The fact that God permits physical and even moral evil is a mystery that God illuminates by his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose to vanquish evil. Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil, by ways that we shall fully know only in eternal life. -Catechism of the Catholic Church #32
This past week in lent has been really interesting. I’ve come to know lent as a time where the devil can and does come to attack us even more fervently if we are seeking to grow in Christ. This is not to say that God is absent from us in this time. As a matter a fact, it’s a time when God is frequently with us even more, driving us to grow in the Spirit with these spiritual attacks and temptations. Just look at the Gospel from the first Sunday of Lent this year, an account of Jesus in the desert for 40 days: “At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” (Mt 4:1). It’s interesting to see how God moves us, sometimes even into these temptations and into this spiritual warfare. And I’ve seen a lot of spiritual warfare recently being waged in the life of my friends and loved ones.
One of my Godchildren, a sophomore in high school, had their faith in the Catholic Church and God attacked by an atheist friend on Facebook. This was a very public attack that was unsolicited and unkind. And unfortunately, these types of attacks are becoming more commonplace through social media, as the attackers do not have to actually confront someone they disagree with in-person. Fortunately, my Godchild handled the attack with maturity, love and charity.
A Catholic friend has been helping a young woman they knows determine whether she wants to have an abortion. This friend has even been to the abortion clinic twice with this young woman. A lot of roadblocks have been placed in front of this young woman preventing her from receiving an abortion thus far, but she is still very early in the pregnancy. My friend, a very faithful Catholic, is struggling spiritually to have the strength to help this young woman through this moment in her life. This friend has said over 300 Hail Mary’s, multiple rosaries and reached out to dozens of people asking for prayers for the young woman, and plans to continue the prayers.
Two Catholic friends of mine recently got engaged. People have started rumors that the now-engaged couple is living together and has been for awhile. This has greatly upset the couple, who are faithful young Catholics trying to live a life of holiness according to the Catholic faith. But because it is now very common place for men and women to live together even before they are engaged, it’s become a greater struggle to convince others of their desire and determination to live in holiness within the Catholic faith.
The Sacraments and prayer, and even saying Jesus’ name (Luke 10:17) are ways in which we can order the devil to flee, we can avoid sin and temptation and we can seek holiness and a deeper relationship with God. For when we are being hurt or we see people hurting others with words or actions, we must realize this behavior is not from God. God’s plans for us did not include sin and hurt. But free will has allowed this to become part of our lives. And though we suffer, we must remember Christ suffered too. And when we suffer the pains of this world and the effects of sin and evil, we can unite our sufferings with the Lord and we can give our suffering a spiritual depth and growing in our relationship with Christ.
Spiritual warfare is part of our lives as Christians and it is Christ who has won the victory over sin and evil by his death on the cross. It is his victory that we claim when faced with evil and take part in the battle of spiritual warfare.
Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all (the) flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. –Ephesians 6:10-17