Tag Archives: spiritual warfare

October Synthesis

The month of October opens with the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who is known for having preached “the Little Way”. By reminding us of the biblical teaching on spiritual childhood, St. Thérèse of Lisieux taught us that we should not be afraid of God nor of aspiring to be saints despite our weaknesses, because it is precisely our littleness that attracts God’s mercy and compassion.

The following day, October 2, is the feast of the Guardian Angels – our guides and allies in our quest for sanctity.

Devotees of St. Josemaria Escriva know that it was on the feast of the Guardian Angels that he founded Opus Dei – another reminder of the universal call to sanctity and of the truth that sanctity is an accessible, albeit challenging, goal.

The month ends with the eve of All Saints’ Day, more popularly known as Halloween.

The appropriateness of Catholics celebrating Halloween in the popular manner of doing it is hotly debated. It is hard to give a blanket condemnation or approval of it, however, because people do it in different ways. On one side of the spectrum are those who dabble in the occult on the occasion; on the other side are those who hold saint-themed costume parties. In between are those for whom Halloween is just an occasion for good clean fun, playing dress-up, and perhaps a little bit of spookiness.

My own take is that barring downright sinful activities, the celebration of Halloween is a matter for every Catholic’s prudential judgment. Furthermore, while dabbling in the occult is definitely a no-no, neither are saint-themed costume parties obligatory (though they definitely can be a good catechetical tool), nor should a reasonable degree of spookiness be forbidden.

In fact, just as a morbid fascination for the occult is dangerous, it is equally harmful to ignore the reality of evil as if the saints were born with halos and never had to contend with the dark side of life. It is healthy to remind ourselves that spiritual warfare is a reality. And scattered throughout the month of October are feasts to remind us of what are our weapons in spiritual warfare.

October 1 reminds us of the need for childlike trust in God that St. Thérèse of Lisieux reminded us. October 2 reminds us of the help of the Guardian Angels. The feast of St. Francis of Assisi on October 4 reminds us of the need to practice poverty and detachment. October 7 reminds us of the power of the Rosary. The feast of St. Teresa of Ávila on Oct. 15 reminds us of the need to develop a life of prayer. The feast of St. Luke the Evangelist on Oct. 18 reminds us to “use the force” of the Gospel. The feast of the apostles Sts. Simon and Jude on Oct. 28 reminds us that all of us are called to be apostles too; apostolate, after all, is also a form of spiritual warfare.

After the last day of October is All Saints’ Day. We have been reminded the whole month of what our goal is in life and how we are to attain it. So we begin a new month reminding us of the reward for our efforts, and renew our resolve to continue working and to fight once more.

Spiritual Allies

For the past three months, the liturgical calendar has been reminding us of our spiritual allies.

Towards the end of September, we commemorated the feast of the Archangels.

On October 2, we celebrated the feast of the Guardian Angels.  On October 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, we reminded ourselves of the many victories and blessings that may be obtained through the Blessed Virgin’s intercession when we pray the Rosary.

We began November with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, and we are encouraged to spend the entire month remembering the souls in Purgatory whom we can pray for and who can pray for us.

It’s not that God alone is not willing and able to help us; we know He is omnipotent and all-good.  But God knows that we sometimes find it difficult to approach Him directly.  He also knows that, as human beings, we like the help and companionship of those who have gone before us, whom we probably have even known personally when they were on earth, and who have gone through what we are going through now.

Hence, it is by God’s own will that we have the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels, and the saints (including the souls in Purgatory or the Church Suffering) to inspire us, give us good example, and intercede for us.Fra Angelico

It is beyond the scope of this post to distinguish between the Blessed Virgin, the angels, and the saints and the specific ways each of them help us.  It is sufficient, for now, to remember that all of them are our allies, and powerful allies at that.

A lot is being written in the Catholic blogosphere about spiritual warfare, about exorcism, about how powerful and active the devil has become in recent years. At least in my circles of fellow-Catholics, it has become normal to speak of oneself or one’s acquaintances suffering from diabolical oppression.

It is good that we are reminded of the reality of evil, that we are roused out of our complacency in face of the besieging enemies of our salvation.

Unfortunately, there is the danger that this increased awareness of evil would lead to nothing more than a morbid interest in sensational exorcism stories, or worse, that we become paralyzed by our awareness of evil that we despair of the possibility of defeating it. This, in itself, would be a victory for the devil.

