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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Spiritual Battle and the Contest of Faith

April 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Faith, Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual Battle and the Contest of Faith*

 

As we do battle and fight in the contest of faith, God, his angels and Christ himself watch us! How exalted is the glory, how great the joy of engaging in a contest with God presiding, of receiving a crown with Christ as judge.

BeccafumiDomenicoFallOfTheRebelAngelsDevilsDear brethren, let us arm ourselves with all our might, let us prepare ourselves for the struggle by innocence of heart, integrity of faith, dedication to virtue.

The blessed Apostle teaches us how to arm and prepare ourselves:

Put round you the belt of truth; put on the breastplate of righteousness; for shoes wear zeal for the Gospel of peace; take up the shield of faith to extinguish all the burning arrows of the evil one; take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.
[Ephesians 6:14]

Let us take this armor and defend ourselves with these spiritual defenses from heaven, so that we may be able to resist the threats of the devil, and fight back on the evil day.

Let us put on the breastplate of righteousness so that our hearts may be safeguarded, proof against the arrows of the enemy. Let our feet be protected by the shoes of the teaching of the Gospel so that when we begin to trample on the serpent and crush it, we may not be bitten and tripped up by it.

Let us with fortitude bear the shield of faith to protect us by extinguishing all the burning arrows that the enemy may launch against us.

Let us wear on our head the helmet of the spirit to defend our ears against the proclamations of death, our eyes against the sight of accursed idols, our forehead so that God’s sign may be kept intact, our lips so that our tongue may proclaim victoriously its faith in Christ its Lord.

Let us arm our right hand with the sword of the spirit so that it may courageously refuse the daily sacrifices (1), and like the hand – mindful of the Eucharist – that receives the body of the Lord, stretch out to embrace him, and so gain from the Lord the future prize of a heavenly crown.

Dear brethren, have all this firmly fixed in your hearts. If the day of persecution finds us thinking on these things and meditating upon them, the soldier of Christ, trained by Christ’s commands and instructions, does not begin to panic at the thought of battle, but is ready for the crown of victory.

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*From a Letter from Saint Cyprian (born around 200 AD and died 258 AD), Bishop and Martyr, Second Reading, Liturgy of the Hours, April 11, Memorial of Saint Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr.

(1) Here Saint Cyprian means sacrifices to idols.

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Art: Partial restoration of The Fall of the Rebel Angels, Domenico Beccafumi, from 1526 until 1530, PD-Worldwide author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio Author Insights Edition, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, and his newest books Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep and Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Patricia

    St. Antony of the Desert made this gospel come alive with very specific tools for spiritual warfare. He exemplified using “The Shield of Faith” against the “burning arrows of temptation” by calling on the Holy Name of Jesus, making the Sign of the Cross, and quoting specific scriptural verses about the strength of Christ overcoming evil etc. at the moment of temptation!
    He relied on the strength of Christ to help Him because He acknowledged that Christ has already won the victory for us! Think about that – Jesus has overcome the world for us-we just need to call on Him to help us in the present moment!
    Scripture verses are great tools for spiritual warfare. Most of us already know “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13) and there are many others! Keep a few on hand and ready to use!

    • NYCFiredog

      Great advice, Patricia. In moments of danger, every time I hear a car screeching, I have hard wired reflexive response, ST MICHAEL HELP ME. When involved in a serious case of possession, while I was alone with her on a deserted hospital unit and face to face with Evil, the hair standing up on my neck, the words flooded me instantly, I had an instant download “They’re tying to scare you” and then “Passion of Christ strengthen me”, and then, St. Michael be with me.” were the words that instantly girded me for the wrestling match that was about to ensue. And lately, when suddenly hit with a temptation, I immediately get out a “Lead me not into temptation” and it quickly dissipates.

      • nannymar

        Protect me Lord, I belong to You.

        • allen

          I am thankful to all of the readers,you all have been a great inspiration to me.I to have had my temptations and it is so wonderful to have the strength of others to help me overcome .

    • nannymar

      I use: “Behold the cross of the Lord: fly powers of darkness, the Lion of the Tribe of Juda, the root of David has conquered! Alleluia

      • LizEst

        Of course, one should always ask the Lord to fight demonic battles for us. Exorcists say it is important never to speak directly to demons.

        • Jo Flemings

          I read or was taught that as well, Liz. I always fall back on ‘May the Lord rebuke him, we humbly pray.’ In my family we rely heavily on St. Michael when we believe ourselves to be clearly contending with the devil&co. I even play the youtube version of the St. Michael chaplet in the kids room at night as a last prayer before sleep- This post makes me think of how Mary our Mother is also the Queen Commander of Angelic Armies- I think I heard that in Fr. Gaitley’s consecration video series, unless I am mistaken. Just today, it occurred to me again how much the rosary is also effective ordinance against the enemy of our souls- sort of like a spiritual bandolier, if you will.

          • LizEst

            All good, Jo! Good to hear from you again! I add the St. Michael prayer at the end of the rosary!

        • nannymar

          In pondering what I have been saying “Behold the cross and fly powers of darkness” wow,that is indeed conversing with the dark side! Another action I do is when I am in Chapel and effected by evil distraction I turn and make a motion of spitting to my right.. as if saying (but not) be gone! This however does work.? Also in the prayer to St.Michael we say: “rebuke him,O God” because only God can rebuke the evil. Then: “by the Divine power given to St.Michael we ask him to cast into hell all evil spirits that roam around the world seeking the ruin of souls”

          • LizEst

            It would be better to make the sign of the cross or use some holy water…or, just say “no” to the distraction (wherever it comes from). Obviously, the evil one is trying to goad you into a battle. Don’t give him the satisfaction. He wants you to take him so seriously that you will focus on him instead of the Lord. They should know by now that Christ has already won the victory. Stupid devils! One thing they hate is being mocked. I don’t suggest you mock them directly, but you could always say: Thank you, Lord, for winning the battle over sin and evil. Another thing they hate is to turn their distraction into praise of God! God bless you and protect you nannymar!

