Yet that does not by far exhaust all the advantages the war has for us according to the plan of Divine Providence.
There is an urge, a drive, that is alive in us in these days and forcefully demands satisfaction: Love for the Fatherland. We want to make a contribution to the good of our threatened Fatherland.
We read the news from the war with enthusiasm as it arrives. We envy those who go out into the battlefield and may shed their blood for our home country. We are right to do so. Love for our country is a noble virtue, and, after martyrdom, death for our country is the most glorious and most meritorious one.
Holy flame, glow! Glow for the Fatherland and never go out!
The greater and warmer our patriotism, the greater will be our longing to become involved in the outcome of events!
We are no longer so childish or naïve that we are satisfied with cheering, enthusiastic sayings or building castles in the air. Nevertheless, I cannot close myself off to the knowledge that in this regard there are dangers connected with living together.
Or, ask yourselves: Was your whole attitude, your whole behaviour during the vacations not firmer, more serious, more manly? Yet where is our manliness now? Or is it a sign of manliness, of understanding our times and the world, when we use the war to get out of our daily duties and lead others astray with the statement: It is wartime! It is very hard to see how we are serving our country in this way and that is what we all want. It is even less becoming of a Sodalist, who always act according to principles and out of faith enlightened by reason.
We don’t serve the good cause much better when we try to give our games and gymnastics a militaristic note. That doesn’t mean it is wrong, by no means. On the contrary! I am always happy when I hear the gym equipment creaking. I am only sorry that I can’t join in. What I am trying to say is only this: It is incredibly petty to suppose that this mighty war has only this purpose for us in the plans of Divine Providence.
I don’t think so little of you. On the contrary, I am firmly convinced that each of us can fight, win and give council in the highest Council of War, we can help to build world history. We are not superfluous ciphers, condemned to lazy passivity, but essential factors on whom a great deal depends. The weapon, the sword, with which we can help our Fatherland to victory is serious and strict penance, self-discipline and self-control: self-sanctification.
If we drive this on by working flat out, we will place a new corps of guards onto the battlefield, whose reserves form the legions of heaven.
We not only hoist the flag of victory, we also see to it and that is just as important that the best possible use is made of the victory.
We can quickly porve these two statements.
God is the supreme General. He simply holds the victory in his hand, or hides the defeat. Everything depends on winning the favour of the rex regum, den dominus dominantium.
The best means to this end is not the high quality, excellence and superiority of our guns that also has to be true nor is it the dominance of our soldiers. The Sacred Scriptures tell us that the Lord does not find it difficult to bring salvation, either with many or with fewer soldiers (1 Sam 14,6). If this were not the case, we would be poorly off when confronted with Russia. No, the proclamation of the prophet Samuel, which he made to the people in their need, gives us the best means: “If you remove the false gods from your midst, the Lord will save you from the hand of the enemy” (1 Sam 7,3).
Everything in us and about us that does not belong to God our inclinations that oppose God, our passions, pride, sensuality, avarice, our excessive criticism … - these are our false gods.
If we need a more exact proof: Sodom and Gomorrah … Holy flame, burn, burn and …
Let us use the sword. As true knights let us strike ourselves without fear and reproach until the sparks fly
After all, it is wartime so if difficulties …
Of course, this is hidden work that does not get celebrated in the newspapers. Of course, we have no prospects of winning the Iron Cross. But what am I saying? The Cross of course, the Cross is entrusted to us.
A new era approaches with giant strides. It is death: Pius X; death: Fr Wernz, the Cardinal Secretary of State ...
(Note: Fr Wernz SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, died in June 1914. Dom Ferrata became Cardinal Secretary of State under Benedict XV. He died on 10 October 1914 and was followed by Gasparri.)
From all this we conclude that we have to plant the Cross on the new circumstances.