Our most important battle



My husband Jim was working on a recent AARP survey and asked for my input. We collaborated on a few questions and identified what we considered important. However, during that 10 minutes, I remember thinking, “Will this truly make any difference?”

Later that evening, I shared with a friend some thoughts that Father Christopher Droste had given in his Sunday homily. He spoke of the line in the Nicene Creed, “I believe in all things visible and invisible,” and reminded us that those invisible forces are real.  He said, “The greatest battle we will ever fight is in our hearts — the battle between good and evil!”  Where do we put our trust — in God’s promises or the devil’s empty guarantees?

Interestingly, the reading Father Mike Schmitz had just completed in “Catechism in a Year” spoke of the devil.  According to the CCC 391, “Satan and his followers were at first good angels, made by God,” but because of the sin of envy, “they became evil by their own doing.”

People often ask, “Why does God allow evil to be in the world?” Religious scholars have studied that question for thousands of years. It is more complicated than I can explain. However, two thoughts from the Catechism have helped me. First, everything God created was originally good, even Lucifer. Second, “God created man in his image and established him in his friendship. A spiritual creature, man can live this friendship only in free submission to God” (CCC 396). God did not want a world of robots. We have the power to choose right or wrong, and our choices have ripple effects on our world.

As faith-filled people, we know that God will overcome evil at the end of time. But, do we realize that we are God’s warriors on earth? Peter, a man familiar with temptation, warns us, “Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling about roaring like a lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5: 8-9). The devil is real! He lurks about ready to attack our weaknesses and recruit us for his purposes.

Therefore, it is necessary to recognize him for what he is and how he works. He is a liar, first and foremost, a deceiver, a flatterer, a discourager, a distractor and a sower of doubt. His approach varies according to an individual’s flaws.

Years ago, I read “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis. That book illuminated how subtle the devil’s methods are. For instance, the devil persuades us that time is to be used only for our benefit. In reality, our life belongs to God. When, through others or our conscience, God desires us to trade our plans for His, we often refuse or complete the request grudgingly.  Wow! I recognized that truth in myself and have worked to change it.

We all have an Achilles’ heel. Distraction and discouragement are two I battle. I can be easily sidetracked from what is important or become discouraged when prayers seem not to be answered. Knowing this has helped me fight those tendencies. The devil repeatedly intimates that God is aloof and does not care about each of us individually. Like the survey I spoke about earlier, the devil encourages us to ask, “Why bother?” He desires that we be self-centered, caring only about our personal wants.

How many times have we been asked to walk in protest of abortion, join a retreat, or visit the sick or dying? What is our initial response? Do we say, “It won’t make any difference, or I don’t have time for that, or That’s uncomfortable to me?” Who do we think is encouraging those responses?

God constantly calls us into a more personal relationship with Him. The devil envies that relationship and wants desperately to prevent it. Every moment of every day, we are given opportunities through prayer, Mass, the Sacraments, silent contemplation, spiritual readings and selfless action to arm ourselves with God’s grace to fight the daily temptations of the greatest liar. As the Apostle James says, “Therefore submit to God; resist the devil and he will take flight. Draw close to God and He will draw close to you.” Amen!