Peace Through Strength Challenge – Day One

Peace Through Strength Challenge – Day One

 

Peace Through Strength
The Challenge to Enter the Supernatural Life

“The Lord will give strength to his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.” -Psalm 29:11

Per Virtutem Pax – This is Latin for “Peace Through Strength.” The image of Our Lady seen here comes from a famous sculpture entitled “Regina Pacis” (Queen of Peace) found at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. The sculpture was commissioned in 1918 by Pope Benedict XV during WWI. That means this is the 100th anniversary of this beautiful sculpture (Fr. Calloway has stated it is his favorite statue in Rome). We embrace this beautiful image for the “Peace Through Strength Challenge,” as well as Rosary Coast to Coast and the Holy League of Nations, as we will call out to Mary our Mother under the titles of both Regina Pacis (Queen of Peace) and Virgo Potens (Virgin Most Powerful). Fr. Chad Ripperger has asked all of us to call out to Mary under this title of Virgo Potens, as we face this fierce spiritual battle in our times. Together, the two titles for Mary point to “Per Virtutem Pax” (Peace Through Strength).

Getting in “Supernatural Shape” – Forming Strong Catholic Habits for a Life of Peace

President Ronald Reagan once famously stated, “We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.” The “Peace Through Strength Challenge” is about our resolve to become strong in God’s supernatural power; the only power capable of standing athwart the aggressive satanic forces of evil (Ephesians 6:10-12). We want hundreds of thousands of “supernaturally strong” warriors ready for Rosary Coast to Coast on October 7.

There is much at stake in our world. Powerful, diabolical forces are stopping at nothing to throw everything they have at whatever is good, holy and Godly in our society. These vicious forces are doing everything possible to tear down the moral fabric of our society, seeking the ruin of our souls and the souls of our loved ones. We. Need. To. Respond! The only effective response is to know we need to be well-trained and well-connected to God and His supernatural power so that we can engage this battle.

In writing about the effects of Baptism, Archbishop Fulton Sheen said:

Baptism infuses seven virtues into the soul, the first three of which relate to God Himself, namely, faith, hope, and charity. We are thus enabled to believe in Him, hope in Him, and love Him. But four other virtues, called moral virtues, are related to the means of attaining God; these are prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. By the right use of things for God’s sake, by paying our debts to God, by being brave about witnessing our faith and temperate about even the legitimate pleasures of life, we reach God more quickly.

 

The world, therefore, is divided into the “once born” and the “twice born”: between the sons of the old Adam, and the sons of the new Adam, Christ; between the unregenerate and the regenerate. There is a real inequality in the world. There are “superior” and “inferior” peoples, but the basis of distinction is not color, race, nationality, or wealth. The superior people of the earth are the supermen, the God-men; the inferior people are those who have been called to that superior state but, as yet, have not embraced it. But the reborn must follow the laws of divine life, for which the Lord has prepared other Sacraments.

Yes! Under the supernatural power of God, we are called to be “supermen/superwomen.” But, the sad reality is that far too many have rejected this invitation to a superior life in favor of an inferior life. In other words, this supernatural power on offer is not forced upon us, as though we were created as robots. No, God respects our free will, so I can choose Him as my God or I can choose myself as my God. The choice is one between an elevated superior life filled with all meaning and purpose, or a base inferior life that flounders in an empty darkness, searching for the next “quick fix” of carnal pleasure.

What we are referring to, here, is our ultimate purpose; Our raison d’être—our reason for being. Venerable Pius XII wrote, “We belong to the Church Militant; and she is militant because on earth the powers of darkness are ever restless to encompass her destruction.”

St. Paul, who came from a military background himself, calls us to be “good soldiers of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3). Yes, we are being called upon to fight the mother of all wars against powerful evil spirits in the heavenly realm, but we are sure to meet our demise unless we discover these battles cannot be won without first acquiring God’s strength and mighty power:

“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:10-12)

God is looking to recruit spiritual warriors to step up and embrace the call. But, God needs warriors who are “Strong in His mighty power!” Bishop Thomas Olmsted made an impassioned appeal to men in his Apostolic Exhortation, “Into the Breach.” His Excellency wrote …

“As Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati said, ‘To live without faith, without a patrimony to defend, without a steady struggle for truth – that is not living, but existing.’  Are you and I merely existing? Or are we living our Christian faith as men fully alive? Recall the famous words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: ‘You were not made for comfort; you were made for greatness.’  Any greatness that we might merit as Catholics depends upon this fight for holiness. It is the same fight Jesus Christ fought in the desert and the same fight our Christian forefathers fought in order to hand down the faith. Woe to us if we do not pick up the weapons of the Spirit – offered to us freely – and accept them bravely and gratefully! Courage, confidence, and humble reliance on God’s infinite resources are called for here as we engage. Forward! Into the breach!“

“I’m Going In” is the battle cry of every warrior who accepts the challenge of putting their very life on the line in battle. But, when it comes to spiritual warfare, I must know that “I’m going in” with the strength of supernatural power! This is the “Challenge to be a Strong Catholic.” That’s what the “Peace Through Strength Challenge” is all about … the strength that we receive in that Divine Connection with God – body, mind and soul – brings about peace in knowing we are all in for God.

“Strength” implies we are “totally connected” to the source of power; totally connected to God. This requires a strong life of prayer. Each strong Catholic must start their day with prayer. It is said, “ Until you realize that prayer is the most important thing in life, you will never have time for prayer.” Without prayer, a soul is like a soldier who lacks food, water, and ammunition.

