"When God acts upon a soul that is on the path of perfection, a soul that desires and strives to follow Him, He does so with consolation and gently.
When Satan (that bastard!) wishes to disturb and destroy someone that is on the path to perfection, he does so subtly and by appealing to that soul's good desires to serve God."
- My saintly boyfriend (ala St. Ignatius)
I realized last night during some light spiritual reading (Swimming With Scapulars, a must read for cradle Catholics) that it has literally been months since I've even given a second thought to the evil one. It sounds so quaint and Protestant to reference him that way, but sometimes the simplest descriptions are the most apt.
In forgetting about the one who hates me more than anything, who hates my mother and hates our Father... I've been doing myself a grave disservice; namely, by focusing exclusively on the existence human evil and sin in the world... forgetting that there is actually someone out there who wants us to fail.
Actually, it's worse than that: he wants us to die.
Putting down my book, I reclined to ponder this reality, whispering a St. Michael prayer as I drifted off to sleep. How is it that I've gone so long without thinking about the devil?
Because that's exactly the way he wants it.
Not to give the guy too much credit, but apparently one of his best tricks is to convince us of his non-existence (Try CS Lewis' Screwtape Letters for a fuller treatise).
And I've been had. So preoccupied have I found my mind these past few months, with politics and various and sundry anti-life legislation and personal spiritual struggles, that I've rarely given hell, sin, or the author of sin a moment's consideration.
Not to imply that we ought to be focusing on hell and on escaping damnation as the chief motivating force behind our Christian zeal. That's a fine example of the tail wagging the dog. But we ought to give the occasional cogitation to the existence of a super intelligent, immortal enemy who is unwavering in his hatred for us.
This wasn't the most comforting bedtime meditation I've ever engaged in, but I believe it was worthwhile. For a couple reasons.
First, because today has been hard... which leads me to believe I'm doing something worthwhile in the spiritual realm. The resistance provides me with a pretty good indication that I'm headed in the right direction.
Second, because it's humbling. It's helpful to appeal to an exterior source of humiliation to remind oneself of one's utter dependence on God. Because without Him, there's very little I can accomplish on my own. There isn't actually anything I can accomplish on my own... which I tend to forget when life gets busy/interesting/joyful/sorrowful/stressful, etc. (Notice a pattern?)
It might not be a such a bad idea to start out every day with a prayer to St. Michael. To make a brief, daily informal renewal of your baptismal promises, to acknowledge that yes, we live in a world at war, and there are only two sides... and we've got to pick one.
Every day. Not just on that last day, at the end, if we're blessed with a moment to reflect... but every day.
St. Catherine of Sienna was (perhaps mistakenly) quoted as having issued the following charge: "Be the kind of woman (or man) that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, the devil says to himself, oh sh*t, she's awake."
I don't think these were Catherine's original words, but I appreciate the sentiment nonetheless. I hope you do too.