Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
WEDNESDAY, February 3rd Mk. 6: 1-6 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”
- This is something we may have experienced as we strive to live according to the Ignatian motto: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam; that is, For the Greater Glory of God.
- The good is the enemy of the best! We must continually strive to grow in virtue, grow in holiness. To this end, we cannot compare ourselves to others; rather, we must compare ourselves to the saints!
Part 1: Put on the Armor of God… from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians (Eph. 6: 10-20)
Part 2: THE DEVIL’S DASTARDLY DEEDS OF DOOM… by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
PART 1: Put on the Armor of God… from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians (6: 10-20)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day comes, you may be able to withstand the evil, and having done all, to stand firm.
Stand firm then, with the belt of Truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of Righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace. In all circumstances, take up the shield of Faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the Helmet of Salvation and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Pray in the Spirit on all occasions. With this in mind, be alert and with all perseverance, make supplication for all God’s people.
PART 2: THE DEVIL’S DASTARDLY DEEDS OF DOOM by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, in his classic Meditation, The Two Standards (aka Two Flags) presents a marked contrast: Jesus, humble and attractive standing in the city of Jerusalem, and Satan, proud and horrendously ugly sitting on a dung hill in Babylon. Jesus invites us to enlist under His Standard by embracing poverty, insults and contempt, and humility, as well as all the other virtues. Satan, on the contrary, invites through riches, empty honors, and overweening pride leading to all the other vices. (Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius: The Two Standards: #136-147). Being free individuals, God leaves it up to us to make our own personal choice.
NAMES FOR THE DEVIL. There are many names for the devil found in Scripture and expressed by the saints. Biblical names are the following: devil, demon, Prince of this world, serpent, ancient serpent, accuser, Satan, Lucifer. Jesus calls the devil two names in one sentence in the Gospel of John (Jn. 8:44): a liar and a murderer from the beginning.
PURPOSE AND THRUST OF THIS SHORT ESSAY. The purpose and thrust of this short essay is to highlight the many ways that the devil, who according to Saint Ignatius is “the enemy of our human nature”, constantly lies to us, but especially in trying to convince us to give up our prayer life, or at least to pray less or with less fervor. Following are certain typical lies that Satan launches at the disciples of Christ to destroy their prayer life, or at least diminish its fervor and efficacy. The Word of God reminds us that if we have decided to follow God then our life is militancy, our life is warfare, our life is the combat zone! However, Saint Paul encourages us thus: “If God is with us, who can be against us?
”TYPICAL TEMPTATIONS OF THE DASTARDLY DEVIL WHO WANTS OUR DOOM!
1. LATER!!! The devil will often say: “Why don’t you pray later, just a little later, there is no hurry. Calm down, relax, wait a bit!” And how often “later” never comes.
2. CUT IT SHORT! The enemy says: “Look, you are praying too long, you are going to damage your health. You pray an hour??? That is too much; just do half an hour.”
3. PRAY TOMORROW. Lucifer can come at you as such: “Look, you don’t feel good today; rest, get back in shape, get healthy. Then you can pray. God understands your weakness!”
4. WORK IS YOUR PRAYER. Satan whispers in your ear: “Work hard and offer it up as your prayer. Work is better than praying because by working you are helping others. Even Paul says: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” … Let this be a lesson to us! Never forget: the devil will even use and distort Scripture to confuse us and achieve his end—our condemnation! Jesus worked long hours preaching, teaching, healing, and casting out demons. Yet Scripture says, “Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up and went to a deserted place to pray.” (Mk. 1:38)
5. YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME. The demon can deceive you with these or similar words: “To be honest, you are wasting your time; your time which is so valuable, so very important; you should be using your time in a much more profitable fashion. Ben Franklin did not pray that much, and look how much good he did as a statesman and inventor!”
6. YOU REALLY ARE A FANATIC! Lucifer has many tactics and one of these is simply this: to rouse up your loved ones to start attacking you, deriding you, and making fun of you, with words like these: “You really are a religious fanatic; you have lost your mind.” In attacks like these, remember that Jesus too was called crazy by those close to Him.
7. YOU ARE A HYPOCRITE, A REAL FAKE! The enemy has many weapons in his armory and here is yet another. “You think you are so holy because you pray so much, but look how often you fall, you sin, you make mistakes! Indeed, what a hypocrite you are!”
8. GOD IS NOT HELPING YOU. The accuser can hurl this or similar words at you: “If God is close to you because of your prayers, you would never have fallen into that sin. Give up on these useless prayers.” In truth, we are all sinners, but God doesn’t look at our sins, rather at our sincere remorse and repentance.
9. DEVIL OF IMPURITY. Many saints, like Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Benedict, Saint Margaret Mary, Saint Thomas Aquinas have been virulently assaulted by the devil of impurity; some of these even in prayer, some even while praying in the presence of the most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar! With this, the enemy can attack with the firearm: “If your prayer is so important, God could not allow these humiliating and embarrassing thoughts to cross your mind.” Indeed, the devil never gives up in his assaults. And to the contrary, God is pleased with our determined resistance to these assaults!
10. DEVIL OF GLUTTONY. How often does it occur that just when you are in the middle of your prayer period, the devil comes in as a Chef presenting an exquisite gourmet meal that he is inviting you to taste and devour! Or a delectable dessert! The devil knows our weaknesses.
