|Arkhangelsk (Arkhangelsk oblast), coat of arms (1998) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
June 5, 2015
(Eph 6:12-13) For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore, take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day and to stand in all things perfect.
POPE FRANCIS: “We are all tempted because the law of our spiritual life, our Christian life is a struggle: a struggle. That’s because the Prince of this world, Satan, doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want us to follow Christ. Maybe some of you might say: ‘But Father, how old fashioned you are to speak about the devil in the 21st century!’ But look out because the devil is present! The devil is here… even in the 21st century! And we mustn’t be naïve, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan.”
CERC: Satan and the Millennium by Peter Kreeft
EXCERPT: On Spiritual Warfare | From The Snakebite Letters | Peter Kreeft
When mortals know they're at war, a kind of Emergency Consciousness arises in them. This can be turned to our advantage, by creating anxiety, but it's a very unstable compound because it can also foster self-sacrifice for a higher cause. When they know they're at war, they live with passion and alertness. They don't greedily demand comfort. There are no yuppies on a battlefield.
But when they believe they're not at war, they become soft. They demand their "rights". They think of the earth not as their training ground but as their home. They confuse wants with needs.
How did we get this immense strategic advantage? Propaganda, Braintwister--it's our metier. Of course they had no evidence to prove we didn't exist. They just drifted with "the spirit of the times" and "the climate of opinion" out of the medieval fire and into the modern fog.
We didn't achieve this all at once. The campaign developed in two steps. First, we got them to disbelieve only in sin, not in sanctity; only in Hell, not in that Other Place. But without the depth of the valley, there can be no height to the mountain, and they soon found themselves on a flat and featureless plain. That's why their mental pictures of God, eternity, angels and saints are all so insipid today: There's no contrast. In the Middle Ages, those images were vivid and powerful, moving pictures. They no longer move men's minds.
If there's a war, there must be an enemy. Who do they think their enemy is? There are only four possibilities:
1. They often used to believe their enemies were concrete human beings. This lie was extremely useful to us when people were passionate enough to know how to hate and stupid enough to ignore the teaching of that inveterate troublemaker Paul, that "we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers."
2. Second, the enemies could be abstract: vice, ignorance, injustice--that sort of thing. That's safely vague. Only scholars can be passionate about abstractions.
3. The third and true possibility, of course, is that they have real, actual spiritual enemies: us.
4. But if they no longer believe that, nor either of the other options, then the only possibility left is that there are no enemies, and no war, and thus no passion.
And that's where we have them now. Ninety-nine out of a hundred of them never once in their lives get up from bed in the morning with the thought that the forthcoming day will involve a battle in the greatest war of all, and that their Commander is sending them on a mission only they can accomplish. Instead, they think of their planet not as a battlefield but as a bathtub.
Be sure to keep the water tepid. At the right moment, we pull the plug. What delight to contemplate their surprise and terror as they discover they can go down the drain!
Your affectionate uncle,
RELATED: "Screwtape Proposes A Toast" by C.S. Lewis, published December 19, 1959.
FR. PIETRASZKO'S CORNER: Dialogue on Hell: Why the Damned Remain Damned Forever
MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)[Eph. 6:10–17; Matt. 4:1–11]
The Apostle clothes Christians in the whole armour of God. It is appropriate that this follows the previous lesson. For, if someone, heeding the call of God, has taken on the beginning of a new life through God's grace, providing for his own part all diligence (II Pet. 1:5), then he must not expect to rest on his laurels, but rather to struggle.
He has left the world — for that the world will begin to press him. He was saved from the power of the devil — the devil will chase after him and set snares before him, to throw him off the path of good and drag him back to his domain. He has denied himself, denied selfishness together with a whole horde of passions. But this sin living in us will not suddenly relinquish its free and untrammelled existence as we live in self-pleasure, and every minute it will attempt under various pretexts to establish once more the same life routine that so richly filled and fed it earlier. These are three enemies, each with innumerable hordes; but the commander-in-chief is the devil, whilst his closest helpers are the demons. They run the show in a sinful life — the opponents of a spiritual life.
That is why the Apostle arms the Christian against them as if there were no other enemies at all. He says: we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:12). If they did not exist, perhaps battles would not exist either. Likewise, as soon as they are repelled and struck down, it takes nothing to repel and defeat the others. So each of you look to see where you need to direct your arrows, or at least look to see from which side you particularly need to defend yourself. Then, defend yourself! The Apostle prescribed several weapons; but all of them have power only through the Lord. That is why experienced spiritual fighters have passed on to us this instruction: “Strike the enemy with the name of the Lord Jesus!”
The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Obedience
11. Hyperichius said, 'The monk's service is obedience. He who has this shall have his prayers answered, and shall stand by the Crucified in confident faith. For that was how the Lord went to his cross, being made obedient even unto death' (cf. Phil 2:8).'
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