And so it is, my dear brethren; the most terrible of all public calamities is war. Pestilence and contagious diseases are a severe punishment, and so is famine and hunger; but if war once breaks out in a country, you have all those other plagues with it; for, as experience teaches, they follow in its train, as matters of necessity.
All trials and contradictions, no matter what their name may be, are, indeed, punishments, but they are salutary punishments, which serve to bring men to a sense of the wickedness of their ways, and to lead them to God; but, as the old song has it, “there is no good in war;” instead of amending abuses, it only increases them; instead of hindering, it only encourages injustice, theft, rapine, adultery and all kinds of impurity, murder, despair, and other vices.
Alas, that we should have such bitter experience of the truth of this! And consequently war is not merely a temporal punishment, as far as our mortal bodies are concerned, but it also brings with it, as a general rule, the perversion and damnation of our immortal souls. Well didst thou choose, O holy David, when God left it free to thee to select war, famine, or pestilence as a punishment! That wise king did not take long to consider, my dear brethren. If I and my people have to be chastised, he said, it is better for me to fall into the hands of God, and to choose pestilence, than to fall into the hands of men by bringing the evils of war on the land.
And therefore, when the Catholic Church prays in the Litanies to be delivered from temporal evils, she mentions war last of all, as the summary of every calamity; “from pestilence, famine, and war, deliver us O Lord.”
Renounce what is displeasing to Him! And if your hearts are captivated by the attachment to some sin, which has hitherto kept you from doing penance, ah! then, let the lamentable destruction of so many, who have lost either their lives or their property in war, influence you to give it up for God’s sake what has been the obstacle to your making peace with Him. We beseech you for the sake of the whole Christian world, “be reconciled to God!”
Make peace with Him! Without this peace, that other, for which we long and sigh, cannot be obtained; for who is it that sends us the scourge of reconciled war? Is it not the all-ruling God, without whose decree nothing can happen in the world? And why does He afflict us in that with way? Is it not on account of the sins and vices of the people which arouse His anger and compel Him to take the sword of vengeance in His hand? There Christians, is the only reason why we are now scourged by war; and as long as we are at enmity with God there is no hope of peace, or of being relieved from the burden that oppresses us. Therefore, if you wish to be at peace with men, first be reconciled to God by true penance.
What arms are we to use, besides prayer, in order to obtain this much desired peace? The very same arms that we must use to preserve our souls in peace with God and to keep them from sin; for it is a well-known axiom of the holy Fathers, that public calamities are never inflicted by God on a country, unless on account of the sins of the people; so that, if sin is taken away, all other evils disappear with it; if we are safe from sin, we can be sure that we shall be able to keep our possessions in peace. Fasting and abstinence, are the chief, the most suitable, and the most convenient arms for this purpose, for all classes of men, as St. Bernard, with many others, teaches us. “Fasting,” he says, “not only blots out past sins, but also preserves us from future sins.”
With child-like confidence, O Lord and Author of peace, we address to Thee the prayer of the Church: grant us the help of Thy grace, that, attending as we ought to fasting and prayer, we may be freed from our enemies of soul and body; through the intercession of Thy Mother Mary and of the angels of peace. Amen.
From pestilence, famine, and war, deliver us, O Lord.
“If you want peace in your heart, in your home, in your country, assemble together every night and say the Rosary.” ~ Pope St. Pius X.
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