Vatican Corner 11-08-2020

Pope Francis at his Angelus address on March 1, 2020 told the faithful to “never engage in dialogue with the devil.” He urged Christians to be alert and vigilant when “messages, coming at us from many places” invite us to be tempted and to experience “the intoxication of transgression (violation
of the laws).” He said Satan breaks into people’s lives to tempt them with his enticing proposals. “The Devil mixes his own voice with the many other voices that try to tame our conscience.” The Devil attempts to make us walk alternative paths than those of God. Francis described those other paths as giving us “the sensation of being self-sufficient, of enjoying life as an end in itself. However, all of this is illusory, and very quickly, we realize that the more we distance ourselves from God, the more defenseless and helpless we feel.” Pope Francis urged us “not to submit ourselves to any idol whatsoever of this world and to follow Jesus in the battle against evil.” In May, 2020 Pope Francis gave a mini-lesson on how to recognize the voice of God rather than that of the Devil. He said they have opposite ways of knocking on the door of our hearts. The voice of God never forces us: God proposes Himself. Instead the Devil’s voice seduces, assails, forces: it  arouses dazzling illusions, emotions that are tempting but transient. The voice of God corrects us with great patience, but always encourages us, and consoles us. The voice of the Devil at first flatters us, but then leaves us empty inside and accuses us. The voice of God speaks of the present, it inspires us ahead. The voice of the Devil wants us to focus on fears of the future or sadness of the past. God’ voice raises the question “What is good for me?” The Devil’s voice revolves around ego and impulses and raises the question “What do I feel like doing?” The voice of the Devil never gives peace; it causes frenzy, and bitterness. The voice of God loves truth, and transparency. The voice of the Devil prefers falsehood, and gossip. Pope Francis said “let us pay attention to the voices that reach our hearts and let us ask for the grace to recognize and follow the voice of the good Shepherd. In his letter to the Ephesians (6:12) St. Paul wrote that we are often assaulted by demons of the Devil and we need to be ready to combat them. Attacks by the Devil sound scary but the good news is that we can have the strength to fight them off, and that strength comes from Jesus Christ. According to exorcists, there are several ways to obtain God’s strength and defend ourselves from demonic attack. One of the most common ways is to frequent the sacraments of Reconciliation (Confession) and then receive the Holy Eucharist. Demons can harm us if we are in a habitual state of mortal sin. The more distant we are from God through sin, the more susceptible we are to a demon’s attack. Even venial sins can chip away at our relationship with God and weaken our defenses. Confession can put an end to our life of sin and start us on a new path. The Devil must flee from a person who frequents that sacrament. The Holy Eucharist is an even more powerful defense against the devil since it is the real presence of Jesus and Jesus makes the devil powerless. Another way to protect against demonic attack is to make prayer a habit. A person who regularly talks with God should never by afraid of the Devil. If we stay close to God we have nothing to fear