Over the past few months, the entire Renewal Ministries’ team has been profoundly encouraged by your support. We’re greatly blessed to be surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses that partners with us in mission through prayer, words of encouragement, the sharing of spiritual insights, and generous—even sacrificial—giving in unstable economic times. We’ve always been conscious of this blessing and grateful for it, but this year especially, amid the intensification of the spiritual battles inside and outside the Church, we have felt your support perhaps more than ever. We know we’re not standing alone, and we are able to share that knowledge with all who read our newsletter, listen to our videos, attend events at which we are speaking, or live in countries we serve through missions. Thank you from all of us here at Renewal Ministries.

Speaking of the battle, it is surely intensifying! Now more than ever, we need one another. The political and cultural deconstruction of the world is deepening; the godless cult of self-expressive individualism continues to gain ground and do great harm, especially to the young; and, of course, there are growing battles, divisions, and spiritual compromises within the Church, even at her highest levels! That’s a lot to face every day. It can be very discouraging, especially when these battles cause division in our own families. As St. Peter reminds us, the devil is on the prowl, “seeking someone to devour” (1 Pt 5:8).

The devil’s ultimate strategy for each one of us is simple: he’s trying to get us to quit. The only way he can win his battle against us is to get us to give up, to give in, to quit the fight. He tries to manipulate us, fill us with fear and discouragement, and cause us to lose hope. He tempts us to compromise, seek comfort, protect our idols, purchase safety, and abandon fidelity to Christ. As a good priest friend of mine has had to remind me over the years when I’ve struggled with some of these temptations, the battle has already been won—period! The only way we as individuals lose is if we give up. Combat for the Christian looks different than any other form of battle. We win simply by not giving up!

St. Paul, in the famous passage in which he exhorts us to put on the armor of God, defines the battle-posture of the Christian (see Eph 6:10-20). He exhorts us to stand four times. Think about Paul’s words. We ask, “Lord, what should we do?” St. Paul tells us: stand, stand, stand, stand! Stand on the Word of God. Put on the protective armor and stand ready to bear witness with God’s Word, the teaching of Jesus, and the testimony of the apostles. Stand ready, not to battle with worldly weapons by attacking our enemies, but by being alert (1 Pt 5:8), keeping your head in all situations, and enduring hardship in order to express fidelity to Jesus and bear witness to the truth (2 Tm 4:5).

These are hard times, but these are the times the Lord has given to us. I often think about the martyrs celebrated in the Book of Revelation: “And they have conquered him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Rv 12:11). The martyr is the quintessential disciple. A martyr conquers through being baptized into Christ and washed clean by his precious blood, so that he or she no longer lives under the dominion of the devil and the powers of sin and death. The devil has no hold on them; they are no longer subject to the fear of death and are free from the enslaving power of inordinate self-love (Heb 2:14-15). By God’s grace, their loves are rightly ordered, which allows them to make a sacrifice of their lives. They are faithful, suffering witnesses who conquer “not by violence afflicted, but through violence suffered.”¹

God has chosen us for such a time as this. Only He knows how difficult these times will become and what He has in store for each one of us. For our part, we’re called to live in a posture of readiness, standing each day on the rock that is our Lord Jesus Christ, and ready to bear witness to the truth in words and deeds, no matter the cost.

Let’s pray for one another that we may not fall asleep and miss the precious gift of suffering, even a little, for the sake of the name of Jesus.

Beloved, do not be surprised by the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Pt 4:12-14) 

1. Msgr. A. Robert Nusca, The Christ of the Apocalypse: Contemplating the Faces of Jesus in the Book of Revelation (Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Publishing, 2018), 35.

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