We Have An Enemy & It's Not Each Other
By Lisa D'Souza
This post is inspired by the book “Searching for and Maintaining Peace” and is written by Fr. Jacques Philippe
You are more powerful than you know. Your virtue and your soul terrifies the enemy, the devil. He will stop at nothing and the first thing he attacks is our peace of heart. “Very frequently, spiritual combat consists precisely in this: defending one’s peace of heart against the enemy who attempts to steal it from us…The devil does his utmost to banish peace from one’s heart, because he knows that God abides in peace and it is in peace that He accomplishes great things” (Fr. Jacques Philippe). Here is how the devil attacks us.
Whose voice am I listening to?
Discernment is so important – the Holy spirit always brings calm, peace and gentleness but anxiety, discouragement and fear are brought by the enemy. In every instance, test the voice you are hearing in prayer and the decision you are making. Does it create peace or anxiety in your heart? God’s peace is still and strong – pray for guidance and for clarity. He will grant you wisdom if you ask for it and pay attention to the movements of your soul for He will answer you. If a decision or voice inspires you to do the right thing, grow in virtue, and be confident in God then it is of God. If a decision or voice confuses you or makes you afraid, distasteful, lazy or slow to do the right thing, we can be sure it is from the devil. Push those stirrings of the soul aside and stay vigilant to what brings peace, joy and truth.
When you are close to God, the devil will do all that he can to discourage you, make you question yourself, and leave you in despair and fear over your life and decisions. The devil hates our free will and will do all that he can to tell us how terrible we are and that we could never be worthy receive God’s Mercy. When we stew in discouragement over our flaws, it is not only because we are angry we offended God but “because the ideal image of ourselves has been brutally shaken!” (Philippe). Our pride is wounded because we put our trust in ourselves so we experience pain over our flaws because we made ourselves gods. The devil wants us to think we are falsely humble by making us think that we are too unworthy of mercy but that is truly pride because we are limiting God’s mercy and empowering our sin. The solution is total abandonment to God. Give God your sins and your mess in humility. The sign of spiritual growth is not about never falling but it’s about getting up quickly after you fall. We must aim to remember that we are not perfect. We will fall. When we do fall it is important to pick ourselves up and try again because “the first goal of spiritual combat … is not to always obtain a victory (over our temptations, our weaknesses, etc.), rather it is to learn to maintain peace of heart under all circumstances, even in the case of defeat. It is only in this way that we can pursue the other goal, which is the elimination of our failures, our faults, our imperfections and sins” (Philippe). Do not be discouraged. Dust yourself off and try again. Endure and persist every day.
However, when someone is far away from God, the devil conceals himself in glamorous, worldly things and makes the person feel “tranquilized” in a false sense of serenity as they consume themselves with temporary fixes that leaves them paralyzed (Philippe). God will then trouble their hearts so that they can then reevaluate their life and see what will bring true, lasting peace. God desires our true freedom and He will bring us to repentance by causing us to re-think our choices. Be patient with yourself. God will bring the truth to light - all you have to do is ask.
Does God actually want what’s best for me?
The devil will make us doubt that God has the best interest for us in mind. “In an effort to prevent us from abandoning ourselves to God, the devil causes us to imagine that if we put everything in God’s hands, God will effectively take everything and ‘ruin’ everything in our lives!” (Philippe). This terrifies us and makes us question God’s providence and goodness which is exactly what the devil wants. The devil used the same tactic with Adam and Eve in the garden with the fruit. Do not be paralyzed by this lie and don’t fall into his trap. God loves us deeply. He wants us to have an attitude of detachment but He will not take everything! He will give us the desires of our hearts and will fulfill our longings. That might involve loss and detachment but God will give us the needed strength to endure if we stay confident in His will for our lives.
Take courage! You are a warrior and you can win. Stay strong and hold onto the truth that you are the Beloved. With You, He is well pleased. We are praying for you on your journey.
Further reading suggestion:
Screw tape Letters by C.S Lewis