11. THE DEVIL OF WEARINESS AND SLEEP. We all know what happened that first Holy Thursday night after the Last Supper when Jesus was praying fervently in the Garden of Olives. Not far from Jesus were His three best friends: Peter, James, and John. (Now, all of them saints!) They fell asleep when they should have been present and accompanying the Lord Jesus in prayer. How common indeed it is that when we want to pray, and even go to pray, we become drowsy to the point of falling asleep in our prayer period. Absence of prayer contributes to abandoning Our Lord and falling into sin—as is evidenced by the Apostles who fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane. And what did Peter do that very same night? He denied Christ, not once, but three times!
12. THE DEVIL OF RIGHT PRIORITIES. Then the ancient serpent, the devil, can tempt us using these or similar words: “Helping the poor, the sick, the handicapped and the disabled is more pleasing to God then wasting your time in prayer. In fact, Jesus said that he is truly present in the poor, hungry, thirsty, sick and imprisoned. Help out these unfortunates and that is enough in your relationship with God.” Jesus Himself put to flight this lie of the devil when He taught us to pray: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name….”
13. VOCAL PRAYER ONLY. The devil can even use good means so that the better and best will be neglected. Here the enemy comes again: “Just rattle off those vocal prayers without thinking about them; that is enough. Mental prayer, meditation, contemplation and the Holy Hour—all of that is for nuns and monks but not for you. You are confusing your vocation!”
14. SO YOU THINK YOU ARE A SAINT!!! Once again, from friends or relatives, but especially family members who have little or no faith, these sarcastic words can be placed in their mouths by the devil: “So you really think because you pray so much that you are a saint, ready to be canonized. Before long they will be making holy cards of you!”
15. RECALL OF PAST SINS. The tempter can attack interiorly with this insidious but persistent thought: “In the past you committed so many sins; who are you to be spending so much time in prayer???” Jesus, I trust in your Mercy!
16. THOUGHT WORLD AND PRAYER. Then the devil, taking advantage of the mind, can assault us with other poisonous arrows, especially in the thought world with this kind of verbiage: “Your mind is dirty, filled with ugly thoughts, and there you are kneeling in prayer. You are not worthy to be praying like that!”
17. HORIZONTAL MEDITATION. Then the devil of comfort and laziness can convince you to simply stay in bed and do your prayers there, and you end up by falling asleep. This is called the devil of Horizontal Meditation or Horizontal Contemplation.
18. THE DEVIL OF GOD’S DEAF EAR. Astute and wily, the devil can convince you that God does not listen to your prayers. Why? For the simple reason that you have been begging the Lord for such a prolonged period of time and God has not granted your request. The reason being that God does not hear you! So why waste God’s time and yours in prayer? Whereas the truth is that God hears and is attentive to all your prayers! But He knows what is best for you and your eternal salvation and answers or doesn’t answer accordingly!
19. THE DEVIL OF NEXT WEEK. We all need to go on vacation. The devil says your vacation should also be a vacation from prayer. The devil reasons as such: “Give yourself a break and give God a break, then come back next week to pray. God understands.”
20. JUST MASS AND THAT’S ENOUGH. Lucifer, called the Star of the Morning before his rebellion, but since perverted, can even use one prayer to pit you against another prayer. He can come at you with this: “The Mass is the greatest prayer. Just go to Mass and give up that mental prayer, that meditation stuff you are doing.”
21 RELIGIOUS FANATICS IN ASSYLUMS. Then the devil can attack as such: “There are many fanatics who have ended up in an asylum by praying too much; you are on the way; you are next! Prepare your bags and suitcase!”
22. BAD CONSCIENCE. The devil can actually prevent sinners from having recourse to the Sacrament of Confession by playing on their fear and shame. Living with a bad, accusatory conscience can be a detriment, even a block, to prayer.
23. THE DEVIL OF PLEASURE. In our modern hedonistic society, the devil can convince you with these words to move you to give up prayer. “You only have one life to live: live it up! Get all the GUSTO out of life! It is Miller time! Not prayer time.”
24. TRIALS AND CROSSES, AND THE DEVIL. Then the devil, masked as an angel of light, will try to scare you away from prayer with this idea: “Ever since you started prayer, you have had so many crosses and trials; give up mental prayer and you will have fewer trials and crosses, and life will be much easier and more pleasant.”
25. FAMILY NEGLECT AND PRAYER. Finally, the devil can even accuse you of neglecting your family with these or similar words: “You are praying so much that your family is being neglected. Tend to your family instead of praying and that will please God.”
In conclusion, Saint Alphonsus asserts emphatically that prayer is the Key to Salvation. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church on prayer, Saint Alphonsus is quoted: “He who prays will be saved; he who does not pray will be damned.” What air is to our lungs, so prayer is to our soul! Being keenly aware of this fact, the devil, who is the enemy of our salvation, will do all he possibly can to attack our prayer life. If the devil loses one battle, then he will try again using another strategy. It is incumbent upon all of us who are in this Spiritual Combat to be aware of the insidious temptations of the devil that he launches most especially against our prayer life! Let us make a determined determination right now to pray more and with even greater fervor! May Our Lady, who crushes the head of the infernal serpent, help us to forcefully reject all the temptations of the devil and cling to Jesus as the anchor of our faith, the anchor of our salvation!
Copyright 2021 Oblates of the Virgin Mary
St. Peter Chanel Church, Hawaiian Gardens, CA