This could mean, giving up homes, and security, and jobs, and retirement funds, and sharing finances, etc…correct? Because if the me, me, me, I have to own, I have to work for, I have to HAVE, is a large part of the enemy infiltrating the troops, the way they lived in Acts 2:42-47, is a reality, and would give us direction for our lifestyle! The power in Acts, was not possible with the “acts”, of Act’s! I mean, come on, if we LIVED for FIGHTING THE WAR FOR SOULS, then just having a crucifix, and some really kewl pictures of the Lord around the house, even going to Mass every day, going to Adoration, confession once a month, can no longer be what makes us look like Catholics or different from the enemy! If we look like, shop like, live like, the ENEMY, if the only thing that distinguishes us is the stuff on our middle class walls, and a few routines, but our lives overall is no different than the rest of the country, then we are in deep, deep, dodo!
    If we even began to take this serious, and make strategical moves for the Kingdom, we could be rejected by spouses, kids may run off, could lose a business, or house, job. There is a lot of stuff at risk here! It would literally, and “physically”, require our ALL! Not just some “spiritual” mantra like, oh, I trust You Jesus, I give it all to You, Jesus! WE WOULD REALLY HAVE TO DO IT and not just talk or chant about it!
    GOOD LUCK!
    In 1987, I began to see and KNOW what you are sharing here! IT IS REAL and YOU ARE RIGHT! I sold homes, canceled all my insurance, emptied bank accounts, heck, even sold my corpse condo! Did not seem to make any sense to keep it since there were hungry folk, brothers and sisters in need, to have the things of the world, or to live the same as the worldly. The security and stock exchange is the insecurity and chain exchange! I did all this to live the Our Father. To trust. That if Jesus is the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, I need not be in control, I needed to empty myself and trust Abba, Daddy, the Father!
    Since then I have had 7 children, ran a printing company for 23 years, had to buy a house as I had 9 people to care for and renting was not happening. In the last 4 years, my spouse has left, I have lost the business, lost a job, am in the middle of foreclosure, etc…am not going to share it all here. But, I have Jesus! I have faith, and none, NONE, of the rest is mine to worry about! If I am to lose it ALL, after giving it ALL up, so I can give Him my ALL, then it is ALL …good!
    War is ugly! There IS blood and guts and casualties!
    I have already said more than I had planned on and I hate typing! REALLY, really hate it! I am a much better speaker than author or blogger! I do it ANYWAY because I can not pass up any opportunity to shout that, JESUS IS LORD! We CAN trust HIM! Live like He is coming back at any moment and fight the good fight of faith, until He does! If He is not Lord of ALL, He is not Lord at ALL!
    Thank you, my brother, for being bold enough to share the truth! Lets not just be inspired, lets get in the battle, no matter what the cost! There is no greater honor than to live and die for Christ! Lets do both!! Lets live and walk like we really, “really” believe!
    Lord, I pray that many will be lifted up for your Kingdom, ready to get into battle. To choose You over our pleasure seeking lifestyle. Work through me Lord, in spite of my weakness and sinfulness, set many free. Thank You Lord for what YOU are doing!
    In Christ, +++BroJer
    P.S. By no means have I gotten to this point without a lot of battle scars, or times of fear and doubt, or even a bit of backsliding, questioning everything, the battles will wear you down! It is essential to have a good Pastor/mentor to survive! I know the Lord is going to lift up more “troops”, off the couches, for the battalion. ;-)

  8. Excellent essay Dr. Kreeft! I’ve been writing about soldiering for the Lord lately over at Why I Am Catholic. General Patton, when bogged down at Bastogne asked the Chief Chaplain of the Third Army to write a prayer for better weather. 250,000 pray cards for the troops and a Training Letter on prayer were the start, and the end of bad weather were the results. Perhaps we have forgotten the power of prayer too?

    Do not fear those who can kill the body and then has no more power over you. I will tell you whom to fear. Fear him who has power to destroy both body and soul in Hell.

    Amen.

  9. We’re meant to be servants of God, not soldiers. Yes, it’s a spiritual struggle, but don’t mention battalions or all those military words… makes Catholics sound like we’re proclaiming Jihad.

