Is there a term for Catholic "jihad"?

I vaguely recall hearing a term for spiritual struggle against our inner demons roughly similar to the Muslim concept of jihad. As I get older my memory fumbles, can anyone tell me if I’m correct and what this term is?

I know of “bellum sacrum” in a literal military sense but that’s not what I’m talking about.

No. We do not use that term.

Though one can refer to the ascetical life or spiritual combat.

Metanoia? Tho there seems to be such a wide definition of jihad that it’s hard to say…

I thought the accepted primary definition of “jihad” was “a war against unbelievers.”

My Bing search would like to confirm this.

Technically it just means “struggle” but the struggle that gets all the attention these days is war against unbelievers. For most muslims it just means a struggle against all the temptations in the world at least that is what my muslim friends have told me.


I’ve also heard the term “spiritual warfare” both from Evangelical and Catholic sources.

I would agree with you there. Context is everything, however.

Jihad literally means ‘struggle’. The struggle to live your life, put food your table, and raise your children is Jihad. My first bosses were from Syria, a whole family. That’s how they explained it. The “greater” jihad is to live a Godly life. The “lesser” jihad is to fight against your enemies. The line that stuck with me was “Jihad is waking up before your 8 hours, going in to a job you hate, and spending all your money to keep your wife and children rather than indulging in your idle passions.”

Maybe it was “spiritual warfare” (the point I was trying to make; I am aware jihad has several meanings), but I could have sworn it was Latin or Greek. Thanks all.

Muslim friends and family members tell me it is a struggle against your own sinful nature.

That is what is known as the greater jihad.

The lesser jihad is a defensive war against unbelievers and is implemented by or called by religious leaders, preferably the Caliph.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit