Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with a priest who retired after 57 years of service to Christ and His Church. Father referred to satan as “the big bozo.” Seems to me that “the big bozo” and his minions have been on the prowl in a bigger way than normal lately in our family and with others we know and love.
During Mass, Fr. reminded us that the enemy can be very calculating and patient. If we are strong in prayer, he won’t attack our prayer life; if we are strong in charity, he won’t necessarily attack there. But he will look for little opportunities – back doors, if you will – to squeeze in through our “little” indescretions and oversights. Pretty soon, if left unchecked, these small things turn into much larger things and we are in, as my 6-year-old would say, “Beeeeeg trouble.”
I took this homily as a reminder that I am in the middle of a battle for my soul! I also figured it couldn’t hurt to blow the dust off some strategies taken straight from God’s Spiritual Warfare 101:
- I need to pray harder to identify and address my blindspots, those places where the enemy can enter in more easily.
- Additionally, I can’t be afraid or too proud to ask one of my brothers or sisters in Christ who is strong in prayer to keep me and my struggles in their intentions. Hey – I can always return the favor!
- Speaking of intercession, I should ask our elder brothers and sisters, the Saints, for their prayers more frequently. There are many prayers out there seeking help in times of spiritual attack. One of my favorites, though, is to St. Michael the Archangel. If you have any other recommended prayers to saints, please let me know!
- I also try to keep in mind that some sins can, as Scripture says in Mark 9:7, only be overcome through prayer and fasting. Never underestimate the power of denying yourself!
- I must continue to submerse our family in the sacramental life, especially the Eucharist – our “food for the journey” – and the amazing mercy and grace available to us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I’ve heard reports that Mother Theresa and Pope John Paul II went to Confession every day. Perhaps we “regular folk” can be inspired to go at least once a month?
- And, if this is a battle (and, don’t be deceived – it is a battle), why wouldn’t I prepare myself by putting on the complete Armor of God every day? See below, taken from Ephesians 6:10-18 (NAB), for complete instructions from none other than St. Paul:
Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power.
Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil.
For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.
Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.
So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate,
and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.
In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all (the) flaming arrows of the evil one.
And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.
We shouldn’t deny that our temptations exist. Burying the problem won’t make it go away. Temptations, like feelings, are not, in and of themselves, sinful. If we choose to act on them in the wrong way, however, they can be. Instead, we should lay our temptations at the foot of the Cross, and perhaps seek advice from a priest or trusted spiritual director for other ways to avoid the near occasion of sin. God never said it would be easy, but He said He would be with us! It is a good fight of faith … and we know that we are victorious through Christ who strengthens us.
So, it’s off to serve God and fight the big bozo. Who’s with me??