The persecutions had ceased, and Christians were safe from the government. But they weren’t safe, says St. Gregory the Great, from the wiles of Satan, who knows how to make use of prosperity and security, too.
Because the stress of the earlier tempests has lulled, and with the end of the struggle a measure of tranquility has seemed to smile on us for a long time, we have to guard against those errors that arise from the reign of peace itself. Having been proved ineffective in open persecutions, the Enemy now exercises a hidden skill in hurting us cruelly. By the stumbling-block of pleasure he trips up those he could not strike with the blow of affliction.
He sees the faith of princes opposed to him, and the indivisible Trinity of the one God worshiped in palaces as devoutly as in churches. He grieves that the shedding of Christian blood is forbidden. So he attacks the way of life of those whose death he cannot achieve. He changes the terror of confiscations into the fire of greed, and corrupts with covetousness those whose spirits he could not break by losses.
For long use has ingrained a malicious pride in his very nature. He has not laid aside his hatred, but he has changed its character in order to control the minds of the faithful by enticements. If he cannot distress them with tortures, he inflames them with covetousness. He sows discord, stirs up passions, sets tongues wagging, and—just in case more cautious hearts should retreat from his lawless wiles—shows us opportunities for committing crimes.
The fruit of all his plots is that he who is not worshiped with the sacrifice of cattle and goats and the burning of incense is instead paid the homage of various evil deeds. –St. Gregory the Great, Sermon 36, 3IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Where is the devil most likely to attack my way of life?
How am I shoring up my defenses?
Father, let me no longer be a slave to evil, but always serve you, the God of truth. Let it always be manifest that I am truly yours.
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