"Do not render evil for evil … If it be possible, as much as is in you, have peace with all men. Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.” Romans 12
“If you are suffering from a bad man’s injustice, forgive him, lest there be two bad men.” St. Augustine
The war between Good and evil is hardly a new topic today. Even those on the side of the Evil One openly admit that there is a battle raging. However, even though the Latin Mass is making an amazing comeback, there is a serious issue that needs to be addressed in Traditional Catholic circles.
The Entirety Of The One True Faith
We call ourselves Traditionalists, so what tradition do we treasure so deeply? I assume we can all agree that it is the One True Faith. However, if what we are preserving and passing down to our children is a tradition of refusing to pray for our enemies, then this sounds more like traditional Satanism rather than traditional Catholicism. Perhaps our reactions are due to the habitual stabs in the back from those who are supposed to be leading us in the spiritual battle. Perhaps it is the outright verbal and spiritual abuse at the hands of those same leaders. Perhaps because of this evil behavior from the leaders in the Church, it may even sound cruel to expect any practicing Catholic to pray and forgive these despicable clerics. But please hear me out: forgiving them and praying for them does not mean that we stop living the Faith and become doormats to the unholy mobs. In fact, Saint Augustine wrote, "So too you see your enemy striving against you, raging, biting with words, exasperating with contumelies, harassing with hatred: you have regard to this in him, that he is a man. You see all these things that are against you, that they were done by man; and you see in him that he was made by God. Now that he was made man, was God's doing: but that he hates you, is his doing; that he has ill-will at you, is his doing. And what do you say in your mind? Lord, be merciful to him, forgive him his sins, strike terror into him, change him. You love not in him what he is, but what you wish him to be." Forgiving them and praying for their conversion will "heap coals of fire" (Romans 12:20) on the heads of these human enemies of Christ. These are human beings who have turned against God and are doing the devils work, but they are not damned in Hell yet. And what Satan hates more than anything is to lose his biggest foot soldiers to conversion to Christ. These are not false hopes, but merely a Christian perspective; we hope and pray for the conversion of all sinners, while also acknowledging and admonishing the sin that is being committed. Our Lady repeatedly said at Fatima in 1917 that we must pray for the conversion of sinners and make reparation. She would not have asked this of us if every sinner was a lost cause while they still walked on this earth.
Driven by their love for God, one of the "pastimes" of great Saints was to suffer for the salvation of souls. The most zealous of these are given the title of "victim souls". Blessed Alexandrina da Costa of Balasar suffered in her bed for many years praying, "O Jesus this is for love of thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the offenses against the Immaculate Heart of Mary." Saint Jacinta Marto, traumatized by the sight of Hell, endured much suffering to save as many souls as she could. "The vision of Hell had caused Jacinta such horror that all the penances and mortifications she could make seemed little to prevent a few souls from falling into it." Remember the Fatima prayer that we say after every decade of the Rosary! “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.” Even Saint Maria Goretti, after suffering grievously from the fourteen knife wounds inflicted by Alessandro Serenelli, her would-be rapist, forgave him and prayed for his conversation, offering her sufferings and death for him. Alessandro later converted and led a very holy life.
Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian who was executed in 1943 for his refusal to fight under Hitler wrote, “Let us love our enemies, bless those who curse us, pray for those who persecute us. For love will conquer and will endure for all eternity. And happy are they who live and die in God’s love.”
In his Sermon for Good Friday “The Cross and the bandit”, Saint John Chrysostom, Father and Doctor of the Church said, "Christ said: 'Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.' Stephen cried out: 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' Paul, in his turn, said: 'I offer up this sacrifice for my brethren, my kin according to race' (cf. Rm 9:3). Moses said: 'If you would only forgive their sin! And if you will not, then strike me out of the book that you have written!' (Ex 32:32). David said: 'May your hand fall on me and my kindred,' (2 Sam 24:17). … What kind of forgiveness do we think we shall get if we ourselves do the opposite of what is asked of us and pray against our enemies, when the Lord Himself and His servants of both Old and New Testaments, direct us to pray on their behalf?”
The Church Prays For Heretics
Praying for the conversion of our enemies is a great attack on Satan and his plans; we must ignore his traps of hatred, bitterness and distrust of God's mercy. The belief that certain sinners are "going to be damned anyway", and are "lost causes" is hardly a Christian conviction; The Catholic Church even explicitly prays for "heretics and schismatics" in her Mass of the Last Supper & Good Friday Mass of the Presanctified (pre-Vatican II). "Let us pray also for heretics and schismatics: that our God and Lord would rescue them from all their errors, and vouchsafe to recall them to our holy Mother, the Catholic and Apostolic Church. … O almighty and everlasting God, who savest all, and willest not that anyone should perish: look upon the souls of those deceived by the wiles of the devil; that all heretical perverseness being removed, the hearts of those in error may become reasonable again and may return to the unity of Thy truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ … Amen." For indeed, what a great victory for Christ is a single soul that turns to Him, repentant!
There are numerous indulgenced prayers in the Raccolta (1910) that specifically ask for the conversion of heretics, (see prayers 19 "At the beginning of the day", 90 "Act of Reparation and Ejaculations", 207 "Prayer for the Conversion of Heretics and Schismatics", and 338 "Prayer.")
How then, can we claim to be exempt from praying for those whom we believe are heretics?
Imagine Saint Anthony of Padua, the "Hammer of Heretics" making the claim that heretics aren't even worth praying for. What about when Our Lady gave St. Dominic the Rosary as a weapon to defeat heresy? Imagine him telling her that praying and preaching the Rosary was useless because the Albigensians were doing the devils work and weren't worth praying for.
