The perpetual state of the follower of Christ is warfare!  Spiritual combat, struggle; bitter warfare is our common lot!  The Bible reminds us: “If you have decided to follow the Lord prepare yourself for warfare, and is not the life of man on earth a battle?”

The three major enemies or adversaries to the followers of Christ are the devil, the flesh, and the world. The devil tempts us; the flesh rebels against the spirit; the world tries to seduce us into believing that true happiness can be found in this world.

In this short essay we would like to present five typical temptations of the devil! St. Thomas Aquinas calls the devil the tempter; St. Augustine defines him as a ferocious animal on a chain; St. Peter says that he is like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour; and finally St. Ignatius of Loyola calls him the enemy of human nature.

1.    CAMOUFLAGE.    Pope Paul VI stated that the devil has two primary tactics, two totally different  approaches. The first is to get people to overemphasize his presence and power—almost as if he were more powerful than God. Wrong!  The devil is a mere creature and his power is limited to the will of an Omnipotent God. Second, the other extreme the devil would love to convince humanity that he indeed does not exist. In the modern scientific and rational society this is all too prevalent.  The common idea of many intellectuals is that the devil is simply a figment of your imagination or a comic strip of a cruel person dressed in red pajamas, horns jutting out of his head, and a pointed pitch fork ready to impale your behind and catch you off guard.  Soldiers have major victories during a surprise attack; when their opponents are not aware of their fierce arrival and presence! If the devil can hide himself or even convince us that he does not exist he can attack at will and conquer!

2.    DESOLATION’S DEADLY DEMOLITION.   St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, transmitter of the Spiritual Exercises, also bequeathed to the church Rules for discernment. These rules deal with the reality of desolation and consolation, what to do in the state of desolation and what to avoid, as well as our strategy in consolation. Across the board and a universal spiritual principle is the following: when we are in a state of desolation this is the prime-time that the devil will attack us with various temptations. Therefore, learn what desolation is and how to react against it. In general desolation is when you feel weak spiritually. Sadness depression, discouragement, hopelessness, lukewarmness and tepidity a desire simply to give up on life. “Nobody seems to care about me. I have little value and a bleak future.”   All this would be a modern interpretation of the state of desolation. Beyond the shadow of doubt, the devil is preparing his weapons to shoot for the kill!   Jesus warns us and calls us to a state of vigilance and preparation for warfare:  “Stay awake and pray for you know neither the day nor the hour… It will come like a thief in the night. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

3.    KRYPTONITE! WEAK POINT!   All of us know of Superman!  He has superpower and super-strength--- more powerful than any human person! However, superman had one weak point that could prove his downfall---- contact with KRYPTONITE!  This fictitious element rendered Superman as weak as any other human being! Therefore, the key to maintaining his super-human strength was simply to avoid contact with Kryptonite at all costs!   The devil is keenly aware of your major weakness; he knows your kryptonite!  Do you know it? Of exceedingly great utility in this matter is to look deeply into the Capital sins—the seven basic disordered tendencies in human nature. Then name and claim your own basic “Capital sin”. They are: gluttony, lust, greed, sloth, anger, envy, and pride. The devil knows your kryptonite; you should know it even better and put up weapons of defense so as to strive to practice the opposite virtue. St. Ignatius calls this “Agere contra”--- to react strongly against the temptation, to do the opposite! Life indeed is a battle, but God is stronger than our weak point!  “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth!”

4.    THE DEVIL OF PROCRASTINATION!  In his classic writing on the tactics of the devil, Screwtape Letters, the author C.S. Lewis, presents Satan in meeting with some of the major devils with the purpose of striving to arrive at the best way to conquer souls to his kingdom. One of the devils comes up with a plan that he presents to Satan and the other devils and it is the following. Get people on earth to postpone, to procrastinate, to put off until tomorrow their spiritual proposals.  In other words, go to confession next week, the Rosary tomorrow, skip reading the Bible, next year I will work on my conversion, I will go to Mass next Lent--- all of this with the pretext that  there is no hurry, that life is long and meant to be enjoyed. How often Jesus warns us of the contrary. Our death can come like the thief in the night or like the deluge in the time of Noe!  Our Lady can teach us. She went in haste--- neither delay nor procrastination— to render a service in charity to her cousin Elizabeth. Beware of the devil of procrastination!

5.    THE DEVIL OF THE PAST. Another common tactic of the devil is to fish into our past and bring back bad memories.  Often these memories are sins in the past against the virtue of purity or past wounds.  These past wounds consist in people who have hurt us.  The devil can often fish them from the past to the present and dangle them there in our conscience and literally torture us over these. If not resisted from the onset, this can cause anger, resentment and even hatred towards people that possibly we have not seen in decades.   The cliché forgive and forget is not always possible. However we must always strive to forgive and live out the “Gospel of Mercy”.  Shakespeare put it concisely: “To fail is human to forgive is divine.”  Jesus gave us the prayer of all prayers, the Our Father, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Therefore, let us not allow the devil to conquer us but to overcome evil by good, anger by meekness and overcome hatred by love! My friends our life is a constant battle. Let us fight beside Jesus as King and Mary as our Queen and the victory will be ours!