Spiritual Warfare

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.”  1 Peter 5:7-9

This scripture is at the end of the monastic compline. It is a call to the Brothers to always be on guard. For those that dont know, there are 7 liturgical hours to the day, Compline completes the day, where in the Monks/Nuns have prayed the psalsm and readings through the day  (More of Catholics not being deep in scripture…I digress). When the Compline is complete, the brothers will approach Father Abbot, and he will bless them before they retire into the Great Silence..which happens just before sleep time.

Sleep Time. That’s when we are most vulnerable to oppression. Sleep can be more then the physical act of resting though. I would argue right now, the world is very much asleep. We turn a blind eye to our fellow man. We parade mediocrity for leadership, and are complacent with moral relativism, accepting everyone on their own terms..rather then aspiring mankind to reach the glory that God the Father intended for us.

 

This past weekend at mass, we heard the reading of Jesus at Capernaum. Capernaum was a cultural center for the Jewish people, and it had a marvelous Synagogue. It truly was an epicenter of the Rabbinic Jewish movement that would replace the more temple based Judaism of the day. In the reading, he banishes a demon

In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.

36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.” Luke 4:33-37

Even demons recognize the authority of Christ. Because he is more then man… he is God in the person of the Son.  Father then went on to share an experience with us of his own spiritual awareness. The devil HATES that God can relieve us of our burden of sin, and will do everything in his power to deceive and destroy. He can make something something seem beautiful, perfect or right… when all the while it is leading us to damnation.

Sometimes… Life is hard, and the Message of the Cross is this is not the end for us.. but simply a beginning to an end. However, life’s struggles can weigh us down to the point of complacency and often ignorance. That is when we are most vulnerable. Just like in warfare, often the element of surprise can be vital, so too our Enemy uses that against us, and before we know it… we have gotten ourselves in a mess that snowballs into despair of God’s mercy.. which is right where Satan wants us. His greatest hate of us…is that WE are made in the image and likeness of God. So he prods…pries, corrupts us until we either hate our Maker… or are unrecognizable….even unto ourselves.

Now more then ever we are in a situation in life..in this world…where we need to be Sober and Ready. Our Enemy is working over time. Dont believe me?  Watch the news… Follow our government..  Be aware of the people around you..and the little things they might do or say.

There is hope though. That hope begins with trusting in Gods mercy above all else.  Often we westerners get into the rut of Cause Effect in our understanding of the relationship… but really…  its all effect, an effect of mercy. Trust in that mercy, and eventually all will be made right in the world.

Some of us are into “Pre Lent”… That might be Cheesefare and Meat Fare sundays… That might be Septuagesima and Sextuagesima Sundays..

Some might be thinking about lent, and what we might give up .

All of us will embark on a time and journey that will either make or break us.. and hopefully prepare us for easter. This is when we are vulnerable the most, so we need to be watchful and ready, and our eyes Fixed on going up the hill.

St Michael Defend us in Battle.

 

 

Ecce Agnus Dei – Behold the Lamb of God.

Many people know that the last 10 years of my life haven’t been without trials. Needless to say, it certainly has spiked and plummeted my faith. I have in the past 4 years, gone through 2 major life changes.

All the while… I kept looking for Him – Sometimes to find someone to just hold me, others… so I could give him a piece of my mind. I have been at times angry…desperate, and indifferent…often all the same time.

There was even a period where I wondered into the Orthodox Church. See, Im very much a structure person. When I get scared, I default to “procedure”. Procedure is safe.. its predictable… But Procedure doesn’t work with faith. Faith is unpredictable. Faith ISNT safe, at all. It can be down right terrifying for a person like me.. the simple fact that I DON’T have all the answers.

I often think that’s why many people go here… or go there. We have thousands of denominations, and every last one of them goes back to someone who thought he had the right answer.

Often we aren’t looking for the answers we seek.. we are looking for the confirmation of the answers we tell ourselves. So, we go where the answer makes the “most sense”…rather then where the answer is most accurate –  then we claim we have found our home. Why not?  Here is where it makes sense. Here is where it becomes easy. Here is where its “safe”.

I’ve always found eastern thought fascinating. It is on surface, less rigid then Western so called “legalism”. But scratch the surface, and there are incredible insecurities. Rigidness that is designed to desperately confirm ones place rather then necessarily allow the vulnerability that leads to the Dark Night of the soul… that point where all seems dark, and bleak..except He who comes.

Today, mass was at St Barnabas. It was in the Novus ordo, or  “New Order” of mass (as are many Roman Catholic Parishes these days), but with an out of the “Ordinary” kick, it was Celebrated Ad Orientem – Facing east.. Which.. with the orientation of Churches.. is designed to also Face us “Ad Deum” or  “Towards God”.

The ancient tradition of building churches, positioned them this way, to remind us that Christ, is the Rising of the Sun on the New Day, and also calls to mind the Ressurection, the Dawn of the new day. Over the years, both Eastern and Western Churches would build towards this direction – How We pray, is how we believe after all. This causes one perfect thing – We are ALL worshiping together in unison at that point, and being lead by the Priest..the presider of the liturgy, who offers sacrifice.. The Lamb, on ours and his behalf.

I have never lost faith. I can honestly say this. But I will honestly equate myself to Peter. When Peter denied Jesus… he hadnt lost faith.. BUT he had lied to himself as to what that faith was… and who it was in . Likewise.. Often and lately my faith has been lukewarm. Often..my own inequities.,..and my own failings.. have forced me back into a Dark night of the soul.. where the only thing causing me to hang on to my God…was that small light.

Our church has its issues right now, and it can be very easy to Fight or Flight. Many sadly, have a flight mentality.  Yet, there is also a solid group of “fighters” who want their answer, to be the right answer. IN reality…  the true answer is with Peace and acceptance, acceptance of where you are, and WHOSE presence you are in.

Years ago… I was in a similar “flight”. I had delved into Gnostic writings.,.. under the misguided belief that I WOULD FIND THE ANSWER.. Because I “Was smart” I told myself.. In my arrogance, I believed that I would find the answers others couldn’t. I was wrong… and it stared me in the face. This Mosaic Above… 

 

 

“This is my Beloved Son, in Him I am well pleased”

 

The words we here are from the Father. We hear them twice in Holy Scripture – Both at the Baptism of the Lord by his cousin John, and the Transfiguration on mount tabor.  IN both instances… people were thinking they had the answers already. Some Thought John was the messiah. In the case of the transfiguration, the Apostles thought they knew Jesus’s mission.

In Both cases…God set everyone straight. This wasnt a warrior.. this wasnt a king in the earthly sense. This WAS IS and ALWAYS will be the Son of God.

At Holy Mass… we hear the words  “Behold the Lamb of God”.. each and every time the sacrifice is offered. These are also the words of John the Baptist in Today’s reading… as he tells Andrew and others to follow a new teacher…  “Behold him who takes away the sins of the world”.

Ironically, father’s Homily was about people who go all over searching.. trying to find the answers.. and its always staring them right in the face. Behold the Lamb of God  – THIS IS MY SON. The words coursed through my body like a tidal wave.

It doesnt matter that I am scared.. or confused. There are constants. JESUS is always in the Eucharist.. and he is always in the Tabernacle.. waiting for me. The Lamb of God.. isnt bound or affected by the confusion of the world right now, Let alone my own insecurities.

 

 

That in itself.. is a beautiful process and procedure. Jesus is always there..and there is true safety in that.. and true consistency. I was humbled.. I was moved… and I was confirmed..not because I was certain..but because He is certain. Jesus Christ, Yesterday, Today, and Forever.