Unprepared for spiritual battle

FATHER GEORGE WILLIAM RUTLER

In February of 1943, the ill-prepared United States Army II Corps valiantly fought against the German-Italian Panzer Army at the Kasserine Pass in Tunisia but had to retreat.

John Henry Cardinal Newman
1801-1890

The army did wake up, commanders were replaced, the troops regrouped, and eventually the war was won. This is a contemporary allegory, when we see the social consequences of poorly formed Catholics overwhelmed by secular forces that have no love for the Church.

In the nineteenth century, Cardinal Newman warned that naïve Catholics would fall into "mass apostasy" through lack of preparedness in spiritual combat: "Do you think (the Prince of Lies) is so unskillful in his craft, as to ask you openly and plainly to join him in his warfare against the Truth? No; he offers you baits to tempt you. He promises you civil liberty; he promises you equality; he promises you trade and wealth; he promises you a remission of taxes; he promises you reform. This is the way in which he conceals from you the kind of work to which he is putting you; he tempts you to rail against your rulers and superiors; he does so himself, and induces you to imitate him; or he promises you illumination, -- he offers you knowledge, science, philosophy, enlargement of mind. He scoffs at times gone by; he scoffs at every institution which reveres them. He prompts you what to say, and then listens to you, and praises you, and encourages you. He bids you mount aloft. He shows you how to become as gods. Then he laughs and jokes with you, and gets intimate with you; he takes your hand, and gets his fingers between yours, and grasps them, and then you are his."

Many have warned about the consequences of yielding the Faith to false messiahs. Years before becoming pope, Benedict XVI wrote: "Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes not divine, but demonic" (Truth and Tolerance, p. 116).

"Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes not divine, but demonic".

We are about to witness many outrages against the dignity of life by politicians who have taken advantage of nominal Christians. For starters, we may expect removal of the present administration's ban on destructive embryonic research, and rejection of the Mexico City accords which restrained abortion and eugenics. Most immediately, the New York State legislature has proposed a bill removing the statute of limitations on lawsuits that would damage, and possibly bankrupt, Catholic and other private institutions. Since Cardinal Egan wrote his letter about this, the recent election gave both houses of the legislature to the party that favors this bill.

As with the lesson of the Kasserine Pass, we are learning that there is no place for amateur soldiers in the army of the Lord. A short time from now, many will say: "We should have listened to the warnings." The hard response will be: "Why didn't you?".

 


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Father George William Rutler. "Unprepared for spiritual battle." Weekly Column (November 16, 2008).

Reprinted with permission of Father George W. Rutler.

THE AUTHOR

Father Rutler received priestly ordination in 1981. Born in 1945 and reared in the Episcopal tradition, Father Rutler was an Episcopal priest for nine years. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1979 and was sent to the North American College in Rome for seminary studies. Father Rutler graduated from Dartmouth, where he was a Rufus Choate Scholar, and took advanced degrees at the Johns Hopkins University and the General Theological Seminary. He holds several degrees from the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities in Rome, including the Pontifical Doctorate in Sacred Theology, and studied at the Institut Catholique in Paris. In England, in 1988, the University of Oxford awarded him the degree Master of Studies. From 1987 to 1989 he was regular preacher to the students, faculty, and townspeople of Oxford. Cardinal Egan appointed him Pastor of the Church of Our Saviour, effective September 17, 2001.

Since 1988 his weekly television program has been broadcast worldwide on EWTN. Father Rutler has published 16 books, including: Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.

Copyright © 2008 Father George W. Rutler




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