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The Battle for the World´s Soul, Part 10
A reflection by Fr Luis Garza, LC, on how Catholics can take an effective stand in the culture war today.

"Against the spirit of the world, the Church takes up anew each day a struggle that is none other than the struggle for the world’s soul" (John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope).

October 24, 2011. The Catholic Church has been a builder of culture for over two millennia, and has faced different forms of “culture war” throughout its long and battle-scarred history. But perhaps never has the Church faced a challenge like the “battle for the soul of the world” in the 21st century.

For those with an interest in understanding the roots and consequences of the cultural battle underway in today’s world, we present The Battle for the Soul of the World, by Fr Luis Garza, LC. Originally presented as a series of lectures for university students attending a leadership conference, it is offered here as a formation resource for teams and individuals who will find the lecture notes to be thought-provoking material for reflection and discussion.

The complete text with study guide questions can be downloaded in PDF format here. The final installment of the 10-part series is presented below.


3. The call to holiness and Catholic leadership

Holiness:  this is the real challenge.  Holiness is possible and within the reach of every Catholic (cf. Vatican II, the universal call to holiness).  Holiness, the exercise of Catholic leadership, is the only thing that changes history, as seen in the following men and women:

St. Benedict (480-547)

Roman civilization collapsed.  The Europeans were no more than nomadic groups moving from one place to another, seeking to satisfy their basic needs.  A holy man heard the voice of God and founded monasteries, and his monks had to make a vow of stability.  That is, they agreed to stay in the same place for their whole life.  And so, they had to make their presence in the monasteries economically viable:  they dried the land, improved crops, made basic crafts (metal included), preserved ancient writings, developed music, architecture and literature, and established schools.  In other words, they created Western and Christian civilization.  Without St. Benedict we do not know what Europe would have become.

St. Joan of Arc (1412-1431)

She lived during the Hundred Years War between England and France.  England had conquered more than half of France.  Joan of Arc, the daughter of a poor peasant of Lorraine, heard “voices from God” that told her she would save France.  France was divided between the Burgundy and Armagnac families.  She went to the Dauphin, Charles of Valois, son of Charles VI, to convince him that France could win the war.  He was completely demoralized and ready to surrender.  Joan of Arc was not only convinced but also very persuasive, and Charles appointed her Commander in Chief of the army.  She was seventeen.  The city of Orleans was under siege for many months and almost at the point of surrender when a surprise attack broke the siege and liberated the city.  She had success in every battle, recovered the Loire region, and got Charles VII to be crowned king in 1429.  Then she went to Paris but was betrayed by Charles himself and was taken prisoner at the gates of Paris.  Charles was a weak man and contented himself with what he had achieved, so he gave no more military aid.  The Cardinal of Beauvais condemned her for heresy, and she was burned at Rouen.  She was beatified in 1909, and canonized in 1920.  What would have happened to Catholicism had England ruled France during the Protestant Reformation?

St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)

Ignatius was the youngest of a noble family from the Basque region in Spain.  He was quite frivolous and sought only to enjoy life in the Spanish court of Ferdinand the Catholic.  He was always a knight and took part in the defense of Pamplona against the French, where he was severely wounded.  During his convalescence he began to read some spiritual books (The Life of Christ by Ludolph of Saxony).  Following this period, he abandoned his worldly life and remained a penitent in Manresa, Barcelona.  He wrote the famous Spiritual Exercises.  He studied in Barcelona, Alcalá and Paris (1528-1535).  In Paris he began to gather a small group of followers, and the Society of Jesus was approved in 1540.  They mounted a great work of evangelization that knew no frontiers:  India, China, Africa and America.  Their action was so effective in Europe that the presence of the Jesuit schools quelled the spread of the Reformation and of Protestantism.  Their firm adherence to the Pope of Rome was a decisive factor contributing to the unity of Catholicism, and the Jesuit missionaries became for centuries the archenemies of the Freemasons, liberals (I use the historical term), etc.

