Ave Maria Meditations
|EVERYDAY SPIRITUAL WARFARE Do you ever think of yourself engaged in spiritual warfare? Often times those words bring up thoughts of exorcisms and heads turning around three hundred sixty degrees. However, in reality fighting temptation and living the gospel are themselves forms of spiritual warfare. Therefore, believe it or not we actually engage in this battle everyday. Further, do not forget that the prize is the most precious treasure we possess, human souls: our own and those of others.
Are there rules of spiritual warfare? Sure there are, in fact St. Paul has a famous passage where he describes the tools to fight this battle. He reminds us in the sixth chapter of his letter to the Ephesians that our battle is not against human forces, but against prinipalities and powers the evil spirits in regions above.
This is an important distinction because whenever we are in battle, it is important to define our enemy. This is no less true in spiritual warfare. If we do not do this, then our response may appear to lead us to victory when, in fact, it leads us to defeat. This is because we fight the wrong enemy and if that is the desire of the forces of evil; they win.
There are, therefore, three steps in engaging in spiritual warfare that are important in order to be successful.
1) DEFINE THE ENEMY
The enemy can be blatant or subtle. The enemy could be the temptation to sin or could manifest itself in the person who tells you to reject Christ. In either case, the person or desire that wants you to act contrary to Christ can define the enemy. Do you find yourself in a position where people dismiss you as inferior because you are practicing your faith as a Catholic? You are not smart enough to realize your own foolishness will be the line of thinking that they say to you in all its various forms. Then they will usually give you a new mark to seek, a new path to follow.
The enemy can also be defined by lies. When some one is trying to convince you that black is white and up is down and good is bad, you could be dealing with the forces of evil. There are other manifestations as well. Basically look for what force leads you away from Christ, usually with a smile, by the way.
2) DETERMINE THE DESIRES OF THE ENEMY
If it is the tempter, the desire is to lead you into sin. If it is someone trying to lead you away from Christ, this desire will become obvious, if you are attentive to it. Watch out for a goal commonly seen in our Church today; it is to get the people against each other. Looking at the crisis in the Church, look back and see how much work was put together to get the people to focus on the sins in the Church and turn people against their bishops and priests. Notice how much effort was put into leading people to believe the Bishops had lost their moral voice, especially those most faithful to the Magisterium. Further, look at how little effort was spent in calling all Catholics closer to Christ through repentance. Do not think that some of these actions were not manifestations of the forces of evil. The Devil is the accuser who teaches you to focus on sins in condemnation with no desire to call you or anyone else to repentance. The one who leads you to repentance is from God. The one who leads you to self-condemnation or that of others may be of a demonic origin.
Watch out as well for those forces trying to get priests and bishops, as well as married laity, to reject their vows or even walk away from their vocations.
3) DO THE OPPOSITE
If the tempter is leading you into sin, walk the other way: If you are dealing with those trying to prevent you from going to Church, go to Church. If they are trying to get you to reject your priest and bishops, support your priests ‘and bishops. If it is to be proud, be humble. If it is to procrastinate on your prayers, begin to pray. The reality of spiritual warfare is not something we should relegate to movies about possession. It is real and is literally as common as sin. Yet, the closer we walk to Christ, the more we can see the wiles of the evil one. We can see what it wants and do the opposite.
Fr. Robert Carr