To paraphrase a famous movie line, we should definitely not underestimate the power of the dark side. But neither should we forget that we have powerful spiritual allies ready to defend us and help us do the good we want to do.

Just as we, members of the Church Militant, give strength and hope to our fellow-warriors here on earth, our spiritual allies look out for us, help us, and intercede for us before God. Just as we dare not forget our loyal friends on earth, we should not forget that our spiritual allies assist us, often in ways we do not realize. We do not realize everything that they do for us, and how much more they are willing to do for us, if only we’d ask.

In the end, our spiritual allies will rejoice together with us at the final victory.

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Image: PD-US

Spiritual Attacks on the Expectant Mother (and How to Combat Them)

Whether a woman is expecting her first child, or her fifteenth, pregnancy is filled with many emotions. There is joy and excitement mixed with anticipation and a little nervousness. All these emotions are appropriate, given the weight of what this new little life entails.

Like mothers throughout time, I felt these slew of emotions during my first pregnancy. My days were peppered with elation and nervous anticipation. But there was also something else. My immense happiness was occasionally threatened by intense doubt and fear. At first, I thought I was isolated in these waves of uncertainty. So I decided to consult with other moms, which is when I realized I was not alone.

Through our conversations, we saw that Satan often tries to take our natural concerns and twist them until they become nearly unbearable. Obviously, there are natural worries and anxieties that come with pregnancy since it is such a huge event. But there is a great difference between being bummed that you can no longer fit into your favorite pair of skinny jeans, and thinking that there is nothing good about your body.

Therefore, it is necessary for women to be on guard against the Enemy in this regard. Just because pregnancy is wonderful does not mean it is exempt from spiritual attack. In fact, it is precisely because it is so wonderful that the Enemy especially hates it and makes grand efforts to ruin it (hello, abortion). The devil lurks, and seeks to destroy our warranted joy by taking our natural emotions and running with them through the mud. Fortunately, we have a God that is not only victorious over that scumbag, but sanctifies and protects pregnancy by being born Himself. We are not meant to live in darkness, but in the light of Truth.

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Together, these new and seasoned mothers and I compiled the most common spiritual attacks on the expectant mother, and we concluded what helped us overcome them. The devil’s game doesn’t change much, so by being aware of what he might try to pull, we will be better equipped to combat his deadly lies when they are being shouted in our ears, and instead cling tighter to the Savior.

1. Inadequacy

Let’s jump right in with the most prevalent and overwhelming lie Satan throws at us. He especially likes to tell us we are inadequate in the following ways:

Physically: We think our bodies can’t handle pregnancy. Because we are sick and unable to be as efficient, we deem ourselves worthless. We think, “I cannot birth this baby.

Emotionally: We think we are an emotional train wreck that no one likes to be around, so we might as well shut ourselves off from everyone.

Spiritually: We think we are not holy enough to be a mother. We sin too much to teach virtue to our children. We are not even close to resembling Our Lady in her motherhood.

2. Body Image 

This one is a tough one that takes many women by surprise. When a woman first discovers she’s pregnant, she often gets really excited for that cute baby bump to start showing. And then it comes, and suddenly she may not be so thrilled with the changes happening to her form. In these vulnerable moments, the devil likes to swoop in and take over. “Your body is the least attractive it’s ever been”, “Your husband does not want you”, “This pregnancy has sucked away all your beauty”.

3. Marital Disharmony

Boy, does the Enemy really love this one. He enjoys going straight to the root of a joyful pregnancy, a self-giving marriage, and getting it all tangled up. Pregnancy demands massive amounts of communication, patience, openness, and understanding between spouses. Any chance we give Satan to place wedges and cause division, he will do so.

4. Comparison

The devil takes every opportunity he can to tell us that we are not as good as so-and-so. He spews falsities to us like: “You won’t be a good mother – you’re not creative enough, or rich enough, or smart enough, or settled enough. Look at all these other super-moms. They have it all together, and you know you don’t.” Our Pinterest-obsessed culture and the mommy-wars certainly open the doors even wider for the Enemy. But that’s worthy of its own post.

5. Regret

Simply stated, Satan likes to make us doubt if we should have ever created this life in the first place. This one is quite terrible to endure.

