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Everyday Spiritual Warfare

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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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