A tall, gray building stands against a gray sky, smoke and spire alike reaching towards Heaven. Thousands of ornate details confess a Gothic ancestry, this sacred place a child of stone born by the toil of generations. The face of the church remains stoic as her stained glass windows burst in the heat, hundreds of hours of labor shattering in an instant. The orange tongues of flame now lap greedily at the fresh air outside, sparking and laughing as the crowd gathers below, hands shielding eyes, mouths agape — mon Dieu! mon Dieu!
At the time of this writing, firemen are still battling a massive fire in France’s Nantes Cathedral. The fire chief has assured the public that this is not a “Notre Dame scenario”; however, the cathedral’s historic organ was completely destroyed along with much of the stained glass in the front of the building. The fire began in three separate areas, leading the police to assume that arson was the cause. An investigation is ongoing.
Just over a week prior, a Florida man drove his vehicle into a Catholic church and set the foyer on fire while parishioners were inside the building. On the same day, a 249-year-old California church (which had relocated a statue of missionary Saint Junípero Serra amid the recent protests) was devastated by another fire. Statues of Our Lady and the saints have been set ablaze, toppled, or otherwise vandalized across the country.
How appropriate it is that the war against God and the Church is being waged by various means of desecration. Evil cannot create anything. Evil knows only how to destroy. Is it any wonder that our society — demonically marred by 50-plus years of legally sanctioned child murder — is filled with people who are so consumed by darkness that they constantly project their inner hatred and disorder outward? It is a sobering, cruel thought: we are surrounded by people every day who have effectively given themselves freely to Satan for his infernal use. Lacking the sanctifying grace of God, they are often defenseless against demonic oppression or even actual possession.
It is easy to forget that the world is not neutral territory, but a battleground, where good and evil clash unceasingly. Although Jesus Christ forever conquered the powers of hell on Calvary, Scripture does not call the Devil the “prince of this world” lightly. As Catholic Answers explains (emphasis mine):
The traditional theology of the Church, of both the Old and New Testament, has always understood that before their fall the angels were given various roles in the governing of the universe. … It would appear that the devil or Satan is the angel to whom was given the care of human kingdoms and societies.
And just as with bad human beings, this angel’s fall did not deprive him for the present time of his role and his power. When a man turns evil, he still has his knowledge and skill and possessions, and so it is also with the demons. God’s Providence has determined that the domination of the wicked does not end when they sin. They continue to be part of this plan until the end. …
So the very fact that there are good people in the world who follow the Savior rather than Satan is to him a kind of revolt, a punishable offense and an act of war. The appearance of Christ’s Church on the scene of the kingdoms of this world is actually the incursion of his enemy into his own territory and requires a violent response. This is why there has been and always will be spiritual war between the followers of Christ the King and the followers of the prince of this world.
The tragic consequences of Original Sin are profoundly obvious in our time. Hatred for the Church and particularly for God’s laws that curtail the indulging of human passions has become the only socially acceptable stance. Despite the fact that millions of Americans identify as Christians, and that millions of those Christians identify as Catholics, it is clear that this allegiance to Christ against the armies of Satan is merely nominal for most.
Sun Tzu said that “supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” It would seem that the enemies of the Church have taken this advice to heart. Oftentimes the situation we face does indeed seem bleak. On the one hand, we must always seek to grow in the virtue of Christian hope and to remind ourselves that this wicked time is necessary to God’s plan. On the other hand, we must go on the offensive and co-operate with the graces of God to bring about His victory over our enemies.
What can be done in the face of chaos?
Wrenching our very culture from the Devil himself is no easy task, but it can be begun quite simply. Dr. Taylor Marshall is urging Catholics to “take up space” — his particular focus is on encouraging people to display Catholic statuary in front of their homes. Pray the rosary in the streets. Pray before you eat, in public. Make it such a habit for your children that they will automatically do the same, wherever they are. If you wear a mask, wear one with a bold pro-life or pro-family message. When you see some perverted Facebook advertisement, make a comment noting your displeasure before you block it.
Catholic women, especially, have a huge role to play in the restoration of Christianity. Needless to say, raising your children every day to love Christ can truly change the world. There is also an immediate thing you can do, whether single or married: dress in a way that sets you apart from the world. Whether or not a person looking at you can immediately tell you’re Catholic is less important than the fact that they will immediately recognize you are not a child of the zeitgeist.
There are hundreds of ideas like these. We must only implement them, on as large a scale as our numbers will allow. Unfortunately, the very simplicity of many of these actions can easily become the biggest obstacle to their implementation. They are seen as irrelevant, ineffective, petty, or the equivalent of praying on street corners as hypocrites do. None of these arguments is accurate. These tactics absolutely work. The left has been using them for decades to bring society to its knees. As for arguments from humility, we mustn’t forget that we are to let our light shine before men so that our Father may be glorified in Heaven. It is not humility to accept the false notion of religion as merely a “private matter.” If we do not begin to utilize our rights to live a publicly Catholic life, we risk erasure of even the few remaining vestiges of public Catholicism.
As statues topple and cathedrals burn, we must do everything within our power to light the world on fire, with the flaming love of the Holy Ghost working within our souls and guiding our steps.
Stefanie Lozinski is an unexpected Catholic convert from a (very lapsed) Greek Orthodox background. The history of the Crusades played a positive role in her faith journey, and she believes firmly that the rosary will save the world. Readers can connect with her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @StefMLozinski.