There is an interesting book that I have often made reference to written by CS Lewis. The book is titled the Screwtape letters and it is an interesting, fictional, insight into the workings and the plannings of the devil.
Recently I recommended it and loaned a copy to a friend. It had been a while since I had read it myself so since I had been referencing it and recommending it I thought that I should probably reread it.
For those that I have not pushed this book upon, let me explain. It is the letters between a senior devil and an apprentice devil who just happen to be Uncle and nephew. The junior has been given his first charge. His human appears to have grown somewhat lukewarm to the Truth and appears to be open to “distractions”.
What is interesting, and somewhat compelling, about the writing is the way in which the devil uses distractions to turn his human away from God. As a matter of fact, early on in the letters the uncle chides the nephew for attempting to directly question the truth. He explains that going head to head with their enemy will never be successful. It is better to suggest breakfast over morning church service, not out of conviction just out of simple necessity and a grumbling stomach. In another letter the uncle suggests that when the human does finally go to church it is better for the nephew to point out what the other church goers are wearing, or how that are acting, or what they do when they are not in church.
We, of course, have never fallen victim to any of these distractions so all of this is foreign to us. But it seems to be very effective when it comes to this particular human.
The painful fact is that the distractions placed in front of us by the devil are very effective. So many things draw us away from what we know that we are supposed to be focused on. Just look around at the distractions of things, comforts, opinions. So often in scripture we hear that “our God is the greatest of all other gods” and then we elevate these gods above our Lord and savior.
Now this, naturally, is not true for me; I would never fall prey to such simple distractions … just as long as you do not try to put your hands on any of my carpentry tools. Far be it from me to put a possession before my spirituality but there is this really sweet compound mites saw that would look so nice in my workshop.
The fact is that temptation in the form of sparkly distractions is more powerful than we care to admit. And avoiding these distractions is harder than it would appear.
In the first reading St. Paul says, “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.
I like that, put on the armor of God.
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.
This is good stuff. Armor, shields, helmets all make it sound as if we are going to battle! The devil may be tricky but we have battle gear. Those trying to distract us my have shiny things but we have flaming arrows.
And we can never forget that we have the ultimate secret weapon. We have the power that transcends all distractions. We have the power of prayer:
With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.
Brothers and sisters:
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.
With all prayer and supplication,
pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.
To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication
for all the holy ones and also for me,
that speech may be given me to open my mouth,
to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel
for which I am an ambassador in chains,
so that I may have the courage to speak as I must.
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