Spiritual Warfare in The Third Millenium

Father Bob Papi

Domestic-Church.Com - Essays - Spiritual Warfare in Our Times

Illustration: 'Furious Battle between Angels and the Dammed' from Michelangelo's Last Judgement

"And tuberculosis is mega-bucks: ask Karel Vita Hudson. Any day now the richest nations will be facing a tubercular pandemic, and Dypraxa will become the multi-billion dollar earner that all good shareholders dream of. The White Plague the Great Stalker, the Great imitator, the Captain of Death is no longer confining himself to the wretched of the earth. He is doing what he did a hundred years ago. He is hovering like a filthy cloud of pollution over the West's own horizon, even if it is still their poor who are his victims." [1]

That is a quotation from Le Carre's latest novel The Constant Gardener, described on the fly leaf as a novel which explores "the dark side of unbridled capitalism" and "is a magnificent exploration of the new world order."

Revelation chapter 6 relates two devastating apocalyptic events which certainly can be considered as aspects of spiritual warfare in the third millennium . . . and elements of which appear in Le Carre's novel . . . novels being as we know the expression as art of real anxieties in the human heart.

Verses 5 to 8 state:
"When he broke open the third seal I heard the third living creature cry out, 'Come forward.' I looked, and there was a black horse, and its rider held a scale in his hand. I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures. It said, 'A ration of wheat costs a day's pay, and three rations of barley cost a day's pay. But do not damage the olive oil or the wine.' When he broke open the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature cry out, 'Come forward.' I looked, and there was a pale green horse. Its rider was named death, and Hades accompanied him. They were given authority over a quarter of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and plague, and by means of the beasts of the earth."

Ebola, AIDS, Tuberculous, West Nile Fever, Hanta Virus, there are plenty of plagues and opportunities for profiteering . . . Angola, Ethiopia, Palestine, Bosnia, . . . there are lots of places to die by the sword of bullets and bombs to waste away from famine but we need not venture beyond our own cities to discover the same diseases, gang warfare, homelessness, hunger, despair, the rendering of working men and women as mere disposal parts of vast corporate machinery as to the sword is not the ultimate plague the killing of the unborn itself a source of immense profits to those who perform the murders....and, frankly, an outrage far greater before the Face of God than the sin which so outraged Him at Sodom and Gomorrah.

Spiritual warfare is not some future event which will suddenly overtake us in the so called 'end times.' These are the 'end times' the 'last days'. Spiritual warfare is the nitty-gritty reality of daily life.

Ours to choose if we shall be those swept along by the tide of history without participating in it or will we choose as Christ begs us to be in the fullness of our Baptismal vocation and follow Him as true disciples, fully engaged in the struggle between good and evil, true Christian warriors in the only good fight, passionate intercessors through prayer and fasting, crying out with Christ to the Father for the fullness of Divine Mercy upon the whole world.

In a true sense the entire Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew is a blueprint, a battle plan if you will, for participation to the full in Christ's victory over satan. It is the Gospel of compassionate love and truth. When we gaze upon our brothers and sisters enslaved by the culture of death not for us some gnostic 'holier than thou' egomaniacal attitude. Rather for us hearts like Christ's own whose: " . . . heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd." [Mt.9:36]

The first practical level of our warring against the culture of death is to be proclaimers of the Gospel of Life . . . hence the outline of criteria for the Last Judgement given in Matthew 25:3146 . . . the well known passage where we are judged how we did, or not, respond to the hungry and thirsty Christ; the homeless, imprisoned, naked, ill Christ . . . Christ in the disguise of our brothers and sisters.

Spiritual warfare is first and foremost a battle within our own hearts and souls . . . to the degree we are fully engaged on that battlefield, to that degree will we be graced by the Holy Spirit with the courage needed to face the larger battlefield in the outside world.

For that battle we have the promises of the Beatitudes . . . especially: " Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy." and "Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you, falsely, because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you." [Mt.6:312]

In the ebb and flow which we experience within this battle known as spiritual warfare, we perhaps believe that in our day the battle is not going too well for the side of the Gospel of Truth, the Gospel of Life.

