“Hold fast to the word I preached to you” 1 Cor 15. Have you ever asked yourself, how do I “hold fast” to the Gospel that I hear at Mass? It sounds easy enough on paper. However, as each of us knows, remaining faithful 24/7 is a full-time job. It takes deliberate, attentive work to resist temptations, love when we do not feel loved, and spread joy and peace when we are struggling. The fight we fight is not always against flesh and blood, and more times than not, it is a supernatural spiritual battle for our soul.
Come on, Barb, really? The old “blame it on the devil excuse?” Well, yes. What happened in the Garden so long ago with our first parents impacted us more than we will often admit. Fr. Mike Schmitz says that while we were made in the image and likeness of God when Adam and Eve consented to disobey God, our intellect and will became “darkened.” That original sin has consequences for all of humanity. In other words, we can use our intellect to make decisions; but we don’t see clearly. We can exercise our will but not always choose wisely. And finally, no surprise here, “we are attracted to sin.” The fancy word for that is concupiscence.
Fr. Cantalamessa, O.F.M. C.A.P., “preacher to the papal household,” writes, “If the enemy continues to make war against you, this might mean that he has still not obtained what he set out to achieve; otherwise, he would stop tormenting you…If you have no struggle at all, rather be afraid and question yourself.” Succinctly stated in one of my favorite quotes attributed to St Irenaeus,
“The devil doesn’t trouble himself with things he has already won.”St Irenaeus
All that said, holding fast takes effort and beseechs heavenly reinforcements for help: remaining in a state of grace, frequenting the Sacraments, prayer, and weekly Mass, which keeps evil at bay and allows for an increase of grace.
Fr Chad Ripperger, an American Catholic priest, theologian, philosopher, and exorcist, offers these suggestions for remaining steadfast and protecting yourself:
1-Never lose the state of grace. It is the principal protection against the devil.
2-Never commit a mortal sin. One willingly places him or herself under the devil’s authority in this state by rejecting God as Supreme. He noted a rise in people receiving communion in the condition of mortal sin. “Nothing you do is meritorious in the state of mortal sin, and you cannot protect yourself.”
3-Maintain custody of the senses. Don’t let the bad stuff into our minds and hearts. What music, television, images, and movies do we let inside? “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.” Matt 6:22-23.
Be aware that evil can influence our senses, memory, and imagination. Hence the critical need to receive regular healing in Sacramental Confession.
4-“Give consent to all of the teachings of the Catholic Church; otherwise, you place yourself under the authority of Satan.” I never thought of it that way. I have met many Catholics in my life who tell me, “I’m Catholic but, I don’t agree with all the teachings.” I have found great value in doing the homework on the issues that challenge me and finding out what Mother Church teaches and why. When I took the time to do this, I enlightened my mind and increased my understanding. I challenge you to do the same. Either one believes that Christ Jesus established the Catholic Church (Matt 16:18-19, Jn 20:22-23). By His authority, is governed, or somehow, one presumes to be wiser than the Omnipotent God.
5. Humility, prayer, sacrifice, and fasting- the “humbler you are, the less demons can hurt you.” The adage, “offer it up,” holds. Unite your prayers, suffering, inconveniences, and difficulties to the Cross of Christ. This action is meritorious and makes reparation for sin. Finally, demons cannot stand a body that fasts. (Here is where I need to do more work.)
Finally, bless your home and family often.
All of us can say with St. Peter, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Look what Christ was able to do with his humility, recognition of his weaknesses, and need for a Savior. The same is true; God loves a repentant heart and a receptive soul longing for His healing Presence.
A dear friend of mine got me this sign a few years back,
I love it! I pray that all Catholics realize the strength we have in surrendering to Christ and letting Him form us into a holy, fearsome demon-fighting force. For the glory of God!