    It’s a long hard slog, more akin to a race, like St Paul said, than having to go out and shove your EVERYTHING IS FOR CHRIST attitude in everyones face. We’re commanded to love, which more often than not, is seen in small consistent acts.

    Don’t let one hand know what the other is doing. God works in mysterious ways, not ordaining a bunch of enthusiastic cowboy Catholics to rustle up a posse is going to win the “war”.

    We’re all called to be Saints, and that means being the best you that you can be. St Therese had a different approach than St Maximillian Kolbe, but the same love for God and the same desire to serve.

    And servants don’t choose how they themselves serve… God is bigger than any attack on the Church and the Gates of Hell won’t prevail against it. The Church will always be attacked, that’s how God makes us stronger.

  10. Irish Francis:

    Soldiers are servants and servants of Christ need to be more like soldiers. The spiritual battle is MUCH greater than the physical one, and that is why we must be soldiers or even warriors here. Not just those who stand on the defensive and act without raising our spiritual strengths to the forefront, to the real battlefield. This is something that happens often. Of course there is a “way” of serving and acting that is not shoving it in peoples faces….. but the message of Christ must be shared, must be shown through us by example of love….but also, we cannot just ignore the reality that there are situations that require us as Christians to stand up, like a soldier does and defend what must be defended.
    The good fight is never meant to be barbaric of course, but the soldiers of Christ are to be fighters for truth and love.

  11. Agreed.

    But stand up as Saints, not soldiers. A saint does all that and more, I think referring to ourselves as soldiers and warriors limits what we do in an effort to energise us. Yes, we should be tenacious, brave and loyal… but that’s what a Saint should be. A soldier isn’t in adoring love with his General (though maybe these days in the American army, tee hee). A soldier acts on behalf of a culture, but in return for a wage etc.

    Saints have the love.

    “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier.” :)

  12. Have you even read Brave New World? It was a warning that complacency leads to a degradation of critical thought, not a blanket condemnation of moral decline. I really don’t see how blind faith is any less complacent than rank hedonism.

    Oh, and Aldous Huxley converted to Hinduism for the last thirty years of his life and was a strong advocate for LSD use. Just FYI.

    I’d also like to point out that your statistics on suicide are blatantly false. While it’s true youth suicide rates has increased since the 1950s, 5000 percent is an absolutely ludicrous figure that you obviously made up on the spot. At most it’s tripled. Secondly, there isn’t a correlation between how wealthy a country is and it’s suicide rates. According to the World Health Organization in 2008 top ten countries for suicide rates were as follows: Lithuania, South Korea, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Japan, Guyana, Ukraine, Hungary, and Sri Lanka. Besides Japan and South Korea, none of those countries are by any means wealthy, and a good number of them are dirt poor. It took me ten minutes to look these figures up. If a student of yours showed such laziness in fact checking, I would hope you would flunk them.

  13. Dr Kreeft,

    While some may want to play “word-smithing” games, rather than take messages to heart, I choose to not waste time or insult you with such behavior. You gave a challenge in your message which is one I excepted almost 25 years ago, a call to all, and pray is reflected through my life and lifestyle. I pray that it encourages you to know that there are, if but a few, others who KNOW what you speak of and are willing to give it 100%, however feeble that may be.

    “Can you imagine what twelve more Mother Teresas would do for the world? Can you imagine what would happen if just twelve readers of this article offered Christ 100% of their hearts and held back nothing, absolutely nothing”?

    Truth cannot help but to indict, convict, and call us out. We are all sinners, we need to hear the truth in order to move away from that evil within within, the “spirit lusting against the flesh”! It is a very real and constant battle, not something to laugh at or play games with, which are some of the very behaviors that keep us in bondage. There is no value in just “hearing” truth! We must “act” on it for truth to bear fruit in our lives. If all we do is discuss truth, reflect on truth, maybe have a parish meeting about truth, where it will get held up in committee, if the evil one can keep us busy with mindless activities about truth, and we never absorb it and let truth change our lives, we will continue on in blindness while the world and the Church are destroyed.I can not KNOW about the truths of the raging war, and sit by and do nothing! If the reality of evil is not seen in the Gosnell case in Philadelphia, if we can not see there is more to it than just a sick individual, it is because we choose to ignore that evil is real!.
    Day by day for the last 25 years, I have struggled to hold nothing back. Each day I let go and take back the “lordship” of my life. It never gets easier and I never seem to get it right Yet, I will not give up, give in, change, or conform, to the pleasure seeking ways of the “culture of death”! We can choose to be salt and light, to be saints, or remain complacent, content with the status-quo.