Best Supernatural Strength Practices

As we begin this “Peace through Strength Challenge,” we want to pledge to adhere to (restore?) the best foundational practices of an authentically strong Catholic. If you obey Christ and His Church 100% (remain loyal), and practice the following (All, not most or some), you will be strong in God’s supernatural grace, and you will live in peace. You’ll notice we are not addressing such things as tithing, volunteering and catechesis. Why? Because all of these will follow as we are filled with supernatural grace. Grace fills us with a hunger for “the more” of knowing and pleasing God.

Make a plan: Ask yourself, “Can I embrace all of these now? Or, do I embrace some, and add others over time?” Either way, you’ll want to make these foundational practices a regular habit in order to be a “strong Catholic.”

Support System: You may want to create or join a “Peace Through Strength Squad” of 3+ people. Maybe create a Facebook group. Also, try to join together with an “Accountability Buddy.” Commit to these practices from July 16 – October 7.

Morning Offering – Set aside some time to speak with God first thing each morning (and speak with Him throughout the day) and pray the Morning Offering Prayer.

Go to Mass – Absolutely on days of obligation, and daily Mass, if at all possible. Bishop Olmsted says, “The Mass is a refuge in the Spiritual Battle, where Catholics meet their King, hear His commands, and become strengthened with the Bread of Life.”

Frequent Confession – Keep your Confessions no more than one month apart. Pope Pius XII wrote: “The Sacrament of Penance is the masterpiece of God’s goodness. By it our weakness is fortified … By it genuine self-knowledge is increased, Christian humility grows, bad habits are corrected, spiritual neglect and tepidity are resisted, the conscience is purified, the will strengthened, a salutary self-control is attained, and an increase of grace is secured by the very fact that the Sacrament is received.”

Fasting – Pope John Paul II has taught: “Jesus Himself has shown us by His own example that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil (cf. Mt 4:1-11). As He taught His disciples, some demons cannot be driven out except in this way (cf. Mk 9:29)” (Gospel of Life, 100). Fasting is one of the main ways the Lord gives us strength for victory and freedom from the evil one (Mt 4:1ff). Fasting is a way in which the Lord gives the underdog victory.

Eucharistic Adoration – Dedicate some time each week for Adoration. If it is not possible during the week, take some time before or after Sunday Mass to pray on your knees before Our Lord present in the tabernacle. Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen spent an hour everyday in Adoration:

“The reason I keep up the Holy Hour is to grow more and more into his likeness. As Paul puts it: ‘We are transfigured into his likeness, from splendor to splendor.’ We become like that which we gaze upon. Looking into a sunset, the face takes on a golden glow. Looking at the Eucharistic Lord for an hour transforms the heart in a mysterious way as the face of Moses was transformed after his companionship with God on the mountain.”

Read the Bible – I highly recommend the Magnificat Magazine (Magnificat.net). Magnificat offers beautiful prayers for both morning and evening drawn from the treasures of the Liturgy of the Hours, the official texts of daily Mass, meditations written by spiritual giants of the Church and more contemporary authors, essays on the lives of the saints of today and yesterday.

Pray at every meal – Before food or drink touches your lips, make the Sign of the Cross, say the “Bless us, O Lord” prayer, and end with the Sign of the Cross. Praying as a Catholic before every meal is a simple but powerful way to keep strong and fill the breach.

Examine your conscience before going to sleep – Take a few minutes just before bed to review your day asking, “How have I behaved as a child of God?” It’s also a great time to look at that “dominant fault” you need to improve upon in order to become a saint. Conclude these few minutes of reflection by praying three Hail Marys for purity and then pray the “Act of Contrition.”

Marian Devotion – Pope St. John Paul II stated that the word “home” refers to the spiritual and inner life of believers, and “to take Mary into one’s home” signifies a filial entrustment to her as mother in every aspect of life. John Paul II suggested Saint John as an example of how every Christian should respond to the gift of the spiritual motherhood of Mary.

Daily Rosary – Fr. McCloskey reminds us, “by repeating words of love to Mary and offering up each decade for our intentions, we take the shortcut to Jesus, which is to pass through the heart of Mary. He cannot refuse her anything!” Pope Pius IX once said, “Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.”

Wear the Brown Scapular (or Scapular Medal) – The Brown Scapular, revealed to St. Simon Stock in 1251, was a way for us, upon our death, to be identified as a child of God.Our Lady of Mt. Carmel said, “This will be the sign of the privilege that I have obtained for thee and for the children of Carmel; whoever dies clothed with this habit will be preserved from the eternal flames.” Scapular Medal – In 1910, Pope St. Pius X introduced a Scapular Medal which may be substituted in most cases for any of the various scapulars. Valid enrollment in the (cloth) scapulars must, however, be made before the substitution. According to Father John Hardon’s Catholic Dictionary the scapular medal may be worn for any reason even for reasons of convenience.

Pray the Angelus (or Regina Coeli) – This is the very ancient Catholic custom that has us stop what we are doing to greet our Blessed Mother for a moment (6:00 a.m., noon, 6:00 p.m. daily), as any good child remembers his mother during the day, and to meditate on the Incarnation and Resurrection of our Lord, which give such meaning to our entire existence.

Marian Consecration – The process of Total Consecration to Mary was introduced by Saint Louis de Montfort in the early part of the 18th century. The beginnings of the notion of “belonging to Mary” can be seen in the writings of Saint Ephrem the Syrian in the 4th century, and a form of personal consecration to Mary dates back to the 5th century, where its practitioners were called “servants of Mary” and the practice was sometimes referred to as “holy servitude.”

Join the Auxilium Christianorum – For those who feel called to take it to the next level in this spiritual warfare we face, this is the one of the best practices in our times. Go HERE to learn about Auxilium Christianorum. Fr. Chad Ripperger, one of the leading lights among Exorcists, strongly recommends this, as we face so many strong diabolical forces in our times. This is more of a strong recommendation, rather than declaring it as an essential foundational practice of strong Catholics.

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Fr. Rick Heilman

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