Stolen Innocence: The Spiritual War on Children and the Family

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin” (Lk 17:1-2).

Strolling through my neighborhood while admiring the Christmas decorations I wandered upon a simple Nativity Scene. In a warmly lit stable our Blessed Mother, Saint Joseph, and a few farm animals looked down upon the Christ Child laying on a bed of straw.

The scene reminded me that every child is loved by God. And that while each individual person is created in the Image of God, the fuller Image is the family, the communion of a father, mother and child, a sacramental reflection of the Inner Life and Love of the Trinity.

The family throughout history has been the bedrock of civilization, and in fact, without the traditional family, there is no civilization to discuss. Furthermore, Christianity, and its belief in the sacred nature of the Family, is the foundation of Western Civilization.

The United States Declaration of Independence went a step further when it flipped the world’s prevailing power structure on its head by declaring:  

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

The Founding Fathers, while not perfect, understood that striving for perfection under God was the key to the success of this new experiment in human freedom, dignity, and opportunity. John Adams observed, “Our Constitution was made for only a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

James Madison wrote that our Constitution requires, “sufficient virtue among men for self-government,” otherwise, “nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.”

Fast forward two-hundred years. We live in a post-Christian world where the majority no longer believe in the sacred nature of the family and are no longer a moral and religious people. In this secular abyss the young, seeking to fill their empty hearts, have increasingly turned to the state, sex, and technology as their new religion. Man will always worship something.

To understand the accelerating destruction of what was once the American dream – embraced by our grandparents and the immigrants flooding our border – one comes face to face with the spiritual war that seeks to annihilate the traditional family and their children. Corporations like Netflix, Disney, and many others including mainstream media, the government and even some high-ranking Church leaders, have placed targets on the backs of children. But none have done more to undermine traditional American and Christian values than the public school system.

“Almost overnight, America’s public schools have become toxic—morally, intellectually, and politically. With the most recent outrage—the imposition of gender ideology from kindergarten through high school—we’re left with a system designed to turn the hearts and minds of children away from faith in God, love of country, and plain old common sense. The lunacy of pretending that you can choose your ‘gender identity’ is ruthlessly enforced at every level of the education system. Decades of court-imposed atheism in public schools have produced the most godless generation in American history. Relentless indoctrination in moral relativism has left more than two-thirds of young people without a belief in truth or objective right and wrong” (“Get Out Now: Why you should pull your child from public school before it’s too late,” by Mary Rice Hasson and Theresa Farnan).

Pope John Paul II, a prophet for our times, already identified this back in 1994 when he wrote in his Letter to Families,

“Unfortunately, various programs backed by very powerful resources…aim at the breakdown of the family. At times it appears that concerted efforts are being made to present as “normal” and attractive, and even to glamorize, situations which are in fact “irregular”. Indeed, they contradict “the truth and love” which should inspire and guide relationships between men and women, thus causing tensions and divisions in families, with grave consequences particularly for children. The moral conscience becomes darkened; what is true, good and beautiful is deformed; and freedom is replaced by what is actually enslavement. In view if all this, how relevant and thought-provoking are the words of the Apostle Paul about the freedom for which Christ has set us free, and the slavery which is caused by sin (cf. Gal 5:1)!

Make no mistake about it, we are in a spiritual battle that Sister Lucia, the main visionary of Fatima, clearly defined in her letter to Cardinal Caffara and John Paul II when she wrote, “The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about Marriage and the Family.Do not be afraid, she added, because whoever works for the sanctity of Marriage and the Family will always be fought against and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. Then she concluded: ‘nevertheless, Our Lady has already crushed his head’.”

Cardinal Caffara added that “speaking with John Paul II, you could feel that the family was the core, since it has to do with the supporting pillar of creation, the truth of the relationship between man and woman, between the generations. If the foundational pillar is damaged, the entire building collapses and we are seeing this now, because we are right at this point and we know it. And I am also moved when I read the best biographies of Padre Pio,” the Cardinal concluded, “about how this man was so attentive to the sanctity of marriage and the holiness of the spouses, even with justifiable rigor at times.”

It is no accident that after Saint Paul wrote, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph 5:25), he continued, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For 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. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Eph 6:10-13).

“It would be a very serious error to conclude…that the Church’s teaching is essentially only an “ideal” which must then be adapted, proportioned, graduated to the so-called concrete possibilities of man, according to a “balancing of the goods in question.” But what are the “concrete possibilities of man”? And of which man are we speaking? Of man dominated by lust or of man redeemed by Christ? This is what is at stake: the reality of Christ’s redemption. Christ has redeemed us! This means that he has given us the possibility of realizing the entire truth of our being; he has set our freedom free from the domination of concupiscence. And if redeemed man still sins, this is not due to an imperfection of Christ’s redemptive act, but to man’s will not to avail himself of the grace which flows from that act. God’s command is of course proportioned to man’s capabilities; but the capabilities of the man to whom the Holy Spirit has been given; of the man who, though he has fallen into sin, can always obtain pardon and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit” (Veritatis Splendor, John Paul II, No. 103).

There is a voice that the faithful hear that the worldly do not. “And He who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And “Write this, for these words of mine are trustworthy and true. And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water without price from the fountain of the water of life. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev 21:5-8).

The next time you walk by a Nativity Scene, pause to reflect on the fact that Satan doesn’t have his own clay. He can only deform what God has created good. The child laying in the manger choose to come into the world through a family, a man born of a woman, to give up his life for every one of us so that we could embrace our true identity as sons and daughters of God.

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (Lk:30-31).

In these turbulent times, as I stroll through my neighborhood and reflect on the American dream, I hear the voice of Saint Faustina, “Jesus, I Trust in You.”

Have a Blessed Christmas, our Savior has been born!

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Jack Rigert is a co-founder of the John Paul II Renewal Center and the host of the "Become Who You Are" podcast. Jack was a professional chef and entrepreneur who owned restaurants, real estate, and a financial service company. Dramatic “encounters” with Jesus Christ at his dying brother’s bedside and again in the Eucharist at his brother’s funeral, brought him back into the Church after a twenty-year absence. While attending graduate school in Theology, Jack came across the teaching of Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.” He immediately understood that this was the treasure he had been seeking all his life, sold everything, and now travels the country presenting Parish Missions, Retreats, and Classes. Jack has three grown children and seven grandchildren. He lives in Elburn, Illinois with his wife, Jeannie, and is an active member of St. Gall’s Parish. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matt 13:44). Follow the JPII Renewal Center on X @JP2RENEWAL.

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