"(D)o not shirk hard sacrifices—those weapons which are more potent than any steel to combat the evil from which society suffers."
A great part of mankind, and, let Us not shirk from saying it, not a few who call themselves Christians, have to some extent their share in the collective responsibility for the growth of error and for the harm and the lack of moral fiber in the society of today. (Pay attention, especially, lukewarm Catholic politicians and other "progressive" Catholics!)
What is this world war, with all its attendant circumstances, whether they be remote or proximate causes, its progress and material, legal and moral effects? What is it but the crumbling process, not expected, perhaps, by the thoughtless but seen and depreciated by those whose gaze penetrated into the realities of a social order which hid its mortal weakness and its unbridled lust for gain and power? That which in peace-time lay coiled up, broke loose at the outbreak of war in a sad succession of acts at variance with the human and Christian sense. International agreements to make war less inhuman by confining it to the combatants to regulate the procedure of occupation and imprisonment of the conquered remained in various places a dead letter. And who can see the end of this progressive demoralization of the people, who can wish to watch helplessly this disastrous progress? Should they not rather, over the ruins of a social order which has given such tragic proof of its ineptitude as a factor for the good of the people, gather together the hearts of all those who are magnanimous and upright, in the solemn vow not to rest until in all peoples and all nations of the earth a vast legion shall be formed of those handfuls of men who, bent on bringing back society to its center of gravity, which is the law of God, aspire to the service of the human person and of his common life ennobled in God.
(A litany of sorrow!) Mankind owes that vow to the countless dead who lie buried on the field of battle: The sacrifice of their lives in the fulfillment of their duty is a holocaust offered for a new and better social order. (Those who think themselves above the law of God persist in repeating the errors of the past!) Mankind owes that vow to the innumerable sorrowing host of mothers, widows and orphans who have seen the light, the solace and the support of their lives wrenched from them. Mankind owes that vow to those numberless exiles whom the hurricane of war has torn from their native land and scattered in the land of the stranger; who can make their own the lament of the Prophet: "Our inheritance is turned to aliens; our house to strangers." Mankind owes that vow to the hundreds of thousands of persons who, without any fault on their part, sometimes only because of their nationality or race, have been consigned to death or to a slow decline. Mankind owes that vow to the many thousands of non-combatants, women, children, sick and aged, from whom aerial war-fare—whose horrors we have from the beginning frequently denounced—has without discrimination or through inadequate precautions, taken life, goods, health, home, charitable refuge, or house of prayer. Mankind owes that vow to the flood of tears and bitterness, to the accumulation of sorrow and suffering, emanating from the murderous ruin of the dreadful conflict and crying to Heaven to send down the Holy Spirit to liberate the world from the inundation of violence and terror.
And where could you with greater assurance and trust and with more efficacious faith place this vow for the renewal of society than at the foot of the "Desired of all Nations" Who lies before us in the crib with all the charm of His sweet humanity as a Babe, but also in the dynamic attraction of His incipient mission as Redeemer? Where could this noble and holy crusade for the cleaning and renewal of society have a more significant consecration or find a more potent inspiration than at Bethlehem, where the new Adam appears in the adorable mystery of the Incarnation? For it is at His fountains of truth and grace that mankind should find the water of life if it is not to perish in the desert of this life; "Of His fullness we all have received." His fullness of grace and truth cows as freely today as it has for twenty centuries on the world.
His light can overcome the darkness, the rays of His love can conquer the icy egoism which holds so many back from becoming great and conspicuous in their higher life. To you, crusader-volunteers of a distinguished new society, live up to the new call for moral and Christian rebirth, declare war on the darkness which comes from deserting God, of the coolness that comes from strife between brothers. It is a fight for the human race, which is gravely ill and must be healed in the name of conscience ennobled by Christianity. (Take up the banner of Christ. Do not shrink from proclaiming the Truth! Give the martyr saints cause to rejoice at your faithful witness and proclamation of the Gospel without compromise.)
May Our blessing and Our paternal good wishes and encouragement go with your generous enterprise, and may they remain with all those who do not shirk hard sacrifices—those weapons which are more potent than any steel to combat the evil from which society suffers. Over your crusade for a social, human and Christian ideal may there shine out as a consolation and an inspiration the star that stands over the Grotto of Bethlehem, the first and the perennial star of the Christian Era. From the sign of it every faithful heart drew, draws and ever will draw strength; "If armies in camp should stand against me, my heart shall not fear." Where that star shines, there is Christ. "With Him for leader we shall not wander; through Him let us go to Him, that with the Child that is born today we may rejoice forever."