St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be out 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 about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Strategy number one: St. Michael Prayer. He is the Prince of the Heavenly Host and has been known to defeat devils before. Memorize it and whip it out when in need. Now, on to more particulars.
The Devil is predictable. For this reason, St. Paul says we can create counter-strategies to help us protect our joy.
And we do this so that we may not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.2 Corinthians 2:11
In this case, the best offense is a good defense. The devil is always the offender in this war. To win, we simply have to resist his temptations to sadness and despair. Therefore, our strategies will always be responses to his attacks.
Throughout the centuries, Saints have developed techniques to help the Soldiers of Christ persevere in joy. The best way to make the devil flee is to give him the opposite of what he wants. Here are a few examples.
Rejoice and Give Thanks!
When the devil attacks with fear or sadness or dejection, we must remember our focus and turn the opposite way. Look for reasons to be joyful.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
St. Paul promises that whatever happens is the Will of God for us and that there are always reasons to rejoice. Finding them becomes a great game of “I Spy”. If we see nothing in the present, look to the past and remember His good gifts. The devil encourages us to lose faith. Ignore him and learn to trust God more and more.
Once we spy the good gifts, let us thank God profusely. St. Therese of Lisieux taught her sister Celine, “When we show our gratitude for these new gifts, He multiplies His benedictions to such a degree that there seems to be a constant stream of divine grace ever coming our way.” That is the best way to repay the devil’s temptations.
St. Jean-Marie Vianney’s home was infested by the devil. To show how little he feared, the priest would call the devil names and ridicule his wiles. “It is very silly of the devil,” he would say, “to make such a fuss when a great sinner is about to come for Confession.” This gave him time to prepare to welcome the penitent with joy! As one biographer, Fr. George Rutler, put it, Vianney had found “the subtlest and most violent theology of all: ridicule is one affliction that makes the angel of pride feel like hell.”
In our own lives, a laugh is the perfect way to rouse our better senses. The devil will tempt us to hide weakness or protect our pride. He will discourage good deeds, but he will always overstep himself. (Once, I started worrying when preparing for a retreat and was tempted to lose my peace. I had to laugh instead. What did he think I would do? Cancel my flight five hours before my trip? Haha! I went and had a wonderful time!) Just get perspective, and a laugh will follow.
Tell a Friend
Sometimes, the best way to get perspective is to tell a friend. Our Drill Sergeant, St. Ignatius of Loyola, provides fourteen Rules for the Discernment of Spirits, which give wonderful insight into the ways of the devil and the best methods of resistance. In the Thirteenth Rule, St. Ignatius compares the devil to a lustful man who tries to seduce a woman. He insists on secrecy and hopes to shame her into silence. The woman needs only to tell her father, and the bad man will flee.
In the same way… when one reveals [the temptations] to his good Confessor or to another spiritual person that knows his deceits and evil ends, it is very grievous to him, because he gathers… that he will not be able to succeed with his wickedness begun.Thirteenth Rule of St. Ignatius of Loyola
To be continued…
That gives us some strategies to launch us into the New Year. Keep practicing. It’s fun! We’ll pick up with some more strategies for Spiritual Warfare next week.