Dealing with Satan:  We are on the offensive, not the defensive! (Day 3)

Today was a heavy day.  We had approximately 4 hours of instruction from two particular speakers on the organized schemes of the devil.  Most of what was said was fundamental theology in regard to the evil one’s schemes, yet I found it helpful to return to the basics.

 From the talks three things that were stressed impacted me the most:  (1) Diabolic-Evil is orchestrated, deliberate, planned, and intentional; (2)  It does not merely exist “outside of the Church” according to scriptural tradition, our history, and our most recent Popes; (3) and finally that we as a Church already have a full arsenal of expertise on how to react to the devil that he may be terrified of us, rather than us having an unholy fear of him.

Pope Francis elevates Eucharist during Corpus Christi Mass

I’d like to walk you through these three particular things that were stressed during my retreat, as I do believe they have a practical impact on our spiritual life.

Intentional-Evil

Because the devil is a person, he shapes the minds of many to ultimately become extensions of his own diabolical will.  As a result, even in the minds of those ensnared in his lies, there is a zeal, planned attempt at orchestrating nothing more than disobedience to God’s will (objectively).  Outside of the Church this is often explicit – especially in regard to free-masonry, Satanism, and secular-humanism or Marxism.  What we require to know is simply that the Church does not in her identity have a “both-and” or “middle way” approach to the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan/Man.  This is strictly either God or the devil.  As the famous singer Bob Dylan already said it, but so did Jesus when he stated that we are either for Him or against Him.  Why is this important to realize?  If the Church is not “on fire” with holy zeal to save souls, that would indicate that the devil has more zeal to ensnare souls into hell than the Church has zeal to save them in Christ.  Christ remains powerful enough to do away with evil, yet without the holy zeal of cooperation, God’s grace is limited in what it can accomplish, since our own neglect of Christ’s mission is within our personal freedom, a freedom Jesus respects.  That absence of zeal can be caused by many things, but one thing in particular that comes to mind is the sin of presumption and despair.  With presumption being a sin against Hope we realize it is this way because of its false-hope that it offers in its place.  To assume all will go to heaven easily is to contradict the words of Jesus and to be naïve to the reality of our own radical freedom we see corrupting the world today.  It is to actually close our hearts to God’s love by only accepting his mercy as if it were owed to us, and in doing this we demand a relationship with Christ that is placing ourselves at the centre, with Him as our servant.  Despair on the other hand also exists where the devil’s power eclipses our own faith in the power of Christ.  Sins are exaggerated or otherwise we think too small of God’s ocean of mercy.  In both cases, we cling to our own fallible judgment rather than what Christ revealed to us on the Cross.  By clinging to our own judgment we exert our pride, and remain in our sin, not humbling ourselves beneath his protective wings.

The Smoke of Satan has entered into the Sanctuary of the Church

Pope Francis upon his first year of being our Holy Father, with Father Benedict XVI, consecrated the Vatican to the protection of St. Michael the Archangel.  The Church knows vividly that evil exists within the Church and that not one member of its leadership is ever impeccable by which he or she cannot spew the same false doctrines the evil one seeks to promulgate to confuse others.  St. Peter of course fell into this trap, but was humble to find himself corrected by Jesus’s own rebuke.  That is to say that the vast majority of schemes from the evil one are peddled by false-ideologies since evil spirits are pure-intellect.  They begin darkening the minds slowly, through compromise and pride, and they lead up to in an organized and orchestrated manner to begin to attack the very faith that offers us protection in God’s sacraments and the community of the faithful.  The vast majority of heretics have been clerics, and the tradition of quoting Gregory the Great never goes out of style when we think of the “road to hell” being “paved with the sculls of priests, having Bishops as their sign posts.”  It’s a stark thing that no one would ever accuse anyone but those in the past, safely removed from the fall-out of challenging those in power.  What was discussed in this regard was the failure of faithful clergy to be willing to preach the Gospel, not because of the world’s temperament, but because of the pressure and worldliness that bullies and frightens us from within the Church.  This idea is safe to think of when discussing the past, looking upon the kidnapping of St. John of the Cross, the plights of St. Jean Vianney by his parishioners, St. Francis de Sales almost being forced to be imprisoned in an insane asylum.  The Church has always had nay-sayers that peddled the darkness that ensnared them.  But in all of this error and darkness, one cannot become bitter, resentful or maliciously judgmental.  One must at the root understand the problem to not be of flesh and blood, as St. Paul insists, but rather of Powers and Principalities.  Therefore, what is required is obedience in all ways to the hierarchy except in cases of sin, kindness, with priests who might rub us the wrong way, as well as parishioners.  Above all, we must pray for evil to be exposed to the light so that which is buried intentionally may be purified either in a true confession or the humiliation of exposure.  Think in particular of the sexual abuse scandal, and while it is certainly depressing to witness it come to the light, it is nonetheless a blessing that it can end because it has been revealed and the Church can now seek Justice and Mercy according to her own sins.  Anti-Christ

