Spiritual Warfare and our Allies

Lately, I’ve found myself talking about this alot, and not just my own personal battles, but the concept as a whole. Its probably fitting these thoughts have come to light around the feast of the ArchAngels,  Gabriel (God is my Strength), Michael (Who is like God), and Raphael (God is my Healer) – Also until the new Calendar we also honored Uriel (God is my light) – He is often depicted Blind, as he is an Angel of Justice as well (I digress, there are also 3 other Chief Angels… Who I dont need to go into as they are more apocryphal then based in sacred tradition).

These Angels, and all Angels were created first. They were there to sing the praises of God for all eternity. It was generally a Job they liked, I imagine. Really, they had no choice. Where as angels have the ability to make decisions just like us, they also are made to be messengers, where as man per the Baltimore Catechism, was made “To Know God”. Those are two very different existences.

When we were first created, God made us in His Image… He also made the angels bow down and worship the first man. This is what caused the war in heaven. One Angel, ironically the brightest, most beautiful star in the Heaven, made first amongst the angels, could not bring himself to do this. Remember, angels are made with a nature to obey; Even though they can make decisions, it is in their nature to follow the divine will. This is what led to Satan/Lucifer’s corruption. Because his very nature was to obey, the moment he went contrary to this, he ceased to be the Angel of Pure Light, and instead began to reflect his own hatred, jealousy, and disobedience. Ultimately,  he was still subject to God..and for an untold amount of years.. this has continually corrupted him, so much so that per scripture he was able to take a third of heaven with him.

It goes without saying, this is a serious deal. We are caught in the middle. God’s greatest achievement was Man. We are able to make a choice. We can freely choose Gods love,  or we can go against that. Unfortunately, this paints a giant target on us as well. Since the very beginning, the Enemy has taken delight in our fall, for in his mind.. when he corrupts or destroys us.. he is lashing back at his old boss, a great cosmic, spiritual “gotcha”

Paul reminds us we are in spiritual warfar – Eph 6:10-20 says

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

Powerful words, from someone himself who was tormented. He reminds us who is mightier. NOW, where do the angels come in?  Scripture also tells us “He has given his angels charge over you, to watch you and guide you in all of your ways” – Simply put, the angels who are mighty, fight for us constantly, and yes, even against other angels.

Its fitting that Strength, likeness to God, and the Healing of God, come into play here. To Fight you need Strength, You need to Fight For/With the right person, and you need good support. All of those are perfectly represented in those angels. Those three have had direct interaction/protection of Humanity since the beginning, and as such are particularly powerful allies.

Finally, angels help remind us of our place in the cosmos – Our Place is only slightly better then their’s. But we all are under the same God, which means, we all are fighting the same battle

Years ago, I met a very wonderful Rabbi, whom Im still friends with. I attended a memorial service he presided over, and at that Service  He began our prayer with a a musical arrangment of the following –

“In the name of Adonai the God of Israel:
May the angel Michael be at my right,
and the angel Gabriel be at my left;
and in front of me the angel Uriel,
and behind me the angel Raphael…
and above my head the Sh’khinah”

Pretty simple. Regardless of whats going on around us, good or bad, God (Sh’khinah, or  “The Glory of God”), is always around us, and above. Nothing is mightier. As long as we remember that, then the enemy has no power, and we are powerless without calling on that name. We are stronger then the devil could ever be, when we are armed with the Power Of God, the trick is remembering that.

Pray Hope and Dont worry (Gimme my Rosary beads BACK!)

I had almost forgotten to  – Today is the Feast of one of my most favorite Saints, St Pio, AKA Padre Pio.

He was a Franciscan (cap) Friar who live in Italy in the last century. He was a Mystic, Prophet, and most notably, a Stigmatic. He bore the wounds of Our Savior, and they caused him much pain, most particularly when he would celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, or on Good Friday.

People would come from all around for his counsel, because he was a VERY noticably holy Man. The Smell of Hyacinths would emit from his wounds. This man, before he died, was already a living saint.

Once a nun stole his rosary. Its one of the few material goods a Friar will keep. He chased her down, and when he caught up he scolded her “Why would you do such a thing sister?”, her Response “Father forgive me… I just wanted a Relic of a Holy Man” – His response ” Sister, go and make your own relics”, as he held her hands gently, and blessed her and let her on her way.

