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Chapter 51

The Enemy

 

The devil loves darkness.
He always operates in the dark
because he knows that if he is discovered he is beaten.
—St. John Bosco

 

 

Be sober and watch, because your enemy the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may swallow up.  Resist him, firm in your faith (in God).(1 Peter 5:8-9)  To allow for merit and free will, as well as for justice and mercy, God allows the holy angels and evil spirits equal opportunity to win over our soul to heaven or hell, respectively.  The devil puts up obstacles, barriers, between us and God, both interior and exterior, and leads us away from Him.  The holy angels unite us to God and lead us closer to Him, while removing obstacles along the way.  In general, the demons darken and depress us, but when we are going against God’s will, they will try to lighten and uplift us with “good” feelings or insights, for instance, by providing excuses or rationalizations.  On the contrary, those blessed spirits, the holy angels, uplift and strengthen us, enlighten and inspire us, unless we are pursuing our own will and not that of God’s, at which times they will try to make it harder in some way to continue in sin.  Therefore, follow in faith what you know to be true and that spiritual instinct that God has given you for doing His will at the right time and in the right way.  Jesus is leading you one step at a time.  Patience, peace, obedience and love will lead you closer to God.  Pride and anger, lust and desire for superfluous things or pleasures, will lead you further away from Him.  “My Jesus Crucified, I love You.”

However long we live in this life, the devil will try to tempt and disturb us as far as he can, at least from the outside.  To avoid a false sense of security, which is the belief and feeling that we are beyond sinning because things are going so well, we should follow the wise counsel of St. Teresa of Avila—“However many consolations and pledges of love the Lord may give you, never be so secure as not to fear that you may fall again, and keep yourselves from the occasions of sin.” (The Way of Perfection)  The “occasions of sin” are those circumstances that make us more vulnerable to temptation and, therefore, more prone to sinning.  For example, spending too much time shopping or watching television.

In forming our conscience in the spiritual life, St. Ignatius of Loyola taught us to follow the golden mean.  “That the soul may advance with sure steps in spiritual ways, it must walk with constancy in the opposite direction from that in which the enemy of salvation (the devil) wishes to lead it.  If he seeks to relax the conscience, let it contract (become more strict).  If he seeks to contract it (make it too strict), let it relax.  Avoiding the two extremes, it will establish itself in a middle path that will be for it a state of assurance and peace.”

Ultimately though, the only definitive and lasting solution to the devil’s whirlwind of dark confusion and temptation is the action of the Holy Spirit, the Living Flame of Love, through infused contemplation.  “God will arise and his enemies be scattered, those who hate him will flee before him.  As smoke is driven away by the wind, as wax melts before the fire, so the wicked (evil spirits, temptations and sin) will perish at the presence of God.” (Psalms 68:1-2) 

 

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