Lent Reflection day 29
Many years ago I worked as a counselor at a drug and alcohol rehab center. One of the residents described his addiction as slavery. He said the bottle would determine everything he did during the day; it told him who his friends were, it kept him locked in his house, and it would not allow him to have a family. It was terrible to listen to and terrible to contemplate. It made me imagine what it would be like to be a slave. No home, no rest, no clothing of my own, no family. I would exist only for the purpose of making someone else rich. When I got sick, it wouldn’t matter. I would still have to do my work, and if I got very sick perhaps I would be abandoned with no food or medical care. Certainly, as my life is now, I work hard and sometimes I have to keep working when I’m sick. But everything is fine when I go to my home (which is mine) at the end of the day and see my family and spend time with them. I would work twice as hard as I work now to continue to enjoy that. But the man in the rehab didn’t have that. He would come home at night and start drinking, and if the children wanted to do something fun, he couldn’t go with them. He never went to their games or concerts at school, he never talked with his wife. Every morning he felt physically terrible, but he didn’t have any choice but to ignore his fatigue and go to work. He wanted to do everything possible to keep his job, because the job provided the money for the alcohol. And, by noon everyday, he felt better and thought of nothing other than having a drink.
The twenty-ninth chapter of Unseen Warfare refers to the slavery of sin, and describes the various ways the devil keeps us enslaved. The title of the chapter is: The order of battle pursued by the devil in spiritual warfare against us all and how he seduces people of different inner states. I hadn’t thought about an order of battle used by the devil until I read this part of our Lenten reading, but I understand now. The devil uses the same techniques with certain kinds of people in every age, and so we can pick apart the process of his mischief – I mean, the various ways he attacks various kinds of people - and learn how to overcome him before we are brought into, or brought back into, slavery.
I’ll quote from the book: Know, my beloved, that the devil cares only for compassing the ruin of every one of us, but that he does not use one and the same method of warfare against us all. To help you to see and understand this more clearly, I shall describe to you five inner states of people and the corresponding wiles, and circuitous approaches and enticements of the enemy. These states are the following: some people remain in the slavery of sin, with no thought of liberation; others, although thinking of this liberation and desiring it, do nothing to achieve it; there are also people who, having been freed from the shackles of sin and having acquired virtues, again fall into sin with still greater moral corruption.
In their self-delusion some of these latter think that, in spite of it all, they are still advancing towards perfection; others heedlessly abandon the path of virtue; yet others turn the very virtue they possess into a cause and occasion of harm for themselves.
The enemy influences each of them in accordance with their state and disposition.
So the next few days are going to be spiritually nourishing for us, brothers and sisters, as we glimpse into the battle plans of the devil and learn how to defeat him.
We’ve come to the beginning of the fifth week of this holy Lenten journey, today, the twenty-ninth day. I hope this Lent has been spiritually rewarding for you so far. As we start on these last two weeks, let’s re-double our efforts to use this holy time of year for the benefit of our souls, and prepare our hearts to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection in neptic joy.