THE THREE ENEMIES OF THE SOUL:
THE WORLD, THE FLESH, AND THE DEVIL!
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
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
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!