THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
Third Sunday in Lent
4 March 2018
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The seven devils along with the first present to us a fullness or completion. God finished His work of creation in six days and He rested on the seventh. There is a corresponding set of virtues and vices. The devils come each representing a vice that is opposed to one of the virtues of the Holy Ghost. The goal of the devils is to lead us to this point of completeness in sin, and this is opposed to the Will of God to lead us to the completion of virtue.
Nothing stained can enter the Kingdom of Heaven. To enter into Heaven, we must be free from every evil and filled with every virtue. The contrary may be said of the kingdom of Satan. Those in Hell are devoid of any good and are filled with every evil. The virtues are all connected so that as we advance in any one of them we also advance in all the others. The principle virtue is Charity or Love. If we obtain perfect Charity we will have obtained all the virtues and will be in Heaven.
Charity is the main virtue that the demons are set out to destroy in us. However, they do not need to attack this main virtue all the time. The devils reach their goal just the same by assaulting any of the other virtues. Just as we advance in all the virtues together, we likewise fail in all the virtues at the same time. God advances us in one or the other particular virtues that we are naturally inclined towards and thus draws us ever closer to the perfection of Charity. The Devils advance in us one or other of the particular vices that we are naturally inclined towards and thus draw us ever closer to the loss of all virtues, but especially that of Charity.
While we are on this earth we are in constant struggle or fluctuation. We are not completely good, nor or we completely bad. We advance or we decline, there is no maintaining of any one particular state. If we advance in grace and strengthen our souls, the demons send forth even stronger temptations to assault us. If we are not guarding and protecting our souls with constant vigilance, we will lose all that has been built up. The most common attack upon those who have advanced in virtue is the vice of pride. Just like the Pharisees, we are easily brought down through the pride of appearing to be good or holy. Outwardly we have the appearances of spiritual life, but inwardly pride has destroyed everything. We become "whited sepulchers" clean and pretty on the outside, but inside filled with corruption, decay, and death.
Those who are not advancing in the virtues often are not assaulted by the devils. They are already safely on the path into the kingdom of Hell, and so are left in a kind of "peace." This is a false sense of peace and is probably better described as indifference or mediocrity, which ultimately leads to the loss of all virtue. They do not experience the motions of grace as they have no real desire for these either. "I would that you were hot or cold, but because you are lukewarm, I will vomit you out of My mouth."
However, those who find themselves bound up in the snares of devils with great vices, often experience the assault of angels. Just as the devils attack greatest those who are nearest to entering Heaven and they pull out every weapon to prevent this soul from making it into Paradise so God, when He sees those on the brink of destruction sends in His army and graces to save this soul from eternal destruction. Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more. There is more rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner that does penance than over ninety-nine just who have no need of penance. The blackest of souls, He can make as white as snow.
The devils put forth their greatest effort where God's grace is greatest, and God puts forth His greatest effort where sin is greatest. This is a battle for our souls and we find the greatest action nearest the borders of each kingdom. As we advance in age or draw closer to our entry into eternity, we should expect the struggles to become ever more intense. The outcome of this war is in our own hands. It is we who choose either to advance in the direction of virtue or to draw back into the vices of sin. We often waver back and forth our entire lives, rather than make a determined effort in one direction or the other. This, however, leads most souls into indifference and final damnation. We must choose virtue and seek to advance in grace day by day, knowing that the nearer we draw to Jesus the greater we will be assaulted by temptations, but that with the temptation comes the grace to resist and overcome. We must fight the good fight.
We must not ever despair of our souls or those of our loved ones. God wills our salvation and He will do all that that He can to save us from Hell. However, we must not become presumptuous expecting that at the last moment we will then cooperate with grace. It is said that those who play with fire will be burned. Those who flirt with the devils and make a habit of following them rather than resisting them will most likely continue this habit in the end. This Lenten Season, may we all seek to develop and advance in the habit of virtue through penance and mortification of our unruly senses and passions.
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