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Spiritual Warfare: Why We Are Losing


In recent decades, we have seen Satan engage the world as never before. In all of human history we have never witnessed evil promoted so effectively, while virtue, character, and morals are roundly mocked and rejected. Meanwhile, it could be said that the Mystical Body — the Church — has never been so unprepared for and unengaged in the challenging mission of spiritual warfare. It is obvious that Satan’s forces are well trained and well organized, while ours clearly are not. At the very beginnings of our great nation, Sir Edmund Burke warned, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Recognizing the widespread spiritual lethargy of our times – the emergent detachment from the Divine Life – Pope John Paul II’s master plan for the new millennium was one that asked us to set aside our disconnected busyness, and to start fresh by contemplating the face of Christ. It is clear that the Holy Father was encouraging us to place our emphasis on reconnecting to the Divine Life of God, which is classically referred to as the unum necessarium, the one thing necessary.

The one thing necessary constitutes the essential foundation for the interior life and stems from the story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42), where we first see that, amazingly, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity was sitting right in their living room. Even so, Martha remains busy with the good and noble protocol of hospitality, while Mary sits at the feet of Jesus, her eyes locked on His Holy Face, peering into His soul, hanging on His every word. Mary is actually in adoration, soaking in everything our Lord wants to give her. I like to say that she is “Mary-nating” — soaking in the gusher of God’s graces. Mary had come to understand what St. Augustine once said: “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” Remarkable!

When Martha objects to Mary’s lack of activity, Jesus tells Martha that she remains anxious and upset about many things while Mary has chosen the better portion, the one thing necessary. Mary was the one who was making the guest truly feel welcomed, while Martha remained detached, going through the motions of the demands of protocol. God is light and love and truth Who brings order and meaning and serenity to our lives. While we remain disconnected from our Source, we remain easily agitated, frustrated, and feeble in our disordered and chaotic existence as we continue to walk in darkness.

The disconnection is seen, first and foremost, in the Martha-like indifference to the presence of the Divine in so many of our present-day liturgies, compared with a more Mary-like contemplative way of worshiping. Contemplative awe and veneration have always been the distinctive way Catholics worshiped, until recent decades. In awe and wonder, we would worship Him and soak in the supernatural graces necessary to stand firm against the tactics of the devil (Eph. 6:11) and to grow in the way of sanctity.

The consequence of the modern initiative to push for a very busy and more insouciant way of worshiping that is performance-oriented and man-centered has led to an epidemic of detachment from the Divine, facilitating the modern prevalence of spiritual sloth (indifference toward the Divine Life). Like Martha, God is “right there in our midst,” but we act as though He is not — or if He is, what’s the big deal? We have become the spiritually impotent.

This is why Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger) stated that any real effort at renewal in the Church must begin with a new liturgical movement:

“I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy, which at times has even come to be conceived of etsi Deus non daretur (as though God were not there): in that it is a matter of indifference whether or not God exists and whether or not He speaks to us and hears us.”


In this ubiquitous spiritual warfare, we are being overpowered as we allow ourselves to become detached from our True Power Source, the only way to combat the supernatural powers of evil and grow in holiness. “With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt. 19:26) Spiritually speaking, the devil is doing all that he can to catch us isolated and unarmed on the battlefield — no spiritual armor, no spiritual weapons, and no comrades in the heavenly realm to fight alongside of us. In other words, the reason evil is promoted so effectively today is because we’re ignoring God’s offer of supernatural strength and power. We are, in essence, bringing a knife to a gunfight, and we are getting slaughtered!

The time is now to prepare an elite fighting force, surrendering to God and then allowing His grace to invade every aspect of our lives. “Grace,” wrote Thomas à Kempis, “is the mistress of truth, the light of the heart, the comforter of affliction, the banisher of sorrow, the expeller of fears, the matrix of devotion, the producer of tears. What am I without it but a piece of dry wood and an unprofitable stock, fit for nothing but to be cast away.”

