The way of the world is wearying. As the Church Militant, we are soldiers battling our whole lives against the snares of evil and temptation and the war can seem never ending. If the Church is going to be victorious, however, we need to be reminded often of the convictions and strategies that urged us onto the battlefield in the first place. It’s one thing to fight hard – a whole new dimension comes into play when we also aim to fight smart.
Strategy #1: Know Your Enemy
Satan is not creative.
A good student knows that history often repeats itself. The Devil uses the same tactics over and over to tempt and destroy, such as appealing to fallen human qualities like selfishness, laziness, and narcissism. Rather than becoming discouraged at man’s tendency to fall for the same lies, the Church can instead take heart! The enemy’s plans have never been more obvious, and surely, his plans can be more easily recognized now. A wise soldier learns from his mistakes; because of history’s failures, Satan can no longer hide behind familiar lines. And it is much easier to do battle with a foe when you can see him.
These culture wars have been decades in the making. The devil may not be creative, but he is certainly patient. Recent challenges to society, such as the gender identity crisis and an increase of mass school shootings, to name a few – these are caused by old wounds that we initially suffered when faith and family life ceased to be the foundations of most peoples’ lives. As the lack of respect for life and sacrificial love gave way to individualism and relativism, gaping holes were left for the enemy to fill on his own terms.
Just as it took years for society to disintegrate as it has, it would be difficult for the true solution to take any less time to implement. Of course, all things are possible with God, but we must also be prepared to be in this for the long haul.
Strategy #2: Know Your Battle Plan
A soldier without a cause is easily unmotivated and distracted.
In our war, the Christian’s end game is this: conversion of hearts. This objective changes everything.
If we are fighting for hearts and souls, then our tactics have to reflect this. Reforming laws and posting articles on social media is only a very small part of the effort. To bring about conversion, our primary directive must be to lead others to Christ. Pope Francis is an excellent example of this: by extending compassion and gentle correction, he emulates Jesus in the Gospels and invites open dialogue with tepid hearts. Our enemy expects us to be belligerent in our conviction, but our strategy must be passionate peace.
It’s widely accepted in the sports world that the team with home field advantage will generally find it easier to be victorious. We have an obligation to remain vocal on the stages of the world, but it’s important to also remember that these battles we fight are not going to be won on the world’s terms. We must have presence, but also, avoid throwing all of our efforts behind grandiose political statements. If this is the only place we’re fighting, then we’re forgetting our home field advantage, where we rally strongest: the heavenly realm.
Strategy #3: Know Your Strengths
You know the saying: “Pick the hill you die on”.
So often, it is easy to become zealous for a few, if not many, worthy causes. However, not only is this ultimately ineffective, it’s also the best way to burn ourselves out, taking us completely out of the game. St. Paul tells us that the Body of Christ is made up of many parts. We are a people made up of many passions, fighting a war that has many causes – choose one! Spend your life conquering your hill and pray unceasingly for your brothers dying on the hills next to yours.
Finally (and most importantly), making sure your soldiers are efficient and effective is common sense for any good general. We should always remember that prayer is our primary means of attack. It is easy for many of us who excel in outreach to forget that ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit that inspires radical change and only through petitioning Him can total conversion take place.
The war that humankind has been embroiled in since the beginning will be hard-fought and hard-won. Our enemy is clever, but we are creative. The world plays by its own rules, but our battleground is heaven itself. And though the struggles are many, so are we.
So, onward Christian soldiers, and take heart! Fight hard and fight smart, for victory is most assuredly ours!
St. Michael, pray for us and defend us always!