The battles you can actually win

Fr. Jacob Boddicker, SJ wrote this on Facebook yesterday. I kept reading it over and over. I’m sharing here with his permission. 

I know a lot of my brothers and sisters are worried and frustrated at things that are happening in the Church recently. But I wanted to tell you that just within the limited realm of my influence:

Two people who had not been to confession in many, many years finally came to our Lord’s mercy this weekend.

Six young people–five from my parish and one from out of town–will be confirmed by me this coming weekend.

I know a young woman who is recovering from surgery who cried when the Eucharist was brought to her today (she could not attend Mass because of said recovery).

Around twenty youth from different religious backgrounds came to my parish hall to learn a little about Jesus tonight. No one made them; they came because they wanted to. It is a cooperative event put together by myself and three pastors from other denominations, and I was able to show a video I made about young saints. They were struck by St .Joan of Arc especially, and St. Jose Sanchez del Rio.

These are little flowers I cultivated in my garden today; little victories granted here on my small patch of the Lord’s campaign against Hell. Is what goes on in Rome and elsewhere important? Yes. But brothers and sisters we are just infantrymen in a vast battle against Satan; if we run to the hilltops to try and take in the vastness of the war in order to determine what way it is going, we will not only inevitably be frustrated and discouraged, but the battles placed immediately before us will go unfought and potentially be lost. You will look abroad and see chaos because you cannot hear the commands of the generals or know their strategies, and likewise it is far easier to see a column of smoke or flame from afar than it is to see a flag of victory. Yet if you mind what the Lord puts immediately before you, things are far more clear and far more hopeful.

Look to your patch of the battlefield and fight the battles the Lord puts before you: the battles you can actually fight and, through fidelity, perseverance, and holiness, you can actually win.

These little victories the Lord granted me today are so small in the grand scheme of things, but consider the fact that an avalanche can destroy an entire town and is made of snowflakes, or that a tsunami can devastate vast regions and is made of drops of water. “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain…” (John 15:16).

What good is it to despair about wooden idols in Rome when there are souls slipping closer to Hell all around you: souls you might actually help? Pray, certainly, but do not despair. Do not waste your ammunition trying to fire long-range when you could use your ammo–your prayers and your every holy effort–to far greater effect at short range! “Pray, hope, and don’t worry,” St. Padre Pio says. Yes, pray for the Lord’s success in those far-away campaigns we read about in blogs and articles, and hear of in podcasts and videos. But do not neglect the battle raging on before you, the very skirmishes entrusted directly to you!

Will our victories be great? No, likely not. But even a small victory over Satan is absolutely crushing to one so proud; the smallest holy victory, the smallest berry of holy fruit and news of it drops like an atomic bomb of humiliation on Hell. It seems to me that if all of Heaven rejoices at the repentance of a single sinner (Luke 15:7, 10), the whole triumph of God over Satan and his cronies Sin and Death will not ultimately be the result of a massive battle that decides everything all at once, but rather the climax of a million small battles that overwhelm the enemy from all sides until, at last, he is absolutely cornered and Our Lord has him right where He wants him.

Image: Detail of Caravaggio’s Madonna and Child With St. Anne via wikipedia (public domain)