To a certain degree, within the limits of historical time as we experience it, that is rather true in our day. Pope John Paul himself refers to this as the 'culture of death'. However we must never allow ourselves to be so burdened by present experience we forget the ultimate truth that Christ is our Victor already for He has been crucified, He has died, He was buried but and this is the true victory: CHRIST IS RISEN!

The 19th century hymn by William Chatterton Dix, ALLELUIA! SING TO JESUS, powerfully and fully expresses this abiding truth of our redemption and cries out in various verses:
"His the victory alone . . . has redeemed us by His Blood . . . not as orphans are we left . . . faith believes nor questions how . . . shall our hearts forget His promise, I am with you ever more."[2]

That is a direct reference to the conclusion of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew wherein just before mandating us through our Baptismal vocation to engage in this spiritual warfare Jesus reminds us who truly is the All-powerful One when He declares: " All power in heaven and on earth has been given to Me," and He then mandates us to preach the Gospel with our lives, to baptize the whole world and assures us that: "..behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." [Mt.28: 1620]

Therefore as we explore in greater detail this mystery and reality of spiritual warfare we must keep before the eyes of our hearts the salient truth that Christ is Risen and He is already Victorious and He is with us.

In his novel, now also a motion picture, ALL THE PRETTY HORSES, the author, Cormac MaCarthy, gives this bit of dialogue between his two main characters, a couple of American cowboys adrift in Mexico:
" Rawlins leaned and tipped the ash from his cigarette into the fire and leaned back.
You ever think about dyin?
Yeah. Some. You?
Yeah. Some. You think there's a heaven?
Yeah. Don't you?
I don't know. Yeah. Maybe. You think you can believe in heaven if you don't believe in hell?
I guess you can believe what you want to. [3]

I would suggest that within those few lines of dialogue we have the core malaise of our over indulged culture . . . the urgent longing to contemplate the true meaning and purpose of life . . . which is communion of love with the Blessed Trinity . . . and a deep anxiety countered by not an authentic search for truth but the manufacture of a personal truth which seems to fit our malaise without really changing a thing.

Most well intentioned Christians accuse the culture of our day of having chosen an evil path . . . certainly the proliferation of abortion on demand, sexual disorder of all kinds, greed, the destruction of the family, these would seem to indicate such a choice has indeed been made.

Therefore, such Christians will argue, the spiritual warfare response is to seize power, mount a political assault by the righteous against the political, intellectual, media centres of power deemed to be the ones aiding and abetting the deconstruction of Christian civilization.

However in the book of Revelations, we should take careful note, long before the wrath of God is poured out upon those who persecute the Church the messages given by God through St. John are to the Churches, that is to we Christians, and . . . they pointedly note the state of our faith, of our souls . . . for as mentioned earlier the first place where the battle in spiritual warfare must be engaged is within our own souls . . . our individual soul, the soul of each parish, diocese and within the universal Church in that aspect of the reality of Church not yet, because of her human members, fully the spotless Bride of Christ.

The first great lament from the heart of God is found in chapter 2: "..I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. Realize how far you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first." [Rv.2:4,5] and this from chapter 3: "..I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." [Rv.3: 15,16].

The first battle to be engaged in spiritual warfare is that for our always more complete surrender to the action of the Holy Spirit in our own lives; a more complete living of the Gospel commandment to love and forgive one another and therefore it is to also grow always more and more Christ-like.

Anything else is lukewarmness and forgetfulness of how we first loved and so weakens us as Christians that we pose no threat whatsoever to the forces of darkness, the culture of death, nor the relentless spread of that anti-person, antiChrist phenomena known as the 'new world order.'

In literature there are two famous works, I believe, that give a glimpse into the intensity of spiritual warfare better than any others. I am referring to Shakespeare's MACBETH and Dostoevsky's THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV.

In Macbeth we are shown the very psychology of evil, indeed a philosophy of evil.