We are all called to Sanctity, to Sainthood, to be among the elect. We DO NOT attain this in our lifetime. So if you hear someone refer to “The Saints” when they preach, that’s getting a head of themselves a bit. This life, is a period to perfect ourselves… to earnestly seek the Lord.. and worry for nothing else.

In the End.. the truly holy people living, didnt worry about anything, because they knew they could pray, hope, and not worry. Each of us is called to make our own relics, and one day…we Like Pio, will share in the Beatific Vision, and stand forever in the awesomeness of our God

 

St Pio, Pray for us!

A Merton Compline

A Merton compline. I absolutely love Merton. I relate alot to him..including his own internal warfare with his personal imperfections. I try to remember him in my prayers that his stay in purgatory might be lessened.

The Lenten prayer for this week is written by Trappist monk Thomas Merton. It is from from Thoughts in Solitude (1958)

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that, if I do this,
You will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone

Prosperity Gospel… The Pharisees are still in the Cotton.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.”  John 9:1-7

Lately Ive really been thinking of the real problem with the “prosperity gospel”. More… How can it exist, when the above scripture flies in the face of it? This is a problem that has crept up in Christianity the last 50 or so years. It was birthed in the non denominational pentecostalism of the late 19th century, and it flourished in the advent of evangelicalism. However, it goes much further back.

As we can see in the scriptures, its routed in fundamentalism. We try to explain the why’s to our lives. If we fail, surely God must be angry. Truly, he seemed in the Old Testament, to be a vengeful God, who would match eye for eye our transgressions. But Jesus changed all that.

The God in the old testament, was dealing with a stiff necked people whose “Hearts had turned to stone”…  Its amazing any of them survived at all,  (especially that period after the 1st and Second Judges, I digress) – Time and time again, till they lost their land, kingdom and temple, the people of God were Disciplined.

God showed and desires mercy though, not sacrifice. The sacrificial act of Calvary, forever set a different standard. God Became man, and shared all our weakness including death (with the exception of sin). We now could totally relate to our God, and we had the ultimate atonement for our sins. So the game changed. It was no longer Eye for an Eye..  But, just like we are to love our enemies, God Loves us even when we sin –

Are we disciplined yes. Do bad things happen though solely because of some sin. No. Thats not how God works. We aren’t punished in a temporal way for sins. Sin is a separation from God’s love and mercy. That in itself, can be punishment enough.

Christ came to show the world mercy, the cross itself is mercy. Our Faith, is based on the fact that “God so Loved the world, that he Gave us his only Son, so that all who believe might not perish but have eternal life” – So it takes me back that the VERY DENOMINATIONS THAT LEAD WITH THIS VERSE (see fundamentalism, evangelicalism, pentecostalism), embrace prosperity Gospel, which either shows itself in the more classical  “Health and Wealth approach” (God favors you..thats why you prosper), or in its more sinister form , God is angry… so he chastises you”. Neither of these are very true, if you read this Scripture.

So the next time you see yourself thinking, I messed up,,, thats why my life is bad, rather then fall into the Prosperity Gospel Heresy (in any form), rather remember the Blind Man and Jesus. The man was Blind, so that God’s glory can be manifest. Everyone of our trials as mortals, can be an opportunity. We might not even be healed, but our steadfastness in itself, can be a remarkable witness in itself.

Bottom line, God Loves us. Anything that ever hints that he doesnt, is not what the Man taught on earth. Those are pharisees, who are so caught up in the letter of the law, that they have forgotten the core of the Law. God is Love.

“Where Charity and Love abide, There, God is Found

 

Vigilance

1 Peter 5:8-9New International Version (NIV)

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith,because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Recently, I got news of yet another past childhood friend who is now dead. He had his past issues with drugs, and addiction. He was not the first I have seen this happened to. He wasn’t the first person I have seen lost to it, and he won’t be the last.

Walking around, if we keep our eyes open, we can see a lot of “tweakers” about, those who are obviously looking for the next fix, that next high to get them through their troubles. Troubles. Things they think are unbearable, that they need to escape from it.

Then there are those who we don’t even know are struggling with an addiction. It might be to gaming, it might be to alcohol, gambling, promiscuity. The root is always the same. There is a need to escape the world around them, which can often seem dark and uninviting.

In the past century, we have increasingly forgotten about the presence of our Enemy in the world. Its no surprise that he has become more present, and I firmly believe the rise in mental disturbances, addictions, wars is a result of this, especially addictions. Every addict I have known, there has definitely been an eery presence of oppression there. The very nature of the vice, whether its alcohol, drugs, whatever, seems to destroy not only the body, but also the very soul of the person. Body and soul are intertwined.

