100 Years Later

War is a horrible, horrible thing. I wish it to no one, and hope there’s as little of it as strictly necessary.

But war is an unavoidable product of our fallen nature, a fallout of the Original Sin. Which is why calls to end war qua war are as stupid as calls to end poverty, or sadness, or bad weather. The unforgotten senseless slogan of Paul VI in front of the United Nations, “no more war, war no more!” tells us that stupid papal rhetoric wasn’t born with Francis.

Still, God in His goodness arranges things so that out of the bad the good may come, and no tragedy is allowed that does not hide in itself the seed of spiritual advancement; a way to Heaven, so to speak, hidden below the rubble of our lives.

I can’t think of the First World War anymore without thinking of that moving episode reported by the great Garrigou-Lagrange, which I remember so: two soldiers lying in dying near each other in a field hospital: the French soldier is praying the “Hail Mary”, and dies in the middle of it; the German soldier continues his prayer to the end, on behalf of the dying soldier as it were, and dies after ending it. Can’t think of it without getting watery eyes.

100 years after the beginning of WWI for the then British Empire, as we remember the tragedy of First World War, we must ask ourselves who had it better in life: the two soldiers who had the priceless privilege of dying with the Hail Mary on their lips, or the countless oxes of our times, living and dying like heathens, with countless mortal sins on their conscience but without any serious thought about them and believing that Christ was a nice chap vaguely resembling Che Guevara, or one who today would certainly approve of their lifestyle and fight with them to save the fox from the hounds, or the earth from the evil humanity.

I say the two soldiers were, compared to the countless oxes of the XXI century, very privileged and blessed with great graces.

War is a horrible, horrible thing.

But living a life with no fear of the Lord, and no thought for its consequences, to the end is an infinitely worse disgrace.

As we pray for the dead of the First World War, we must soberly recognise that a far worse massacre is taking place on the Western Souls battlefields every day, with countless souls irrevocably losing the only battle that count. Let us pray for them too, and that the madness of the modern times, a far more dangerous and devastating one than the First World War (then every soul in infinite, and infinitely more worth than her short sojourn on earth – may end soon.




Posted on August 4, 2014, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Hello Mundy,

    The very graces of God have both blessed and permitted you in order that your blog continues to be the finest and most truthful site of proper and timely Catholic thought on the interwebs today. Many of us are VERY thankful for your services while at the same time I’m sure you are humbled at the graces received which likely leads to a greater but proper sense of fear of God in your soul.

    The greatest war is the war we each wage for our souls, and your companionship and leadership makes my task that good bit easier. And, if I may say so, your writings from one day to the next are steadily more beautiful and meaningful.

    A Rosary will be prayed for your soul and its efforts!

    • Many thanks, Sir.

      I truly am nothing special. I write rather well, and am very passionate about what I believe in.

      A wretched sinner, though; but at least a sinner with a healthy fear of the Lord; which I consider a great grace.


  2. “… great Garrigou-Lagrange, which I remember so: two soldiers lying in dying near each other in a field hospital: the French soldier is praying the “Hail Mary”, and dies in the middle of it; the German soldier continues his prayer to the end, on behalf of the dying soldier as it were, and dies after ending it. Can’t think of it without getting watery eyes.”

    Me too. A German living in/and loving France.

    Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat!

    P. S. My WordPress mysteries remain. They do not acknowledge the new password they have asked me for and : Lily_of_the_Valley and which has been confirmed, but they put the old password : rhizotomos which they didn’t want anymore. Would you please be as kind as to confirm to me that you receive these days my messages?

    I’m wondering if at WordPress they will raise one day from the deaths my dear Radja le Magnifique …

  3. 3littleshepherds

    I love this post. It was excellent.

  4. Mundabor, if I may, I’d like to pick your brain a little to glean your insights about the Just War Doctrine and its implications.

    If we look at something like WWI, are we to presume that one side was fundamentally in the right, and one side was fundamentally wrong, despite in bello matters of conduct and infractions committed by both sides? If not, why not? If so, how do we determine which side was right and which was wrong?

    • Boy, how do I keep this short?

      No, we are not to presume. Particularly in the case of colonial powers not fighting against, say, evil ideology. I never cease to be amazed how the colonial power who controlled one quarter of the emerged land could ever accuse another country of being aggressive. The WWI is the result of a sophisticated chain of alliances made, in fact, in order to preserve peace, and with the steps leading to the war necessitated by this logic.

      If we did reason in this way, btw, the implications for the poor soldiers on the ground would be huge. As I see it, a solider fight for his own country and flag until he is told to commit crimes. Any other thinking would mean that every one would think he has the right not to fight because he has reflected that this war isn’t just after his liking. I would put such a one to the wall very fast. The Christian duty of a soldier is to fight under his flag. I have never even heard any sensible Catholic say that Wehrmacht soldiers should have refused to fight Hitler’s war, and rightly so. Let Hitler pay for his crimes when he dies, and a soldier when he refuses to fight.