Perhaps one of the most chilling scenes is the well known conjuring scene where Macbeth insists he speak with the very spirits of evil the hags work for:

Macbeth: How now, you secret, black and midnight hags, What is't you do?
All the Witches: A deed without a name.
Macbeth: I conjure you by that which you profess,
Howe'er you come to know it, answer me.
Though you untie the winds and let them fight
Against the churches, though the yeasty waves
Confound and swallow navigation up,
Though bladed corn be lodged and trees blown down,
Though castles topple on their warders heads,
Though palaces and pyramids do slope
Their heads to their foundations, though the
Treasure of nature's garments tumble all together
Even till destruction sicken, answer me
To what I ask you.
First Witch: Speak.
Second Witch: Demand.
Third Witch: We'll answer.
First Witch: Say if thou'dst rather hear it from our mouths
Or from our masters.
Macbeth: Call'em, let me see'em. [4]

In our culture of death, in the reality of spiritual warfare, we are reminded all too frequently through the communications media, films, books, of the number of political and entertainment figures who are deeply involved in the occult. Even Catholic schools seem all too frequently to minimize the impact upon the souls of human beings, especially the young, of even seemingly benign practices such as reading the horoscope, playing with ouija boards, calling the psychic hotline etc.

The number of televisions shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dark Angel, X Files, films such as the Exorcist, Dungeons and Dragons, and video games of like ilk have no place in the homes, lives, imaginations or spirits of the Baptized.

Hence, I would suggest, it is not always unreasonable to wonder about, and pray for protection from, the possible presence of the demonic in our own lives, the lives of family, friends . . . indeed in the life of our very culture. For, by way of example, ours is a culture which has so lost its way we have international law to protect endangered species such as whales, while at the same time our own and other nations push as part of the 'new world order' international agreements which urge all nations, under the guise of protecting the reproductive rights of women, to provide abortion on demand. Surely this is evidence of the reality of demonic influence.

Fr. Hampsch says:
"We must look particularly for involvement either in drugs or in the occult, which most often opens the door to evil spirits also where there has been activity of a bizarre sexual nature. Within the occult, some practices are more deleterious, more dangerous, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. For instance, astrology is certainly a dangerous practice but nowhere near as dangerous as satan worship. Within the range of occult practices, things . . . spawning demonic intervention would include astrology, . . . use of ouija boards, consulting mediums, engaging in seances, using tarot cards . . . fortunetelling, . . . [etc.]

The prayer for relieving such bondage must involve exercise of consummate faith in Jesus [Mark 9:23] and spiritual maturity reflected in prayer and fasting [v.29]. [5]

All the above practices are, of course, strictly forbidden by God as He decrees in Deuteronomy chapter 13 verse 3 and chapter 18 verses 9 to 12.

Here I would like to refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church to remind us of the limited power of the evil one and his minions . . . as is also illustrated in the opening of the book of Job, chapter 1:612.

The Catechism reassures us that:
" The power of satan is . . . not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign. Although satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and His kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but 'we know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him."' (para.395). Love is, of course, what spiritual warfare is ultimately all about.

Will we follow Christ and live out the Great Commandment and truly love one another - the only effective antidote to the disease of cultural death - hence the plea of Pope John Paul that we build a civilization of love - and, of course, love is the only means of overcoming sin which in and of itself is hatred, of God, self and other.

Fyodor Dostoevsky puts these words in the mouth of Elder Zosmia the monk in THE BROTHERS KARMASZOV:
"What is hell? I think it is the suffering of one who can no longer love . . . knowledge of active, living love, . . . this is why that creature was given life on earth, and with it, time and space. And what happens?

The privileged creature rejects that priceless gift, fails to appreciate it, does not even like it, sneers at it, and remains unmoved. When such a creature leaves the earth . . . when he is already in sight of heaven and allowed into the presence of the Lord, he is filled with suffering at the thought that he will appear before the Lord never having loved and will be brought into the presence of those who have loved him but whose love he has scorned "[6]

It is the absolute absence of Gospel love which facilitates all the factors which bring about the murder by abortion of the unborn child it is the absolute absence of Gospel love which facilitates the contraceptive, pornographic, greedy, self - obsessed, materialist culture which denies objective truth and so denying truth can't even see the homeless man, woman and child huddled over a steam grate in winter anymore than a previous era noticed the homeless man and his pregnant wife head into a cave for the birth of their Child.

The life of St. Jean Marie Vianney, the Cure D'Ars and patron saint of parish priests, was a priestly life deeply engaged in spiritual warfare.

