Spiritual Warfare Must Be Preached!

The Consequences Of Sin And Disobedience Are Eternal Death!

Msgr. Charles Pope – Every ancient prayer manual and guide to spirituality until about fifty years ago had at least one large section devoted to what was known as Pugna Spiritualis (spiritual battle or spiritual warfare). In more recent decades, many spiritual books have downplayed or completely deleted references to spiritual battle or spiritual warfare.

Sadly, many modern approaches to faith, religion, and spirituality prefer to emphasize exclusively consoling themes rooted in self-esteem, affirmation, etc. To be sure, the authentic faith can and does offer great consolation, but the truest and deepest consolation often comes after one has persevered along the sometimes-difficult path, along the “narrow way” of the cross.

But too many today, in the name of affirmation and pseudo-self-esteem are ready to excuse, and even affirm grave moral disorders, rather than fight them. Grace and mercy are preached, but without reference to the repentance that opens the door to these gifts. Both the possibility of Hell and any consequences of sin, are absent from many modern conceptions of faith and religious practice.

Some years ago, I was approached by a rather angry woman who, having heard my sermon on the seriousness of certain sins (which were in the readings of the day), expressed great indignation that I would preach on such topics. She said, “I come to church to be consoled and have my spirits lifted, not to hear old-fashioned warnings about judgment and sins.” She felt quite a “righteous indignation,” and was most certain that I had transgressed a fundamental norm, namely, that religion exists to console, and that any challenge to one’s moral stance, (except perhaps caring for the poor), is intolerant and way out of line.

Indeed, many today have this kind of attitude: that it is their birthright not to be troubled or vexed in any way by something people might say, especially a preacher who claims to represent God! The “God they worship” would never trouble them. They will have Jesus for their consoler and best friend, but not their Lord, and certainly not their judge. And never mind the literally thousands of verses from Scripture in which Jesus himself speaks sternly and warns of sin, death, judgment, and Hell. They will have none of it, and are certain that “the Jesus they know,” would never raise his voice at them or challenge them even for a moment. Never mind that the real Jesus says to take up our cross and follow him.

With spiritual battle having been removed from many people’s spiritual landscape, the idea that the Lord would summon us to battle, or ask us to choose sides, seems strangely foreign, intolerant, and uncompassionate.

Even more dangerous, these modern conceptions not only distort Jesus, but they downplay the presence and influence of Satan. This is a very, very bad idea. Even if we cease fighting against Satan, he will never ceases his sometimes very subtle attacks on us.

Jesus called consistently for prayerful, sober vigilance against the powers of evil and sin. Like it or not, we are in a battle. Either we will soberly and vigilantly undertake the battle, or we will be conquered and led off like sheep to the slaughter.

Despite what modern spiritual approaches would like to eliminate, Christianity has been a militant religion since its inception. Jesus was exposed to every kind of danger from the beginning. Herod sought his life; Satan tried to tempt him in the desert; many enemies plotted on all sides as he worked his public ministry, misrepresenting him, levying false charges, and conspiring to sentence him to death, and eventually even succeeding though only for a moment.

And as for Jesus, so also for his mystical Body the Church: Saul, Saul why do you persecute me!?  (Acts 9:4) Jesus warns us that the world would hate us (Luke 21:17; John 15:20); that in this world we would have tribulation (Jn 16:33), and that we should watch and pray lest we give way to temptation (Matt 26:41). He summons us to persevere to the end if we would be saved (Mk 13:13). Jesus rather vividly described the kind of struggle with which we live when he said From the time of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force (Matthew 11:12). Indeed, no Christian until the time that Jesus returns, can consider himself on leave or dismissed from this great spiritual battle, from this great drama that we exist in, this battle between good and evil.

Popular theme or not, we do well to remember that we are in the midst of a great cosmic and spiritual battle. And in that battle, we must be willing to choose sides and fight with the Lord for the Kingdom of God. Either we will gather with him or we will scatter. We are to fight for our own soul, and the souls of those whom we love.

In the holy week that is about to unfold, we are reminded once again of the great cosmic battle that the Lord waged, and that is still being waged in our time. Though already victorious, in his mystical Body the Church, the Lord in his faithful members still suffers violence, rejection, and ridicule. It is also for us to reclaim territory from the evil one, to take back what the devil stole from us. We are to advance the glory of God’s Kingdom through the fruits of great spiritual struggle, sacrifice, prayer, fasting, preaching, and an extensive missionary campaign to which the Lord has summoned and commissioned us.

The battle is on; the struggle is engaged! To spiritual arms one and all! Fight the good fight for the Lord.

