“The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God,” writes St. Paul, “for they are foolishness to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor 2:14) The unfortunate reality is that the modern campaign of militant secular indoctrination has been so severe that only a dwindling remnant remains who believes or trusts in God’s supernatural power. As a result, the spiritual hearts of many are reduced to the size of a thimble, only capable of receiving a few meager drops, if any, from the wellspring of God’s graces (Rev 22:1-2). In spiritual terms, this makes us puny and scrawny rather than strong, powerful, mighty warriors ready to confront the powers of darkness in the heavenly realm. With so many modernized Christians ignoring the reality of grace, it is no wonder that evil is thriving in our day.
This is precisely why Pope St. John Paul II chose the Gospel story of the “Call of the First Disciples” (Lk 5:1-11) as the foundation for his new millennium appeal. This is the classic scene in which Jesus says to Peter, “Put out into deep water (duc in altum), and let down the nets for a catch.” Peter’s response is: “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because You say so, I will let down the nets.” They proceed to catch the maximum amount of fish their nets can hold.
So, why was this particular Gospel passage the basis for Pope St. John Paul’s new millennium master plan? Because Peter’s words — “We’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything” — could not speak any more directly to the modern tsunami-like wave of secularism rolling across our planet, as well as our endless parade of parish programs and performance-oriented, banal liturgies that are mostly done as though God were not there (etsi Deus non daretur).
In other words, the story of the great catch is meant to show that when we try to move only under our own natural power without God (we’ve worked hard), we will flounder in the chaos of darkness (all night) and come up empty (caught nothing) every time. Jesus asks us to get in sync with Him (to obey Him) and not be afraid to set aside our superficial (man-powered) tendencies, as we enter the depths of a supernatural (God-powered) life.
St. Paul reminds us, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Cor. 10:4) Yes, a divine power is available to all those who choose to enlist in God’s army of spiritual warriors, ready to stand “God Strong” against evil’s clear and present danger.
“Go Weapons Hot” is a military command that means to make whatever preparations are necessary so that when you pull the trigger, something happens. In spiritual terms, are we using live ammunition, or are we firing blanks? In other words, are we making the preparations necessary to ensure that our efforts to combat evil and rescue souls are ignited by the fire of the Holy Spirit?
As a commissioned officer in the Church Militant, am I imploring God to supernaturally weaponize my prayers (priest), words (prophet), and deeds (king) so that “I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13)? Or am I ignoring His supernatural strength and power and, therefore, firing blanks — “We’ve been hard at it all night and have caught nothing” (Lk 5:5)?
What are the preparations necessary so that “something (effective) happens” as we exercise the three offices of Christ in the war “against the principalities and powers, the rulers of this world of darkness, the evil spirits in regions above” (Eph 6:10-12)? The word “hot” (“Go Weapons Hot”) gives us an excellent acronym for understanding how we are best positioned to receive the free offer of God’s supernatural grace: H.O.T. = Humility, Obedience, Trust.
HUMILITY: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) We are meant to have God’s own life surge through us for the transformation of the world. St. Ignatius of Loyola said, “There is no doubt that God will never be wanting to us, provided that He finds in us that humility which makes us worthy of His gifts, the desire of possessing them, and the promptitude to co-operate industriously with the graces He gives us.”
OBEDIENCE: St. Josemaria Escriva wrote, “The power of obedience! The lake of Gennesareth had denied its fishes to Peter’s nets. A whole night in vain. Then, obedient, he lowered his net again to the water and they caught ‘a huge number of fish.’ Believe me: the miracle is repeated each day.”
Our Blessed Mother Mary is the very embodiment of this virtue of humility. From the very beginning, Mary shows us how to prepare the way for reception of this Divine Life. Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38) In that sweet submission, the Holy Spirit came upon her and she was filled with the Life of God. In spiritual terms, this Divine Life is available to all who are willing to do the “Mary thing” – to turn their lives over to God. Furthermore, it was at the wedding at Cana that Mary spoke her last words in the entire Bible. Here, she gives us the key that unlocks the doorway into a life filled with the abundance of God’s supernatural grace: “Do whatever He tells you.” (Jn 2:5)
TRUST: St. Alphonsus Liguori taught: “He who trusts himself is lost. He who trusts in God can do all things.” The most important aspect of the devotion of Divine Mercy is the need to trust in God’s goodness. Jesus revealed to St. Faustina that “the vessel with which souls receive abundant graces, and special favors, is confidence!” The confident, trusting soul is like a lightning rod for God’s mercy and grace.
Are you free – from yourself – to enlist in Christ’s elite fighting force and be the warrior saint He is calling you to be?
GO WEAPONS HOT!!
Fr. Richard M. Heilman is a priest of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin State Chaplain for the Knights of Columbus. He is a regular guest host on Relevant Radio’s The Inner Life, and is the founder of the Knights of Divine Mercy, which is an apostolate for Catholic men’s faith formation..
He is also he founder of the Ladies of Divine Mercy, which is an apostolate for Catholic women’s faith formation. He is the author of the Church Militant Field Manual and the Roman Catholic Man website, which are both dedicated to helping Catholics understand and train for their role in the mission of combating evil and rescuing the souls of our loved ones who have lost the precious gift of faith.