This is described powerfully by Fr. George William Rutler in his classic book THE CURE D'ARS TODAY. In that work he begins chapter ten with a quotation from Pope Paul VI and a reference at the end of the paragraph to the 19th century which certainly can be said also of the 20th and, sadly, of the opening years already of the 21st

Fr. Rutler writes:
"The modern age, which has seen the power of evil so gigantically displayed, is also a time of disbelief in the existence of evil. In 1972, Pope Paul VI told nations reeling from hunger, violence, indolence, and nuclear threats that evil is not an absence of good: it is a 'living, spiritual being' who is perverted and perverts:
"What are the greatest needs of the Church today? Do not let our answer surprise you as being oversimple or even superstitious and unreal: one of the greatest needs is defense from that evil which is called the devil." And he publicly lamented that the smoke of satan had even entered the Church. The warning redresses what had already become the quandary of Vianney's progressivist culture. Father Ravignan said of the devils in the nineteenth century: "Their masterpiece, Sirs, has been to get themselves denied by the age." [7]

The flip side of that last is, of course, increasingly among Christians as fear and nonbelievers as fascination, a notion that satan is more present and powerful than he actually is.

We Christians, especially in the depths of various battles within the overall spiritual warfare, need to heed these words from Fr. Rutler:
" The evil one terrorizes no one as much as he is terrified himself by Christ the Victor . . . "[8]

Spiritual warfare is the nitty-gritty of the daily life of the Church Herself and of all the Baptized disciples of Christ.

No one can claim immunity from this reality, just as none of the Baptized can claim exemption from the Gospel mandate to preach the Gospel with our lives.

Revelation chapter 12 does more than refer to the battle between St. Michael and satan. It also delineates the reality of spiritual warfare waged against the followers of Christ, the children of Mary, as we read in verses 13 to 17. Here I will only quote verse 17:
"Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God's commandments and bear witness to Jesus."

St. Paul encourages us in Ephesians 6, verses 10 to 19, the last being his plea for prayer and courage to:
" . . . draw your strength from the Lord and from His mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded with truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the Gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones and also for me, that speech may be given to open my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel . . . "

Now one of the greatest challenges, I believe, in spiritual warfare, is to be engaged in all of this with a pure mouth. By that I do not mean primarily - though it is essential a baptized mouth never swear, utter dirty words or stories a mouth which does not utter such things, rather a mouth which speaks only good of others. In the heat of battle I have heard Bishops and priests demean those who defend the unborn as being 'single issue Christians' such a statement, in my estimation, is filth and defies the Lord and Giver of Life Himself.

In the heat of battle however I have also heard those Christians who truly seek to defend the unborn use language about Bishops, priests, those who have had abortions or perform abortions which, because of the underlying anger, at times outright hatred. This likewise defies the Holy Spirit . . . for the Apostle James is most clear on this as is Christ Himself.

St. James teaches in chapter 1 of his letter:
"If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world."

Jesus Himself teaches us about anger and forgiveness, which presupposes a heart which is a meek and gentle as His own when He tells us:
" . . whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement.."[Mt.5:22]
" . . . I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that,you may be children of your heavenly Father . . . "[Mt.5:44,45]
"If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive you your transgressions."[Mt.6:14,14]

Anything we do which is contrary to the teachings of Jesus, contrary to the Holy Gospel, means we are, if not fully deliberately, at least to a dangerous degree withdrawing from the field of battle on the side of truth, love and life and, if we withdraw far enough, could well end up participating in the war against Christ and His disciples our brothers and sisters.

There is no neutral ground here, no place for the lukewarm who will be spit out of the mouth of God.
We are either for Christ in this battle or against Christ.
Now in this battle, of course, we are not alone.

First and foremost we are with Christ Himself who is our Victor, Leader, Protector and has given to us Himself in the Most Holy Eucharist, in confession and all the sacraments: where we also have given to us the Holy Spirit Himself and all the grace we need.

We have Our Blessed Mother in particular, as well as St. Michael the Archangel, our own Guardian angel and patron saint and all the angels and saints we wish to call upon.

We have our Holy Mother the Church, in particular through the sacramental gift of the priesthood is She by our side. We have all those faithful souls who pray, fast, suffer for the Church, the spread of the Gospel, protection of those in any danger, especially the unborn children in danger of abortion.

