Kathy Bernard - Publisher

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Ephesians 6:12

Satan was bored.  He had caught up on the huge lists of souls he felt sure he had won so he decided to walk around Earth to check on the progress his people were doing corrupting mankind.  He picked a nice neighborhood to eavesdrop on the thoughts running through the Christian minds.  He heard the angry voice of a woman in the first house say, "That idiot is so irritating!  I hate him, I hate him, I hate him, and I will never listen to him!" And the devil smiled and said, "Hmmm…This is good – excellent in fact.  No forgiveness, I like this!"

HE continued down the street and heard the loud voice of a teenaged boy scream. "Get away from me you stupid person, and don't come back again! You are a plague on mankind.  I hate your guts."  And the devil smiled and said, "This is good -- very good.  Hatred is very good!"

A half block further on, the devil heard a man shout, "You are nobody and you are in my way.  Get away and stop bothering me!"   And the devil smiled and said, "This is good too -- very good.  Meanness!  I can work with this!"   His black heart swelled with admiration as he added, "My minions have done an excellent job in this neighborhood.   These people do not know the goodness of God.  I'll reward them with an extra shift in the fiery furnace when I get back to the office."

SUDDENLY a small demon popped up and ran frantically down the street, his arms flailing wildly in the air. "Master, Master," he screamed.  "Go back!  Leave this place at once!"

"WHAT’S the matter with you, demon?" Satan said angrily. "Can't you hear the venom coming out of these people's mouths around here? The hate in this neighborhood is wonderful.  Everyone is badmouthing everyone else.  It is a glorious beginning.  I know I can win them all"

"YOU don't understand, Master," the little demon shouted.  "You sent us to the wrong neighborhood. These are people who believe in Jesus Christ.  They just came from an uplifting mass at the Church!  The one they're actually badmouthing is YOU."

SO many of us have danced with Satan without realizing we have fallen into his trap.  The allure comes in many forms and we are tempted because we are human. Even though we think we are strong and believe we can resist, Satan is wily and crafty, cunning and deceitful, and he will use every ploy to steal our souls since he knows the secrets of our hearts, knows our weakness as well as our strengths, and he will put temptation squarely in our path and make it irresistible.  He makes his offerings so enticing our desires come alive, and before long we will be stretching out our hand to Satan, finding his offer too inviting to let go.  "Just this once" we say as we start our dance with the devil…on his terms.  It is only later that Satan will whisper, “Why stop now?  You have already become a sinner and are lost to the Lord so you might as well enjoy yourself while you can.”

EPHESIANS 6: 10-18 reads:  “…. Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything to stand.   Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace."  

SOMETIMES we allow Satan to draw us into sin without realizing it is a trap he has set for us.  We may refuse the bait at the onset, then ‘need’ settles in full force and we give in because what he offers is unbelievable and we think we must have it.  Surely we are entitled.  We want it!  We reason we can follow God’s decrees later.  No hurry on that.  In our weakness we reach for Satan’s hand and we begin his dance.  

FATHER Phil Bloom tells a story of Satan’s temptation in one of his Lenten Homilies:   ”The first reason that God allows the devil to tempt us is to expose our real selves.  I remember once I was having a pretty good Lent. I had given up candy and had set aside extra time for prayer and spiritual reading.  When I got to Holy Week I felt pretty confident. On Palm Sunday someone gave me an early Easter present - a box of See's Chocolates.  They are my favorites. I looked at the box and started thinking about which one I would eat first when Easter came.  Then I reminded myself that today is Sunday - a kind of little Easter.  And I noticed that some of the chocolates have nuts which, of course, are nutritional.  Well, you know what happened: I stripped the plastic off the container and ate one.  By the end of the afternoon I had finished the entire box.

THAT temptation exposed my true self.  I am nowhere near as strong as I think.  It's a good thing to recognize one's weakness.  It is part of our common humanity.  Our common humanity, however, has an unattractive side: As we heard in the first reading, ever since our first parents reached for the forbidden fruit, we humans have developed an almost unlimited capacity to deceive and allow ourselves to be deceived.  When we want something badly - like me wanting that chocolate - we easily fall into self-deception. Temptation - and in my case, falling into it - left me with a reminder: a nauseous stomach and the blues that follow a "sugar high."  It was a lesson in humility.  When I recognize my true self, I grow in humility - and that leads to another purpose of temptation: To acknowledge dependence on God…..  When we give in to temptation, when we sin, we go it alone.  At first a guy feels like he is freeing himself from restraints, but in fact he is falling into bondage.  On the other hand, to resist temptation requires God's help.  It takes humility to ask for help, but in the end it leads to freedom.  A classic example is alcohol.  A man might think, "I am free to do what I want.  I can have a second or third drink, if I like.  I am free." That man becomes a slave  -  to alcohol and ultimately to the devil.  But the person who recognizes his powerlessness and entrusts himself to a Higher Power becomes a free man.  So the second purpose of temptation is to lead us to depend on God, to trust him.”  – Father Phil Bloom is the pastor of St. Mary of the Valley Catholic Church in Monroe, Washington.

THERE is a way to escape from Satan’s deceitful temptation.  Read 1 CORINTHIANS 10:13:   “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”   

AND so, when Satan stands before you, holding temptation wrapped in beautiful, exquisite coverings, or whispering sweet desires that God expressly forbids yet the world clamors insistently for, remember James 4:7  “Subject yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

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Kathy Bernard - Publisher

Heavenly Father, keep me focused on your path of righteousness.  Do not let me linger before Satan’s wiles.  Sometimes I grow weak and I need your help to turn my back against his trickery.  Help me to be mindful that he wants to steal my soul, offering temptations that will take me away from You.  He is cunning and wants to separate me from You forever.   Keep my eyes open to see that these allures will cost me eternity, and will lead me into hell and damnation. 

Thank You for loving me, dear God, even when I stray into sin.  And I thank You for calling me back to You through Your Holy Spirit because I know through it all, You stand waiting for me to return contritely to Your loving arms.  Stay close to me, please Lord, and do not let me stumble.  Give me the courage and the strength to avoid sin and just walk away.  I ask all this in the mighty name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  AMEN!

Servant Song

Sr. Donna Marie
McGargill, OSM
Liturgy Coordinator at St. James Catholic Church
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