Someone I know once told me that one confession of his took an odd turn when a priest took a page from the charismatic protestants from his native land of the US “bible belt”. This probably well-intentioned confessor supposedly went on a long rant about how demons were circling around him and how the devil had him in his clutches. He then supposedly (again, I was not there) shouted at the layman to “In the name of Christ! Tell me your name!”, after which this poor fellow had to go check with other clerics to verify that he did not have a devil inside of him.
This amusing story of an experimental priest should in no way make us forget that there actually is an angelic war going on in the world around us every moment of our lives. Many rise or fall almost “on their own”, with devils doing little more than prodding and feeding one’s weakness(es) and leaving them to do the rest. For those who do try to break fully free of their concupiscence, there is an entirely different war they must face. It is when the dark angels realize a man is aware of his weakness and concentrating to fight it that that man finds himself facing the full brunt of the enemy’s assault. It is when a man wants to rise above his sin to the next step of the Ladder of Divine Ascent that the chains he is trying to cast off pull harder downward.
Awareness of the conflict makes one a greater target, but it is also the path to achieving salvation in the long run. The life of St. Anthony of the Desert is full of moments where the devils go above and beyond the normal means to tempt him, yet he defeated everything they threw his way. As we feel ourselves assailed in whatever way the enemy chooses, we must resist all the harder. Unlike the desert hermit, I doubt any of us have yet been assailed by unnatural loud noises or been physically assaulted by a host of devils.
Yet, we still fall. Repeatedly.
Please, in your charity, pray for all who struggle in this Angelic War. Also, think about checking out the Angelic Warfare Confraternity while you’re at it (the Vigilante is trying to pick up their daily prayer and eventually enroll).
St. Anthony of the Desert, Pray for us!