The other day a book arrived in the mail. I had neither sought nor heard of it. Nevertheless, it intrigued me by its cover alone: leather bound funereal black. It reminded me of a Missal from times past, but this proved to be no antiquarian prayer book when I opened its pages to reveal instead the recently published Manual for Spiritual Warfare by Dr. Paul Thigpen.
The first words my eyes alighted upon were as follows:
‘Like it or not, you are at war’.
From then on, like it or not, I was captured by its battle cry.
Picture yourself as a soldier dropped behind enemy lines. The enemy is all around and out to locate and destroy you. Far from your true Fatherland, you have only your weapons to fall back on. You have now something of the atmosphere that pervades Manual of Spiritual Warfare. Parachuted into a land rightly yours, you have come to stoke the fires of resistance, to organise the revolt, to start a rebellion. Such is the lot of all baptised Christians called to a warfare that only ceases when at last the trumpets sound at Armageddon. You have now the reason why this book has been published, and why it is so necessary today.
Like any manual to be carried behind enemy lines, it is succinct and to the point, as well as being packed full of ‘weaponry’ for the war now to be propagated.
It breaks down into two parts.
Part One: ‘Preparing for the Battle’. This is the portion you should have read before you boarded the plane that under cover of darkness dropped you into this occupied territory.
It tells of the Enemy and the battle lines. Then it reminds you of the rightful King for whom you fight, and who is there to help you in this expedition, as well as the aid from your Commanders and comrades in the coming skirmishes. In regard to this eventuality, there is more assistance to be had than at first you might think. It then proceeds to go through your ‘kit’: your ‘soul’ armour and your weapons. Never forget this is an offensive: you are expected to take the fight to the Enemy. As you march forward, however, it warns of the prevailing enemy propaganda that you will meet – at all costs you must keep this and its source outside ‘the camp’, and, along the way, beware also of collaborators in whatever guise.
Part Two: ‘Aids in Battle’. This is what you should already know but are here helpfully reminded of – Church teaching on the type of warfare to be expected: Catechisms, Church Councils, and Papal Documents, are all quoted. Then the all-important Scripture verses – some of your best weaponry – as well as the crucial Scriptural ‘intelligence’ on the Enemy and his fellow travellers. In addition, there are words of wisdom and help from Our Glorious Dead – those who have gone before us and now assist with ‘aerial combat’. Finally, there is a compendium of prayers, devotions and hymns to lead you into and out of battle. All of these will confuse and irritate the Enemy, as now with ‘air support’ you are ready to advance ever deeper into the dark core of his counterfeit kingdom in this war of liberation.
The Manual of Spiritual Warfare has a number of aims. First of all, it nails the lie that evil has no name. To fight one must know with whom it is we do combat. That leads to the second aim: why we fight. Now for those living in the Western World a walk around any major city testifies to the evils in our midst. This text teaches how to discern what is what and who is who in this often invisible if all too real conflict. Reading this manual helps us recognise, resist, and overcome, never losing sight of what is at stake. And it is not just for ourselves that we are prepared to take up arms but for our family, our friends, and for all those we are joined to in the equally invisible if unbreakable tie of Baptism.
Reading it as I travelled around London, I was engrossed. Its advice is practical; its wisdom shrewd, its use of Scripture and Tradition seemingly combined with a first-hand knowledge of the ongoing campaign – all of which held my attention throughout. Indeed it is a rare thing these days namely a book that wastes not a word; and, given its purpose, its brevity is an asset. Be assured, however, this is a book for those at the Front ‘dodging the bullets’ of the Enemy each waking hour, not for those who have surrendered or, even, heaven forbid, ‘generals’ sat in armchairs. No, this is a book for those who have heard the call to arms and have responded with their whole lives.
The faint hearted, those willing to appease or compromise, and those without the stomach for what lies ahead should leave its pages unopened, because it exhorts us ever forwards to the sound of the guns.
Its time is now. A fact testified to by the earthly head of the ongoing resistance: Pope Francis. Time and again he has reminded anyone who cares to listen of the personal nature of evil and the havoc its leader reaps: ‘…there is no shadow of a doubt. A battle exists, a battle in which the eternal salvation of us all is at stake.’ Knowing a little, I learnt much from Manual of Spiritual Warfare, and was reminded of more besides. For those new to this warfare, it shall be as welcome as a much needed ‘air drop’ behind enemy lines when, inevitably, one starts to run low on supplies.
About its author I was curious. Searches online brought me some information, but it did not quite connect with what I had read. I told myself to forget it, but still it nagged. Then, unexpectedly, the pieces of the jigsaw fell into place when, soon after, whilst listening to Relevant Radio, I heard Drew Mariani introduce his next guest: Dr. Paul Thigpen. At that, I reached for the volume dial…
It was the very same author of the book that had mysteriously come my way. Dr. Thigpen talked and I listened, and it was much as one would have expected from such an interview. And then, unexpectedly at the end, Mariani asked if the author had had any personal experience of the Occult. He had. And, it was by no means insubstantial. In fact, at one time, he had been entranced and entrapped by its awful allure before his release came and he crossed over from the Enemy. He spoke little of what he had experienced, but enough for those listening to know that here was no General Staff strategist, nor even simply a fellow combatant, but a defector from the Enemy, and, therefore, a valuable source of intelligence from one who knew exactly what we faced. At this point, the pieces of the jigsaw snapped into place.
This book is to be recommended, but only if you are willing to heed its call, otherwise it will make little sense. Nevertheless, for those who rally to the flag of defiance it plants in the very heart of Enemy Occupied Territory then it is a much-needed spiritual arsenal for what lies ahead. In the face of such dangers, and with the Sword of the Spirit drawn, Manual of Spiritual Warfare urges us on with a cry as fearless as it is embolden: Forward!
Ultimately this book’s unexpected arrival proved timely, because, my brethren, be in no doubt: we are at war…