During the lead up to the Second World War, England steadfastly refused to rearm. Formerly the world’s one superpower, she had had enough of war and had talked herself into believing that if only she were sufficiently understanding and accommodating, she could live in harmony with her old enemies, especially Germany.
This was a disastrous error. The war that came did not arise because England was too aggressive, but because she was too passive. That is because the enemy rising in central Europe was not interested in peace, but in conquest. Had England stood up to the Third Reich at almost any point during those years, the war could have been averted, or at least drastically reduced in terms of death and devastation. But her leaders dithered, stubbornly refusing to believe that they were actually dealing with someone who wished to destroy them and everything they held dear. Hitler was not an honest patriot trying to do what was best for his nation as they were for theirs: he was a barbarian and a monster. He wasn’t after reasonable goals, he was after control of all of Europe and the destruction of those he considered unworthy to live in his world.
Catholics today find themselves in a similar position. On either side there are implacable enemies who wish to destroy the Church and everything she stands for. On one side is what is known as ‘the Left:’ the twisted remnants of the long-discredited Marxist ideology leavened with a hedonistic solipsism that sees an individual’s subjective desires as both an objective part of his identity and a human right which none may dare gainsay.
On the other side loom the resurgent armies of Islam, come to claim Europe at last and with their eyes cast threateningly upon the entire West. In the Middle East, Christians and Jews are slaughtered and cultural treasures destroyed, while in Europe women, children, and Jews go in fear while those they look to protect them prefer to curry favor with the invaders.
We live in dark and dangerous times, yet our leaders again fail to take action, preferring to attempt to reason with the unreasonable and to curry favor with those who hate us. While Christians are being systematically forced out of public life, Bishops meet to discuss accommodations for sexually perverted lifestyles.
It is long past time we rearm.
I don’t mean just literally arm (though more on that below), but rearm spiritually and intellectually. We need to take stock of our faith and what it teaches. We need to put aside the shallowly comforting lessons that have dominated pulpits for so long and return to the hard, demanding effort that Christ requires of us. We need to stop fearing that we will alienate those who want to be alienated from us.
In short, we need to act as if we really believed what we say we believe.
Christ commanded us to be as innocent as doves, but as wise as serpents. We seem to have focused rather too much on the former and neglected the latter. We are so keen on avoiding conflict that we don’t even acknowledge we’re at war.
Yes, we are at war. Christians are always at war: it is a fighting religion. We war with principalities and powers, some of which manifest themselves in our fellow human beings. “Christians,” says Pope Leo XIII, “are born for combat.” Elsewhere he sneers at the man who “recoils before an enemy” or “keeps silence when clamors are raised against truth.” Such a man, he says, is either devoid of character or doubts what he claims to believe.
Let us not be such men. Let us rearm and then go forth boldly into the breech. It may be that even now the battle for our culture and the soul of our nation is not lost.
Our message to the Left should be: “Your worldview is false and long-since discredited. You have been deceived by liars, hypocrites, and fools. Come into the light of truth, where Christ welcomes all to repentance and where each finds not equality, but love, and not acceptance, but mercy. If you truly care for the poor, the oppressed, and the alien, you will find that here is true charity.”
Our message to the hedonists should be: “This lifestyle will not make you either happy or healthy, but you are not bound by it. You can change, leave this all behind, and enter into a far more joyful and more peaceful life. Your desires are not your identity; your identity is the fact that you are a child of God. He calls you to repentance and to happiness beyond your imagining.”
Our message to Islam should be: “Beware! There are swords about the cross. We defeated you before and we can do it again. Your faith is a false parody of the truth, concocted by a warlord to justify his crimes: come to the true faith that worships the Prince of Peace. We wish for no conflict, but if you threaten our women, our children, our neighbors, or our Church, we will defend them to the death. You shall not frighten us, for the Lord of Hosts is with us.”
Yes, I am speaking of real, physical combat in the last one. At the last supper, Christ commanded His disciples that, if they don’t have a sword they need to sell their cloaks and buy one. Throughout our two-thousand year history, Christian warriors have defended the Church and all she stands for. We must not be afraid to do the same. And any man worth the air he breathes ought to be willing to defend the women and children in his life.
Because make no mistake; the armies of Islam will continue their war. They’ve already struck us time and time again: in New York, in London, in Paris, in Madrid, in Belgium, in Germany, in Sweden. It is entirely possible that you will find yourself and your family in the midst of such an attack sometime in the next few years. You ought to be prepared to defend yourself and those you love. Buy a weapon and learn how to use it. Keep your weapon about you as much as possible. Be ready to use it if you must. It is not a sin to defend yourself or your loved ones, even if it means killing the enemy. This is a war where there are no non-combatants and where anyone might be drafted at any time. If you’re at the mall and someone starts firing an AK-47, that means you just got drafted. You’d better be ready when that happens.
Of course, we must love our enemies, and pray for them, and do good for them whenever possible to do so without violating our own consciences, but we must never forget that they are our enemies. Some only want to exclude us from public life and destroy our faith. Others wish to kill us. We need to be prepared to face both. Arm yourself with the shield of virtue and the sword of truth, as well as with a more physical weapon. It’s time we stood up and fought back.