The joyful Fr. Dwight Longenecker takes a look at doing battle with evil in a way you might not expect:
Each one of us is called to engage in the spiritual battle, and we will succeed best when we take the battle seriously, not ourselves. During Lent, that battle intensifies. As Christ went into the desert to take the battle to the devil himself, so we should engage with the forces of darkness with a new intention, clear-mindedness, good humor, and the confidence that comes with knowing Christ, through whom all evil is overcome.
Launching into battle in this way means we are happy warriors. We fight with a spring in our step and a smile on our face. The gospel says when we fast we should wash our face and put on a smile; the spiritual writers speak of keeping a “joyful Lent.” When we face temptation, we should overcome not just with a serious resolve and a whopping amount of self control; we should also have the wisdom and insight to see the temptation for what it is, sidestep the attack, and parry with a counter thrust in the robust spirit of a jaunty swordsman or a laughing cavalier.
All this, because we remember and look forward to Easter Day. My favorite image of the resurrection is the painting by Piero della Francesca, with the triumphant Christ stepping from the tomb over the sleeping soldiers bearing a white flag with a red cross. There’s an air of jaunty resolve about it, a joyful insouciance with the incongruous flag, the light of morning, and the unexpected twist in the plot.
I’m reminded of Leon Bloy‘s famous dictum: “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” It makes sense, then, that joy would just annoy the hell out of Satan, doesn’t it?