Lent Reflection Day 14
To this point in our journey, Unseen Warfare has presented us with techniques that we can use in order to achieve union with God, and as the first chapter said, Christian perfection as spoken of in St. Matthew 5:48 - - Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. If you have used them, these techniques have proven useful for the putting down of the attacks of our enemies the demons, and have lifted our spirits up to illumination by the Creator. But the task is not easy, and we may find ourselves asking if all this effort is worth it, or if it’s even possible to follow Unseen Warfare’s advice.
To quote from chapter fourteen: If you feel sometimes such a strong upsurging of sin that resistance to it will seem impossible and the very zeal to oppose it will appear exhausted, take care not to give up the struggle, but rouse yourself and stand firm. It is a subterfuge of the enemy, who, with the thought that resistance is hopeless, strives to undermine your firm stand and by making you lay down all your arms to force you to surrender to him. Make your mind see this subterfuge of the enemy more clearly and do not give ground. For so long as your will does not incline towards this passionate urge you are still among the victors, the fighters and slayers of the enemy, even if your sympathy is already ranged on the side of the passion. Nothing and nobody can force your will or steal victory from your hands and overthrow you against your will, no matter how obdurate and bitter the war waged in you by the enemies of your salvation. God endowed our free will with such power, that even if all a man’s faculties, the whole world and all the demons rose up in arms against him and attacked him, they could not compel it. It is always left free to desire what they offer or demand, if it so wishes, or not to desire it, if it does not wish. On the other hand, for this very reason his will bears the responsibility for everything and is subject to judgment. Remember this well: no matter how weak and exhausted you may feel, you cannot find excuses for inclining towards a passionate suggestion. Your conscience will tell you the same. So the stronger the attacks the stronger the resistance you must prepare, and never abandon this resolve, repeating on all such occasions the words of command of one of our war leaders: “”Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (I Cor. 16:13).
Unseen Warfare reminds us in this opening passage of the fourteenth chapter that we have free will, and that we always exercise that free will, even if it’s to allow ourselves to give into the suggestions of the enemy. They are constantly with us, urging us to sin. They do this because they love sin and hate God, but they are themselves unable to sin in the body. They commit blasphemy and other theological sins, but to commit the bodily sins, they need us. Demons want us to sin because it creates opposition to God.
We do not have to follow their advice, brothers and sisters. And when we do, we can rely on repentance to restore our relationship with God. As we use this praiseworthy advice from Unseen Warfare in our Lenten journey today, let us (as it says) take care not to give up the struggle. All our efforts are worth the trouble, if only to proclaim our existential freedom. We don’t have to do what the enemy wants us to do, we can love and be loyal to God our Creator and Lord, and thereby gain the great treasure of eternal life.
We have come to the fourteenth day of our journey, brothers and sisters. Use the strength and comfort the Church offers you this day, and worship God in the beauty of holiness.