Saint Bartolo Longo, a former Satanist priest was brought to a radical conversion through the prayers of his devout Catholic family and his Catholic professor, Vincenzo Pepe, who continually encouraged him to come back to the Faith. And he is just one of many who came back to the Faith through the grace and mercy of God. Even Adam Weishaupt, the founder of the Illuminati converted to the Catholic Faith before his death. "After 1787 he renounced all active connexion with secret societies, and again drew near to the Church, displaying remarkable zeal in the building of the Catholic church at Gotha. He died on 18 November, 1830, 'reconciled with the Catholic Church, which, as a youthful professor, he had doomed to death and destruction'--as the chronicle of the Catholic parish in Gotha relate." Only God knows who will persevere in his sin until his death. It is foolish for us to claim this knowledge.
A Weapon Not A Weakness
The love of Truth, fearlessly defending it, and praying for and forgiving our enemies are some of the biggest components of Christianity. The love of Truth (Jesus Christ) drove countless martyrs to their grisly deaths, and their zeal, love and forgiveness of their executors bore such witness to the Faith that it in turn would convert many others to Christ and His Church. The martyr Saint Paul Miki said before his death,"I declare to you that there is no other way of salvation than the one followed by Christians. Since this way teaches me to forgive my enemies and all who have offended me, I willingly forgive the king and all those who have desired my death. And I pray that they will obtain the desire of Christian baptism." Also, Saint Justin Martyr wrote, "(We) pray for our enemies, and endeavour to persuade those who hate us unjustly to live conformably to the good precepts of Christ, to the end that they may become partakers with us of the same joyful hope of a reward from God the ruler of all."
Contrary to what some might believe, these heroic acts of forgiveness and prayer are hardly the behavior of spineless, weak Catholics. Catholics have always been known to speak the truth, no matter the dangers, even if it would cause them their life. Doctor of the Church, Saint Francis de Sales stated, “The declared enemies of God and the Church should be vilified as much as possible (provided the truth is respected) and it is a work of charity to cry: Behold the wolf! when it is amidst the flock, or anywhere else it is found.” Saint Maria Goretti, rather than give in to her would-be rapist, not only resisted him but cried, "“No! No! No! It is a sin—you will go to Hell!"
The spiritual works of mercy, "admonish the sinner" and "instruct the ignorant" are rarely practiced in the Church today by most of its clergy, on this we can all agree. But not only are we also called to practice the works of mercy (spiritual and corporal), but the practice of them does not in any way abolish our duty to pray for the conversion of sinners. In fact, they all go together. We admonish sinners to call them to repentance, not to claim some sort of spiritual superiority.
Now, as already mentioned, the current battles of our day all boil down to Satan attacking the One True Church, founded by Jesus Christ. When we commit a mortal sin, we reject God and aid Satan in his diabolical plans. But when we repent and confess our sins we, through Christ, do immense damage to the devil.
Some of the most powerful weapons we can use to unite our efforts to Christ in destroying the devils works are: Attending the Holy Mass often and praying the Rosary daily. Pope Pius XI said, “The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin...if you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.” Our Lady herself told Blessed Alan de la Roche “After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there is nothing in the Church that I love as much as the Rosary.” She promised that "The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies." Pope St. Pius X said, "Guided, in fact, by divine inspiration and grace, he [Saint Dominic] foresaw that this devotion (the Rosary), like a most powerful warlike weapon, would be the means of putting the enemy to flight, and of confounding their audacity and mad impiety." And Pope Leo XIII adds, "We earnestly exhort all Christians to give themselves to the recital of the pious devotion of the Rosary publicly, or privately in their own house and family, and that unceasingly.” On the Mass, Saint Thomas Aquinas writes, "The celebration of Holy Mass is as valuable as the death of Jesus on the cross." And Saint Padrio Pio says, "It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass."
Besides using these two great weapons, we must also recognize the tools that the devil is using to further his plans. Hatred, division, and impenitence are some of the biggest ones. We must recognize these temptations in our own lives and fight to overcome them. It is a victory of Christ over Satan every time we take to our knees in reparation, in penance for sinners, in sorrow for our sin.
What Traditions Will We Hand Down?
Finally, it is up to us to decide what we preserve as traditions in our families, throughout the generations. Are we to continue giving the example of our bad habits and vices? Are we to teach our children hatred of our enemies and hostility to praying for the conversion of sinners? Or shall we continue the traditions of the Catholic Church, by our practice of virtue, our perseverance in personal holiness, our steadfast love for innocence, beauty and Truth? Shall we, by our example, hand down truly Catholic traditions, or Satanic traditions?
Let us not allow ourselves to be tools of the devil in these evil days. Let us rather foil his plans by our steadfast prayer for sinners, our practice of forgiveness, and our perseverance in conserving the One True Faith in all its beauty and glory down from generation to generation. In uniting our sufferings to Christ on the cross, in our zeal for the conversion of sinners, and refusing to "render evil for evil" (Romans 12:17) we will conquer in Christ. Let those who do the work of the devil foam and hate us, we will "heap coals of fire upon his head" (Romans 12:20) by our resolute hope in Christ's victory and being "Patient in tribulation. Instant in prayer." (Romans 12:12)
"Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good." Romans 12:21
(1) Saint Augustine, "Homily 8 on the First Epistle of John"
(2) Benoit Bemelmans, "Jacinta of Fatima: Suffering to Save Sinners", published Jun 27, 2017, AmericaNeedsFatima.org.
(3) Gruber, H. (1910). Illuminati. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved February 13, 2022 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07661b.htm
(4) Gretchen Filz and Mary Kate Hetzel, "The Heroic Death of St. Paul Miki & Companions: the First Japanese Martyrs," published Feb 05, 2017, CatholicCompany.com.
(5) St. Justin Martyr, "The First Apology", Chapter 14.
(6) St. Francis de Sales, "Philothea", Chapter 20 of Part 2.