October 2013 - The Devil's Strategy

At the end of a stressful day, the cries of the little child are unmistakable. He is exhausted. One of his parents approaches and picks him up. The child finds in his parent’s arms the repose that he was seeking in vain and the smile that lights up his face shows his happiness. His tiredness goes away. In the shadow of this guardian power, he can now fall asleep. He is at peace.

October 17, 2013

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

At the end of a stressful day, the cries of the little child are unmistakable. He is exhausted. One of his parents approaches and picks him up. The child finds in his parent’s arms the repose that he was seeking in vain and the smile that lights up his face shows his happiness. His tiredness goes away. In the shadow of this guardian power, he can now fall asleep. He is at peace.

On becoming an adult, this peace will be quite necessary for him.

As the child that he was could not find rest without first finding peace, the man that he is now cannot fulfill the demands of his vocation if he is not established in peace.

But the time of childhood, when all was so simple and true, is long gone. Man discovers, at his own cost, that peace is a fragile and rare treasure.
This “tranquility in order”, according to St. Augustine’s beautiful definition of the profound nature of peace, is not an innate gift. It is acquired by brave struggle. Human nature, this composite of soul and body, requires of man to be permanently in a state of vigilance so as to maintain the balance of his forces, a balance broken by original sin.

Only the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ enables man to maintain this precarious and indispensable balance.

It is so indispensable that the devil, the grimacing monkey of God, who knows better than anybody that man aspires to this peace with all his being, presents to him a genial counterfeit.

Satan rebelled against the divine order by refusing, in his pride, to yield before the Prince of Peace. He remains in a state of agitation, of disorder and eternal sufferings. Peace is not his, quite the contrary. Overwhelmed by a terrible hatred, he does not cease spreading his disorder to all men, as St. John Berchmans said: “Everything that disturbs comes from the devil.”

But if Satan is the prince of disorder, he did not lose anything of his intelligence. Instead of making use of it to rise and adore God, he miserably puts it at the service of his deceits.

He knows that man will not follow him unless he transforms himself into an angel of light and, thus, he feigns to offer that peace to which man aspires with all his forces.

Which subterfuge does the devil use to deceive man thus?

Quite simply, by flattering man’s basest instincts and by hiding the reality of original sin, which has distorted his nature. He urges man to satisfy all his natural inclinations. This path of satisfaction is extremely dangerous for man who, wounded by sin, finds there an ever-increasing attraction. He ends up seeking instinctively such satisfaction and, slowly and relentlessly, sinks into a mortal lethargy, without even noticing it.

The devil, then, skillfully suggests that this mortal lethargy is the peace so ardently sought.

Isn't it surprising how man manages to confuse the lukewarmness into which he has fallen with the peace to which he aspires with his whole soul?
How can this be if not thanks to the subterfuge of self-justification?

The devil, by pushing man to yield to his nature and taste the increasingly strong satisfactions attached to it, chains man to pleasure and renders him slave to it. Obviously, this process is not accomplished in one day; it is a long-term work, during which man will struggle against the calls of grace. The whole problem is there: man ceases to fight on the side of Him who gives grace and actually starts struggling against grace. He rejects God and does not fight any more to defend His honor.
This absence of spiritual combat leads him into the way of compromise.

At first, of course he regrets his errors, but soon there comes a time when this regret is expressed more and more listlessly, then comes the day when he regrets… regretting, and wonders whether these natural things are truly so bad and, finally, he will justify all of them. His conscience will be cauterized. In other words, he will become deaf to Christ’s appeals and to His love.

His judgment about the people and the things that surround him changes. His criteria are no more the order established by God, but the order of his passions. He is already, without even suspecting it, a disciple of the satanic cry of rebellion, Non serviam, and he has made himself his own god.

Satan wants to bring man to this point, while making him believe that he is his own legislator, the ultimate master of good and evil: “You will be like God”.
The devil is afraid of brutal falls into sin, because they awaken man’s conscience. He prefers to push him down the soft but slippery slope of self-justification. He lulls man by flattering him, by whispering that there is no evil in doing oneself a bit of good. “Isn’t this after all – he adds with a persuasive voice – the inclination of nature, of which God Himself is the creator? Would God contradict himself? It cannot be. Then, let us go ahead…”

Judas listened to this voice and had recourse to all the possible justifications, even assuming the defense of the poor, of whom he made himself the flamboyant advocate. Judas was left blinded and locked up in his debates and excuses against grace. The last appeal of Christ, which should have touched him, could not reach his now insensitive soul. Christ, however, called him by his name, gave him the kiss of peace in answer to his perfidious kiss and offered to him a last grace: “My friend…” Judas had already abandoned the realm of grace. The knot that killed him was that of lukewarmness, rather than the one of the rope.

St. Peter, on the other hand, always fought at the side of his Master, often in an impetuous way that sometimes made him awkward, but so close to us in its embarrassments. He fought and did not debate. He loved and let himself be loved. Admittedly, he fell heavily, publicly, surrendering in a cowardly way. But his fall opened his eyes. He understood its extent and its horror. His soul was faithful and vigilant. A man, he fell like a man subject to sin, not as a zombie who had sold his soul while falling asleep in his justifications. Christ looked at him and Peter received that glance with recognition, understanding what it meant. The cock crowed and the Prince of the Apostles left the Praetorium because he had returned to himself and lived already in contrition.

Would we have had St. Peter without this fall?

A brutal fall is often an occasion of grace – a profound and encouraging mystery for souls who fight and who turn their acknowledged and regretted falls into the springboard of their conversion.

The devil does not want this kind of fall; he even fears them and employs all his energies to prevent them. He strives to lure men into the maze of his ploys, where he can deaden and enslave the souls.

Are we Judas or St. Peter?

We cannot avoid asking ourselves this question very seriously. Particularly because we live in a world that has become a hellish machine that deadens souls and makes them deaf and blind to the appeals of grace.

In Christo sacerdote et Maria.

Fr. Yves le Roux