A call for a counter-attack during a time of vulnerability
By Andrew Kreye
Pray. Especially when you do not want to, pray. Do not idle. It is in those times when the enemy is close at hand, readying an attack. King David stayed in Jerusalem at the time “when kings go to war,” and it was at then that he strolled into his sin (2 Sam 11:1). We must be proactive in our defense and seeking aid. The enemy’s attack should never be taken lightly.
Understand that our souls are the object of the assault. Such an attack necessitates that we enlist the help of our greatest allies. Those who are experienced in prayer and resisting sin. Those on earth as well as the saints in Heaven. The Church Militant and the Church Triumphant.
Do not forget to implore Blessed Mary for assistance in preparing your defense. Our Mother, Theotokos, Mother of God, Queen of the Angels, the human person who is the greatest veteran in the battle of prayer, for she emerged untouched by the opposing forces. She to whom our Lord was so obedient at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-12). She will wrap you in her mantle, and without fail, she will bring you to her son.
“Prayer is a battle… against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter.” (CCC 2725) Even in prayer we are not separated from the accusations of that tempter who would have us believe we are failures in our praying because we become distracted or experience dryness. Do not be discouraged when these feelings emerge, however, because prayer is not something to be achieved on our own; “prayer comes also from the Holy Spirit and not from ourselves alone.” (CCC 2726) Be vigilant and imitate the psalmist in listening to your greatest desire. “ ‘Come,’ my heart says, ‘seek his face!’ “ (Psalm 27:8) Open yourself to God, and find your nourishment in his Word.
Unite your prayer to your work that your prayer may continue through the entirety of your life, never backing down, never allowing the enemy a chance to break through your defense, always pressing onward. Again, do not trust in your own power, but that of the Holy Spirit. “If we do not allow the Spirit to lead us, we fall back into the slavery of sin. How can the Holy Spirit be our life if our heart is far from him?” (CCC 2744)
It is dangerous to assume any form of defense outside of prayer or anything other than total reliance on God, because “nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy… For it is impossible, utterly impossible for a man who prays eagerly and invokes God ceaselessly ever to sin.” (St. John Chrysostom, De Anna)
A Christian is never left undefended so long as there is perseverance in prayer, and “it is always possible to pray: The time of the Christian is that of the risen Christ who is with us always, no matter what tempests may arise. Our time is in the hands of God.” (CCC 2743)
The journey of the Christian does not end upon a successful defense, however. “Transformation of the praying heart is the first response to our petition.” (CCC 2739) And this transformation disposes us to respond to Jesus’ invitation, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mt 4:19) The new hope nurtured in our heart through prayer is that we will respond like the Apostles and follow him “at once”. Not following from a distance but following so close that we become covered in the dust kicked up by our Lord’s feet. Not following passively but actively learning from the way our Lord walks, speaks, prays. Our goal is to become like him and help others to encounter him.
As we are Baptized into his bride the Church, we also become members of Christ’s body. Channels for his grace to enter the world. Not because we are necessary, but because God desires that we should participate in his divine life. He desires all of us, asking us to “go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:19-20a)
We are not sent away to be separated from him and vulnerable to new attacks, though. “I command you: be strong and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.” (Jos 1:9) He is never far from us! So do not despair. Listen to Jesus’ words and trust in him. “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28:20b)
Christ the king has gone to war. In fact, he is already victorious, he has defeated the enemy, but the battle still goes on. The enemy is attempting to take with it as many souls as it can. But Christ still leads us in the battle. He will lead us until every enemy has been defeated, and “the last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor 15:26)
“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 6:13-17