Friday, November 22, 2019

The Devil is in the Details

The Devil is in the details, they say. He sure is. It's why we confess our sins in kind and in number, because the Devil is in the details of our life. He inserts himself into the very particulars of life. He inserts himself into the particular jealousies, particular lusts, particular angers, particular vanities. He's not vague. He's in the details. He's in particular places and particular situations. Evil wants to ruin particular persons, particular virtues, particular institutions, and particular relationships. He's in the details. 

The Evil One seeks to destroy particular goods. There is a meticulous viciousness to his warfare. He's not trying to randomly and sporadically cause problems. He's engaged in an epic battle to destroy vocations, destroy souls, and to destroy the Church. He's tireless and he's detail oriented. He's in the details.

Sometimes, if we're not careful, we can be drawn into one of his traps. He leads us unawares into the snare. We see this in the Church all the time. He turns brother against brother, sister against sister. His ways are cunning. He allows one person to wound another, then he convinces the other to retaliate, and then that one to retaliate. And in this way, he takes the beauty of the communion of the Church and twists it into a battle of factions. He sows suspicion, deception, and viciousness among the Church's members. And he convinces each one that if he or she does not retaliate against the evil perpetrated, then the others are "getting away with it." He hands out the weapons of this world to us, weapons like vengeance, vanity, and gossip. He supplies us with the arms and sends us off to destroy each other. The Devil gleefully provides us with weapons that are powerful enough to destroy each other, so that we don't take up the weapons that are sufficient to defeat him.

In the midst of this kind of evil, one has to remember something important: The Devil is in the details. He is at work wherever communion is attacked, wounded, or severed. In these moments, it is so important to remember that the true enemy is not our brothers and sisters--no matter how much they have wounded us. The true enemy is the Devil. And the only way to defeat the Devil is to put on Christ. It is to refuse to play the Devil's game. Victory is found--hard as it seems to do--in laying down the devil's weapons and taking up the Cross of Christ. It is to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. It is indeed a painful price to pay. But, it is the only way to win.

The way to defeat the Devil and his malice is to turn to Jesus. To win the battle, we must all be willing to humble ourselves, confess our sins, and to love each other. The details have to be surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Devil takes grotesque pleasure in turning Pope against cardinals and cardinals against pope. He takes grotesque pleasure in turning Bishop against priest and priest against priest. He takes grotesque pleasure in turning clergy against laity and husband against wife. And when we are wounded, we are all too susceptible of enlisting into his army of hatred. 

True victory does not come from defeating those who have hurt us. True victory comes from defeating the Evil One. And we as Catholics know that that victory happens only upon the Cross of Jesus Christ. When confronted by the Devil in the details of our life, let us not become his enslaved soldiers, fighting against one another at his command. 

                                                      Rather, we should 

"be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,"(Eph 6:10-18).

Making supplication for ALL the saints. Even those who have wounded us. Especially those who have wounded us. This is how we defeat our common Enemy. Let's remember who the real enemy is.

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