    Your message is one that most will not accept! Neither do most really accept or understand the Cross! If we did, we would not have allowed the condition of the world to become what it is. We can no longer play the blame game. It is time to take responsibility for our inaction, our apathy, and apathy kills! The condition of the church and the world is more a result of what we Catholics have not done, than what the world

    has done

    !! We…are the problem.

    I pray that others will hear and act…not just talk!

    In Christ, +++BroJer

  14. IrishFrancis: Soldiers do not go to war for pay, those are mercenaries, not to be confused with soldiers who fight to protect country and loved ones. And try telling Saint Paul that we are not to consider ourselves soldiers in battle.

    “Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. 13 Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace: 16 In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. 17 And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God)” (Ephesians 6).

    Try telling Saint Teresa that we are not to consider ourselves soldiers and warriors. Or Mother Teresa. Or the writer of the hymn, Onward Christian Soldiers Marching As To War. Try telling that to the Lord Himself Who said to His disciples in Luke 22:36: “…and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”

    He who will not fight the spiritual combat will be neither a soldier nor a saint. I want to be both!

  15. Huxley Fan: Is there a difference between “blind faith” and faith itself or are you implying that the only kind of faith there is is the blind kind?

    As far as suicide rates and fact-checking go, did you fact-check with more than one source? How many? What were they? One doesn’t generally check with only one source and then one has to also consider the source of that source. The WHO is thought of by many to be part of the culture of death that Dr. Kreeft is critiquing.

    And, yeah, Huxley had some problems, LSD use being one of them. Artificially induced “mystical” experience is not the same as authentic mystical experience. And discipleship is not mere “spiritual” self-entertainment. But he still pointed out some things that have come to pass. We recognize truth wherever we find it. There is some truth in what he said and Dr. Kreeft is right to point that out. But he didn’t base his article on Huxley, he simply pointed to some truth contained in Brave New World and then went on.

  16. Great article well said. One addition: St. Padre Pio, no stranger to battling warfare called ALWAYS upon his most powerful “weapon” as he called it: The Rosary. We can not understate The power that the Mother of God has in aiding us in out battle, as she said at Fatima, we must pray many many Rosaries and offer many of our sufferings for the souls in purgatory. As well, here on earth we have learned from the saints to call upon The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. St. Maximilian Kolbe , saint of purity and martyrdom (who referred to himself as the “property” of Our Lady) espoused obedience as the most important virtue from which all other virtues will flow. And finally there was no mention her of perhaps the biggest saint of the 20-21st century, our dear Pope Benedict XVI, who is so clear on the Truth and challenged us all from the onset of his papacy by authoring “Caritas in Veritate” invoking the Truth as the crucial centerpiece of love, something this author has definitely done for us in this article.
    May The Immaculata intervene for us all!

  17. Huxley Fan: That being said, I would like to know what Dr. Kreeft’s source was for the rather high number he gives for the suicide rate of pre-adults. I’ve been looking around and I haven’t found a number like that one myself.

  18. Thank you Dr. Kreeft. I quite agree. Personal holiness, sanctity is the key. Even if you would not often catch me at it, I believe you are right. I believe further that Our Lady is interceding for us by offering herself as our ‘personal coach’ in this matter. Her alleged apparitions in various places today are so timely, that one wonders whether they’re not necessary for us to overcome our half-hearted interest, our reluctance to prefer sanctity over the world’s trappings. Mary, “our life, our sweetness and our hope”!

  19. Protect their country and loved ones? Don’t get me started.

    Essentially, I agree with the article, I think you must see me as some sort of spiritual conscientious objector.

    I’m not. We both live in countries where Catholicism isn’t the majority religion and we’re beset by all the trappings of modern culture and it’s generally anti-religious nature. Obviously there is a spiritual battle to be fought, but I just don’t see the need to see myself as a warrior in order to be a devoted Catholic. I get what you mean, but as a historian I’m aware that the Church on earth is referred to as the Church militant. It has always been under attack, whether from without or within.

