The Thirteen Strategies of Spiritual War

Let’s continue discussing our theme of how Sun Tzu’s Art of War may help us in the spiritual battle we fight today, a battle which is so often misunderstood and confused with temporal affairs. The battle of Armageddon is not of flesh and blood. That battle was fought by our dear Lord on the bloody Cross of Calvary, and which had its sequels in the great martyrs of the Church for hundreds of years following the Crucifixion. 

No, the battle we are called to today is nothing other than the spiritual crucifixion of the Mystical Body of Christ, to undergo the ignominy of the Cross before the world, not in our flesh like our Lord, but in our souls, like our Lady. Our Lord in His Body is being crucified anew by the world, and we who are His members must undergo that passion, too. 

Thus, the Thirteen Strategies of Spiritual Warfare apply in a particular way to our duty in life, to the conquering of our own wills, to the conquering of temptations by devils, but also to the spiritual war being waged on the world’s stage, by those who falsify Christ’s Church, by those who set up their own churches in place of the Catholic Church. But it must be understood from the outset, we must fight this like Christ fought in the flesh. We must submit to the Father’s will for the Church, which is the complete overshadowing of Her beauty and majesty and light. She is to be hidden for now. We cannot make Her more visible or official than what the Father has willed Her to be. We can not wage this spiritual war by setting up churches, or mass centers, or seminaries, pretending that God the Father has not willed that the sacerdotal office of the Church is to be crucified at this time. This we must accept as Christ accepted His precious flesh to be stripped from His bones, and His body to be nailed to a cross, and His precious Blood to be spilled out to the last drop. 

Practically, then, this means that we must accept persecution, not so much from the world, which has ever been wicked and persecuted Christians, but from even those who call themselves Catholic, but who fall short on account of heresy, schism or outright apostasy. We must lose all dignity, all self-respect, our wills, and all our own ideas of what the Church should be. 

With this in mind, then, let us continue with the next strategy.    

V: Timing and Creativity  

Everyone’s heard of Hannibal’s herd of elephants he brought over the Alps. It is hard to imagine a more creative enterprise of war. In the spiritual war, we, too, must think outside the box, in order to put our adversaries on the defensive instead of becoming defensive ourselves. 

In the Gospel, our Lord shows us many ways we may accomplish this element of surprise by creativity, for the creative genius is simply that which no one expects. For instance, when we are struck on one side of our face, we are called to turn and be struck on the other. Now, unless our adversary be the Devil himself, this tactic alone could win any skirmish we find ourselves in. The principle behind the tactic is humility––it is easy to kick the proud in the shins, but it is a little harder to kick a kneeling person in the shins.      

VI: Opportunism is a Virtue

Exploiting vulnerabilities in our adversary is key to gaining ground on the spiritual battle field. In exposing a false prophet, it is okay and meritorious to point to the bad fruit of his personal life or his character. Some may object that this is committing the classic fallacy argumentum ad hominem, but they are mistaken. Under certain conditions, attacking an adversary’s character is not fallacious, when the general discussion hinges upon the character of the individual himself.

So, when you see that Trad-star YouTubing it up, but can’t go three minutes without profanity coming out of his mouth, or if you know of a certain Sedevacantist bishop who insists upon making scatological allusions, one may point these out as a kind of evidence that diminishes the good reputation of the individual in question.    

VII: Avoidance of Direct Confrontation

The dangers of directly engaging our ultimate enemy—Satan and his devils—has already been underscored before in the first part of this piece which, if you, dear reader, have not read, I encourage you to do. But let me bring out this strategy toward our earthly enemies, those who fake discipleship of Christ. 

Not every conflict ought to be engaged in, because there are battles that we may lose, especially if we are outnumbered or unprepared to defend the truths on Faith and Morals or Church law. The enemy is quick and smart. Oftentimes we who have the truths of authentic Catholicism may become complacent, and enter into conflicts which we should have avoided. Pick your battles, and avoid those which you are not fully knowledgeable of, or can readily articulate arguments. An ill-formed word oftentimes does more harm than good for the cause.    

VIII: Variation of Tactics

We live apart but are connected. Very few of us have the opportunity to engage our neighbor on an in-person level, especially now that our masters have condemned us to house-arrest. But thankfully, there is the internet, where we have so many ways to be flexible in our attack.   

If you are savvy with pictures, you could find powerful images that tell a story or get a point across. There’s video, of course, and podcasts to get the message out. If one is a good researcher, disseminating truth bombs through social media channels is highly effective. Website presence is a plus, but also participating on other adversarial websites is good too, until you get blocked. The strategy here is just to vary it up, keeping your enemy guessing which way you will attack, instead of being predictable and so easily managed and controlled.   

