Spiritual Combat: A Call to Arms

May 22, 2014

“Fight or die.” – Dom Lorenzo Scupoli

Perhaps one of the greatest temptations in the Catholic life is that of complacency. We go through the motions, attending Mass on Sunday and maybe going to a parish program or two, but the Faith never really penetrates deep into our souls. It remains a superficial reality; just another thing to do in our comfortable, civilized lives.

We love to complain about the problems in the Church—rending our garments over this bad bishop or this corrupt priest. We ask: Where are the saints of the modern Church? Where are the holy men and women who can be shining lights in this dark world? We lament the state of things, never realizing that it is us that God has called to be saints. It is we who must strive for sanctity as if our lives depended on it—because they do.

Fight for the Crown of Eternal Life

Jesus Christ is calling you and me to rise above lukewarmness and mediocrity and to pursue greatness. He does not want us to muddle through the Christian life. He wants to fight nobly for the crown of eternal life. “Fight your way in at the narrow door,” he tells us, “There are many who will try and will not be able to enter.”

Now, realize that this spiritual combat does not necessarily mean grandiose outward actions. Most of us are not meant to found a religious order or to convert a far flung nation. The saints constantly tell us that holiness is found in sanctifying our everyday actions, however small they may be.

But the point is, no one coasts into heaven effortlessly. It doesn’t work that way. We have a powerful enemy who works day and night to destroy us. Every day we encounter temptations internal and external that, if consented to, will destroy our souls.

Men, a survey has revealed that 50%—that is 1 in 2—Christian men are addicted to pornography. If you think I am exaggerating the spiritual dangers, you are wrong. There is a war for your soul, and if you are not watchful, if you are not vigilant, if you are not intensely focused on the pursuit of holiness, you will fall away.

Choose Today Who You Will Serve

Holiness begins with a choice: God or the world. Whom will you serve? You can’t have it both ways. As with any war, there is no middle ground. You either fight or die.

“You cannot please both God and the world at the same time,” says St. John Vianney, “They are utterly opposed to each other in their thoughts, their desires, and their actions.”

In other words, you can’t pursue the world’s values and ideals while calling yourself a Christian and a Catholic. You can’t hold on to pet sins, abusing God’s mercy by asking his forgiveness,  all the while having no real intention to change.

Take up Your Cross

Christ is calling you to take up your Cross and follow him. Doing so will bring you more happiness and more joy than you can possibly imagine. But it will also cost you the comfort and ease the world promises.

“You are like crusaders united to fight against the world,” said St. Louis de Montfort, “not like Religious who retreat from the world lest they be overcome, but like brave and valiant warriors on the battlefield, who refuse to retreat or even yield an inch. Be brave and fight courageously.”

Men, if you’ve been mediocre, if you’ve been comfortably complacent, I challenge you today to follow Christ passionately, with all that you are and have. Clothe yourselves in the armor of God and take up the weapons of prayer and penance, calling on the powerful intercession of Our Lady, Help of Christians. Purpose in your heart to do battle for eternal life, and then “Be brave and fight courageously.” Your soul depends on it.



Sam Guzman


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Reader Interactions


  1. Jerry Joyce says

    Great Post. Love it. Recently we named out Youth Group – Sanctus Fortis (Holy Warrior). It’s a work in progress (found two typos just this morning) and I hope next year to make it am movement. We are a smaller parish but I think the idea has teeth. We are going to try and adopt the pledge for our gatherings, create our own crest and figure out a way to advance and promote more Holy Warriors! Your post made me think of what we are doing so I thought I’d share (BTW our patrons are the names of our two parishes, in the note below)

    Sanctus Fortis Pledge
    As a Holy Warrior of Christ, I pledge to dedicate
    my life to Him and His works. I commit to do my
    best to pray daily, be aware of others, remain
    attentive to the subtle temptations of this world
    and call upon the Holy Spirit and His Saints and
    Angels to assist me in this battle. I understand
    that through this pledge Satan and his armies will
    attempt to pursue me, but “Though I walk through
    the valley of death, I fear no evil, for You are at my side”.

    I ask for the Understanding to see you in all creation
    and in all actions, the Knowledge to know you in
    my life and the lives of those around me, the Wisdom
    to see how my decisions impact all others and keep me
    or take me from your path, the Courage to enter the
    fight and to seek forgiveness for when I sin, the
    Piety to worship you as God and to know that I am not,
    to hone my conscience through you in order to have
    Good Council and make right decisions, and the longing
    of Simeon to recognize your Wonder and Awe in all people
    and in all creation.

    Prepare me for the fight Lord, Walk with me Daily,
    Strengthen me by your Word and your Body
    and bestow upon me the protection of the Holy Spirit
    through the intercession of Ss Edward & Lucy,
    to protect me from all physical, mental, emotional,
    and spiritual evils. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

  2. Ivan says

    As soon as I read ‘Spiritual Combat’ in the title, I thought of the book by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli. I have it, and I read it. It is excellent, it is one of those books which you have to read to get the general idea, and then use it for the rest of your life, reading maybe a chapter or two every day, and of course reading a chapter on a certain issue which may bother you at some point.

    I heartily recommend it to everybody who wants their spiritual life to grow (I’m FAR from perfect, trust me). You can also read it online, here: http://www.catholictradition.org/Classics/combat.htm

  3. Fred says

    Really liked your article, very strange that I have read or heard several times these last few days to put on the armor of God.

  4. jge313 says


    The Knights Templar picture is inspirational.

    The picture is a still from the movie “Ironclad”. It is in my to watch list. Thank you, Sam, for the post. A message we must all remember.

    • Patricia Cornell says

      I loved these comments. I am joining a group of women reading Spiritual Combat. Some belong to the Traditional Oratory….some do not………we want to be strong as The Blessed Virgin Mary was strong, for Jesus our King! Patricia, St. Louis

  5. Richard says

    Excellent article. The mind set among Catholics “that
    Excellent article. The mind set among Catholics “that I am holy enough” is a comfortable lie that is a killer.Christ did not die on the cross for us to be good He died for us to be holy, ice cream is good.


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