We are made in the image and likeness of God  (Gen 1:26) and are “Temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 6:19) – In short, we are the biggest target of the enemy. We Resemble in a physical form, what the Word Incarnate, the son of man, looked like. Satan is keen to see us corrupted, because it spits back at the God he rejected, and to his conscious validates his  “Non Serviam!” (as opposed to Mary’s Fiat). All of us have value in that. All of us are in God’s image, which puts us first in Creation, even above the angels.

I think this is why those things, destroy people the way they do. They are sick spiritually. They have the Enemy in their ear.. telling them God doesn’t care, that they aren’t good enough, that they aren’t valued, but we were bought and paid for (1 Corinthians 7:23-25), and most importantly, we are children of the Almighty, not bound to yet another one of his creations.

We need to remember though, even Satan can appear as an angel of light. The very name “Lucifer”, means “Brilliant” or “Beautiful”, and as such, he can be seductive, and persuasive. The devil doesn’t always come with horns and pitchfork. Sometimes he comes in the form of that next drink.. or that next fix. I think in a very real way, given the rising heroine epidemic, he comes in the form of that needle, and offers not life, but poison to people. Poison that destroys their very soul.

I was pretty down yesterday over it – Honestly, I hadnt talked to the person in years… But looking through the pictures he had as of late.. and talking with a friend, this wasn’t the person I knew. The Same can be said about the others too. How deep the oppression was, that they could go from the brilliant, life filled people I knew, to where they ended up. It’s hard to deal with, but as with any problem, we cant properly deal with it, or fix it, without finding a root cause.

Yes, man makes his own choices, but He always has. But Satan has always worked to influence those choices.  He did everything he could to make the Christ despair… Do you think you are any greater of a challenge in that?

So, I think the scripture above is relevant. “Be alert and of Sober Mind” – We haven’t been, we have been drunk with the secularism of the world, so much so, that we have ignored Who is truly set out to destroy it, and he is using us to do his dirty work.

The Prayer to St Michael, Now more than ever, is needed. I will find comfort in praying it today and every day, and especially after mass as our parish always does as a whole.

“Saint Michael Archangel,
defend us in battle,
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil;
may God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God, cast into hell
Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen”

Grey havens. Why does the world suck. 

Sometimes… The best advice comes from the source.

One day.. all will be perfected. Silver glass.. all ships pass into the west.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

Romans 8:18‭-‬21 NIV

http://bible.com/111/rom.8.18-21.NIV

Attainability – A brief bit of thought on St Teresa of calcutta

As I sit here, on the eve of the canonization (or day of… depending on where you are), I am lost in contemplating the kind of woman Teresa was –

In case you lived under a rock, or are just too young, she was perhaps one of the most prolific people of the 20th century. She provided as part of her ministry, a much needed dignity to those who are often over looked, the sick and dying. Every where she went, she was able to ignite in people the Love of Jesus, and was instrumental in many conversions.

Needless to say, she was “fast-tracked” to canonization. This wasnt by chance, or a conspiracy or anything like that. Her life, was a living testament of what it means to be a Christian. Perhaps the greatest example of that, was her own struggle.

Often.. we get this idea of Saints being Other Worldly. Sure, we hear about people like St Pio… Or St Benedict who performed wonders. Mother Teresa didn’t perform miracles, unless you consider her work in itself.. a supreme manifestation of the Divine Presence.. The Love transcending all love.

I know she also struggled with her own faith – We forget often, these Saints.. These Holy Men and Women.. were first, men and women just like us. She would often describe how she felt alone, and at times, even questioned His Presence. In a lot of ways, this is relatable, as we all constantly are in a struggle to find God.. to know him, in his fullness.

I think there in lies the problem though, we are incapable of knowing him in his fullness – But we can catch glimpses of him. Whether it’s in the Burning bush of Sinai.. the Whispering Wind, The Most Holy Sacrament, or in the simple acts of kindness (of which St Teresa made her life’s work), there are constant conduits to the Divine, opportunities for us, even for a brief second, to know God.

mother-teresa-of-calcutta-to-be-made-saint-vaticanSt Teresa Reminds us all, that no matter where wecame from or confronted with, he is always there, even when we think he isn’t… He’s there, constantly inviting us to be close, and perhaps listen

 

 

 

St Teresa, Pray for us.