For the Christian, Armistice Day must be primarily a day of prayer — prayer for the repose of the souls of all who died in war from 1914 to 1918.
Prayer, as we have all been taught from our earliest years, is a raising of the mind and heart to God. The Christian, therefore, in being reminded of war by the commemoration of the Armistice will be reminded of the evil of war from God's point of view.
Death and suffering, in this light, are not the chief evils of war. Death is not the end of life, nor is suffering an absolute evil.
The chief evil of war is constituted both by the moral evil—whether imputable or not to the apparent agent — of which war may be a consequence and the moral evil to which it gives rise.
It is evident that a full realisation of this truth must make the Christian's attitude to war a very different one from the attitude of the unbeliever or the in different. It will be generally agreed that war constitutes the greatest material evil of our time, and in its causes and its effects it is normally a great moral evil. It would however be presumptuous to say that it necessarily stands for the greatest moral evil of our times.
The Kingdom of Christ is a kingdom in which moral order obtains, and the " peace " of that Kingdom is its order. In terms of Christ's Kingdom, it may be that a given state of war in this world approaches more nearly to the peace of Christ than a given state of worldly peace.
This is a hard saying — it may even seem to some a blasphemous saying— but we suggest that its truth must be realised before a truly Christian attitude to peace and war can be acquired.
Man has been granted the noble gift of freewill, and because of this it depends upon man — under grace — whether this world shall be morally ordered or morally' disordered.
Now, while it is absolutely true that moral evil can only be overcome by moral good, it is also true that the moral evil willed by man leads to material evils which may be of such a nature as to disturb the conditions under which man is meant to grow in moral goodness. Thus an evil man can starve other men or destroy the material means of right education for children. Whereas only moral good will convert the man who does these things, it requires material acts to prevent him from exerting unjust economic control over his fellow men or from denying education to his enemies.
Every effort to make him see reason must be made, but a time may come when the making good of these evils in the material order will have to be effected against his will.
Within the just State this coercion can remain what we term peaceful — though it remains war against the man in question. Within the unjust State or in the international field this coercion may involve what we call war.
It is because of this close connection between the moral and material order that the doctrine of non-resistance against the man who has freely chosen to cause material evil for morally evil purposes is not a Christian doctrine.
Referring to the Spanish conflict last week, the Catholic Herald stated that while Communists are being actuated by the instinct of the brute, they must be treated as brutes. Though this remark followed the rhetorical question whether those who have wholly given themselves up to the inhuman philosophy of atheistic materialism with all its logical consequences can still be properly called men, it appears to have scandalised a large number of readers.
The Catholic Herald, however, stated that they were men with souls to save. In other words they must be prayed for, reasoned with, the evil in them must be overcome by moral good, for it cannot be overcome in any other way. But it still follows that, in so far as they are acting as brutes, wreaking material destruction upon that external order through which a man may grow normally to Christian and human perfection, they must be resisted by force and in their own terms, with of course the great exception that resistance must never go beyond the minimum needed in order to give moral good the chance of completing the work. An article on another page sets out what appears to us honestly to be the Christian attitude to the problems of war and peace. It will be seen that we are no war-mongers. But we feel that some clear Christian thinking on the subject needs to be done, and Armistice Day should provide the required stimulus. If another war is to be prevented, it Mill not be prevented by sentimentality, but by truth.