THE THREE ENEMIES OF THE SOUL:

THE WORLD, THE FLESH, AND THE DEVIL!

In our struggle to attain the crown of eternal life, we must overcome three major obstacles: the world, the flesh and the devil.   The devil tempts us insistently and insidiously and maliciously; the flesh from within rebels against the law of the spirit; the world, tries to seduces us into believing that true happiness can found in this world and all that it can offer!

Unless we are prayerful, self-controlled and constantly vigilant (guards on watch) we can fall prey easily to any of these mortal enemies, become slaves to them and lose  our eternal salvation.    The constant state of man on earth is "Warfare".  As the book of Sirach clearly points out: "If you decide to follow the Lord, prepare yourself for warfare."

St. Ignatius, an ex-soldier, who was converted as a result of the battle of Pamplona, in the Spiritual Exercises, presents us with two meditations revolving around this theme of "Spiritual Warfare". The first, is the "Call of the Temporal King leading us to meditate on the Call of the Eternal King."  The purpose is to hear the voice of the Eternal King and fight the good fight so as to win the whole world to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.   The  second is the "Two Standards", in which St.  Ignatius warns us that the enemy of our salvation,  will study you, surround you, and attack at your weakest point to wound you and drag you away as his prize!

Knowledge of our mortal enemies is half the way to victory. Ignorance, results in enormous advantages for the enemy.  Therefore, let us illustrate clearly some of the major traps, deceits, and weapons that the world can present into seducing us away from the authentic Truth, Jesus who is our True King!   We will be talking about  THE WORLD,  and its lies!

1. MATERIALISM.    Teaches that true happiness can be found in material things.  Acquiring , possessing, having, saving, hording, money $$$$$---- this is what truly produces happiness! Erik From challenges this false philosophy, with these poignant words:  "If you are what you have and you lose what you have then who are you?"   Another  concise but meaty phrase is "Your possessions can end up possessing you!"  Pope John Paul II, with his usual theological depth  asserted, " Being is more important than having... and Doing flows from being!"  Worldliness tries to convince us that things produce true happiness.  Even the Beatles rebelled against this in the 60's with the song:  "Money can't buy me love."

2. HEDONISM.  This is the worldly philosophy of pleasure.  The more frequent and intense the pleasure, the more this will bring us happiness.  Worldly maxims spray out at us right and left!  "Enjoy life!"  You have one life to live, get the most out of it!   Get all the  GUSTO out of life.  "It is Miller time!"   Also,  "You deserve a break today!"   Finally,  "Eat, drink, and be merry!"  Just live it up!  Jesus smashes this philosophy with the Parable of the Rich Fool who dies suddenly, with grain bins, overflowing, luxurious eating, and money in reserve. "You fool, Jesus cries out, "Today, you will be dead and where will it all go?"  Jesus teaches, "If anyone wants to be my follower, let him renounce himself, take up his cross and follow me."

3. WORLD AND VANITY!   The word of God teaches that all is vanity if it is not centered on God!   "Vanity of vanity; all is vanity!"    In the modern society that focuses on the exterior especially the "Appearance" the   5 B's  have become the modern focal point.  Behold the "5 B's! that are adored!    BEAUTY, BRAWN, BRAINS, & BIG BUCKS $$$$$$$!    T.V, models, Hollywood,  beer commercials, the modern mode embrace these  "5", B's as their god to be adored!  How easy to be swept into this philosophy!

4. RELAX!   The world promotes vacation, rest, amusements, diversions, fun and entertainment. When I was in Argentina a man came up to me and wanted to flaunt and parade to me --- an American-- his knowledge of "American English"!  I invited him to impress me and he blurted out immediately:  "I know American English:   TAKE IT EASY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    Jesus did not agree with this; read and meditate Lk 16 and the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich man. Because the rich man enjoyed his leisure, relaxation and his "Take it easy!"lifestyle, he ended up in the fiery pit of hell! His ease totally blinded him to seeing and helping Jesus in the poor!  St. Alberto Hurtado put it bluntly:  "There are two places to rest: the cemetery and heaven!"  When St. Peter Canisius was chided for working too hard, he defended himself saying that in heaven there will be a lot of time to rest!  Work now, for the Lord, and rest in heaven!  These are the saints!

