Join the army of Christ!
Oh, what a challenge to return to the world after five days of silence praying and meditating with the Lord. But, of course, that's the reason for a retreat -- to live more fully in the world but not of it, serving God and bringing Him souls. Which brings one immediately to the point -- the $64,000 question so to speak. Who will you serve? Jesus Christ, King of King and Lord of Lords or Satan, prince of this world and liar of liars?
One of the most well-known meditations of St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises, and the one that I find most fruitful, is the reflection on the two standards. The retreatant meditates on Jesus and his warriors assembling on a plain near Jerusalem and Satan and his army of demons assembling around Babylon. Jesus stands on the plain amid his followers, beautiful and eloquent, calling them to serve for the greater honor and glory of God and eternal salvation. Satan, in contrast, sits on a high throne in a cloud of sulphurous smoke rousing his evil mob to go forth and seduce all men to follow his evil designs and reap eternal damnation. The one scene around Jerusalem is calm and prayerful with banners flying in the breeze, men and women kneeling in prayer and going to Confession. Trumpets sound calling the different legions into formation behind their colorful banners honoring Christ and His mother. The other scene is all discord, a cacophany of howling and screaming and relishing the thought of pricking souls and gathering them into the fires of hell.
As I meditated on the two scenes, I remembered times in my life when I marched with the Lord's army. I also remembered times when I saw Satan and his minions up close and personal. This meditation is no imaginary battle for me; I've seen both sides first hand.
The army of the Lord has been most visible in the pro-life movement. When I lived in Alexandria, almost every week I was at an abortion mill offering help to women facing unexpected pregnancies. While two of us counseled on either side of the driveway, the Lord's troops gathered in prayer, sometimes with a priest leading them. Our victories were sweet and I have photos of some of the little ones saved in those battles.
I've also see the enemy face to face. At one rescue I was surrounded and subjected to a screaming mob, their faces contorted with hate and rage as I stood silently praying and holding a model of a twelve week unborn baby. Another time a friend and I went down to the National Mall to pray at the cemetery of the innocents erected at the Capitol during the first "women's march" that would more appropriately be described as the march of the radical feminists and lesbians. As my friend and I knelt in prayer, a raging mob circled the cemetery chanting and screaming at us. I was so overcome with a sense of evil, I could only repeat over and over again the excorcism prayer of St. Michael the Archangel. On another occasion, at a homosexual march in D.C. counter-protestors were confined behind hurricane fences, but that didn't protect us from the verbal torrent of invective of the mob. Their obscene behavior underlined the fact that they were ensnared by the demons of lust.
When I was in prison for 24 days in Buffalo (charged with blocking traffic) during the Spring of Life Rescue, prison lights out would unleash the demons. The prisoners began howling and running their tin cups along the bars creating a noise to rouse the dead. Again, I could only pray again and again, "St. Micheal the Archangel, defend us in battle...." Interestingly, a guard told me later that the prison usually had one or two serious inmate problems a week. While we (about 125 women) were imprisoned during that month, they did not have a single one, graphically illustrating the power of prayer.
Yes, the battle is real and one must choose. Who will be your liege Lord? Will it be Jesus Christ, Creator of the universe, who died to set you free from sin and death? Or will you choose Satan, prince of this world, whose empty promises will lead straight to hell. You must choose or risk the sentence of the lukewarm whom Jesus says, "I will spew out of my mouth."
Life in the Lord is beautiful and filled with joy even when sorrows and sufferings abound. Life in Satan's service is empty and ultimately deadly both physically and spiritually.
During the retreat Father mentioned several times that "God created us without our willing it, but he will not save us without our willing it." Those who go to hell choose hell. God lets them have their will, the consequence of loving us so much that he gave us the ultimate choice over our eternal destiny. Who would choose hell? Those who reject God and we can see them everywhere in our culture of death. All that is necessary to go to hell is to die in the state of mortal sin in alienation against God. The only thing necessary to go to heaven is to join God's army and fight for the true the good and the beautiful! Join God's army; you won't be sorry.