      Right or wrong, my country, and all that.


  5. Mundy, how can I email you?

  6. Rhizotomos, I have trouble with WordPress as well. They don’t recognize me from one blog to another so I must try to remember more than one password. I don’t understand…

    Mundabor, this is a very touching post. My Irish grandfather was the first man drafted in the US for WW1, and very sadly died a few years later as a result of the mustard gas, so my mother told me. But I am often so pained to look around me and see the devastation brought on by a total lack of Faith. I see it in my ‘protestant pastor’ brothers and their families, and in the people I care for as a nurse. I try to remember to pray for all of the random people I see on a day-to-day basis but of course, I’m so much more concerned for my loved ones, and mainly for myself. My mother said my grandfather died with the blessings of the Church, in which case he was so much better off than many of our fellows. We have lots to pray about!

    • But this is, in a terrible way of his, the beauty of war, and Garrigou-Lagrange wrote about this to a certain lenght.

      Your grandfather is very likely to have died at peace with the Lord; because war, making of death a serious possibility, so much encouraged repentance and prayer, and fear of the Lord. I don’t think there were many atheists in the trenches, and very many muct have recommended himself to the Blessed Virgin every day, however approximate their credentials.

      Beats a cafeteria Catholic every day of the week, I would say.


  7. Mundabor, thank you for the response. I will make this my last submission on this thread, as I don’t want to be a quarrelsome nuisance, but I am struggling with your response. Some items for thought:

    1-You said a soldier fights for his country until he is told to commit crimes. Isn’t the side that is the aggressor or does not have what can be objectively considered a just cause engaged in a sinful crime by definition, with no ad bellum justification?

    2-The anecdote of the dying French and German soldiers is indeed poignant and moving and to their eternal credit. Am I required to believe that it was God’s will that these two presumably traditional, faithful, pious Catholics had a sacred obligation to try to kill each other?

    No offense intended, but Interested in your thoughts.

    • 1. It is not for soldiers to decide whether their country is in war rightly. “Ours is not to reason why..”
      A soldier is seen by his attachment to his fatherland, not by his ability to discern its rights and wrongs. of course, this stops when he is ordered to massacre the children in the next village, but these are traditional rules of war every soldier knows.

      2. It was God’s will that these tweo soldiers found themselves in the position to try to kill each other. Yes.
      God allows that war happen. Some will be holy, some not. Soldiers fight them as well as they can.
      It has always been this way. This is why we honour soldiers who die for their fatherland, irrespective of their allegiance, and hold our silence for the dead of the other side.

    • immortaledei,
      in an ordered society, everyone has his duty. The duty of a soldier is to fight for his country if he is commanded to by his legitimate superiors. The individual soldier is morally responsible for his actions, but not for the actions of his superiors or the politicians who have declared war. The soldier generally has neither the detailed information he needs to decide which side is in the right, nor can we expect of him deep knowledge of the intricacies of the Just War theory involved. Any hierarchical society requires obedience to orders unless and until some specific order is clearly and unequivocally immoral (“kill all children in that city”), in which case the soldier may refuse the order (and probably face the consequences, which may well include having to die to save his soul)

      If a soldier were allowed to refuse to do his duty whenever his personal moral conviction was incompatible with the convictions of his political leadership, we would have to grant the same right to every other person under the authority of somebody he disagrees with. No ordered, hierarchical society would be possible, then.

      Also, the soldier has no moral responsibility for the misdeeds of “his side”, only for *his own* misdeeds. His side may well have committed crimes, but he has not. If his political leadership has decided to fight in a war for immoral reasons, that is the responsibility of his political leadership, not of the individual soldier. There is no such thing as individual universal responsibility. If the soldier had, say, voted for the unjust war, he would have committed a sin. But assuming he did not do any such thing, and was called to fight for his country as is his duty, and obeyed that duty in spite of his conviction that the declaration of war was a sin, there would be no formal or material cooperation in the evil act (the declaration of war) at all, and as long as he refrains from committing any crimes himself, there could be, at most, a very remote material cooperation insofar as he marginally furthered an unjust war effort which he suspected was unjust. But as far as I understand traditional moral theology, a remote material cooperation does not yet amount to sin. And all that already assumes the soldier is both competent and informed enough to judge the moral status of the war correctly and reliably.
      If there was even the smallest doubt on his side that, maybe, just maybe, he did not have all the relevant facts, or misunderstood some part of Just War theory, or misjudged the intentions of certain political leaders and their (often secret) diplomacy, or committed any error of judgment whatsoever, and he still refused to fight, he would have exposed himself to the risk of having committed, in essence, deserted his duty in war. Which is a capital crime and, surely, a grave sin.

      If Mundabor decides to allow this comment (despite its length) and his patience with this discussion is not long since exhausted, I would have no objection to you posing further questions. As this is not my blog, I will, of course, defer to Mundabor’s wishes, whatever they may be… 😉

    • I publish this excellent comment, but I’d say that we should leave it at that. This was just an aside to another post.


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