For all the saints who from their labors rest,For All the Saints hymn
who thee by faith before the world confessed,
thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.
Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might;
thou, Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight;
thou, in the darkness drear, their one true light.
O may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
and win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
O blest communion, fellowship divine,
we feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.
And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long,
steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
and hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
The golden evening brightens in the west;
soon, soon to faithful warrior cometh rest;
sweet is the calm of paradise the blest.
But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
the saints triumphant rise in bright array;
the King of glory passes on his way.
From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
All Saints Day has come and gone, but its heartening hymns have kept me thinking. “Spiritual Warfare” had always seemed at best a loose metaphor, and loose metaphors are too abstract to be helpful. Since All Saints Day, however, the metaphor has become more and more concrete for me. I see it now as an exciting call to be aware of the most epic battle known in the history of the world.
The term “Spiritual Warfare” is used by Christians to discuss the fight between good and evil, particularly between the forces of God and those of the devil. The tactics? Inspiration and temptation. The battleground? The human soul.
Every war has a terrible history. The battle between good and evil is the story of creation, past, present, and future. It has been going on since before time as we know it.
They judged His plan for goodness and decided it was evil. In their pride, they believed themselves strong enough to challenge the All-Powerful. A great battle ensued. The good angels, serving God, were victorious, and they cast the devils from Heaven into Hell.
Unfortunately for us, that was before the beginning.
When God created the world, everything spoke to His creatures of His simple goodness. The highest of material creation was Man. God made everything else in the universe for human beings. He planned that they would eventually come to love Him, their true joy, in freedom. He planned that every step on the way to Joy was joy.
Satan, the head of the fallen angels, hated God. He hated how creation spoke of His goodness. He had lost heaven forever, so he set a new goal for his war: ruin all good things.
Satan’s first attack, the temptation of Eve, was successful. God promised, however, that He would redeem Mankind. In his arrogance, Satan thought he was winning; all along, God’s Providence was bringing His plan about.
The devil’s loss was complete at Christ’s Resurrection. He could no longer hope to completely destroy the goodness of God’s creation. So he set a new goal: spoil the simple joy of His children; steal as many as possible.
The devil started this war. He continues it. His goal is to stop us from getting to God. He refused the goodness that is God; now he wants to prevent us from coming to the Joy of joys.
We, the soldiers of God, fight for joy. The devil and the evil ones try to disrupt it in big ways and small. They want us to live in sadness, lukewarmness, worry, and discouragement. There are weapons and counter weapons, attacks and counterattacks, tactics and counter tactics.
This is Spiritual Warfare. It is the greatest, life-long adventure. And you are called to it. You are called to love God, to reach His City, and to bring as many souls along with you as you can.
The devil will try to stop you. But let us say with St. Paul:
If God is for us, who can be against us?Romans 8:31