“Human forces are not sufficient to stop the spread of this fire caused by these heretics, even though people have tried to see if with the force of arms tehy could remedy all the evil that is making such progress. It has seemed to me that what is necessary is a different approach, the approach of a lord when in time of war his land is overrun with enemies and he finds himself restricted on all sides. He withdraws to a city that he has well fortified and from there sometimes strikse his foe.” (Way of Perfection, Ch. 3. para. 1).
St. Teresa of Jesus says here that the best approach in times of great evil is for the Church–as She did under Roman persecution–to adopt a “catacombs” mentality. Not to attack the evil full-force, but to fortify Herself and rebuild the strength of her forces, striking back against the enemies when necessary.
This would seem to be an accurate portrayal of how the Church is governed, and can reassure us in times like the present.
In our own lives as laity, we have times when we need to actively engage the world, and times when we need to–as they say–retreat.
Whether we are adopting a more vita activa or vita contempliva approach, we can only succeed in spiritual warfare if we have our own souls in order. You know, the whole “remove the beam” thing. . . .