THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Her Doctrine and Morals

Third Sunday in Lent

7 March 2021

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Dear Friend,

"Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it."

In today's Gospel, Jesus was accused of casting out devils by the power of the devils. Jesus points out to His accusers how illogical their accusation is. It is the power of God that casts out devils. Devils do not cast out their own.

To understand the spiritual reality of those who falsely accused Our Lord, Jesus shows us the spiritual realm of demons driven out of a person only to return with seven others worse than himself. Indeed, the state of that soul was much worse than before when he only had one devil in him.

When we receive Jesus, we welcome the Word of God. When God is with us, the devils run away in fear. A priest performs an exorcism before administering the Sacrament of Baptism. In all the Sacraments, we draw nearer to God, and of necessity, the devils are farther from us. The same is true when a sermon or a good book inspires us to repent of our sins and draw nearer to Jesus.

However, it is not enough to have driven the devils out; we must now strive to keep them out. How do we keep them away from us? We keep the devils at bay by keeping the Word of God. We must "hear the Word of God and keep it."

When we drive the devils out, they do not walk away and forget about us. On the contrary, they are furious because we have driven them out, and now they keep trying to take back all that they had lost possession of.

The devils constantly tempt and assault the Children of God, striving by every means necessary to make them fall so that they can take possession of them once again. We should not be shocked by the vile temptations that assault us after the Sacraments strengthen us. On the contrary, we should almost expect them.

Jesus gave us the Sacraments to strengthen us and arm us for the spiritual battle that is soon to ensue. We should put on the graces and virtues as a soldier puts on his armaments. With each grace that we receive and cooperate with, we strengthen one or more habits of virtue. We become more vital — or rather, the grace of God becomes stronger within us. We must fight this spiritual battle every day of our lives by denying ourselves and taking up our daily crosses.

One of the most insidious tactics of the devils is to inspire us to spiritual mutism. This demonic evil is what Jesus drove out in today's Gospel.

Spiritual mutism is when we do not confess our sins or open our souls to our spiritual director. In hiding something from him, we block the path of God's healing grace. It is like not telling your doctor about recurring chest pain. If you do not tell him, he will not know of it. If he does not know about it, he cannot help you correct or overcome it, and eventually, it will kill you. When the devils trick us into falling into mortal sin, their next temptation is to get us to try and hide it from God's ministers. Either we make bad confessions, or we stay away from the Sacraments altogether. In either case, sin is added to sin, compounding evil within us. Instead of strengthening the habits of virtue, we are supporting the habits of sin. Instead of drawing nearer to God, we are straying ever farther away from Him.

It is not enough to have driven the devils out in the past. We must daily keep the Word of God in our hearts and souls and, thus, drive the devils away daily. It is a constant war that we must fight for our eternal souls. Only those who virtuously fight the good fight and are always preparing for the next battle — healing their wounds and strengthening their defenses — will keep the devils away.

Jesus gave us the Sacraments, and these are our weapons of defense along with the sacramentals. We must employ these weapons daily with prayer, especially the Holy Rosary. The demons greatly fear the Mother of God. The Sacraments, prayer, and sacramentals are not only weapons for our defense, but they are also healing remedies for all our wounds or injuries. The Sacrament of Penance (Confession) even heals the deadly wound of mortal sin and restores us to life and health. The Holy Eucharist is the life and health of our souls, and we should strive to devoutly receive Jesus in this Sacrament as often as possible. Jesus has made it clear that we will not have life in us unless we receive Him in Holy Communion.

Let us be especially on guard against the demonic spirit of spiritual mutism. Let us expose the dark recesses of our souls to the light of God's grace and drive the demon of mutism far from us. Only in this way are we healed, strengthened, and restored to spiritual life.

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