5.  ONLY A WHITE LIE!   All too common today is the habit of telling white lies!  In Spanish the translation is "mentira piadosa"--- a "pious (holy lie)".  The 8th Commandment says that a lie is neither holy nor the color white!  Rather, it is an offense against the truth.  The purpose of speech is to communicate the truth with love! Lying frustrates the purpose and end of speech!
A Peanuts strip portrays Lucy talking to Charlie Brown.  Charlie tells Lucy that it is only a white lie! Lucy rebuts astutely, "Charlie, I did not know that lies come in colors!  In sum, speech is for the purpose of communicating the truth!  May this be our rule and standard!

6.   EVEN STEVEN!   A saying often used to justify getting even with somebody that has hurt you!  Many still live in the Old Testament and espouse the Law of Talon, which is "Eye for eye and tooth for tooth!"  The Italians express it with "Dolce Vendetta!", which means, "Sweet revenge!"  St Rita, whose husband was murdered, had two sons who were plotting the revenge and murder of the man who assassinated their father. St. Rita prayed that their lives would be taken before this revenge would be perpetrated! It happened!   The saints believe in the Ignatian principle:  "Death rather than sin!"  (St. Dominc Savio's motto). Jesus insists on mercy, Hs greatest attribute. From the cross, dripping blood and in agony, His merciful Heart bled forth with these words:" FATHER, FORGIVE THEM FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY ARE DOING!" 

7. EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING IT!   Following Jesus is not a Democracy--- the majority rule wins!  On the contrary, to follow Christ is to be persecuted at times(the last of the 8 Beatitudes). It is to be counter-cultural and to swim against the current.  Face it!  Are you going to be a "People-pleaser" or a "God-pleaser"????  Following Jesus is not always the most popular, but it is the only path that leads to true peace, joy and eternal life!  Why not choose it!

8. FIVE-FINGER-DISCOUNT!   A modern idiomatic youthful expression to render innocuous and trivial stealing another's property! This can be done with the false pretext: this store has too much anyway and it will go to waste! If it is food, "It will not go to waste, but it will go to my waist!" Once again, this does not square with the  7th commandment: "Thou shalt not steal!" Even though it may be small, God pays attention to the details. For that reason Jesus said: "He who is unfaithful in the small, will also be unfaithful in the large!"

9.  BOYS WILL BE BOYS!    What this lethal and toxic expression means is that   when arriving at a certain age the boy should be exposed to immorality and be given free reign to indulge in his passions! In other words,  exposing boys to immodest images and immoral relationships is totally normal, natural and to be praised!   Due to Freudianism and Kinsey, the all-too-widespread view is that sexual appetites cannot be curbed but must be satisfied, If not that individual will grow up with a warped, stunted and diminished personality.   How wrong, but how widespread a worldly philosophy this is!  The Church does not believe in "Birth-control", but "Self-control"; nor does it believe in "Safe-sex". but "Sacred-sex". The battle is within!  Either grace will conquer and freedom and peace will reign; or  the flesh will dominate and slavery will conquer and the flesh will humiliate the spirit!

10. WORLDLINESS AND THE CHURCH.   In the past few decades a certain worldliness has insidiously entered into the realm of the church, even into the Sanctuary itself.  Pope Leo XIII asserted that the smoke of Satan has entered the church! How? Unfortunately, the realm of silence and mystery has given way to noise, chattering and even socializing within the context of the church, even in the presence of the "Real Presence", Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament!  Jesus stated vigorously, as He cast the  sellers our of the Temple,  "My Father's House shall be a house of prayer and you have turned it into a marketplace."  The Apostles remembered,"Zeal for my Father's house consumes me.'  (Jn. 2).   The sense of Mystery, the sense of reverence, the sense of the sacred must be restored to our churches and the worldly dust must be kept outside or even swept outside. Our God is a  three times holy God!  (Isaiah).

In conclusion, in our battle for holiness and the salvation of our mortal soul,  we must name and claim our enemies.  The devil is ever on the lookout, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he might devour.   The flesh rebels against the spirit, like a petulant spoiled child. Finally, the world knocks constantly at the door of our hearts, seeking entrance. For our part, the door of our hearts should only be open so that the Good Shepherd of our soul can enter and move about freely and totally.  "The Lord Jesus is my Shepherd, there is nothing  I shall lack." May the Mother of the Good Shepherd constantly watch over us with her maternal and loving gaze!