6. Irrational Fear

Goes a little something like this: “Everything terrible that CAN happen WILL happen. My pregnancy is doomed, my birth is doomed, my postpartum time is doomed. I’m going to make all the wrong decisions and effectively destroy any chance of my child’s health, happiness, and holiness”.

How to Fight Back (and Win)

1. Your Spouse

Your husband is your first line of defense; let him defend you. After all, he is made for that. Let him combat the lies you are being told by planting sends of truth into your life. Allow him to serve you and care for you in your sickness, allow him to affirm that you will be a terrific mother, allow him to comfort you in your fear, allow him to initiate intimacy when you feel especially unattractive (side note: the majority of men find their wives most attractive during pregnancy, just saying 😉 ), and allow him to intensely pray and fast for you.

2. Eucharistic Adoration

Get yourself in front of the Resurrected Christ. Spend time in silence with Him. Cast your cares upon Him and invite Him into those deepest doubts. He has crushed the head of the serpent for you, for your freedom from these attacks. He will not leave you.

3. Your (and your baby’s) Guardian Angel

Seek help from the being that has been assigned to you from the beginning. Ask your guardian angel to give you a firm nudge when Satan starts to unleash his junk. Ask for protection and strength, clarity and hope. Ask your angel to remind you of the truth.

4. Scripture and the Rosary

Speaking of truth, the life of Christ, Truth Himself, will help us combat these spiritual attacks. By diving into the Word and contemplating the life of Jesus through the rosary, we will remain focused on what is true, good, and beautiful, and will be solidified and convicted in our vocations as wives and mothers.

Which Battle are You Fighting this Lent?

IT-Which Battle Are You Fighting

This week, we are in the midst of the battle.

Lent is a battle. It’s our “campaign of Christian service,” as the Ash Wednesday collect says.

At the beginning, we can be so gung-ho about Lent. We’ve gathered our weapons and put on the armor of God. (If we have loins to gird, we might even do that too.)

We’ve made plans and we know the enemy doesn’t stand a chance. Give up ALL the things! Become Super Awesome Prayer Warrior! Give The GDP Of Small Nation As Alms Every Week! We even wear our Lenten war paint. (#ashtag!)

This Sunday will be the third Sunday of Lent. I think of it as the hump day of  Lent. If you’re anything like me, you are getting weary. The fighting is exhausting, you seem to be losing ground every day and this Lent isn’t turning out nearly as well as you’d hoped.

Perhaps part of the problem is that we’ve actually fighting the wrong battle.

The devil isn’t stupid (more’s the pity really). He knows that if we fight under the banner of Christ, he will lose. Spectacularly. (Seriously, he should really read Revelation 20. It does not end well.)

So he tries to drag us into another battle.

Fr. Jacques Philippe in Searching for and Maintaining Peace explains this beautifully.

Quite often in the daily unfolding of our Christian life it happens that we fight the wrong battle, if one may put it that way, because we orient our efforts in the wrong direction. We fight on a terrain where the devil subtly drags us and can vanquish us, instead of fighting on the real battlefield, where, on the contrary, by the grace of God, we are always certain of victory.

The false battlefield is the battle for PERFECTION. That’s not the holy, humble, joyful perfection of the saints which trusts for all things from God, it’s the PERFECTION OF GETTING ALL THINGS RIGHT.

We believe, for example, that to win the spiritual battle we must vanquish all our faults, never succumb to temptation, have no more weaknesses or shortcomings.

Guess what? We are always going to lose that battle. 

But on such a terrain we are sure to be vanquished! Because who among us can pretend never to fall? And it is certainly not this God demands of us, for He knows of what we are made. He remembers we are dust (Psalm 103).

Vasily Surikov, Temptation of Christ (1872)
Vasily Surikov, Temptation of Christ (1872)

All the while, the real spiritual battle is going on somewhere else.

On the contrary, the real spiritual battle, rather than the pursuit of invincibility or some other absolute infallibility beyond our capacity, consists principally in learning, without becoming too discouraged, to accept falling occasionally and not to lose our peace of heart if we should happen to do so lamentably, not to become excessively sad regarding our defeats and to know how to rebound from our falls to an even higher level.

