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A priest who is dispirited about the state of the Church should resist temptations to leave and to enjoy earthly pleasures. By the altar, he can receive power from God, to help him to renew the Church, and to encourage people towards obedience to God, sound Catechesis, profound reverence in prayer, and respect for the Pope, as well as love for the needy.
Satan's great desire is to wreck God's plan for family life. Satan reaches out of the depths of Hell - out of the Abyss - to encourage family breakdown, to help spouses to desert one another, to cause children to be rebellious, and women to have abortions, and young adults to neglect their aging parents. He is also undermining the principles of people in Government, to induce them to pass anti-family laws.
Satan is at work, offering temptations and lies to the followers of Christ. Like the secret police of harshly-ruled countries, he persuades a person to agree to a minor act of betrayal, and then makes further demands until the person is trapped and must keep proving his loyalty to his new masters. Even some of the Clergy fall in with Satan's suggestions; by keeping silent on the subject of sin, they are half-way to contradicting Christ and His teachings.
Satan is not a figment of our imagination, but a malevolent creature who emerges from the Abyss to cause priests as well as lay persons to commit some small act of rebellion. Then he leads them on to greater betrayals of Christ and His Church, as when priests contradict the truth about sexual morality, or confirm people in their sins rather than inviting them to repent of sin.
The evil one is at work, to plant weeds on our path: to spoil our hopes and plans by his malicious acts and deceits, all in order to make us lose trust in God, or to grow fearful. But God is powerful, like a gardener who, with one movement of His foot can crush the poisonous weeds and then clear the pathway.
Satan cannot bear to see Christ's faithful people happy and hopeful. When he cannot cause faithful people to break God's laws he stirs up discontent, or bouts of jealousy or anger, resentment and injured pride, to destroy the peace which is Christ's gift to His friends.
The Gospel brings joy, to those who repent and change. There are Catholics who believe that niceness is enough, and that mortal sins are unimportant. Jesus spoke the truth about sin and salvation when He said: "It is a narrow gate, and a hard road, that lead to life; and few there are that find it." It is important that we shun all temptations, and all 'occasions of sin'.
Some people fall away if their comforts and consolations are removed. Those whose faith is real will not allow anything, or any circumstances, to damage it, whether opposition, temptation, or ejection from their churches, homes, land or families; they will keep the light of Christ burning in their souls and lives, and show out His love and light in all they say and do, until they reach Heaven.
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.
Whenever Christ sees writing which conveys the truth about human nature; its flaws, its potential - and about the temptations people suffer, He sees Truth going up to Heaven like a fragrance, in a world where there is so much lying and deceit.
The Church is like a walled garden, in which both the clergy and the laity have opportunities to resist temptations in the clamour of the world, and to become peaceful, holy people - able to become free of greed, selfish ambitions and other dangers. All of us need to stay close to Christ in prayer.
None of us need fear that God is powerless to help us withstand the assaults of the evil one. Christ on the Cross seemed to be weak; yet He was powerful enough to rise from the dead; and so He is certainly powerful enough to enable us to endure the assaults and temptations that come to us through the evil one. We ought not to live in fear, but rather, to be confident that Christ will keep His promises.
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.
God our Father loves us. He hears us, every time we pray. As we 'hold up' before the Father, in the name of Christ, people who are dear to us, and people who are sick, bereaved, or suffering temptation or other trials, it's as if we are strolling round our neighbourhood, asking the Father to grant His peace, strength and joy first to one person then to another; and our prayers are worthwhile, whether or not we notice visible results.
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.
Only by the grace of God can we persevere in grace. We should give thanks to God, and take no pride in our success, whenever we manage to endure a distressing or painful episode, or a time of persecution, without becoming resentful, envious, or full of self-pity or gloom. It is as though we have forded a dangerous river, with our soul held high above our head.
It is a cause for concern, when someone is following the Way of Christ, and had seemed willing to continue, but keeps pausing, wasting time, as he puts off doing the good things that he needs to do, to be worthy to enter Heaven joyfully rather than have to suffer in Purgatory. The temptations which threaten to overcome us could lead to our falling into the Abyss, nearby, and rising Eternal Loss.
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.
Saint Michael is a powerful warrior, glad to protect God's children from the evil one: from temptation and spiritual assaults. We should turn to him in prayer, and to other holy Angels, and to the Saints, when we are in need of help, as well as to our Saviour and His Virgin Mother.
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.
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