Still not convinced we are at war? Let the Lord pull back the veil just a bit and let you look at what’s really going on. The final words of this article will not be mine; they will be the Lord’s. Here is described the cosmic battle that is responsible for most of the suffering and confusion you experience:

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers who accuses them before our God day and night,has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus. (Rev 12)

Originally posted at:  Archdiocese of Washington adw.org

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7 comments to Spiritual Warfare Must Be Preached!

  • Teresa

    You are entirely correct Yolande and tg. As controversial a figure as Michael Voris is, he is correct on one point: “The Church of nice is alive and well.” And because the truth has not been preached from the pulpits for the last 50 or so years, the “faithful” have been mislead and some souls, mainly the souls who have bought into their false Catholicism, are in huge jeopardy, not to mention their own souls. I have heard it said that these clergy are afraid of “alienating” the faithful. Just the opposite has happened. We have lost Catholics left and right from the pews because truth has not been presented. The laity now has the job of holding their feet to the fire so that the Church of Christ comes back to His truth. And yes, indeed, Satan is fighting us EVERY inch of the way. Jesus have MERCY on us, and by thy Holy and Immaculate Conception, dear Mary, deliver us from evil. We need all the help and prayers we can possibly get. PRAY THE ROSARY!!!! Mama Mary will ALWAYS lead us in TRUTH.

  • Yolande Suzin

    In earlier centuries the Church had strong views on what awaits sinners who do not repent while alive in the next life. I mean appropriately repent. Mumbling in our beards about being sorry won’t take care of it. We no longer hear these views. Instead we hear love and forgivness, a warm and comfy gospel. As Christ hung from the cross he wanted us to be all warm and comfy. This gospel of mercy is a terrible fungus that has permeated the Western Church. The worry is that it’s not the worst of what we will be preached. What comes next? If our priests don’t turn around, then fasten your seat belts; we are going to crash, and deserve it. We’ve been contemptuos towards Christ’s gospel, and as many societies have found out to late, we will lose it altogether.

  • Cheryl Forbes

    If the woman was Our Lady, why did she cry out in pain?
    I thought Our Blessed Monther did not experience child birth pain. Thank you.

    • John Recto


      How is it that the woman clothed with the sun mentioned in Revelations 12:1 is claimed to be the Virgin Mary by us Catholics. What is the solid proof that this passage refers to Mary. I am a Marian devotee and I would like to be very certain about my answer when I am asked this question by my non-Catholic associates. Thank you.

      Answer by Fr. John Echert on 12/10/2003:
      The first level of “proof” would be the literal interpretation of the text itself, in which we see that this Woman gives birth to a Son, Whom the Dragon wishes to destroy. All commentators agree that the Son if Jesus Christ–and the Dragon is explicitly identified as Satan–therefore it is absolutely reasonable to assume that the Woman who gave birth to Jesus Christ MUST BE Mary, the Mother of our Lord.

      The book of Revelation records a vision of a woman clothed with the sun:

      12:1 And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; 12:2 she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery. 12:3 And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. 12:4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; 12:5 she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 12:6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

      There is a long-standing tradition of interpretation in the Church which views this woman from two perspectives: as representative of God’s People and as the Mother of our Lord. We note that it is common to find a feminine image for the People of God, in the OT and the NT. In this case, we see that the Savior (male child) is born of the Jewish People with the pains of birth (symbolically often used to represent a new age dawning, certainly the case with the coming of the Messiah) and Satan attempts to destroy our Lord, not just as an infant but he continually attempted to thwart his saving mission. But having failed to do this and now that our Lord has ascended to heaven, Satan continues to wage war upon the Church (the Woman). She is given protection by our Lord, as the Church is protected, through a period of persecution. The reference to a period of three and a half years, in various fractions, seems to represent a period of persecution, no matter how long it may be, in fact. This three and a half period may find a past reference in the persecution of Antiochus IV of Syria upon the Jewish people in the 2nd century BC and may find an initial fulfillment in the siege of Jerusalem from 66-70 AD, more specifically, for precisely a three and a half year period.

      At the primary level of symbolism, we can see this woman as representative of our Blessed Mother, who gave birth to our Lord. But in making this association, we do not apply every aspect or detail to her directly without qualification. For the suffering need not be a matter of physically giving birth, but of the sufferings the Mother of our Lord endured which reach a height as she stood beneath the cross upon which her Son died. Remember, the prophet Simeon had foretold that a sword of sorrow would pierce her heart. This allusion was not a matter of a physical sword but of spiritual and emotional suffering of a Mother, which is also physical. But many non Catholics will not accept deeper levels of symbols, which is often at the spiritual level of interpretation and in light of Tradition and sometimes special revelations, such as Marian apparitions, some of which have been officially approved.

