If I were to boil what struck me in this section down to one quote, it would be in Paragraph 162 which quotes 1 Tim 1:18-19: “Wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith.” This world in which we live is not simply a path down which we must walk, a series of static obstacles for us to conquer. It is a world at war, and our fight is as St. Paul says, “we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12) This is a war fought with immortal beings of infinite intellect, infinite malice, and infinite spite. Armed only with our own strength we will most assuredly lose, but armed with “the whole armor of God” (Eph 6:13) triumph is assured – but the long, hard slog of a fight with a guaranteed end can test our willingness to continue on. I know for my own part wanting to drop sword and shield, if only for a little bit, just to rest, is a persistent temptation.
Paragraph 164 is an excellent summary of this temptation and could cause one to despair if it were not for the fact that it is followed with the reassurances in Paragraph 165. One of the reasons God allowed so many of our saintly forebears to be tested and tried is that their example might provide a witness to us that we can, indeed, come out of this battle ahead if only we maintain our faith in God. The quotation of Heb 12:1-2 is incredibly apt, and a perfect place to close this brief reflection: