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St. John Vianney was so fervent that he was inevitably attacked by Satan, who wanted to frighten him into giving up his Ministry; but St. John knew the power of Christ, and trusted in Him. He learned to laugh at Satan, and continued to work and pray, to save souls.
When some priests try to appear unnecessarily modern and relevant, Satan is at work today. It is he who persuades so many of the Clergy to water down the Faith, to make compromises with the world, or with other Christians, that are against Church teaching and confuse the Faithful.
It is Satan who helps some of the Clergy to water down the Faith, and to act against the Faith in ways that others do. Christ sees it is as hard for an orthodox priest to speak with a luke-warm Bishop today as it was for Franz Jaggerstatter to speak to the army officer, or St. Thomas More to speak to his king.
We have a strong channel to Heaven, as if one made of brick! When we trust in the Father's love, and in the merits of Christ, and we call out with confidence, in prayer, saying 'Forgive my sins', or, 'Help me', or, 'Protect me from Satan', for example, our prayers are answered. To offer sincere prayer in the name of Christ is both to receive help, and to receive peace, from knowing we have certainly been helped.
It might seem as if a viper has leaped out from his lair, to wound us. If we work for Christ, spreading the Gospel, we are going to be opposed, by people on earth and by Satan. We are wise if we recognise the truth, that harsh words or actions which cause us to suffer are caused by people acting from their sinful nature, as we sometimes do; so we forgive them, and turn to God for the courage to go on.
A priest has been ordained in order to preach the Gospel and to offer sacrifice, in order to rescue souls from their sins and lead them towards Heaven. So a priest who leads a soul towards Hell by suggesting his mortal sins are not serious, and that, in fact, someone can continue in his sins without any pangs of conscience, is a monster, in God's sight, because he is doing Satan's work.
When we feel nearly overcome by the troubles of the world, or temptations from Satan, we can turn to Our Lady, Who loves to help us by her prayers. It's as if she raises her hand to God, who sends down grace that causes a pathway to appear amidst the tangle of coils in which we feel trapped. With such help we can be freed from anxiety and helped to endure our pains.
The evil one wants to destroy the Church. So marvellous is the work and life of a priest, that every priest and Bishop is targeted by the evil one. He tempts them, trying to drag them away from Christ, by subtle and determined methods - yet he can not succeed, when men are resolute in prayer, relying on Divine Grace. Satan is like a giant spider who tries to catch weak people and holy people in his web.
Some Catholics foolishly ignore the evidence; that the evil one has been especially active in the Church for four decades, determined to strike at Christ and Catholics by striking at the Mass. The evil one uses all sorts of people and methods to increase ignorance of the Real Presence, to confuse the laity, to discourage priests, to bring about a distorted or truncated presentation of the Faith in catechesis. It's as if he is lurking beneath a procession of the Blessed Sacrament, planning how to lessen our love for Christ and to diminish our fervour.
When Christ gives us a gruelling task to do, it can seem as though He has asked us to haul a heavy bag up a freezing slope, as we are not only exhausted by our efforts, but also exhausted by fending off the assaults of Satan. He delights in trying to make us despondent, and constantly interrupts our prayers; yet with Christ's help we can persevere.
It is when we are most fervent that Satan tries to make us despondent, or tries to bring us to despair. Satan is a thief. As a thief might steal valuable shirts, pennants, autographs and souvenirs from devoted fans at a football match, so Satan tries to 'steal' our faith, our convictions, our graces, and our peace of mind, if we are not vigilant. We must be vigilant and prayerful if we are going to persevere.
Just as we need to trust our judgement when we are in physical danger, so we must, too, in spiritual matters. Just as we are right to feel alarmed if someone entering a nearly-empty train carriage chooses to sit right next to us, so we are not wrong to feel alarmed at indications of spiritual danger; and we should call on the name of Jesus, and prayer of Our Lady to help us, and also use holy water to put Satan to flight.
Satan is tireless in his efforts to corrupt and endanger God's friends. There is a holy Way on which we can walk: a way of light and peace, on which we can walk in the knowledge and love of God, confident that by His grace and mercy we are making our way towards Heaven. Yet we must be vigilant until the moment of death, determined not to allow Satan's tricks, or our own weaknesses and sinful instincts, to draw us off that road.
Christ rejected Satan's offer to give Him the glory of the kingdoms of the world, if Christ would worship him - and then Christ gave a demonstration of humility, to help us, since He knows that the most common temptation of weak human beings is to pride, and self-sufficiency. Other weak people are tempted to despondency, thinking themselves unlovable. These too need Christ's powerful help.
Satan is at work to draw us towards foolishness and sin. Wherever there is a crisis, stirred up by the influence and power of the evil one, innocent bystanders are caused to suffer - just as our Blessed Lady suffered as she stood beneath the Cross, though she was innocent, and watched her son die in agony. We must pray for all who become embroiled in tragic events, that they will remain united to Christ, and not lose heart.
We must encourage one another really to believe in Jesus Christ. If I am one of those fearful Catholics who constantly feels trapped between the memory of my sins, which we feel will bring us to Hell, and the assaults or temptations of the evil one - like a roaring beast, trying to devour us - I should look away from myself, upwards, to Jesus. If we call on Him, He is powerful enough to help us. But, to call, we first need faith in Him.
As Christians, we are under attack by the evil one. By fervent efforts to please Christ in our every thought, word and action, we can make a 'garment' for ourselves, by the grace of Christ, as if building a castle wall that keeps out Satan who prowls around, trying to persuade people to sin.
It is no small matter, to feel ourselves dragged down by an evil force. When we are doing good work for Christ and the Church, whether it is quiet or public, the evil one tries to drag us down, to tempt us to despondency or despair, to wreck our plans, to deceive us in prayer, and to draw us away from our Saviour. We need to be fervent in fighting all dispiriting thoughts and temptations, and must rely on the grace of Christ, in prayer.
Until we are safely in Heaven, by God's grace and mercy, we must remain vigilant. Our enemy, the devil, prowls around like a hungry lion, seeking someone to devour, which means, he wants to draw us into Hell. We must pray and strive to avoid all evil, and to do only good, in union with Christ.
People are unwise, who are not content with the teachings of the Church, and ordinary devotions, and who run after spiritual marvels, secrets, reported apparitions and miracles, ignoring the judgement of Bishops. Satan can make 'idols', which means false apparitions so enticing that he leads people away from Christ's Way. Satan can manipulate people and circumstances in order to damage souls and try to ruin the Church.
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