    Whether I see myself as up for a fight, or wearing armour or loosening the lightening of my terrible swift sword….

    I’m still like most other Catholics everywhere else in history: struggling against temptation, wanting to serve God by standing up for Catholic teaching, praying, and dependent upon His grace and the intercession of Our Lady and the saints to help me.

    We all agree in what Catholics should be doing, in no way am I sitting back, or ducking the slings and arrows of anti-Christian jerks or demonic temptation. I’m just not a fan of explaining the journey towards God in the same words as I’d describe a campaign in Iraq or a counter-insurgency operation.

    Spirtiual warriors and Catholics should be synonymous. You say you want to be both a soldier and a Saint. That’s awesome and I 100% respect that, but I just want to be a Saint.

    That’s all I meant, it’s a personal preference of the wording and connotation. Not all Saints were the same, so we don’t have to agree on everything, so long as we all have the Saint part in our… ummmmm… crosshairs?

    All the best!

  20. Suicide/ Saint or Solider

    Dr. Kreeft has been a joy to listen to and read, in my life.

    The greatest increase in suicide study I can find (after a 15 minute google search) is through the University of Calgary, and is at 5 times – 500% increase. The study also notes it is primarily a male increase. That would spur another discussion entirely. Perhaps Dr. Kreeft has another study, perhaps there is an extra 0 as a typo. I would give Dr. Kreeft the benefit of the doubt. Either way – the point is that there is an increase at a time of worldly prosperity, and that begs a question.

    I am a soldier in that I am part of the Church Militant – Dictionary.com definition – see #3
    sol·dier (sljr)
    1. One who serves in an army.
    2. An enlisted person or a noncommissioned officer.
    3. An active, loyal, or militant follower of an organization
    My war may be a physically peaceful war – focused more on prayer and charitable works than physical combat. And some may go through entire lives in that place, no less forceful or important in their duty.

    Many of us may be asked to spill blood, often our own, and it may be in that way we participate in the worldly aspect of this supernatural war. We will have the opportunity, like Father Kolbe, to testify that there is something greater than anything of this world. Facing the day to day temptations just prepare us should this call ever come, for if we cannot give up our attachment to the comforts/conviniences of life how can we ever give up temporal life itself?

    One prayer that changed my life was when a pregnant friend quietly responded to the often stated “We’ll just pray for a healthy baby.” with, “No, I pray for God’s strength to honor whatever baby He blesses me with.” This simple comment helped me in so many ways. I no longer have to be concerned with what to pray for – while I know what I want, how could I ever know what is best? All I need is God – For God alone is sufficient. I need to get out of the way of His working in my life.

    I pray that I might be a saint one day, that through my faith I will gather the courage to hand it all to God. In the meantime I will soldier on, and not worry about exactly what that will look like – like Gideon approaching the town, there may be trepidation as the situation does not seem rational, but I will base my courage in God’s promise of providence and protection, knowing that He will be undefeated.

    In Christ,

  21. HuxleyFan,

    I believe you have misinterpreted Prof. Kreeft’s claims on suicide statistics. He is clearly talking about *pre-adult* suicide statistics, while you are citing the results for the general population.

    For the note, these rates are extremely volatile. For example, just between 2003 and 2004, youth suicide increased 8%.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/07/health/07suicide.html?_r=1

    Regarding wealth and suicide, it’s important to note that Prof. Kreeft talks about *personal* wealth too, not just national. Take a look at the following study:

    http://www.astm.org/DIGITAL_LIBRARY/JOURNALS/FORENSIC/PAGES/JFS2004347.htm

    From the abstract: “1) 77% more likely than controls to have lived in houses rather than in apartments or trailers, 2) more likely than controls to have lived in more expensive houses (mean values $70,143 versus $61,513 respectively, p = 0.04) and 3) more likely to have killed themselves because of factors other than financial strain (8.0% of suicides showed financial strain).”

    With respect to national wealth, you tried to make an inference from the nations at the top of the list, which shows a mix of both rich and former-Communist developing nations. Why didn’t you take a look at the bottom of the list? Because the countries with the lowest suicide rates are all “dirt poor.”