IX: Reading Hearts, or at Least Intentions

Unless you are saint, you probably cannot read the hearts of others. This is a special gift of the Holy Ghost given to such great saints as St. John Vianney and St. Francis of Assisi, which enabled these saintly men to know the very thoughts of their fellow men. If you possess such a gift, then by all means use it according to God’s will to bring about good. But for most of us, reading the intentions is all that’s attainable. 

To do so, one need look no further than the exterior actions of the individual in question, to her manners, what she likes or dislikes, with whom she associates, and, most of all, what she says, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. Profile the individual, creating a kind of military dossier on her, that you may refer back to when needed to reveal her to be a dangerous spy of the enemy when the time comes.     

X: Classification of the Terrain

Since this is a spiritual battlefield, terrain as such is not really applicable. So we will talk about forums, or places in which we engage the enemy. 

The first forum is in the Spirit. In praying for our enemies, in resisting temptations by devils through prayer and fasting, we are doing battle in the the forum of the Spirit. The advantage of doing battle here is that it is closest to God and the Angels and Saints. It is where we are most secure, and indeed, in a certain way, we ought never to leave this forum or spiritual terrain of the battlefield. It is the spiritual high-ground, from which we are most defended and from which we can best survey the battle. The disadvantage of this forum of the Spirit, is that we cannot ourselves rescue our neighbors from the enemies clutches, without descending the spiritual high-ground of our position, and enter into the fray below, the second forum, the forum of the Body, or the spiritual low-ground, or valley of death. But if we are to win souls for Christ, we must.   

XI: Stages of Temptation 

A great paradox of our Faith is that the greatest war we wage is against ourselves. It is not exaggeration to say that the biggest spiritual battlefield is in our very souls. Here the stages of temptation are carried out, which will determine if we go to Heaven or Hell. Conversion of sinners, the evangelization of our neighbor, or defense of authentic Catholicism do not determine our ultimate destiny. One may safely arrive at Heaven’s Gates without these. But if the battle ground of our very soul is forfeit, we are lost and defeated.   

The stages of temptation and sin are, first, the object of sin appears. This could be a sensual object, an immodestly dressed person, or an intellectual object, like an offensive comment directed at our person. The next stage is the potential pleasure in entertaining the object in our imagination. This may mean thinking about the sensual delight involved in a forbidden object, as in the case of the sensual object, or the delight of the vengeance taken against our attacker. The final and determinative stage of temptation is when we will either to act in the sinful way our imagination presents to us (or which a devil presents!), and delight in the sin, or act in a contrary and holy way, to shun the immodest image, or to let go of the urge to retaliate and defends one’s honor.       

XII: Spiritual Weaponry

Just as in a physical battle, weapons are a key component to any strategic operation, so too in the spiritual war we fight. 

The first and foremost weapon we have are the Sacraments. Though it is true we do not have those sacraments that are administered by priests, such as Holy Orders, Holy Eucharist, Penance, and Extreme Unction, we do have Holy Baptism and Holy Matrimony, which do not require a priest to receive, and we have Spiritual Communion, from which an abundance of graces flows, and Perfect Contrition, which is sufficient to absolve us of mortal and venial sin, and make us living members of Christ’s Body again.

Additionally, we have prayer, above all the Holy Mass (like St. John’s Mass which is simply the canon of the Mass), and the Holy Rosary. Then there are sacramentals, like the different scapulars one may wear, and holy images and statues, and holy music. These elevate our minds and hearts to God, and are sufficient when they do so to absolve us of venial sin, and enhance our spiritual battle-hardiness.      

XIII: Use of Spies

This last strategy may be conflictive in some people’s minds with the Divine Commandment, Thou Shalt Not Lie. Spies, as such, are liars. So I for one do not advocate being a spiritual spy, like you are pretend to be a Novus Ordo member, attend their services, videotape their antics and other atrocities they may commit, then publish your findings on social media. That seems a little to akin to deception and the work of the Devil for my taste. 

Rather, let’s take this strategy to mean being keen to listen and observe and collect intelligence on the enemy which are readily available, and which do not require us to break confidences with our fellow human beings, thereby breaking the natural law and Divine Law. I personally already do this through my Sect Spect Report, where my “Sect Spectro-Scans” are simply me reading what other people are saying on their websites. 

I hope a look at these ancient strategies of war have given you something to think about when engaging the enemy, both from without and from within! May our Lady enable us as the Church Militant to carry out operations, and may we, as St. Paul encourages us, put on the armour of God, that we may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil.    

3 thoughts on “The Thirteen Strategies of Spiritual War

  1. Thanks Robert–great analogy. Gives one ability to reinforce our souls “armor” in ways not previously considered. JMJ..Joseph Mecca

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  2. People really need this because what is coming is going to take everyone unawares. Thanks so much for a fresh and inspiring application of this war strategy to the spiritual life!

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