A service member of pro-Russian troops wearing a uniform without insignia drives an armored vehicle in the separatist-controlled village of Bugas, Ukraine, in the Donetsk region March 6, 2022, during the Ukraine-Russia conflict. CNS photo/Alexander Ermochenko, Reuters

Glen Argan: Waging spiritual warfare against war itself

  • March 11, 2022

The carnage has begun. Is there any way it can end without the annihilation of Ukraine? NATO has (rightly) refused to enter the fray, fearing that its participation will lead to the further spread of war and possibly to nuclear war. Negotiations between Ukraine and Russia are having no effect on the fighting. It may be months before economic sanctions bring Russia to its knees. Ukraine’s heroic defence is no match in the short run for Russia’s military might.

In the long run, guerilla warfare may drive Russia out of Ukraine. But that may take years, and the bloodshed and destruction during those years will be overwhelming.

Is the world powerless to end Vladimir Putin’s mad war against Ukraine before hundreds of thousands of people die? Yes, the world is powerless against evil. Our noble institutions, such as the United Nations and the system of international law, hold no sway against those determined to replace good with evil.

War is a spiritual disease fed by arms manufacturers and those who fail to stand against military aggression.

Roughly 100 million people were killed in wars during the 20th century, more than half of them in the Second World War. I mention this number because that is what a person becomes in wartime — a number, an expendable object. Those who fight in war are stripped of their dignity. Not because they choose to surrender that dignity but because the creators of war have stolen it from them. That theft is spiritual theft.

This is why those in Ukraine who risk death to defend their nation leave us in awe. They represent a spirit that refuses to be bullied by evil.

God’s creation of humans in His image and likeness gives us an immeasurable dignity. That dignity is underlined when we elect our leaders, people overthrow tyrannical rulers and governments uphold rights and responsibilities. The defence of human dignity is inherent to the proclamation of the Gospel.

The best testament to the goodness of democracy is that megalomaniacs like Putin hate it and that common people will risk their lives to protect it.

The American Catholic political philosopher David Walsh wrote, “Evil crumbles and hides before the enduring reality of good.” Human beings, Walsh said in his The Growth of the Liberal Soul, have spiritual resources of which they are unaware until those resources are required. Ordinary civilians distinguished themselves by resisting the oppression of the Gulag and Nazi concentration camps. They ignored their instinct for self-preservation to assert the reign of freedom and goodness.

The call to the rest of the world today is to be in spiritual solidarity with Ukraine. To send humanitarian aid. To welcome refugees. Above all, to fast and to pray for peace and freedom.

Our Lady of Fatima urged the world to pray for the conversion of Russia. In 1984, in response to Mary’s request, the bishops of the world consecrated the world to her Immaculate Heart. Still, Russia remains spiritually weak although militarily strong. Prayer is needed now, more than ever. Prayer for Ukraine, but prayer also for Russia’s conversion.

Such conversion must include that of the Russian Orthodox leadership which has been held in thrall by Russian and Soviet hegemony. Its failure to speak truth to power has been shameful.

In contrast, Ukraine is inspiring the world. Vast numbers around the globe are contributing to humanitarian relief, protesting in the streets and opening their homes to refugees.

Ukraine is at an historical crossroad. If this heroic nation falls to the invaders, it may be a lifetime or longer before it will again be free. If it falls, where will Putin stop? We have counted on mutually assured destruction (MAD) to prevent a third world war. But MAD never offered a spiritual solution to the evil of the arms buildup. Secularized approaches cannot conquer Satan who wants to make our world a living hell.

Today, with blood flowing freely and all the sane ways of preventing war at an impasse, the need for spiritual warfare should be evident. The faith-filled people of the world have a mission beyond the grasp of global leaders. We must plead with Mary and Jesus to bring about the conversion without which war will not end. May evil crumble before the enduring reality of good.

(Argan writes his online column Epiphany at glenargan.substack.com)

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