It should not be stark, because those who peddle the evil plans of the devil are to be liberated and embraced as they are made in the love and image of God.  They are not our enemy, but the evil one is.  I suppose we must therefore begin to look-inward to our own temple, and examine prior to examining others:  how has the devil sought to use me to undermine God’s law within his Church.  IF we purely externalize this and shift the blame towards others, but do not consider ourselves potentially duped or actually as such, we may esteem ourselves too greatly.  Such humility will force us towards the light of Christ, where we can have compassion on our brothers and sisters because we see our own weakness played out in them.  But to fight not the flesh and blood of our neighbour, but the evil that chains us all.  With Pope Francis, I believe that the Church should be consecrated to the protection of St. Michael on a more regular basis, even if that for the time only manifests itself in private devotion to him and prudent participation in deliverance prayers that the Church already offers us. 

An Offensive Arsenal

The Church is not meant to be “reactive” and respond passively to assaults from the devil.  Jesus sent us out with authority to cast out demons and to wage war with them.  IF we are always defensive, according to our speaker, it reveals that we are likely more afraid of the evil one than we should be.  An offensive, not by our own strength, but according to the grace and power of Jesus Christ.  If we are defensive, it may mean that we have allowed Hollywood to shape our perception of the devil as nothing more than glorified in power in contrast to the truth, which is that to God, He is a speck.  A disconcerting speck, but nonetheless easily rebuked by His infinite majesty.  As a result, as priests we were encouraged to return to the treasury of the Church:  Confession, Adoration, Rosary, and Eucharistic devotion.  These four ways of developing a more authentic relationship with our Lord will most certainly manifest a cooperative zeal with God’s protective and offensive plan to rebuke evil in our own hearts, but also in the hearts of others.  We were encouraged by an exorcist as priests to participate in the deliverance ministry according to what the Canons of the Church allow and to avoid what they disallow, while keeping up with our obedience to the Local Ordinary in this regard.  Brothers

In summary, I was left with a lot to ponder both in regard to my own spiritual naiveté and the work of ministry that stands before me.  For some reason when I see evil, I consider it impulsive and unplanned, unfortunate and tragic.  Yet, in reality, it is the fruit of a cunning, planned, methodical group of fallen angels who also find a way to engage human beings in the same type of methodology and scheming.  When we read about the Pharisees who plotted against Jesus, we see that they were not merely impulsively responding in anger.  Their words were set up to trap Jesus, and they often involved groups of the elect meeting in order to plan and engage Jesus and his followers in something that would cause them bodily and/or spiritual harm.  To me, this naiveté is being stripped away more and more, which is both a sad realization, but one that helps direct my prayer and examine my own motives more deeply.

 For priests, perhaps begin using the prayer below, and involve the laity in offering this for ourselves and the Church.   Please do not allow the laity to say this prayer, and never perform it publicly without the Bishops permission.  Many graces are undermined by the devil who plucks away the seeds of God’s Word, simply because we do not bind him.   The suggestion offered was to pray this twice a day.

Click:  Pope Leo XIII’s Deliverance Prayer 

(Please not this is not a prayer of exorcism, which would otherwise belong solely to a competent and canonically recognized cleric.)

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