Here are the three essential approaches for receiving the abundance of God’s grace, the unum necessarium:

1) Go to Confession (frequently): St. Augustine tells us: “The whole power of the Sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with Him in an intimate friendship. This very moment I may, if I desire, become the friend of God.” Go to Confession at least once a month, and immediately after any grave sin. Never receive Holy Communion with serious sin on your soul.
2) Go to Mass (frequently): St. Peter Julian Eymard tells us to “hear Mass daily; it will prosper the whole day. All your duties will be performed the better for it, and your soul will be stronger to bear its daily cross. The Mass is the most holy act of religion; you can do nothing that can give greater glory to God or be more profitable for your soul than to hear Mass both frequently and devoutly. It is the favorite devotion of the saints.” Do your best to find a parish that is working to offer due reverence to God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, especially if you have the responsibility of the salvation of family members.
3) Consecrate yourself to Jesus through Mary: Once St. Maximilian Kolbe learned about St. Louis de Montfort’s consecration to Mary, called the “surest, easiest, shortest, and the most perfect means” to becoming a saint, he called it a “secret weapon for the world,” a “shortcut to holiness.” Mary crushes the head of the serpent. Always keep Mary at your six (your back)!

The Gospels stories show how Jesus touched people in ways that made them question the direction of their lives. Some turned away because His challenge seemed to be too hard. But many others were so moved by His mission and ministry that they were compelled to search for a more perfect way of living and being. Where do you stand? Are you ready to put it all on the line? This means nothing less than to do what God is calling you, from the depths of your being, to do — to rouse yourself to action on behalf of the kingdom. Are you ready to say “yes” to the call to become His champion?

Originally published on August 11, 2014.

37 thoughts on “Spiritual Warfare: Why We Are Losing”

  1. Well done, Fr. Rick! Somehow, the Holy Spirit manages once again to put your words in front of me just when I need them. AMDG!

  2. “Mary-nating”. That is a good one and I’ll add it to my quote log and cite you as the author.

    Second only to assistance at holy sacrifice of the Mass with worthy reception, is frequent visits to our Eucharistic Lord in the tabernacle. Time alone and in silence with Jesus is time well spent. I am very pleased to see your quote of St. Peter Julian Eymard. I can only credit the Holy Spirit who directed me to the saints “Real Presence” book with it’s easy to understand and loving reverence to Christ in the Eucharist. I heartily recommend this book as a primer on Adoration and one that should be included in every Catholic library.

    “A Saint keeps watch over his country and obtains it’s salvation. His prayers and virtues are more powerful than all the armies of the world.” –St Peter
    Julian Eymard

  3. No argument from me on this essay. Please let me add. We live two to three times longer than in any
    time in history. So much more
    comfortable than people did a thousand years ago or even one hundred years
    ago. In the Western World bishops and
    priest don’t die as martyrs, they die with a pension. Most people today die
    with SSI, from obesity, too much food, booze, or just old age. This is all a blessing for the ‘flesh’ but
    with time we have more opportunity for temptation. Is not our “Spiritual Warfare” harder now than
    in the past? What the heck do I know, I’m
    a dopey lounge musician. But let me say
    this this, “Christ isn’t luzin, He’s prunin.” Bad joke.
    Peace amigos……..JO

  4. Great article Father! I don’t think we can move forward until the Church moves past being nice and starts being honest with itself again!

    Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis peccatoribus!

  5. Also one more thing is necessary! The Charismatic Gifts are meant to empower GODS PEOPLE to Evangelize ,Heal,Encourage,Teach,Deliver,Etc…and our Beloved Church in large part in many Diocese’ refusal of this Vital Element that JESUS GAVE at Pentecost! Peace

  6. From Minnesota I thank you for this Father. Pretty smart…eventually I will make visit Our Lady of Good Hope Shrine….Jeff

  7. Totally agree.

    Devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus, Eucharistic/Perpetual Adoration, the Rosary….the Letter by St. Francis, 1221, to Catholics and the world….speaks the need for penance….Brothers and Sisters of Penance…certain times during the year to abstain from meat Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday….why not mostly ongoing as we eat too much of it?…..

    Also Psalm 91…

  8. Revelation unfolding before our very eyes! Satan’s time is short. Mary Queen of the Universe triumph and reign!

  9. excellent article Father…and good points to be Holy….but I believe because of decades of abortion,birth control, homosexual priests along with sodomy being proclaimed as virtue….I truly believe Gods Divine Justice is going to strike the entire world and bring us all to our knees and keep us on our knees!

  10. Sanctifying Grace Father, always be in Grace by daily Mass, (Tridentine when possible), regular confession, (never live in mortal sin, way too risky for one’s soul). And of course a daily Holy Rosary. Say the Sacred Heart Prayer for humility and purity, these are two sources of great “power” against our enemy. And let your love show for your neighbor with acts of kindness. Please see my book on Sons Of Thunder by Robert Epperly, or send for my new book for free by emailing me at [email protected] Blessings…

  11. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

    To presume that “we are GOOD” or that we are “good men” is the root of SIN.

    Jesus The Lord said, “ONLY GOD IS GOOD.” To be GOOD like him, like Jesus The Lord is to be an APOSTLE of his. Besides the 12, Jesus The Lord made many more Apostles.Only Apostles can bring The Lord’s SALVATION to the World through the proclamation of his Word. Without APOSTLES the Churches will DIE OUT as is in the case of present day Europe. Jesus had hinted at it when he said, “Will there be faith left when the Son of man comes back?”

    The Bishops of the Churches who claim to have inherited the offices of The Apostles, are they in practice true Apostles? Or are they not more like those spoken of in God’s Word,: Luke & : 29 ff.? WE ALL need to repent and enter the Kingdom of God first or else evil Religions will conquer us all. It is The Lord’s punishment for us, for our SINS of living by LIE and not living by his TRUTH, his person, his HOLY SPIRIT.

    Apostles are MADE by The Lord in today’s Word proclaiming centres, like : THE DIVINE and SEHION Retreat Centres in Kerala, India. Go to google and find out. Make use of these centres to experience the LIVING GOD JESUS CHRIST. After wasting most of my years I found for the first time that Jesus is ALIVE in a retreat made in one of these centres not as a participant proper but as a curious observer.

  12. The mostly weak bishops and cardinals in this country need to start EXCOMMUNICATING these fake Catholic politicians….What are they afraid of??? These politicians are creating a public scandal by walking up and receiving the Eucharist in a state of MORTAL SIN…

  13. Thank you 1P5, for publishing this year(+)-old article now. It is probably the most worthwhile reading I’ve done this week and will help me as I prepare my goals for 2016.

  14. The four last things helps me to focus my mind on God.
    Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell.
    And I’ll add one other thing, Eternity.

    Death, physical death, comes to each and every single one of us.
    Someone or something will judge each and every one of us when we die
    This is the stumbling block for many because many either don’t accept the reality that they will be subject to judgement, or that because God “is good” that any judgement made will always be favourable.

    Heaven and Hell are the outcomes to whatever judgement verdict is handed down.

    Eternity is the timeline for the verdict of that judgement.

    If we accept that God is transcendent and that God cannot lie, then the words and life and teaching of Jesus – the Second Person in the Trinity – are clear and unambiguous.

    We need to hold as closely as we can to the sacraments. Only then will we be able to access the grace necessary to help save each and everyone of us.

  15. Outstanding! Thank you, Father, for this article. I missed it the first time around. Benedict XVI–what a wise Pope he was! May the Lord bless him always!

  16. Yeah, well, this is a pretty good presentation of the opening chapter of “Three Ages of the Interior Life” by Fr. Garrigou Lagrange. But it rings hollow. They wrecked the Church in 64 and until we can come right out and call the subsequent era a Satanic fraud all our “exhortations” are very, very shallow. “Destroy the Mass, destroy the Church,” indeed.

  17. Looking back on 2015 it’s interesting to see some of the movements that have actually made a reasonable impact, such as GamerGate or some of the anti-SJW movements. What I see there is that they had some level of success because there was organization that effected action (and the Internet makes this organization much easier).

