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By fervent prayer, we can withstand evil spiritual assaults. When we share the truths of the Gospel with new fervour, or in new ways, we can find that we have stirred up the anger of the evil one, who tries to distract or disturb us in prayer, by horrible sights of the fires of Hell, or by problems in ordinary life; but we must remember that Jesus is stronger; Jesus is Lord, and we are right to trust in Him and to feel safe in His love.
Satan is the source of the evil 'smoke' which covers much of the world, that 'smoke' being the willingness of troubled persons, and politicians, to promote or arrange abortion provision. Here and there, a brave politician speaks up for the sanctity of life - including the lives of unborn babies.
The smoke of Satan has entered the Church, causing many Catholics to approve of various types of immorality, to practice forbidden acts, to protest about legitimate discipline and constant teachings on faith and morals, to demand Papal approval of heresy, to water down the truth when catechising others, and to show little reverence for Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
God the Father looks from Heaven upon our lives. He sees that men who injure women, or women who abort their babies, are, in effect, crucifying Christ, because whoever engages in evils such as sadism or killing, is placing himself or herself on the side of Satan, who does not want us to act with love and compassion, and tried to overcome Christ.
When some Catholic children receive more teaching on self-esteem than humility, this endangers their souls. There is so much outward show, in acts of charity, and little self-effacement. The sin of pride was Satan's great fault. To become proud is to place oneself under his banner, in the war between good and evil.
A priest should lead his people upwards towards Heaven, on a sure path. If he teaches them to ignore the Pope's teaching, and says that we should dispute Church teachings, and that there is plenty of time and no need to repent, it is as if he leads them into a comfortable house in a cul-de-sac. It was built by Satan, as a trap, so that they might sit there discussing moral issues and never make up their minds to obey God and to do His Will, made known through the Church.
We must never forget how much Christ has changed our lives, through His grace and guidance. Nor must we forget how great is the need for continued evangelisation, as whole communities seem to follow the world's way of selfishness rather than Christ's way of selfless love. People need firm teaching about how we cannot serve two masters. We choose, by our behaviour, to serve God or Satan.
It is the Will of God that religious icons or paintings in any medium show out the limits of the Catholic Faith, even the sad ones which warn us to avoid the tricks and temptation of Satan or risk falling into Hell, by our own freely-made choices.
Pride was the sin of the Angels, as described in Sacred Scripture, when some rebelled against God and fell from grace. Pride, too, with stubbornness, is the sin which the Lord sees in the hearts of those who persist in disbelief even until death, ignoring His invitations to believe and to repent, so that they can enter Eternal life with Him and not fall into Hell.
There is no room in a heart both for malice and charity. A person who acts with deliberate malice might be trying to be worldly or sophisticated, in imitation of some modern hero, but more often he is prompted by the evil one who delights in causing us to belittle, hurt, humiliate or terrify one another.
Just as a conifer develops good health, and fruit, if it is well-nourished and watered, but dies if it lacks nourishment, or is poisoned by a neighbour, so the person full of grace produces good works, if nourished on prayer and the sacraments, but suffers spiritual death if it fails to take necessary nourishment of the sacraments or accepts the 'poison' which is the devil's temptations to sin.
People who take other people hostage and keep them captive do the opposite of what Jesus did - Who came to set people free from sin and slavery. There is a need for prisons, in ordinary life, for people justly tried and found guilty. But those who keep innocent people captive do, in physical terms, what the evil one does in spiritual ways. Indeed, they have aligned themselves with the evil one who always opposes God and goodness.
People who develop a fascination with what is evil, or with representations of what is evil, can endanger their souls. When they avidly seek out portrayals of monsters, or of sadism, or love to watch horror movies, or delve into Satanism or magic in any of their forms, or associated activities like fortune-telling, it can be as if they are facing a great pit in which there is neither light nor beauty - like a black hole in space: in reality, Hell.
Prayer for evil rulers is more important than political activism. The mind and will of a person enslaved by evil is like a temple of doom, where Satan is at work. Principles and persons are sacrificed on the altar of personal ambition, lust or greed; and that person is incapable of doing good because of his enslavement, unless he repents. By the grace of God, he could change.
The evil one is always trying to lead astray people who love Christ. If he cannot tempt them to sin, he tries to imitate Christ, to tempt them to believe in false teachings in prayer, or false visions, or to persuade them to develop a longing for special spiritual experiences. By trust in Christ and His Spirit, we can learn to discern what is evil and what is good.
St. Michael the Archangel swoops down in a great fire of charity to help or rescue those endangered friends and followers of Christ who have called upon him for protection against the evil one's assaults, or for help in overcoming temptations. He prays for us, and offers reminders of God's goodness, and of the hope of Heaven.
If the evil one wishes to cause distress, he will attempt any number of ploys, whether spiritual assaults to cause fear, or false visions, or a flurry of images to annoy the soul during prayer, or new and vigorous temptations to sin, or other trials. Trust in God is essential, and holy water is very helpful, as is the Name of Jesus - and Our Lady's prayers.
If the evil one sees a fervent soul, he will go to great lengths to seduce, disturb, frighten or mislead her. If he cannot tempt her to sin, he will try to mislead her with false visions of Christ or the Saints, or to terrify her by horrible imagery or apparitions; or, if Christ has spoken in prayer to that soul, the evil one adds a few words, as if from Christ, to confuse her.
It can be helpful to turn from habitual prayers to a Litany, or to Sacred Scripture. If our routine prayers are disturbed by assaults from the evil one, or unwanted images, temptations or suggestions, we can change our plans - not by, abandoning prayer, but by praying in another way, so that his plans are confounded; and we shall still give glory to God, and benefit our own souls and those of other people, as we remain in the 'bright cloud' which is God, our hearts full of love for Him.
Especially if we are doing important work for Christ, the evil one is capable of hurling painful memories to our imagination, trying to stir up our minds in fruitless speculation, so that we will lose trust in Christ and become miserable or afraid - or full of self-pity, or anxiety. We must not give in, but should focus our minds, by God's grace, on all the good things for which we can be thankful to God.
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