As the powerful preacher on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network), Fr John Corapi SOLT, often reminds his listeners, 'We are at war: a spiritual warfare against 'principalities and powers' (Eph 6:12), a warfare that began at the origin of the human race - 'I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed' (Gen 3:15).'
The Catechism of the Catholic Church also tells us that man's life is a continuous conflict, a battle, a spiritual warfare against evil (409).
On one side of this warfare is Satan, who has been a liar and a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). Lies and murder are his unmistakable trademarks, and there is no doubt that he and his fellow fallen angels are hard at work in the world of today.
Opposed to Satan's seed is the 'seed of the woman' - Jesus Christ, through whom we have the weapons to fight this spiritual warfare.
St Paul lists them in Eph 6:10ff: 'Put on the whole armour of God': 'the whole truth', 'the breastplate of righteousness' (sanctifying grace), 'the shield of faith', 'the helmet of salvation' (hope), and 'the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.'
Then in verse 18, St Paul exhorts us: 'Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication'.
To that list we can add the spiritual weapons of the sacraments and sacramentals (such as blessed salt and blessed water).
As for prayer, Fr Corapi mentions that the preferred small arms weapon in this spiritual combat is the Rosary, and the commander-in-chief is none other than the Blessed Virgin Mary: 'I will put enmity between you and the woman.'
There is, however, an ultimate weapon and it should be obvious: the sacrament of sacraments, namely the Blessed Eucharist, which is not just something but somebody, a person, the risen Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity.
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was so deeply moved by the power of the Eucharistic Lord that she made the following strong and breath-taking statement: 'The cure for all the ills in the Church and human society is Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.' What a statement! An undoubtedly Spirit-inspired insight.
Mother Teresa hit the nail squarely on the head. In combat it is only common sense to use all the weapons at one's disposal. The same is true of spiritual combat, and the ultimate and most powerful weapon is perpetual Adoration, where possible, otherwise extended Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
It is interesting to note that the Vatican shares with Mother Teresa an appreciation of the inestimable value of Eucharistic Adoration.
On the feast of the Immaculate Conception, 8 December 2007, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, wrote a letter to all the bishops of the world. His purpose was to support Pope Benedict's repeated appeal for perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, by asking bishops to commit to promoting this practice in dioceses (including parishes, rectories, chapels, monasteries, convents and seminaries) for priests and priestly vocations.
The Congregation suggested that 'each diocese appoint a priest who will devote himself full time - as far as possible - to the specific ministry of promoting Eucharistic Adoration and coordinating this important service in the diocese.'
The Cardinal continued: 'We intend in a very particular way to entrust all priests to Mary, the Mother of the High and Eternal Priest, bringing about in the Church a movement of prayer, placing 24 hour continuous Eucharistic Adoration at the centre, so that a prayer of adoration, thanksgiving, praise, petition, and reparation, will be raised to God, incessantly and from every corner of the earth, with the primary intention of awakening a sufficient number of holy vocations to the priestly state.'
The Cardinal encouraged parish priests to introduce the practice of Eucharistic Adoration with everyone to be involved, beginning with the children preparing for First Communion. He acknowledged that circumstances for Eucharistic Adoration would vary from parish to parish and made the following suggestions:
* perpetual Adoration throughout the 24 hour day wherever possible;
* extended Eucharistic Adoration, beginning in the early hours of the morning and continuing until the evening;
* daily Eucharistic Adoration during specific hours;
* Eucharistic Adoration during one or more days of the week during specific hours;
* Eucharistic Adoration for special circumstances, such as feast days and anniversaries.
How many of us have even heard of this letter? Did it receive any publicity in the Catholic press? If not, why not?
Whatever about that, the message is clear: we are at war and we need to respond before it is too late.
Cardinal Hummes' call to address the paucity of priestly vocations in the Church by Eucharistic Adoration was extended by Mother Teresa to cover all the ills in the Church, especially those in our Western nations, including Australia, where only 13 percent of Catholics attend weekly Sunday Mass, and cafeteria Catholicism, inadequate catechesis, liturgical abuses and a kind of neo- Protestantism are all-too-prevalent.
In addition there are the ills of modern society itself referred to by Mother Teresa. A list of these would be very long indeed, and we are all aware of them: moral relativism, secularism, materialism, the culture of death and the worship of worldly pleasures, to mention but a few. Time is running out. There is dire need for the ultimate weapon.
Fr Martin Durham is a retired Queensland priest.