In a word we also have each other, co-strugglers in the midst of this spiritual warfare which at times may seem overwhelming but which is, ultimately and in reality, a battle whose final victory is assured us in the Person of Christ Himself the Victor.

St. Peter tells us:
" Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory through Christ Jesus will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. To Him be dominion forever. Amen."[1Pt.5:811]

So then how are we to adhere to this admonishment from the first Pope, St. Peter himself and fight the good fight with a deep and abiding faith, a profound sense of hope, and, because in reality this is above all a battle waged while we are ever more deeply enveloped in the communion of love of the Holy Trinity, be at the same time filled with true joy?

One of the teachings of Jesus we perhaps aren't always aware of in the heat of battle may at first blush seem a bit contradictory since we are speaking here about spiritual warfare. We appear to assume 'fighting, struggling' as an active assault on the enemy.

In point of fact mostly spiritual warfare means suffering, carrying the cross, bearing one another's burdens, intense intercessory prayer, such as the Holy Rosary, fasting, and offering up the relentless nitty-gritty ordinary daily duty of the moment routine of our lives to Christ.

Jesus says explicitly:
" . . . I say to you offer no resistance to one who is evil.." [Mt.5:39] and
"This kind can only come out through prayer and fasting." [Mk.9:29]

Why, when our emotions prompt us, or the error or evil is so obvious logic seems to dictate an aggressive action against it . . . why should we offer no external resistance and have recourse to interior and exterior silence, trust and be still in a hidden life of fidelity to the duty of the moment, to prayer and fasting?

St. Peter teaches us:
" For this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His footsteps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth. When He was insulted, He returned no insult. Instead, He handed Himself over to the one who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed." [1Pt.2:2124]

It may seem, frankly, unfair that we should suffer in silence when the other side gloats in apparent victory . . . but their gloating is over a non-victory and our silence often is a more powerful weapon for truth and life than we can imagine. If we contemplate Christ on the Cross our hearts will understand the salvific power of suffering and silence and at the same time we will become ever more closely bound to Christ in the communion of love and, since the prime battlefield in spiritual warfare lies within our own selves, there we shall have first taste of Christ's victory.

Pope John Paul teaches:
" Down through the centuries and generations it has been seen that in suffering there is concealed a particular power that draws a person interiorly close to Christ . . . "[9]

In an article he wrote for THE CATHOLIC FAITH magazine last year Fr. John Hardon noted that in the depths of spiritual warfare in this culture of death that:
"This price that we are asked to pay for our proclamation of Christ in word and in deed is not only the price of endurance of pain. Nor is it simply the patient acceptance of criticism and rejection, or perhaps of open persecution. What we are also asked is to sacrifice what we personally like and have a natural right to enjoy. In order to confess Christ before men as He would have us do, we are invited to give up many things to which we are naturally, and legitimately, inclined . . . But as the beauty of Christ takes possession of our hearts, we become different men and women. Our personality is literally changed. We take on the quality of martyrs ready, if need be, to die for Christ. And we acquire a capacity for sacrifice that smiles at logic and rises above the desire for pleasure in this world in order to bring as many souls as possible to the Heart of the Savior whom we love." [10]

Once again through these words of Fr. Hardon we come to the crux of this mystery of spiritual warfare: LOVE!
Christ became Incarnate of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit to live, suffer, die, and rise from the dead that satan and death might no longer have a claim on us and Christ Jesus did all this - does all this - for us, waged and won the victory over satan and death, redeemed us from our sins - because of His love for the Father and His love for us.

Configured to Christ by the Holy Spirit, constantly taught and strengthened with sanctifying grace by the same Holy Spirit we in our turn enter the battle because we love Jesus and one another and seek to bring all souls to Jesus so all may share in this communion of love which the Holy Trinity offers to us.

Archbishop Martinez reminds us that:
"The very state in which Jesus is found in the Most Holy Sacrament is a state of silence . . . He placed Himself in that state so that He might have nothing else to do but love . . . Let us not forget it: the summit of love is silence. . . . Love that can still be expressed with words has not arrived at its perfection . . . Let us understand the silence of the Eucharist and put ourselves in unison with Jesus in that wondrous stillness."[11]

It is from that communion of love with Christ, in the profound depths of interior silence that, when it is time to speak in the heat of battle we will hear and utter only the words the Holy Spirit gives us; it is deep within that communion of love with Jesus in silence that our intercessory prayer will be most effective, our fasting and dispossession of the allures of this world most pure, our charity, activated by love's imagination, will become most generous, compassionate and understanding, and, filled with the Fire of Christ Himself, we will truly be a light of the Gospel of Life while the battle rages in this culture of death and through such witness and charity we will indeed begin to build, as Pope John Paul pleads that we do, the true civilization of love.

