Recently Chalcedon wrote a piece entitled, Enemies of the Church?, which has prompted me to expand on the concept of what an enemy or a friend consists and also to explore the radical new concept that we are all ’somehow’ OK from our own points of view and should even befriend our enemies, bear with their subterfuge and listen to their demands for a so-called [but always temporary] peace: for there is always a new demand more dangerous and more harmful to the soul which follows. Every sin that puts a soul at risk has its start in little and seemingly inconsequential things. It is why the spiritual life and the corporal life of a Christian is fraught with so many dangers; satan prowls through this world desiring our souls and is adept at attacks both external and internal; in our interior minds and souls and also in the external world or within the Church Herself.
It is not a new thought to understand the underlying truth that men are all ‘brothers’ beneath the skin and a desire for the Christian to do all in his power to help his fellow men find salvation in the Lord. It is in this regard that we take our understanding of Christ’s words to love our enemies; to live in peace and love as Christian brothers and sisters and to attempt to teach by way of the Gospels the truths of Faith so that the unlearned might one day save his soul has been a way of life from the primitive beginnings of Christianity.
However a false peace has never been proposed and a life, lived without both friends and foes during its lifetime, would simply be a life lived in total isolation. And even then, I think the hermits and desert fathers would attest to enemies that dwell in our own breasts which need to be fought and subdued and are often quite more harmful to our final state than those whom we wrestle with in the world. But to make this idea clear, I would have you understand that I am separating the general from a specific or personal animosity. For such is often a result of misunderstandings, deep seated anger and such sensory appetites that may often lead to very serious sins and scandal. So I speak of a general, non-specific type of enemy [quite often an ideology or heresy] that must be resisted, fought and rejected by way of faith and/or reason that we might not be drawn into their vile or banal modes of living and rejecting the virtues for the baseness of immorality.
Christ likewise showed great concern for His sheep; that they might not be a meal for wolves. He warned them to be aware that there would be wolves that appeared as other sheep. He also warned of shepherds who did not properly act as vicars of the True Shepherd which is always Christ. He called these shepherds hirelings; who bear the name shepherd but in truth are merely doing a job like any other . . . caring more for themselves than the good of the sheep and who run and dodge all dangers that might cost them their lives, reputations, wealth, status, dignity or any other vanity which they relish.
We, like the apostles, were also told by our Lord to extricate ourselves from the midst of those who will not hear the Good News of the gospel and to shake the dust from our sandals as we go. And St. Matthew tells us that that if a sinner or heretic is corrected, first in person in the presence of other witnesses and then publicly before the Church, they should be treated as a heathen and a publican [or other translations have it; a gentile or tax collector]. My Ignatius Catholic study Bible then makes the obvious remark about this verse: ‘The choice of these terms suggest that Jesus requires a policy of non-association with those who are disciplined by leaders of the Church.’ St. Paul makes a similar statement in 2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be mismated with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” Of course, as Chalcedon has written quite well about virtue signaling, I suppose we could mark that up as a good example of it. 🙂
Suffice to say that I find great wisdom in recognizing a wolf for a wolf, a hireling as a hireling, and an unbeliever as an unbeliever. And I take refuge in the above words for my instinctual reaction to certain evils in this world to withdraw, separate from or to defend against what is objectively an enemy of the faith.
The same can be said in secular civil society. It is sound advice to separate from those whom will never abide with your society’s way of life and can only do harm to your person and perhaps to your country should they one day influence the laws that govern it. For I am of the opinion that problems arising today in Christianity and in the Western World are caused by one and the same phenomenon. It is a disregard or a complete abandonment of the old laws or Truths and the fundamental precepts of law and order itself, which did not give us a guarantee but did aid in our feelings of security and justice. The enforcing of laws and common truths created a law-abiding society that was substantially peaceful. But without enforcement of such laws we head toward anarchy where no peace is possible.
Of course St. Paul had another way to speak to unbelievers [or enemies of Christ and His Church’] which is today recognized as being very un-Christian in its ‘tone’ and directness. No ecumenist of neo-Modernist worth would ever imagine using such language:
6 And when they had gone through the whole island, as far as Paphos, they found a certain man, a magician, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesu:
7 Who was with the proconsul Sergius Paulus, a prudent man. He sending for Barnabas and Saul, desired to hear the word of God.
8 But Elymas the magician (for so his name is interpreted) withstood them, seeking to turn away the proconsul from the faith.
9 Then Saul, otherwise Paul, filled with the Holy Ghost, looking upon him,
10 Said: O full of all guile, and of all deceit, child of the devil, enemy of all justice, thou ceasest not to pervert the right ways of the Lord.
11 And now behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a time. And immediately there fell a mist and darkness upon him, and going about, he sought some one to lead him by the hand.
12 Then the proconsul, when he had seen what was done, believed, admiring at the doctrine of the Lord.
Verse 10 is rather harsh for our modern ears but then, we cannot blame Paul for this outburst because we are told in verse 9 that it was the Holy Ghost that said these things through him. But I would say that our enemies in society and the Church are those who might ought to have similar words applied to them. For they also are full of guile and full of deceit. As well they are for all purposes a child of the devil and the enemy of all justice who never cease to pervert the Church or our civil society. They need not be struck blind physically for they are blind spiritually and if they cannot be converted to civility or to the Truth of Christ then must be abandoned in their blindness. One can only pray that Christ takes away their blindness and sets them on a path back to both civility and Truth. Then perhaps they might find one to lead them from their blindness.
May law and order reign throughout society and may the Truth be recognized and followed as relentlessly and tirelessly as a policeman in pursuit of a hot donut. These are those whom I consider my friends on earth. The rest of my friends reside in purgatory or heaven.