Jumping at Shadows: Spiritual Warfare 101

Jumping at Shadows: Spiritual Warfare 101 October 31, 2014

helmetDo you jump at things that go bump in the night? Do you start at shadows?

Yesterday’s epistle at Mass was from St. Paul, who knew a thing or two about spiritual evil and how to fight it off. His epistle to the Ephesians, Chapter Six, contains the famous “armor of God” verses:

10 Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. 11 Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. 13 Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.

St. Paul goes on to describe the process of girding ourselves against evil. It involves metaphorical pieces of armor that represent important aspects of a healthy spiritual life. (You can read the chapter in its entirety, here.)

Now, I’m not one to jump at shadows, but this need to protect ourselves from spiritual assault rings true to my experiences as a Catholic living in the world and struggling along the path to God. If there is one lesson I learn over and over again, it’s to rely on God and not on myself. When I rely too much on me, things start to down-spiral. Lots of my friends and colleagues have felt the same.

Here’s a for instance: Sometimes it seems that when I am trying hardest to cultivate virtue and cling to Jesus, I experience discouragements that pile one on top of the other until I am tempted to give up. Other times, I experience spiritual interference as a sudden onslaught of confusion and conflict that afflict me and members of my team as we begin a good work for God (i.e., conference planning, website revisions, etc.). Crashing technology, misunderstandings between friends and loved ones, intense anxiety, and other poisoned arrows can toxify our environments and relationships if we’re not prepared to fight back with lots and lots of prayer.

But when we stay prayerful, in spite of a few headaches, our work bears visible fruit and opens doors to new opportunities to grow in faith and impact the world in beautiful ways. Praying our way over the bumps without giving up is key.

My favorite part of Ephesians Six is verse 18:

With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones.

So, as we enter into this holy weekend of remembering the holy ones who have gone before us, let’s honor the saints with our loving prayers, intercede for the souls in purgatory, and make little sacrifices for those suffering here on earth.

Rather than being discouraged by the world, I’m trying to take the attitude that the bad news is really just my prayer list for today, and that God is working through whatever trust I can muster. Nothing to be afraid of; just another day on the road to heaven.

God bless and protect you, in the name of Jesus Christ, through the intercession of Our Lady and all the saints!

I wish you all a very blessed All Hallows Eve, All Saints, and All Souls weekend.

 


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