While each side has had, and will continue to have, a growing awareness of the battle, there are of course profound differences about what each side thinks it knows. From the nature of the battle to the eventual victor, the children of light and children of darkness have radically incompatible ideas about what is happening now. As the battle proceeds, surely these differences in knowledge will continue to define the sides, deepening their opposition to one another.
The Nature of the Battle. The children of light understand that the battle that rages around us is nothing other than the very visible and concrete manifestation of the war that has always been waged for the souls of men. “Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
The children of darkness know they are in a battle, but most combatants have only vague notions of the enemy they fight. Ostensibly they fight for the environment, racial non-justice, LGTBQ rights, open borders, and abortion. Most would be perplexed by any assertion that they fight against God. Unfortunately, it matters little whether an army understands the identity of their enemy as long as they blindly follow the orders of their leaders.
But what of the people who profess that they have no allegiance in this battle? St. Ignatius addresses such people in his Spiritual Exercises:
Consider that we are all placed between Jesus Christ and Lucifer, and that it is equally impossible either to serve both at once — ‘No one can serve two masters’ (Matthew 6:24) — or to remain neutral without serving one or other, for Jesus Christ says, ‘He who is not with Me is against Me’ (Luke 11:23). It is, then, necessary to make a choice.”
More and more, those who are “undecided” have unwittingly decided to join the children of darkness.
The Real Identities of the Two Captains. In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius describes the “two standards” that we must choose between. “St. Ignatius represents Our Lord and Lucifer as two captains armed one against the other and calling all men to their standards.”
Of the standard of Lucifer, St. Ignatius writes:
Consider the innumerable crowd of followers and ministers around Lucifer. Here are found united the sinners of all ages — the spirits who first, even in heaven, raised the standard of revolt against God, degraded beings, with whom evil is become as a nature; all the men who have made themselves the slaves of their passions and sins — the proud, the impure, robbers, homicides, all the wicked men who at different times have startled the world by their crimes, and of whom there is not a single one who is not, in some way, an object of aversion and disgust. But why does Lucifer convoke these under his standard? For the most perfidious and cruel design that can be imagined; he wishes to seduce the whole human race, and after having seduced it, to drag it down to eternal misery.”
Alas, the children of darkness generally do not know their captain in this way. If they truly understood, many would abandon the standard of Lucifer.
Of the standard of Jesus, St. Ignatius writes:
Consider, around Our Saviour, His disciples and apostles. Where shall we find a more august assembly? There are united the just and the saints of all ages — patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, penitents, virgins, doctors, holy pontiffs; none of the vices or weaknesses that dishonor humanity; on the contrary, all virtues, and these carried even to heroism. But for what purpose does Jesus Christ convoke His disciples under His standard? For the most just, the most noble, the most generous purpose that can be — to recall men to virtue and through virtue to happiness in time and eternity.”
Unlike the children of darkness, who generally do not know their captain, the children of light know who they follow:
The Jews therefore came round about Him, and said to Him: How long dost thou hold our souls in suspense? If thou be Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered to them: I speak to you, and you believe not: the works that I do in the name of My Father, they give testimony of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them life everlasting; and they shall not perish for ever, and no man shall pluck them out of My hand.” (John 10:24-28)
How the Sides View Each Other. Though we may have practical difficulties applying the lesson in all cases, Catholicism teaches us that we must hate the sin but love the sinner. We are all sinners in need of God’s great mercy. The children of light may vehemently oppose the mortal officers in Lucifer’s army, but they also pray for their conversion. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us all how we should love our enemies: “But I say to you, love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them the persecute and calumniate you” (Matthew 5:44).
The children of darkness generally hate their enemy regardless of his or her actions. Indeed, more and more, they hate those who simply believe in the idea of sin. This must necessarily be the case because those who strive to live according to God’s law have always represented at least a passive but unmistakable rebuke to those who live according to their passions. As the children of darkness advance their campaigns, they need all citizens to conform, and their hatred will intensify for those who follow their consciences instead.
Our Lord prepared us for this: “If the world hate you, know ye, that it hath hated Me before you. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15:18-19)
The Homeland Each Side Defends. The children of darkness seek their happiness and comfort in the things of this world. They do so not simply as a matter of the fallen human nature we all share but as a matter of principle. Even those who practice some degree of minimalism and detachment often do so in order to optimize their enjoyment of material goods. While these natural goods are not bad of themselves, Christianity teaches that they are merely the means, not the end. For the children of darkness, there is no end other than the material world and what they can make of it.