In that sense, this spiritual battle of Lent is the anti-battle. As Christians, we can’t fight for true peace. We can only receive it with humble and open hands. This is the peace Christ Jesus gives. (John 14:27)

To receive this peace, we have to let go. We have to stop fighting for perfection and let Christ the King do the fighting for us.

We have to put down our weapons, and whisper, “Lord, your will be done. I don’t why I’m so discouraged right now. I don’t know why I can’t be the Spiritual Superhero I want to be. But I’m not asking to like it and I’m not asking to understanding it. All I ask is that you stay with me. Fight my battles because I can’t. Stay with me, my Jesus.”

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:10-12)

Lent, it seems, isn’t the fight to fast the hardest, pray the longest or give the most. It is the spiritual struggle to believe the good news of the gospel:

God gives you His peace.

+JMJ+

How Satan Kills Silently

Abortion, to me, is synonymous with murder; however, Satan isn’t just killing the babies. He’s found a clever way to knife the mothers and fathers, as well! He disguises things so they won’t notice the pain till the frantic situation is over, and they just want to establish a life. He makes them believe the baby in question is just a clump of cells that’ll go away once you’ve passed through the clinic from hell. In other cases, he scares them so the only real escape from the situation seems to be abortion.

Being prolife, to me, is a battle–where I’m trying to save two lives, or more.

I wish these people would understand they’re not only killing the baby. Once it’s gone, they’ve slaughtered something else deep inside, which will eventually return to haunt them. It’s impossible to dispose of someone so intimately a part of you and just forget. The child will always be there, watching from Heaven up above; by the time you realize your heart’s missing something, you cannot get it back.

Satan has killing strategies which, once felt by our weak human hearts, don’t seem rash at all. It starts when he convinces a person that God doesn’t care. Depriving one of their faith is equal to disarming a soldier in battle. If you succumb to this first temptation, you’re going to stumble, and most likely fail. Then, he convinces you that friends are actually enemies: It’s easy turning people against one another, so you can’t see the tempter anymore, consumed by your misery and hatred of the world. Finally, when there’s no faith or true love, of course there isn’t a Truth! Just live by your own rules—no right or wrong! This chain of events leads to many abortions today.

So many people have fallen for it. While it hurts me to know innocent children will die, they’re not the only ones who’ll suffer! The parents are also being torn apart. While the baby is being disposed of, you cannot erase from your past that it existed; when you have other children, you’ll think of it. You can only put off such a memory to a point. One day it’ll become too heavy, and there’ll be no escaping it: Part of you has been dead for a long time, because you didn’t acknowledge it was alive.

Jesus will take you back if you’ve had an abortion. He will forgive you with open arms and in Him you’ll find new life. Nothing you can do will ever stop Him from reaching out to you, but I wish people wouldn’t have to go through that to meet Him. When Satan blinds you, it’s very hard to see the Truth; that is his strategy. Using society and circumstance, he coaxes you till you think it’s just another surgery–get it done and move on. It’s a strategic lie, though!

Open your eyes today and search for the ways Satan’s intruding in your life. Even if the situation isn’t abortion, it’ll be something else; finally, when you recognize it, run to Jesus for help. Ask Him for eternal life and the strength to live out your time on earth. Don’t let Satan kill you. 

While preparing yourself to dodge the devil’s words, look out for your friends and family. Our duty is to not let them fall. If you’re in a situation where you can help another person, please don’t be silent. As the body of Christ, we must be His hands and His lips. It’ll hurt when you possibly lose, unable to touch the misled souls you want to save. Just remember the Lord knows you tried. Fight the good fight, boys and girls! It’ll hurt you just as much, but it’s your duty. There are countless brothers and sisters in Heaven and on earth who will comfort and support you. Even if you feel terrified, you must be soldiers—relentless warriors of love!

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Mariella-Hunt.png[/author_image] [author_info]Mariella Hunt is determined to become a saint–or at least prove that it’s possible to be one. In 18 years she’s been many places, but the most beautiful place she’s entered was the Catholic Church at age 13. Since then she’s faced many trials, physically and emotionally, but is now prepared to spread the Gospel and tell the world that Jesus is real and so is His love. Her interests vary from classical literature to apologetics to country music. She hopes to someday have a big family and live by Lake Geneva, but for now she can be found blogging as A Catholic Sheep contributing to Universal Faith.[/author_info] [/author]