    Another meta-study:
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/xyb1nw7yfg9c5gne/

    From the abstract: “These results suggestion that suicidal behaviour could be a specific characteristic of affluent society, although the connection must be considered complex and intricate.”

  22. Very perceptive comments. Yes, everyone who is searching for the Truth will need to be reminded of who is his or her real enemy. And unfortunately, it is easy to focus on the visible physical world, and ignore the invisible spiritual creatures.

    Yet, much to my surprise, many anti-Catholic writers, like Toni Cappocia and Richard Dawkins, are self-proclaimed enemies of the Catholic Church. Yet, I do believe that they do not realize just who is their real enemy.

    Nevertheless, for newcomers to the Catholic faith, and Catholic old-timers, who have recently re-discovered their faith; the above mentioned critics can be very unsettling. But, as a bystander, I have discovered that those critics are not invincible. I have posted an article entitled ‘The Bystander’ on my web-site at ‘www.faithembraced.co.za,’ which offers a way of side-stepping those critics. From that changed perspective, one can simply smile at the critics and continue to embrace one’s Catholic faith.

    GonQPat

  23. Thank you, Dr. Kreeft. There certainly is an eternal war being waged. Souls and societies are eternally in the balance. Failure to engage the fight is complicity with the very evil we say we abhor. But I do have a question relating to your essay.

    My question regards the “weapons”, you have prescribed. Perhaps you assume a foundation that I’m not convinced most of us have. For it seems that St. John’s words in Revelation 12:10-12 are a comprehensive battalion: “For they overcame him (Satan), by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony and by loving not their lives even unto death.”

    It seems that you covered only the last of the triad: total surrender of our lives to Christ in the battle. Certainly, if our confession is empty and lifeless (that is, without our lives being given over), then Christ’s cross and blood and our confession of the Gospel, will not be sufficient to win.

    But the devil doesn’t yield to human consecration alone. “For there is no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved.” “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.” “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to them that believe.” “For they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb…” The power is in the blood of Christ and the word of Christ, proclaimed and demonstrated through consecrated servants of Christ.

    I was just a bit surprised that the “weapons” you cite seemed to make no mention of these. I am certainly overlooking something, I’m sure. I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on this, if it were at all possible that you had time to do so.

    Thanks for thinking and standing for the faith that redeems the lost from certain peril.

  24. Thank you Dr. Kreeft for a powerful and inspiring article. I wish more priests would speak like this during their homilies. This is definitely worth sharing with as many people as we can.

  25. My God what have we done. Your article is one of the best and I am so glad someone out there that is paying attention to this and is able to pronounce it clearly. I have read Papa’s encyclicals and your theme here is one of his underlying message. You speak the truth and I thank you for your direction. We all must change our lives first before we can proceed. God Bless and thank you! Lord Raymond of Monmouth

  26. Irish Francis,
    We’re meant to be servants of God, not soldiers.
    Do you know why we genuflect? I just learned and it might surprise you as it did me.
    It is very specific – and only has one other context – military. Look it up! We bow to our commanding officer as we enter the pew. Genuflecting is derived from Roman soldiers taking a knee to express obedience., or
    “.. complete subjection to the authority of his commander.”
    (Quoted from The Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus that Will Change Your Life, By Dr. Tom Curran, p.40.)

    Dr. Kreeft,
    You are my hero! Hang in there, academia was too rich for my blood. I love the clarity and simplicity in the books and articles you write. I do wish you’d address the Neo Paganism ( New Age ) when you talk about our patients (above). The tough ones in my life are the neo-Gnostics. I would love a whole book from you on that one – starting from The Vatican’s Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life. We need your help on this one! There really is inadequate Kreeftian scholarship addressing one of the Enemy’s main vanguard of attack – his counterfeit religion. Please?
    Respectfully,
    Convert45

  27. Nor are our enemies “The Conservatives” whose protection of the status quo fostered “Jim Crow” laws that destroyed the gifts of others and the lives of too many; whose self-righteous intonations harken back to the closemindedness of the Pharisees; who teaches guns are the answers to violence; that global warming doesn’t exist and racial/ethnic profiling is not an injustice.

    Labels and ignorance are the enemies for a mind that is closed shuts out God.

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