The children of light seek happiness in various ways and, like all people, occasionally fall prey to the lures of the world, flesh, the devil. And yet if they earnestly live by their convictions, the children of light know their true peace is found only by doing God’s will. They know the wisdom of St. Augustine: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
In My Queen and My Mother, the author writes the following in the chapter on Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom:
To know God, to prefer Him to His creatures, is true wisdom. It is what we were made for. There is no greater folly than to live for any other end except the one for which alone we were created. It is being truly wise to give up all, that we may attain a fuller possession of Him. Happy we, if we can cry out with St. Francis of Assisi: Creatures are nothing in my sight; My soul for its Creator yearns; Heaven and earth yield no delight, for love of Christ all else it spurns. Before the splendor of that light, the very sun to darkness turns. What is the cherub’s hoard of wisdom from above? What is the seraph’s love to him who sees the Lord?”
The children of light know that heaven, where they will see God face to face, is their homeland. They fight so that they, their loved ones, and — God willing — even their enemies may finally arrive at that blessed destination.
Objectives and Weapons. Led by their captain, the Father of Lies, the children of darkness advance their cause primarily through lies. But unlike a captain who cares for his troops and would only use weapons on the enemy, Lucifer despises his army and spreads his deceptions by having his followers consume the lies themselves. The children of darkness then see these lies as necessary both to describe and advance the “possibilities” of unlimited progress they hold dear. Thus, they live in a world in which men can become pregnant (and kill their babies with clean consciences). They live in a world in which it makes sense to fight a virus that is only marginally more lethal than the seasonal flu by enacting a series of mandates that are guaranteed to destroy health — they have increased our anxiety and decreased our ability to breathe with their ridiculous masks, needlessly increased economic hardships, dramatically reduced access to health care, and virtually eliminated many common opportunities to exercise and reduce stress. They live in a world in which they improve race relations by pitting races against each other. They live in a world in which they “protect” the welfare of children by sexually exploiting them and destroying their families. They live in a world in which they best protect citizens from evil by removing all restraints on those who are eager to commit evil acts. They live in a world in which one can be a devout Catholic while pertinaciously rejecting central tenets of the Faith. In short, they live in a world in which the way forward is to create an alternative reality based on lies.
Perhaps it is worth considering whether we have reached this fateful moment because many among the children of light sought to pacify the children of darkness with compromise, rendering to Caesar not only what is Caesar’s but what is God’s. In any case, we have reached a point in which there can be little further compromise and now the children of darkness can only prevail by persecuting the children of light.
The children of light believe in a different set of possibilities, which can be realized by anyone who seeks to follow Jesus and reject the ways of the world: the poor in spirit will attain the kingdom of heaven; the meek will possess the land; those who mourn shall be comforted; those who hunger and thirst for just shall have their fill; the merciful shall obtain mercy; the clean of heart shall see God; the peacemakers shall be called the children of God; those who suffer persecution for justice’s sake will attain the kingdom of heaven; and those who are persecuted for the sake of Jesus will receive a great reward in heaven (Matthew 5:1-12).
In his Attaining Salvation, St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote of the way in which the children of light must overcome the world:
Our Saviour, having called us to His love, desires that we should become superior to all the promises and threats of the world. He desires the we should no longer take account of its censures or of its praises. We must beg of God to make us utterly forget the world and to make us rejoice when we see the world reject us. . . . So then, as the world hates the servants of God and therefore hates their good example and holy maxim, so also it is necessary that we should hate all the maxims of the world. ‘The wisdom of the flesh is an enemy to God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither can it be.’ (Romans 8:7). The Apostle says, ‘Neither can it be.’ Yes, because the world has no other object but its own interest or pleasure, and thus it cannot agree with those who seek only to please God.”
For the children of light, the way forward is to say “yes” to everything God asks of us, regardless of whether it corresponds to our appetite or sense of what constitutes progress.
Like the devout Catholics of Vendée region during the French Revolution, we may ultimately need to fight for our churches and clergy in actual physical warfare. Michael Davies ended his For Altar and Throne: The Rising in the Vendée with a lesson we likely need to learn for the days ahead:
They were giants whose enormous sacrifices show the extent to which every Catholic should go to uphold his Faith–to the very limit and beyond. They were giants who realized that the only victory that matters is that of doing what we know to be right, cost what it may. The last words of Bonchamps summarize the spirit that animated the giants of the Vendée, and they should inspire every Catholic who loves the Faith to emulate him: ‘I have not fought for human glory. I have not succeeded in restoring the altars and the throne, but I have at least defended them.’”
Who Wins and When. Christians know that God wins in the end. Moreover, the children of light know what must happen before that victory. In Fr. Arminjon’s The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life we read: “It is a matter of faith that human destinies will be brought to a close when the measure of saints shall have been filled up, and the number of the elect consummated.”
The children of darkness reject all such thinking and its implications. They believe that they are the future and they seek to win in their own name, for their own sake. As the battle intensifies, their hatred for the social proxies of Christianity — decency, protection of the unborn, Christian families, gender reality, among others — will be distilled and refined into a more concentrated hatred of Christianity and Christians.
So be it. Our glory is to do God’s will, cost what it may. All else is of little value in times of peace and worthless in times of intense spiritual battle. Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio!