Let yourself be rescued
The third week of Lent begins and the ‘giving up’ may be tougher than planned! Giving up social media, taking on cold showers, perhaps learning to play board games again…hopefully Lent will bring a change in lifestyle that is life-changing. Our lifestyle conditions both our bodies and our psyche to conform to the media, entertainment, technology, food, and whatever else we take in. We instead want our humanity to conform to Christ.
Satan knows this, of course. He will work extra hard to make you believe you are a failure. Working in the imagination and memory of our minds, he can place thoughts into our psyche that distort our perception of a situation or relationship, of our own identity, beauty and worthiness, or tempt us towards the bad then inflame with shame for having the thought. He can also flood the mind with thought attacks, which are ideas that just won’t stop. These can be small whispers in the back of the mind that continually denigrate your worthiness, or an onslaught of thoughts pounding the brain. Sometimes it can feel like a cloud of deep doom has come over you while at other times like an army stomping on your soul. Separately, or along with these, he can create a sense of doom or desolation that overwhelms like a smog.
He also can work in our body or the natural world around us. How often have you begun praying with full health and energy, only to have sleepiness hit so hard that your eyes will not stay open? Or perhaps in the middle of prayer you are overtaken by such hunger that you are sure you cannot continue? Pushing through these moments, once prayer is completed have you noticed that the severity of the drowsiness or hunger is gone? What caused it to spike so suddenly and unexpectedly? You may have had unwanted help from our enemy! To overcome his wily ways, remember the three “R’s”:
Recognize it in the moment
Begin with the body: is it tense or relaxed? Is your body temperature calm, cold or flushed? Then the thoughts: what is present? What is absent? Fear, anger, anxiety, judgementalism, negativity vs. compassion, kindness, understanding…how did these change from moments ago? Is your attitude one of hope or is it the universal negative (it’s always been this way and always will be)? Did your emotions suddenly heighten? Did the spiritual ‘climate’ in the room change? It may present a heightened state of urgency, that you must act now to do or say something (remember nothing is urgent if it doesn’t require a 911 phone call!). These may also be constant thoughts desiring self-gratification by food, drink, Internet use and social media.
Reject the lie
Memorizing a verse from Sacred Scripture is your weapon sheathed at your side. Pay attention to your thoughts so that as soon as you realize the ‘story’ taking place, you can counter it by replacing those lies with God’s Truth. “Oh God, come to my assistance; Oh Lord, make haste to help me” (Ps 69:2) is an ancient cry from the creature to its Creator. Finally, don’t forget your guardian angel does more than just guard you. He enlightens, rules and guides. Give him permission to rule over you and ask him to put God’s words into your thoughts instead of the enemy’s. We have the beautiful duty to follow our angel because God has given him to us as part of our providential plan.
Repent: Turn to God with a contrite heart
The entire Trinity exists in the name of Jesus; this is why His is the most powerful name in the heavens, on earth and below the earth (Phil 2:9-10). When praying the Jesus Prayer, His name is in our mind and heart, not the wiles of Satan. Thus, we hold the entire Trinity in our heart. Make this a never-ending script in your mind:
Lord Jesus Christ,
son of the Living God,
have mercy on me a sinner.
Seem too simple? God is simple; Truth is simple; Love is simple; be like God.
Then profess truths of God’s love for you. The Holy Spirit is in your soul already praying unceasingly. Ask Him to give you the language of love and then speak.
Make a virtuous act: pray for someone who has asked you for prayer, or ask God to take the grace of your suffering to whoever needs it most in this moment. Always remember that He permits this for the exercise of rejecting Satan and turning to Him. This is ‘food’ for your future conversations with Him in your mental prayer time.
A saint once asked Jesus why he permitted the attacks. Jesus responded that it gave opportunity for Him to rescue her. For the remainder of Lent, give up stoic suffering, let Jesus rescue you and discover life anew!
“The relationship between the Eucharist and the cosmos helps us to see the unity of God’s plan and to grasp the profound relationship between creation and the “new creation” inaugurated in the resurrection of Christ, the new Adam. Even now we take part in that new creation by virtue of our Baptism (cf. Col 2:12ff.). Our Christian life, nourished by the Eucharist, gives us a glimpse of that new world – new heavens and a new earth – where the new Jerusalem comes down from heaven, from God, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:2).” (Pope Benedict XVI[i])
In thanksgiving for the gift of Eucharist and confession, we continue to pray for Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI, all clergy and religious, and our worldwide Church:
Mother of Mercy,
watch over all people,
that the Cross of Christ
may not be emptied of its power,
that man may not stray
from the path of the good
or become blind to sin,
but may put his hope ever more fully in God
who is “rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4).
May he carry out the good works prepared
by God beforehand (cf. Eph 2:10)
and so live completely
“for the praise of his glory” (Eph 1:12). Amen.
(St. John Paul II, Veritas Splendor)[ii]
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam 😊
Adapted from Kick Butt! The Quick Guide to Spiritual Warfare (Frontline Defense Strategies for Everyday Living)
ISBN: 9798595997348; ASIN: B08T86NRG5
[i] Pope Benedict XVI (Feb. 22, 2007) Sacramentum Caritatis: On the Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Church’s Life and Mission. Vatican. http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_ben-xvi_exh_20070222_sacramentum-caritatis.html#The_Eucharist,_a_mystery_to_be_proclaimed
[ii] St. John Paul II (August 6, 1993) Veritas Splendor. Vatican. http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_06081993_veritatis-splendor.html
Photo by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
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