People sometimes ask me what they can do to counter the negative effects of our decadent society. My answer is always the same two things: be truly Catholic and be Marian. This is the formula for transforming our world, and when these commitments are fully in place, everything else follows. There are many ways to be a good foot soldier of Mary and the Church, but let me give you one excellent example.

On the morning of May 13th of 1981 the world waited with baited breath to see if Pope John Paul II would survive the assassination attempt on his life by a crazed Turkish gunman operating under orders from his Communist overlords. It was the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. Something in John Paul’s experience of being targeted by a murderer, surviving miraculously, and re-consecrating his life to Mary is paradigmatic for all of us: it symbolizes the triumph of Mary’s Immaculate Heart over the culture of death and terror. John Paul will be known in history for his brilliant defense of the sanctity of human life and for his immense love of Mary. In fact, he showed us that consecration to Mary and dedication to life are synonymous.

This was borne out by what happened just hours before the assassination attempt. On the morning of the day that he was felled by Ali Agca’s bullet, Pope John Paul signed two documents formalizing the Virgin Mary’s counter-attack on the culture of death. That morning he established both the Pontifical Council for the Family and the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family worldwide. It is hard to imagine two works of the Church that have done more to strengthen the divine institutions of marriage and the family than these. The Council has been an intrepid defender of the family like no other since that time, and the JP2 Institutes have transformed a generation of zealous men and women who, in an age of radical distortion of even the most basic concepts of nature, want to the know the truth about marriage and the family. Many Catholics may not be aware of the work of these institutions, but despite their hidden work, the Church as a whole has benefited immensely by their apostolates.

Consecration to Mary and defense of these sacred realities are intimately connected in the Church’s fight against modern errors. I can think of no other period in history where Mary’s messages have been so urgent in defense of life, marriage and family. She is not a bystander in the face of the devil’s shock and awe campaign against God’s plan for us which, as John Paul said so often, passes through the family. Mary has chosen to meet us there at the crossroads of the modern conflict with the prince of evil. Her battle plan is to involve us in a heroic effort to protect life, marriage and the family at a time when it is most under attack.

In practical terms, everyone who rejects the cultural poisons of contraception, abortion, sex education, euthanasia, and the myriad attacks on everything sacred is engaging in Mary’s battle. Some do battle by coming out of the murky cultural darkness and producing the fruits of conversion in their own lives. Others engage the enemy by deliberately teaching the abundance of Catholic truth on these subjects to the young. Many more will infuriate the devil simply by living their marriages and family lives according to Catholic teachings. There are many ways to be Mary’s foot soldiers.

We all want to make this world a better place, indeed to transform it into the Kingdom of God. The surest way to do it is to be a faithful Marian Catholic. That is the Triumph of Her Immaculate Heart—one heart at a time.