    Truth be told, it’s not really about numbers. Our Lord started with 12, after all, as Vox Day is quick to remind us. It’s about the passion of the members and their coordinated action. With the number of people we do have (good Catholics and good Christians), it really should be somewhat fairly easy to root out the trouble-makers in the Church — even the big ones in high places. It really should be easy.

  18. Catholics must relearn how to worship God “in spirit and in truth,” with orthodox liturgies and profound personal prayer. Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

  19. Could we call a halt to the Martha-and-Mary stuff? I can’t describe how tired I am of this. Martha didn’t want Mary not to be a contemplative, she wanted some help in the kitchen. True, if Martha and Mary had both sat at Our Lord’s feet and _nobody_ had cooked the dinner, Jesus could have made some miraculously appear on the table. But THAT ISN’T GOING TO HAPPEN AT MY HOUSE, where, if nobody cooks the dinner, there isn’t any dinner. So Martha and Mary need to be put in mothballs, because the story does nothing but make trouble.

    • The Bible and the true teachings of Christ seem to be just that-put in mothballs-because the entire story of the one, true Trinitarian God has done nothing but make trouble-for the unbelievers and the wicked.

    • Perhaps you’d find great benefit by examining the deeper applications of the story of Mary & Martha to your own interior spiritual life, as well as to however you manifest that life externally. It would seem the degree of your distress may actually be pointing to the next necessary steps for you as you stumble along the path to personal holiness.

      Just sayin’.

  20. Excellent advice Father Heilman. Thank you and God Bless you. I would like to see Pope Francis get with this program in 2016 and promulgate it. Let us pray that both we and he do it.

  21. Nowhere in this article do I see any self-examination by the author on the sins and misdeeds committed by the Catholic clergy, including:

    1. Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, Chancellor of both the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, invoking papal infallibility for Pope Francis’ pronouncements on the pseudo-science of man-made climate change.

    2. Archbishop Salvatore “Rino” Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, threatening to “automatically excommunicate” Catholics who commit “verbal violence” (whatever that means) against Pope Francis.

    3. The Vatican putting on a “climate change” light show on St. Peter’s Basilica on the Feastday of the Immaculate Conception — a light show backed by the World Bank that funds abortions in developing countries, and sponsored by organizations named after Greek and Roman pagan gods.

    4. Catholic Voice, which identifies itself as “the official newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland” in northern California, publishing a heretical priest Dan Danielson’s homily calling for the approval of homosexual marriage.

    • Such a course would have taken the article off-point from what Fr. Heilman is trying to accomplish. Self-examination by Fr. Heilman, you, or me is not possible when contemplating the sins of others, though I am in agreement about the overt sins you list.

      However, Fr. Heilman’s post is on spirituality and not direct combat with those seeking to dismantle the true Church. The two are related but not so immediately.

  22. Fr. Heilman, you absolutely are not allowed to use words such as “battlefield”, “armor”, “weapons”, as they are negatively received by the modern mind and we have been instructed by those in the institutional Church, through its documents, encyclicals, and most importantly, its liturgy, that the words of the Church such as these in the past (including and in particular Church Militant, Hell, Purgatory,” the depravity of sin”, “gravely offending the divine majesty”, “God’s fury, indignation and wrath”, nor to “feel weighed down by the burden of evil, like “a captive” in the “bonds of sin”. Also, modern man prefers not to be reminded of adversities, dangers, enemies, evils, and tribulations. He does not believe that he “merits evil in this life for evil deeds:, that his afflictions here result from his sins, that “being struck down by God heals him”, or that he is “worthy of chastisements.” Or, there are “infirmities of the soul, we have “a weak will”, an “obstinacy of heart”, recognition of “the strength of our vices”, “Concupiscence of the flesh and of the eyes”, and “continual affliction from our excesses”, as these obsolete and now intolerable notions have been excised from the prayers within the Novus Ordo liturgy, among many, many others.

