I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded. – Romans 16:17-18; RSV
But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels over the law, for they are unprofitable and futile. As for a man who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned. – Titus 3:9-11; RSV
Satan is hard at work within the Catholic Church. One could argue that it were always so, but there is something different about our times. As Cardinal Burke recently said, echoing the prophecy of Our Lady of Akita,
“If this [defense of Christ’s teaching on marriage] means that cardinals will be opposed to cardinals, then we simply have to accept the fact that…that that’s the situation which we find ourselves.”
One of the most-repeated maxims of Catholic discourse is perhaps also the most obvious: the Devil always attacks the family. He has done so since the Garden of Eden. Though predictable, it stands to reason: the family is the fundamental building block of civilization, of nations, and most importantly, of the Church. Each marriage is, in its own small way, an image of the communion of persons that is present in the Most Blessed Trinity, a self-contained circle of unity and life-giving love. It is the place where souls are born into this world and, if the parents do their jobs, raised to know the truths and enter into the mysteries of the Catholic Faith, the only path to eternal salvation. To disrupt the family, to undermine the fundamental realities that underlie this most ancient of human institutions, is to tear apart the very fabric of creation and to pollute the economy of salvation.
On a larger and more mystical level, God’s Church is also a family, the Mystical Bride of Christ who is one flesh with her divine Bridegroom, their union giving birth to newly-cleansed souls, imbued with the indelible mark of the baptized and thus made for heaven. Together, the Mystical Bride and her Heavenly Beloved raise up the Children of Faith, forming them, teaching them, nurturing them, clothing them in graces and feeding them with the very Bread of Life, Christ’s Body and Blood.
It is therefore unsurprising that here, too, Satan focuses his vile attacks.
What is even now transpiring in the Church is nothing less than a Satanic victory. The enemy has plotted, waited, planned, and attacked, and God’s children are being scattered. St. Paul warned the bishops of Ephesus, “Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. I know that, after my departure, ravening wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. And of your own selves shall arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:28-30; DR)
This attack is twofold: it is an attack from without, from the forces of hell, to undermine and corrupt the family of the Church, most particularly in her shepherds; it is an attack from within, using those whom Satan has corrupted — truly the ravening wolves who have entered in among the sheepfold — to attack the very teaching of Christ on human sexuality and marriage such that the flock will not be spared.
There are those within our Catholic family who have heeded the warning of St. Paul; they have heard also the exhortation of St. Peter, from which this journal derives its name and purpose: “Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist ye, strong in faith…” (1 Peter 5:8-9) Those who have chosen to resist the attacks of the enemy, those who have chosen to stand firm on the ground that God’s teaching is inviolate and immutable, and no prelate or hierarch, no matter how high-ranking, can alter what is sacrosanct. As Bishop Athanasius Schneider said so pointedly last November:
In fact a Divine commandment, in our case the sixth commandment, the absolute indissolubility of the sacramental marriage, a Divinely established rule, means those in a state of grave sin cannot be admitted to Holy Communion. This is taught by Saint Paul in his letter inspired by the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 11, 27-30, this cannot be put to the vote, just as the Divinity of Christ would never be put to a vote. A person who still has the indissoluble sacramental marriage bond and who in spite of this lives in a stable marital cohabitation with another person, by Divine law cannot be admitted to Holy Communion. To do so would be a public statement by the Church nefariously legitimizing a denial of the indissolubility of the Christian marriage and at the same time repealing the sixth commandment of God: “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. No human institution not even the Pope or an Ecumenical Council has the authority and the competency to invalidate even in the slightest or indirect manner one of the ten Divine commandments or the Divine words of Christ: “What therefore God has joined together, let man not separate (Math 19:6)”
That in the very bosom of the Church, there are people who undermine the teaching of Our Lord became an obvious fact and one for the whole world to see thanks to the internet and the work of some Catholic journalists who were not indifferent to what was happening to the Catholic faith which they consider to be the treasure of Christ. I was pleased to see that some Catholic journalists and internet bloggers behaved as good soldiers of Christ and drew attention to this clerical agenda of undermining the perennial teaching of Our Lord. Cardinals, bishops, priests, Catholic families, Catholic young people have to say to themselves: I refuse to conform to the neo-pagan spirit of this world, even when this spirit is spread by some bishops and cardinals; I will not accept their fallacious and perverse use of holy Divine mercy and of “new Pentecost”; I refuse to throw grains of incense before the statue of the idol of the gender ideology, before the idol of second marriages, of concubinage, even if my bishop would do so, I will not do so; with the grace of God I will choose to suffer rather than betray the whole truth of Christ on human sexuality and on marriage.
But even now, the forces which have aligned themselves against the surge of heresy now roaring up like a geyser from within the Church are themselves being manipulated. I have seen in recent weeks a growing spirit of division among those who should be united under Christ’s banner. Like tendrils of smoke, the enemy sows doubt and discord, delicately enough that we do not notice. We distract ourselves with arguments that do not pertain to the evil before us. We find that the faults of others with whom we are aligned have become sufficiently exaggerated that we are agitated. And some of our fellows, with whom we should be standing against the coming charge, have even turned and set upon the members of our ranks.
I have become convinced that these sorts of events, which I see growing in frequency, are in fact the fruit of a campaign of spiritual warfare — intentional distractions and provocations — designed to blunt our effectiveness, to dull our awareness, and to drain our energy. Beware the Divider, already in our midst, who seduces us into thinking that our cause is more just, our judgments more correct, our methods more praiseworthy. Look for the signs of this deception in your own life during these troubled times. Be on guard against the conflict and bitterness and gossip and futile arguments and judgments made on those who agree with you on the important things – judgments that they are not worthy enough, not Catholic enough, not committed enough to the cause. Root them out. Pray more. Plead with God for wisdom and guidance. Do not do work in the service of the cause without first making supplication that the Holy Spirit work through you, committing all things to Our Lord through prayer.
Already, we find ourselves in combat with principalities and powers, who are more fiercely intelligent and capable than we. They know how to deceive, how to provoke, how to manipulate according to the frailties of our humanity. Are we better, somehow, than those who have already fallen to the seductions of the enemy? Have we not all seen leaders in the fight whom we have respected and trusted be turned by the forces of darkness and thus lost from the battle? We will win not a single victory if God is not on our side. We must remember to always humble ourselves, asking only to be His instruments for His glory, not to use Him — and the work we believe we’re doing for Him — as a means to our own aggrandizement. It can happen to any of us. If the enemy has his way, it will happen to all of us.
Fight it as though your soul depends on it, for surely it does.
Only God can stem the tide of what is coming now. Only His hand can steer us toward victory. Still, we are not excused from duty. Humanly speaking, those of us who remain in this battle for the soul of the Church and the protection of the family are the last line of defense. Nobody is coming to our rescue. The few bishops who have spoken out are very likely the only ones who will. We cannot place our hopes in a deus ex machina solution. We are on the eve of a great schism, and if we do not hold fast, if we do not ensure that we are doing Christ’s will and not our own, we will fail.
Be on guard. Be in a state of grace. Be wary when you hear those first whispers of animosity stirring in your soul against those who are your allies and friends. The enemy surrounds us. They are more numerous than we. They are stronger than we. But remember Christ’s own battle cry: “With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible.”
Originally published on September 15, 2015. This post has been edited to remove an outdated reference to an upcoming event.