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Everyday Spiritual Warfare

by Fr. Robert J. Carr

Do you ever think of yourself engaged in spiritual warfare? Often times those words bring up thoughts of exorcisms and heads turning around three hundred sixty degrees. However, in reality fighting temptation and living the gospel are themselves forms of spiritual warfare. Therefore, believe it or not we actually engage in this battle everyday. Further, do not forget that the prize is the most precious treasure we possess, human souls. Our own and those of others.

Are there rules of spiritual warfare? Sure there are, in fact St. Paul has a famous passage where he describes the tools to fight this battle. He reminds us in the sixth chapter of his letter to the Ephesians that our battle is not against human forces, but against principalities and powers the evil spirits in regions above.

This is an important distinction because whenever we are in battle, it is important to define our enemy. This is no less true in spiritual warfare. If we do not do this, then our response may appear to lead us to victory when, in fact, it leads us to defeat. This is because we fight the wrong enemy and if that is the desire of the forces of evil; they win.

There are, therefore, three steps in engaging in spiritual warfare that are important in order to be successful.

1) Define the enemy
2) Determine the desires of the enemy
3) Do the opposite

The first step is the most involved, the second and third are less so.

1) Define the enemy. The enemy can be blatant or subtle. The enemy could be the temptation to sin or could manifest itself in the person who tells you to reject Christ. In either case, the person or desire that wants you to act in contrary to Christ can define the enemy.

Parishioners at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston recognize those who harassed them with bull horns and other devices, as manifesting the forces of evil. They endured men holding bullhorns and screaming for them to not enter what they called “The House of Rape”. The demand of these protesters was that the parishioners reject the Cathedral and the Mass. Indeed, they once called for a boycott of all masses in the Archdiocese of Boston.

The enemy can also be defined by lies. When some one is trying to convince you that black is white and up is down and good is bad, you could be dealing with the forces of evil. Remember the Prince of Lies cannot tell the truth. Yet, the Prince of Lies will call those who tell the truth liars. That is another sign. When you hear someone telling blatant falsehoods as truths and calling those who point out the truth liars, you are probably dealing with the forces of evil.

There are other manifestations as well. Basically look for what force leads you away from Christ, usually with a smile, by the way.

2) Determine the desires of the enemy. If it is the tempter, the desire is to lead you into sin. If it is someone trying to lead you away from Christ, this desire will become obvious, if you are attentive to it.

Watch out for a desire common seen in our Church today; it is to get the people against each other. Again, looking at the crisis in the Church, look back and see how much work was put together to get the people against their bishops and priests. Look at how much effort was put into leading people to believe the Bishops had lost their moral voice. Further, look at how little effort was spent in the calling all Catholics closer to Christ through repentance. Do not think these actions were not manifestations of the forces of evil. The desire was to get people to reject their leaders.

Watch out as well for those forces trying to get priests and bishops, as well as married laity to reject their vows or even walk away from their vocations.

3) Once you have determined the desires of the enemy, do the opposite. If the tempter is leading you into sin, walk the other way. If you are dealing with those trying to prevent you from going to Church, go to Church. If they are trying to get you to reject your priests and bishops, support your priests and bishops. If it is to be proud, be humble. If it is to procrastinate on your prayers, begin to pray.

The reality of spiritual warfare is not something we should relegate to movies about possession. It is real and is literally as common as sin. Yet, the closer we walk to Christ, the more we can see the whiles of the evil one. We can then see what it wants and do the opposite.


Catholicism Anew  MA, US
Fr. Robert J. Carr - Parochial Vicar, 617 542-5682



evil, spiritual warfare

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1 - 8 of 8 Comments

  1. Robert Kelty
    8 months ago

    If your bishop or priest is wicked you must reject them and go else where. They are men on the front lines and therefore subject to temptation and attacks more than most. The examples are many, Weekland in Milwaukee is the classic example. This is not to denigrate our great leaders who are the vast majority and give there lives for us. However it is our duty to to apply all of the above methods when evaluating our leaders, from the pope down to our lay ministers.

  2. graciela sharon
    8 months ago

    Very helpful and easy to understand.

  3. Joseph
    1 year ago

    Thanks for your help fr. We must learn more about our four faith, then we can share by practicing with love. Also we have an important tool, pray, and we avoid to to sin.

  4. Elizabeth
    3 years ago

    Thank you Fr. for this information, I'm just beginning to comprehend and pay attention to spiritual warfare. I've been attacked repeatedly and not knowing how to deal with it. I was venerable, confused and frustrated. I'm a cradle catholic and now realise that I really need to read, learn, study etc our Bible.

    I have some christian friends who are aware of the spiritual warfare etc and I have been listening and sharing with them, but I always like to get my informations from my own faith.

    Peace be with you, your sister in Christ, E

  5. prayer warrior
    3 years ago

    I think you may have oversimplified the topic, though I agree that spiritual warfare is an everyday, common situation. It is easy to define the enemy if it is a temptation that is obviously something you well know you or someone else shouldn't be doing. However couldn't there also be forces of evil at work that cause terrible accidents, that make people behave in erratic ways or that spread disease? And how do we rage spiritual warfare against these more subversive forces? Are there certain prayers that should be said for protection against and remove of these evil problems that pervade society? And if there are, shouldn't we talk about this more often and more openly? I feel like this is a whole aspect of our Christianity that is being ignored, but needs to be talked about more than ever at this time.

  6. John Ekweonu
    4 years ago

    I was wondering how one can be assigned a spiritual director through this media is it possible?

  7. alan p. gabriel
    4 years ago


  8. john barr
    5 years ago

    Are there any dvd's available on spiritual warfare?

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