Spiritual warfare then is part of the ordinary ]life of the Christian - but only a part - mostly ours is a life of communion of love.

In this, as in all aspects of Gospel life, our great consolation, help and protection, is the person and example of the Blessed Virgin Mary - she who is the Joy of all who Sorrow, the fountain of the spring of living water, the model disciple.

Her Magnificat is the prayer of intercession, thanksgiving, and the hymn of victory. Her Rosary, her Litany, and all the other prayers and hymns sent up to her become her intercession for us to the Father through her Son Jesus Christ who Himself is our perfect prayer to the Father.

In the concluding sections of his encyclical THE GOSPEL OF LIFE, Pope John Paul shows Mary's own battle in the mystery of spiritual warfare, reveals her suffering, and how she supports and comforts the Church and each one of us in this struggle.

The Holy Father teaches that:
"Mary . . . helps the Church to realize that life is always at the center of a great struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness . . . by His Incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every person. It is precisely in the 'flesh' of every person that Christ continues to reveal Himself and to enter into fellowship with us, so that rejection of human life, in whatever form that rejection takes, is really a rejection of Christ . . . Mary is a living word of comfort for the Church in her struggle against death. Showing us the Son, the Church assures us that in Him the forces of death have already been defeated . . . The Lamb who was slain is alive, bearing the marks of His Passion in the splendor of the Resurrection . . . And as we, the pilgrim people, the people of life and for life, make our way in confidence towards a new heaven and a new earth, we look to her who is for us a sign of sure hope and solace . . . "[l2a]

With confidence then that the victory is ours we enter trustingly with Christ our Victor into the daily mystery of spiritual warfare, confident in the protection of Mary and so we join with the Holy Father, Pope John Paul, and pray with him through Mary's intercession a prayer which is both a battle cry of intercession and a hymn of victory:
O Mary, bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living, to you we entrust the cause of life: Look down, O Mother, upon the vast number of babies not allowed to be born, of the poor whose lives are made difficult, of men and women who are victims of brutal violence, of the elderly and the sick killed by indifference or out of misguided mercy. Grant that all who believe in your Son may proclaim the Gospel of Life with honesty and love to the people of our time. Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel as a gift ever new, the joy of celebrating it with gratitude throughout their lives and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely, in order to build, together with all people of good will, the civilization of truth and love, to the praise and glory of God, the Creator and lover of life. [12b]

[c] Rev. R. Papi, Jan.14,2001


1] THE CONSTANT GARDENER, by John Le Carre Chapter Fourteen, p. 283 Viking/Penguin 2001
2] ALLELUIA! SING TO JESUS by William Chatterton Dix { 1887-1898} as found in Catholic Book of WorshipII
3] ALL THE PRETTY HORSES by Cormac McCarthy p.91 Vintage Books 1993
4] MACBETH, by William Shakespeare Act 4, Scene 1Oxford University Press, 1988
5] HEALING YOUR FAMILY TREE by Fr. John Hampsch, pp.l34-5 Our Sunday Visitor, 1989
6] THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV by Fyodor Dostoevsky, p. 39 Bantam Classic, 1981
7] THE CURE D'ARS TODAY, by George William Rutler, p.161ff Ignatius Press 1988
9] Pope John Paul II Salvifici Doloris, para. 26 Vatican translation February 11, 1984
10] OUR HOPE FOR THE NEXT MILLENNIUM an article by Fr. John Hardon, The Catholic Faith magazine January/February 2000, Vol.6, No. l, P.7
11] WHEN JESUS SLEEPS, by Luis M. Martinez pp.65ff Sophia Institute Press 2000
12] Pope John Paul II, THE GOSPEL OF LIFE para. 103ff. Vatican translation March 25, 1995
13] ibid.

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