Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)
One fine day, the Hero Sigurd armed himself with his helmet, shield and sword, sattled Grani, his steed, and rode deep into the forest. He halted before Regin's smithy and called to the old man in a loud voice: "Come out, old master! Today we ride to Gnita Heath to slay a dragon!" Regin poked his swarthy head out of the doorway and laughed: "This is the best day of my life! Welcome, Hero Sigurd, to my doorstep!"
It's nearly omnipresent these days: Catholics are being called to combat. Not to material combat, mind you - not yet, at least - but to spiritual combat with the forces of darkness, destruction and death which have arrayed themselves against God's Holy Church. Some are hearing the call for the first time, and are eagerly launching themselves headlong into the fray; others have been in the field for so long that they're beginning to show signs of battle fatigue, wondering aloud whether the fight is still worth fighting, whether the generals have a plan, whether it will ever end.
The unlikely pair arrived at Gnita Heath, and the old man paused at the entrance to the clearing in the forest which surrounded the cave where the dragon Fafnir slept. "We have arrived, Hero Sigurd," Regin said in a hushed voice. "Do you see how the trees surrounding the mouth of the cave are all leafless, and that all their bark is singed and covered in soot? The fire which Fafnir blows from his nostrils has eaten them up. And look! Here is the path upon which he drags his massive body when he goes forth to drink from yonder stream. No grass grows upon it."
The Hero Sigurd traced the course of the well-worn path, his eyes coming to rest upon the point where it disappeared into the blackness of the cave. The opening was littered with crushed helmets and broken shields, and splintered spearshafts sprouted from the ground in odd bouquets. The remains of a charred sattle, apparently flung aside as Fafnir prepared to devour a brave knight's mount, had come to rest upside down in the branches of a nearby tree. The hero turned to Regin, his heavy brow narrowing over his pale blue eyes: "Tell me more about this dragon."
Today's Church Militant is no stranger to such combat. No less than three generations of Catholics have marched into battle against legalized abortion. Despite the victories which have been won - and every child saved is a tremendous victory - the situation on the ground remains shockingly grim: some 50 million babies are murdered in their mothers' wombs every year - 750,000 in the U.S. alone. On any given day, ca. 125,000 babies from around the world die at the hands of certified abortionists. That's slightly more than the maximum capacity of Michigan Stadium.
Over the same time period, pornography has mushroomed into a veritable industry of filth and corruption with earnings topping $100 billion annually, and sex trafficking has grown to see more than 20 million women and children bought and sold on the black market every year; in the U.S. alone, such trafficking generates $9.5 billion yearly. Similarly staggering figures can be produced to document the proliferation and industrialization of the whole gamut of manifest social evils: fornication, pedophilia, contraception, divorce, suicide, euthanasia, corruption, exploitation, usury, etc., etc., ad nauseam. Wave after wave of Catholic resistance fighters have mounted the charge to combat these evils. And though they have fought valiantly, their efforts have done virtually nothing to stem the tide of moral decay currently sweeping the western world.
"Fafnir is an awful and foul beast," began Regin, "with black, dead eyes and thick, leathery scales covering his body from snout to tail. His legs are as massive as tree trunks, and once he has dug his sharp claws into the earth, no amount of force can move him. He belches smoke to blind and confuse his prey and spits fire to maim and torture them before crushing their bones with his powerful jaws and then gorging himself on their flesh."
This scaly panoply of corruption and sin, this "culture of death" as it has been called, is not some random cluster of unfortunate collective human failures, but rather a coherent array of organically related, closely-knit manifest evils. To attack one of these without understanding how it connects to its proximate neighbor, and how each functions in support of the other to form a unified whole, is to engage in a battle with exceedingly little chance of success. What makes the task all the more daunting is that the entire nexus of visible, manifest evil rests squarely upon a mostly invisible foundation composed of the cardinal errors of materialism, positivism, reductionism and relativism. Once these have taken root in the collective mind of a culture, it becomes nearly impervious to all attempts to dissuade it from the path of annihilation.
Sigurd listened carefully to Regin's description, and when the latter had finished, the hero's gaze fell to the ground at his feet. "What is your plan of attack?" asked the old man, who was now worrying that he had put too much flourish into his account of the dragon's ferocity. The Hero Sigurd stood motionless for several moments, then looked again to the mouth of the cave and slowly traced with his eyes the course of the path to the place where the two stood. "We dig."
"Wha... what?" the old man stammered. A broad smile broke across the hero's face. "We dig a trench in the middle of this path, as wide as a man's shoulders, but several times longer, and deep enough to stand in. I shall hide myself in the trench, and when the beast drags himself down to yonder stream to drink, I shall strike him from below, driving the full length of my sword into his soft, wide belly."
|Sigurd kills Fafnir|
Hylestad Stave Church (12th century)
The weak point of the culture of death is to be found in the soft underbelly of its terrifically unsound metaphysical assumptions. It is there that its weakness is helplessly exposed, and it is there that we must apply the deadly strike. It was not mere nostalgia or easy familiarity that moved numerous Popes to hold aloft scholastic philosophy in general, and that of St. Thomas Aquinas in particular, as the surest remedy of the ills plaguing our modern world. And it was not by accident that the study of Latin, of scholastic philosophy and particularly of logic and metaphysics, i.e. ontology, natural theology, psychology and cosmology, was quietly and thoroughly removed from our schools' curricula in the late 19th century. Only a generation raised in complete ignorance of the axiomatic principles of scholastic metaphysics could be duped into exchanging true religion for an intellectually corrupt system of pseudo-scientific speculation. Only such a generation could be convinced of the absurdity of a freedom assured, not through submission to God and His Law, but through submission to an increasingly technocratic bureaucracy of individuals welded together by nothing more than common self-interest. Only such a generation could be brought to effectively deny the existence of a divinely ordained human nature - the touchstone of natural law and human morality - and replace it with an infinitely malleable proto-plasmic nothingness.
To prepare for this particular battle, then, it is necessary that we return to the school of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, and learn from him the sound principles of a rationally defensible metaphysics. Only then we will be prepared to follow the wise counsel of St. Paul to the Ephesians (6:10-17):
Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power. Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace: in all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.