John of Austria (1545-1578)

John is not a saint, nor did he have an exemplary life.  However, he was a Catholic leader who used his talents to help the Church.  The natural son of Charles I, he was later recognized by Philip II but he never enjoyed the honors of the infante.  He was elected captain of the Armada against the Moors in La Alpujarra and, with a combination of talent, shrewdness and determination, he prevailed.  At that time, the West was waging a defensive war against the Turks, whose fleets were ravaging the coasts of Europe, protecting the Ottoman pirates, and threatening a mass disembarkation in Italy with the aim of occupying it.  There was, in fact, a real danger of invasion, and Europe did not have the strength to counter the Turkish advance by sea because the European fleet, even with its forces combined, was smaller than that of the Turks.  John of Austria was a gifted leader and a born military strategist, and given his record in La Alpujarra, he was elected Governor General of the Holy Alliance against the Turks.  He was able to assemble a cohesive army with soldiers from many nations and overcome all resentment and desire for leadership among the different groups.  The Christian fleet prepared itself and set sail to encounter the Turks at the famous Battle of Lepanto.  There the Christians triumphed and definitely sank the Turkish power into the sea.  This battle and its positive repercussions for the Christians swayed the course of events and dissipated the imminent danger of seeing any Christian nation in the Mediterranean fall subject to the power of the Turks.

All Christians can be holy and exercise leadership as Catholics and help change the world.  Christ came to call sinners, and through them, he has carried forward the work of evangelization.

• Strive for a deep spiritual formation, at least equalling your intellectual formation.
• Live your Catholic life as a lifelong commitment, with virtue, prayer, sacraments and apostolate.
• Organize yourselves, and work together.  We cannot evangelize alone.  Revive Catholic communities; promote the joy of belonging to the Church.  Together we can do it.
• Promote Catholic leadership:  what you have received is not just for you.  A leader is an agent of change in existing institutions and creates new ones.  This requires certain attitudes and essential virtues:  optimism, charity, humility, strength, and sense of direction.

4. The call to apostolate

Holiness and apostolate always go together.  Every baptized Christian is called to be an apostle, not only to live well for his own sake, but also to be a light to others.  As Christ said in the Gospel, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations...”

There are many forms of apostolate, but we should strive always to instill an evangelizing culture in the particular environment where we move and work.  The role of lay people is to be the leaven that shapes temporal realities according to the Gospel.

Questions for Personal Reflection or Group Discussion
1. Why is holiness the true core of Catholic leadership and the force that moves the world? What other examples would you offer as supporting evidence for this claim?
2. Which saint or Catholic leader most appeals to you personally and why? What traits or aspects of that person’s spirituality and approach do you find attractive?
3. Lay people have a special call to translate their faith and love into apostolic action, both by example and by word and deed. Is there a particular form of apostolate that catches your attention or that seems to fit your talents and interests?  Which one?
4. Which apostolates in the Church today strike you as particularly noteworthy and admirable, and why?


The Battle for the World’s Soul, Part I - Artículo
The Battle for the World’s Soul, Part 2 - Artículo
The Battle for the World´s Soul, Part 3 - Artículo
The Battle for the World´s Soul, Part 4 - Artículo
The Battle for the World´s Soul, Part 5 - Artículo
The Battle for the World´s Soul, Part 6 - Artículo
The Battle for the World´s Soul, Part 7 - Artículo
The Battle for the World´s Soul, Part 8 - Artículo
The Battle for the World´s Soul, Part 9 - Artículo
The Battle for the World´s Soul, Part 10 - Artículo

Related articles
- The Battle for the World’s Soul, Part I
- The Battle for the World’s Soul, Part 2
- The Battle for the World´s Soul, Part 3
- The Battle for the World´s Soul, Part 4
- The Battle for the World´s Soul, Part 5
- The Battle for the World´s Soul, Part 6
- The Battle for the World´s Soul, Part 7
- The Battle for the World´s Soul, Part 8
- The Battle for the World´s Soul, Part 9
- The Battle for the World´s Soul, Part 10

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