      And while maintaining both the symbol of Mary and of the People of God for this Woman, I now regard the primary meaning as Mary, as the other figures of this chapter refer first of all to single referents and secondarily to other realities: the Dragon is Satan, St. Michael is the Archangel, and the Male Child is, of course, Jesus Christ. The apparent connection between the appearance of the ark of the covenant in chapter eleven and the appearance of this woman in chapter twelve further confirm the association of the Woman with Mary, for she is regarded by the Church as the new Ark of the Covenant, as the first dwelling place of the Incarnate Lord.

      We should also note that the Church has chosen the text of the Woman Clothed with the Sun as the first reading for the vigil Mass of the feast of the Assumption. The implication is obvious: this text is to be associated with the Blessed Mother, now in her heavenly splendor.

      Finally, we have the words of two popes who comment upon this Woman as an image of the Blessed Mother.

      In his encyclical letter “Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum” Pope Pius X wrote:

      “A great sign,” thus the Apostle St. John describes a vision divinely sent him, appears in the heavens: “A woman clothed with the sun, and with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars upon her head.” Everyone knows that this woman signified the Virgin Mary, the stainless one who brought forth our head…John therefore saw the Most Holy Mother of God already in eternal happiness, yet travailing in a mysterious childbirth. What birth was it? Surely it was the birth of us who, still in exile, are yet to be generated to the perfect charity of God, and to eternal happiness. And the birth pains show the love and desire with which the Virgin from heaven above watches over us, and strives with unwearying prayer to bring about the fulfillment of the number of the elect.

      In his encyclical letter, “The Great Sign,” Pope Paul VI wrote:

      The great sign which the Apostle John saw in heaven, “a woman clothed with the sun,”(1) is interpreted by the sacred Liturgy,(2) not without foundation, as referring to the most blessed Mary, the mother of all men by the grace of Christ the Redeemer.

      In his encyclical letter “Redemptoris Mater” Pope John Paul II wrote:

      47. Thanks to this special bond linking the Mother of Christ with the Church, there is further clarified the mystery of that “woman” who, from the first chapters of the Book of Genesis until the Book of Revelation, accompanies the revelation of God’s salvific plan for humanity. For Mary, present in the Church as the Mother of the Redeemer, takes part, as a mother, in that monumental struggle; against the powers of darkness”(138) which continues throughout human history. And by her ecclesial identification as the “woman clothed with the sun” (Rev. 12:1),(139) it can be said that “in the Most Holy Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle.” Hence, as Christians raise their eyes with faith to Mary in the course of their earthly pilgrimage, they “strive to increase in holiness.”(140) Mary, the exalted Daughter of Sion, helps all her children, wherever they may be and whatever their condition, to find in Christ the path to the Father’s house.

      Father Echert


      • Yolande Suzin

        Mary did not become a “virgin” until the Septuagint was scribed in Eygpt three centuries before the birth of Christ. Prior to that, in Hebrew scripture, the Pentatuch, she was simply “a young woman”. What translation was John using when he wrote Revelations? The Hebrew or Greek texts? The Hebrew would explain a more traditional view to the childbirth; also the virgin birth may not have been a strong ideology at his time. He was an apostle after all. Many theologies were not yet set. The early Christian Church considered the Septuagint to have been especially divinely inspired. To learn more read St Jerome’s writings on the subject. A good introduction would be anything by Henry Wansbrough, OSB that you can get your hands on. You might start with “The Story of the Bible”. See his bibliography and index. Start there and keep going. You’ll have your answer. And pray, the serious study of scripture will test your faith more than you can imagine.

      • Yolande Suzin

        As to your question of Mary being a Virgin, and other question on this site re “crying out in pain” assumed to mean at childbirth, the answer lies in St Jerome. It was his decision to use the original Hebrew translation, not the Septuagint. It was the Septuagint where the word “virgin” appeared for the first time in translation; three centuries before Chirst. Prior to that the Redeemer was prophesied to be born simply from a “young woman”. The early Christian Church felt the Septuagint was exceptionally inspired. Was St John using the Hebrew or the Greek translations when he reflected on the Pentatuch? For those answers get the works of Henry Wansbrough, OSB. Start with the “Story of the Bible” which will be enlightening for you. Then move on to his later works. Then tackle St Jerome’s works. Catholism is work,study and prayer for those of us blessed enough to be able to get hold of these precious works.

  • tg

    God bless you Msgr. Pope. Church clergy and religious need to stand strong against these attacks. Quit apologizing for telling the Truth. (The Dominican nun and Father Rocky have been under attack by Catholic school parents and students.) Mary, Mother of the Clergy, pray for them. St. Paul, St. John the Baptist, pray for our clergy to be bold like you were.

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