I cannot remember the exact quote, but Satan once remarked to St. Anthony the Great, something to the effect, that he was once at peace in the desert. Now Anthony has filled it with monks! To understand the Devil's complaint, you would need to know that the monk's very purpose for being there was combat. Those monks were aggressors traveling into the desert to battle the Devil. Of course, "Aggressor" should be the disposition of all Christians against the kingdom of darkness.
This anecdote has me wondering what the Devil thinks about Catholic parishes dotting the surface of the globe. Does the Devil bemoan the founding of a parish and rejoice at the closing of a church? Of course. Could parishes do more to be centers of spiritual warfare? Of course, again!
Here are seven powerful and easy ways a parish could become an effective aggressor in spiritual warfare and drive the Devil away:
A question that comes up from time to time is "Can the Devil just do anything he wants to? Can he attack anyone he wants to and attack them in any way he sees fit?" A scary thought to say the least. It leaves us with images of just wandering into the eye line of a demon and being devoured.
Thankfully it does not work like that at all. It is true that one of the conditions of being alive in a post "Fall" world is being subject to the tyranny of the Devil. We are all subject to the onslaughts of the dominion of darkness. We need to remember, though, that this is a mysterious part of God's great plan for us. It is not merely the result of the Fall but also an opportunity to increase our merit. Should we make it to heaven we will have fought our way there.
Like everything else Demons were created and still answer to their Creator. Just because they were created Angelic and through their pride became Demonic does not mean they achieved autonomy. God limits their power and for that we should be thankful. Padre Pio described the Devil like a dog on a chain. This does not mean we should take their assaults lightly. It only means we need to have recourse to the one who holds the chain and his laws.
The Roman Catechism describes the relationship between the Demonic world and God like this:
"But should any of the faithful, through weakness of mind or ignorance of the truth, feel terrified at the power of the devils, they are to be encouraged, when overtaken by the storm of temptation, to take refuge in this harbour of prayer, for the power and pertinacity of Satan, however great, are not, in his utter hatred of mankind, such as to enable him to tempt or torment as much, or as long, as he pleases; but all his power is governed by the control and permission of God. Of this we have a most conspicuous example in Job, nothing belonging to whom could the devil have touched, had not God said, Behold, all that he hath is in thy hand; whilst, on the other hand, he himself, with his children, and all that he possessed, would have been at once destroyed by the devil, if God had not added, Only put not forth thy hand upon himself. So restricted is the power of devils, that, without the permission of God, they could not enter even into the swine mentioned by the Evangelists."
We are all tempted each day by our spiritual adversaries but we take heart in the fact that God will not allow them to use the full force of their nature against us. For that we can be thankful!
(Like this paragraph the Catechism of the Council of Trent offers many insights into Demonology. This week my Patreon supporters received a document with all Roman Catechism references pertinent to Demonology. If you'd like to learn more about spiritual warfare from the heart of the Church join my Patreon team at www.Patreon.com/DaveVanVickle
Imagine trying to learn rocket science from watching the Space Shuttle launch in Cape Canaveral. You might try learn about the lives and habits of the astronauts themselves. You might learn all about the space shuttle with pictures and diagrams. You might even read countless stories of space flights and the different anecdotes that happen. You could read every article written by an astronaut or rocket scientist. Unfortunately, none of these would be a sufficient way to learn Rocket Science because you are jumping ahead in education about twenty years. Rocket Science begins with physics and simple things such as understanding gravity and propulsion and ends with the Space shuttle launch. This is an extreme example, but this is often the mistake we make when learning about spiritual warfare.
I travel all over the country and speak about Catholic Demonology. I can tell you, at least anecdotally, that the majority of what faithful Catholics know about the topic of spiritual warfare comes from books written by exorcists and from legends. I cannot count the amount of times that Fr. Gabriel Amorth has been quoted to me as proof of a point. Now there is nothing wrong with the books of Fr. Amorth. In fact, they are excellent, but his work is the Space Shuttle launch in the example and we need grade school Physical Science. If we are planning to fly the Space shuttle, then we should begin by experimenting with a backyard rocket and learning a whole lot of physics.
Here are some ways people tend to learn about spiritual warfare that CAN impoverish our understanding of it:
So how should we try to understand and learn about spiritual warfare? I’ll recommend some things under two different umbrellas: Study and Practice.
First some recommendations about Study:
Second some simple recommendations on Practice:
It is high time we shine the light on the Theology and practice of Spiritual Warfare. We need to learn once again the art of participation in the Angelic warfare for our souls.
"‘Spiritual combat’ is [an] element of life which needs to be taught anew and proposed once more to all Christians today. It is a secret and interior art, an invisible struggle in which (we) engage every day…” ~ Pope St. John Paul II
For those who are interested in learning more, my Patreon supporters will be receiving a special document of Catechism references that are pertinent to Spiritual Warfare this week. Each week my Patreon supporters will be receiving exclusive content to learn more about spiritual warfare and its theological foundations. There is no premium and all of my content will be available to any level of support.
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