THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
Third Sunday in Lent
7 March 2010
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Today's gospel is one that should truly grab our attention. We saw the devil at the beginning of Lent as he tempted Our Lord. And we noticed how Jesus quickly and easily dismissed him. And we are given hope that by imitating Jesus we too can cast the devils out. And quite readily we do so with the sacrament of Baptism. And with a little more difficulty we cast him out later with contrition and the sacrament of Penance. And in even more difficult situations we make use of exorcism and other prayers, sacramentals and sacraments.
But, in today's gospel we see another side of the demonic spirits. We are shown their persistence, and the havoc that they can do if they are given just the slightest opportunity to re-enter. And we are shown the terrible state of the soul once he has allowed this opening. He is now in a situation that is eight times worse than he was before the first devil was cast out.
And so we are cautioned again today to be ever vigilant. We cannot slack or let our guard down. It only takes a moment for us to fall, but it takes great strength and effort to rise up again.
All too often we find that souls who have fallen do not seem to have the strength or courage to get up again and choose to live in sin _ making peace with devils rather than peace with God.
Rather than be at constant war with devils all too many souls choose to be at constant war with God.
While the side of the devils may look enticing from the limited viewpoint of time and space in this world, it takes on a most hideous and repulsive view from eternity.
So we must constantly strive to broaden our myopic view of spirituality so that we can encompass the larger and true view of God.
We are not made for this world, or for ourselves or anyone else in this world, nor for the devils and hell. We are made only for God. Our sole purpose in this world is to give honor and glory to God by knowing, loving, and serving Him and then, enjoying His presence for all of eternity in the next world.
The devils, the world, and our own passions constantly fight and are at war against God and therefore our souls.
And today we witness the persistence and tenacity of these devils in their struggles against God. They hate God and will continue to do so for all of eternity. There is no changing them nor is there any hope for them. Their hatred for God inspires in them a most profound hatred for us who are made in the image and likeness of God. And if we strive to increase or improve this image and likeness of God in ourselves they will hate us even more.
And so we witness that the majority of the world that offers no resistance to the devils never appear to suffer these attacks. Those whom the devils see are securely on the way to Hell, or those who are blindly following the masses into Hell, need not be attacked. They are already destroying the image and likeness of God in themselves. The devils just lull them into a demonic lethargy with all the fleeting joys and pleasures that this world has to offer. It is only after they leave this world for Hell that the devils will stop deceiving them. Then their eyes are opened to see the folly of their ways, but it will be too late.
But, for those who fight and struggle against themselves, the world and the devils, they are under a constant attack from these devils. The one that left and the seven more that are worse than him are doing everything they can to regain entrance into this soul. The higher that we ascend spiritually the more violently the devils attack and the closer to the end of our lives here on earth the greater the attacks become as the devils do not wish to miss any opportunity to steal another soul from God.
The intensity of this war only increases as we make progress in the spiritual life. But, lest we become despondent or discouraged by the struggle, we must also consider that as we make progress in the spiritual life we become stronger and God's graces within us prepare us and strengthen us for the battle.
Relying upon ourselves we are doomed but trusting in God, the Blessed Mother, the saints and angels and the Sacraments and Sacramentals of the Church we are more than sufficiently armed to succeed in the battle.
Though our weakness is profound we must take courage in the fact that God is superior and He will win the war. In the times of weariness or temptations let us recall the words of Our Lord: "My grace is sufficient for Thee". And let us recall with St. Paul that we can do all things in Him who strengthens us.
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