    Spiritual warfare? What an old-fashioned notion! Should we be reminded that the purpose of the creation of a new liturgy was, as related by Father Carol Braga, who put the finishing touches on the innovator’s work on this creation, “…This revision is called for in light of the new view of human values, considered in relation to and as a way to supernatural goods. …Expressions recalling positions or struggles of the past are no longer in harmony with the Church’s NEW POSITIONS. AN ENTIRELY NEW FOUNDATION OF EUCHARISTIC THEOLOGY HAS SUPERSEDED devotional points of view or a particular way of venerating the Saints. Retouching the text, moreover, was deemed necessary to BRING TO LIGHT NEW VALUES AND NEW PERPESTIVES.” (Carlo Braga, “Il Proprium de Sanctis’, Ephemerides Liturgicae 84 (1970), 419.)

  23. I am happy to say that as of yesterday(Friday),I am a Recently Confirmed Catholic who is struggling with Lust and is now A Consecrated Slave of Jesus through Mary!

  24. I wish the KofC would start a revolution in the church to ‘evangelize’ the very children sitting in the pews. How? Sponsor parish based endowment funds to pay teacher salaries at the nearest Catholic school as the second most important mission of each church. KofC could provide the paperwork exemplar for a 501(c)3 filing. They could provide by-laws, mission statements, board composition, web site formats as well. KofC and local pastors could encourage monthly online contributions by parishioners and interested family members. Think how many doting baby boomer grandparents would be delighted to donate to their grandchildrens’ schools. The KofC and the Church could identify suitable investments for the funds. All staff should be volunteers for every parish. In our atheistic government schools the Name of God is forbidden except as a curse.
    After the fiasco of the Synod of the Family one wonders why an obvious support for Catholic families sitting right there in the pews is so lacking. Local funds for local schools will be massively more effective than diocesan collection and redistribution. If any of the clerics in our church really cared about the kids we would see a much more vigorous effort to reduce tuition for Catholic families. As another poster notified me once the Diocese of Wichita commits its parishes to provide a tuition free Catholic education to all practicing Catholic families. What in the World is wrong with the rest of our Church?

  25. Coming as a Protestant, I can say I appreciate your efforts on the article. We HAVE gone to sleep as the Church. And by Church I mean the Body of Christ. This being the Catholic and the Protestant alike. “There is no jew, and no Greek…”.

    One of the biggest contributors of this low state is DOUBT AND UNBELIEF. I would reference the Catholic Church here in how DIFFICULT it is to get approval for exorcism! It is always thought to be a “psychological issue”. You spend all your time ruling evil OUT, and accepting anything it COULD BE to explain it away. This is why many Catholics go to Protestant deliverance ministries. Secondly it’s the 800 lb gorilla in the room that nobody is talking about.

    I think the biggest issue here is FEAR. That and as I said, doubt and unbelief. We tell out kids there is no such thing as ghosts. We tell them there is no monster under their bed or in their closet. When all along we are relying on our physical senses and they are sensing what is spiritual though they be too young to understand things of that nature. Don’t tell your child there is NO SUCH THING AS MONSTERS! You are setting them up unknowingly.

    The proper way to handle it is teach them what JESUS DID! COMBAT! Teach them to say “You listen here monster! I belong to Jesus! And Jesus says YOU have to go away!”

    I’m always confessing. But I do it directly to the Lord.

    And I love and a appreciate Mary, don’t get me wrong. But there is only ONE I want keeping MY SlX and that is the Holy One Himself. Who came to DESTROY THE WORKS OF THE ENEMY. Mary is precious. But her mission was not to DESTROY THE WORKS OF THE ENEMY. It was to bare in her womb the Son of the Most High God! King of Glory! Jehovah! Yeshua! And thankfully, He not ONLY has my SIX, but HE has my twelve, three and nine as well!

    I’m kind of churched out at the moment. I’m content worshipping at His Throne. Jesus and me. 🙂 We got a good thing going. 🙂 To borrow a line from Tom T Hall.

    Grace to you all. 🙂


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