Booting Out the Tempter in 2023

News: Commentary
by Fr. Paul John Kalchik  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  December 28, 2022   

Mary's powerful weapons of humility and obedience

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Don't think that fighting Satan is easy. It's not. It is the ultimate battle.

On the other hand, it's not beyond our power either. Battles against the Evil One are indeed winnable but only with the Blessed Mother and the saints on your side!

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Fighting evil is a battle

In chapter three of the book of Genesis, after the fall of man, God addresses the Serpent and prophesizes that a daughter of Eve will "crush thy head!"

This prophecy, made at the beginning of salvation history, will only be fulfilled at the end of time when the Serpent is finally bound and imprisoned for eternity in the pit of Hell.

According to the book of Revelation

Then I saw an angel come down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a heavy chain. ... The Devil who had led them astray was thrown into the pool of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

If only St. Michael were ready today with his chains and padlock to bind Satan for good! But until that glorious day when Satan is finally banished, we have to continue to fight the powers of darkness.

We know God has in hand both our salvation and Satan's demise.

Metaphors are used throughout the Scriptures, and the metaphor used by God in his prophecy on a daughter of Eve "crushing Satan's head" is one of the faithful's fondest. Because of this prophecy, we know God has in hand both our salvation and Satan's demise.

It's important when discussing how Scripture is written to think beyond the metaphor, especially for the young who don't have critical thinking skills and can easily misunderstand the metaphor in a too-literal way. For example, in God's prophecy of "crushing Satan's head," it would be a mistake on someone's part to restrict the meaning to Mary alone crushing Satan's head, or for that matter, Mary physically stepping on Satan, as is symbolically depicted in statuary.

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Mary in the fight against evil

Although the principal language of Scripture is the metaphor, our understanding derived from these metaphors has to be so much more than what they suggest to our minds. Go "crush the head of Satan" but do so with your prayers and your words, in addition to your heel.

My advice, as we head into a new year, is to take a cue from our Blessed Mother in the fight against the Devil — use her proven weapons of humility and total obedience to God's will. You can speed up Satan's demise by adopting these spiritual disciplines.

Harness Humility

Let's talk first about our Blessed Mother's surefire way to put off the Devil — humility. Satan could not get his talons into Mary because she was totally without pride.

Despite being the most important woman to ever live, Mary abhorred all pretensions and arrogance. Recall the Christmas story when our Blessed Mother, who was expecting, traveled to Bethlehem with St. Joseph to comply with the emperor's decree to complete the census.

The ultimate hardship for Mary was to bear the Christ Child in a stable.

In this long journey on foot, both St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother, late in her pregnancy, suffered numerous privations and indignities. According to Luke, the ultimate hardship for Mary was to bear the Christ Child in a stable "as there was no room for them in the inn." 

In the face of these deprivations, Scripture recounts in the infancy narratives no word of complaint or protestation from St. Joseph or the Blessed Mother! On the other hand, Zechariah, in the aftermath of his voiced protestations to the angel Gabriel, is struck mute for a time. 

As a man who hates camping because it does not involve a bed or a warm shower, I find remarkable Mary's quiet acceptance of all these privations without any complaints! Our Blessed Mother, as recorded in the Gospels, remained ever obedient to God and accepted all the hardships that came with being the Mother of God.

 
 
 
 
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Remember, shortly after Jesus' birth, to secure Jesus' safety, Joseph and Mary had to flee with Him to Egypt. Joseph and Mary incurred Herod's wrath because Jesus was God. If the child had been just an ordinary infant, Herod would have cared less, but because Jesus was the Christ Child, Herod sought to destroy Him.

Being part of the Holy Family was high risk.

Be certain, if Herod's soldiers had caught up with Joseph, Mary and the Christ Child, in addition to killing Jesus, Herod would have killed Joseph and Mary as well. Being part of the Holy Family was high risk. 

Although not recorded in the Gospels, you could bet St. Joseph and Mary, caring for Jesus in the course of their earthly days, incurred not only the wrath of Herod but many others who recognized God's presence in the Christ Child and tried to harm Him. Imagine all the hardships this certainly entailed for them throughout their earthly lives!

Jesus, Mary's son, also emphasized the importance of humility during the course of his active ministry. Recall what Jesus said:

When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, "Give your place to this man," and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, "My friend, move up to a higher position." Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.

Elsewhere in the Gospels, Jesus said: "Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Of all ways to keep yourself on the path to humility and holiness, thinking yourself as the least important is one of the most important things you could do. How ironic, reminding yourself you're no big stuff is one way to ensure you are big stuff in the Kingdom of God. 

Exercise Obedience

The second surefire way to put Satan off your back is by being totally obedient to God's will, following Mary's example. Mary "crushed the head of Satan" and gave birth to our Redeemer by being totally obedient. The single greatest thing we can do to stop Satan and his personal assaults against us is to follow Mary's example, sucking it in and totally accepting God's will in each of our lives.

"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." 

Take to heart Mary's fiat to God as recounted in Luke's Gospel: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." 

In the original Greek version of this passage, the word for slave (δοῦλος) is used. So a literal translation of Mary's fiat is "I am the Lord's slave." Try saying this short phrase a half dozen times, and then reflect upon what God the Holy Spirit places upon your heart.

When I have done this myself, I find that God convicts me of being — more often than not — halfhearted in my responses to do this or that according to His commands. I have to admit to not at all being slavish to God's will! 

Our Blessed Mother strove to be totally obedient to God's most holy will. She did so by keeping squarely in mind her status as a created being. Mary's promise of slavish obedience brings to mind verse two of Psalm 123: "Yes, like the eyes of servants on the hand of their masters, like the eyes of a maid on the hand of her mistress, so our eyes are on the Lord our God."

How Hard Will You Try?

Our day-to-day lives are in large part a struggle. If we are not grappling daily to become a saint, striving completely and fully to do God's most holy will, the opposite is happening — we are losing ground and letting the tempter win.

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Myth of Sisyphus

The ancient Greeks got this right in the Myth of Sisyphus, the story of one of their mythical demigods condemned to roll a boulder to a mountaintop because of his treachery.

Sisyphus never succeeds in carrying out his sentence, but he keeps on trying and trying for the remainder of his existence. 

Some of us will end up with sentences like Sisyphus because of serious sin. Take heed from the wisdom of the ancient Greeks — sin has consequences, and if left unrepented, you too will be condemned for an eternity of hard labor.

Humility and obedience are powerful weapons against the Devil.

Take this message to heart in the upcoming new year and do your part in crushing Satan's head. Don't let Mary have all the fun — do your part to wipe out the Evil One.

Satan, just a fair warning, Mary will crush your head, and her faithful sons and daughters will help! 

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