          • nannymar

            Thank you Liz, yes indeed. Another respond on my part is “Beautiful Lord” Beautiful Lord” as I look at the Tabernacle and continue with prayer. Actually have not done that (pretend spit) many times; it seems to have dispersed itself.
            Christus vincit; Christus regnat; Christus imperat….another phrase from bygone but viable days past.

          • LizEst

            Excellent!

          • marybernadette

            The Devil knows he has lost the Battle, the dumbest thing he did
            was to use the ‘Jewish Authorities’ to have the Lord crucified. Of course,
            it would be very wrong to call the Jewish people ‘killers of Christ’ which
            tragically has happened in history. We, of course, are all responsible
            for the Lord’s Death by our ‘sins.’ What an amazing God to take something that was meant for evil ‘crucifixion’ and turn it into something
            ‘Amazing.’ Satan knowing he has lost the Ultimate Battle, now tries
            to drag has many people as he can to hell. As we know in Revelation,
            when the ‘woman was caught up to Heaven’ the ancient serpent and his
            ‘henchmen’ now roam the world ‘seeking anyone they can devour.’ We, the elect, have always to be on our guard as St. Peter warned.’

        • Patricia

          I once heard a world expert exocist also say never to talk to a demon because they know your weaknesses and will know exactly how to present it to play on that weakness. I was surprised to hear him say that a demon can even pray along with you, perhaps the Rosary and keep the rythm of the words in time with his fingers.

          • LizEst

            True! But, that doesn’t mean they like it…and they’re not really praying, just pretending for their own purposes. They can quote Scripture, too. In fact, they quoted it to Christ when he was tempted in the desert.

          • Patricia

            Right, it is another deception. They are not praying, only saying empty words – in imatation and shadow…and most of all to fool someone to try and gain their trust…appearing as a good spirit by “praying”.

  • Judy Silhan

    What a prophetic battle plan. Originally written for those dealing with the evil back in the 200’s, Christians today, continue to find themselves engaged in this battle for souls, which at times, can seem to be so overwhelming that they surrender without a fight. Reflections such as this one from St. Cyprian certainly help to invigorate and renew in us the spirit of boldness to stand strong in what we know to be true, despite living in a culture and world where Satan seems to be on his throne and ruling the hearts of men.

  • NYCFiredog

    Dan, these echoed thoughts that have been coming to me in the last few days. I can feel the times we are in speeding up and prophecies about to unfold while we are living our day to day normal existence. St. Faustina was warned by Jesus and At Kibeho, Medjugorje, Our Lady has been telling us Jesus is about to return, but first persecutions and turmoil, chastisements. Those Jesuit Priests who survived the atomic blasts in Nagasaki with the clothes literally blown off of their bodies but were unhurt and suffered no ill effects of radiation told as the reason, “We were living the message of Our Lady of Fatima”. The Rosary.
    I have two step daughters, 11 and 14. I feel the need to start talking about this and to fortify us now in preparation, with the Rosary, gaining a good handhold on her beads as a life rope when the storms come so we be strengthened while being buffeted. And St. Cyprian’s words in the end are still echoing in my heart and mind;
    “Dear brethren, have all this firmly fixed in your hearts. If the day of persecution finds us thinking on these things and meditating upon them, the soldier of Christ, trained by Christ’s commands and instructions, does not begin to panic at the thought of battle, but is ready for the crown of victory.”

    Thank you for such a timely and wise piece.

    • Patricia

      The hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. (John 16:2)

      • LizEst

        Yeah…if not for what Christ has done for us, that would be a scary thought!

      • marybernadette

        ‘Interesting as I have been asking the Lord regarding the ‘times we are in’ what He wants of me. I know this sounds strange but in ‘British speak’ (it may be old-fashioned now) ‘take it on the chin for the Lord.’

  • Jeanette

    Prayer for Spiritual Canopy

    Dear Lord Jesus, please forgive me for all the times I have not submitted to your will in my life. Please forgive me for all my sinful actions, making agreements with the enemy, and for believing the devil’s lies. I now submit to You as my Lord, dear Jesus. Now I break every agreement that I have made with the enemy. Lord Jesus, please send an assignment of angels to remove and bind to the abyss all demons and their devices that had access to me because I believed their lies. I now ask You to establish a hedge of protection around me, over me, and under me, and seal it with Your blood, Lord Jesus Christ.

    I now choose to put on the full armor of God and ask that You cleanse me and seal me, body, mind, soul and spirit, with Your blood, Lord Jesus Christ. Please have your angelic army bind up and remove all demons, their devices, and all their power from within this protective hedge and have them sent to the abyss. Please have your angels stand guard over me and protect me from all attacks of the enemy. I thank You for establishing an impenetrable shield of protection around me, in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

    • LizEst

      This is a nice prayer, Jeanette. Did you write it? If not, where does come from?

      • Jeanette

        Thank you Liz. Sorry, I guess I should have said where I got it. It’s from a booklet called “Spiritual Warfare Prayers.” Valentine Publishing House, Spiritual Warfare Prayers, P.O. Box 27422, Denver, Colorado 80227. This is my favorite one from the booklet.

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