IS the battle in your spiritual life intensifying? As I receive letters and speak with souls throughout the world, there are two themes which are consistent:
- Personal spiritual battles are getting very intense.
- There is a sense of imminence that serious events are about to take place, changing the world as we know it.
Yesterday, as I walked into the church to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, I heard two words:
I felt those words come from Our Blessed Mother, who is preparing her army as this time in The Bastion comes to an end. Standing over us, and among us, as a strong protector and Mother, I hear her saying:
I know you are weak. I know you are tired, my little children. But you must not let your guard down. What I speak of here is “deliberate sin.” Do not allow yourselves to be led astray and to choose the path of sin. It will lead to your destruction. Have recourse to my heart in times of temptation. Call your Mother! Will I not run to my children when they are in danger? Call to me, and I will gather you to myself, and the dragon will not be able to touch you. But you must firmly resolve to choose life, and reject the path of sin.
What our Mother is telling us is that she knows we are prone to sin from weakness. While these venial sins are not insignificant, we should not be discouraged, but rather, throw ourselves into the Ocean of Divine Mercy. Listen to these powerful words of comfort from Mother Church:
Venial sin does not break the covenant with God. With God’s grace it is humanly reparable. Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness. —CCC, n1863
Satan wants to convince you that, because of your weakness and sin, you are not fit for the service of our Blessed Mother and Christ our King. But this a lie. Perfection is not the quality our Lord is looking for, rather, humility. He always chastised the Apostles on two accounts: their lack of faith or their lack of humility. Peter, who deeply betrayed our Lord, showed in the end that he had both faith and humility, and thus Jesus made him the shepherd of souls and rock of the Faith.
Thus, if you look around, you will see that The Bastion is crowded with many great sinners; men and women who deserved the “wages of sin,” but who have been redeemed by the Lord of Mercy because of their faith and humility.
Still, it is a great battle, a great struggle in this life. So Jesus gives us direction on how to deal with spiritual warfare through St. Faustina:
My daughter, I want to teach you about spiritual warfare. Never trust in yourself, but abandon yourself totally to My will. In desolation, darkness and various doubts, have recourse to Me and to your spiritual director. He will always answer you in My name. Do not bargain with any temptation; lock yourself immediately in My Heart and, at the first opportunity, reveal the temptation to the confessor. Put your self-love in the last place, so that it does not taint your deeds. Bear with yourself with great patience. Do not neglect interior mortifications. Always justify to yourself the opinions of your superiors and of your confessor. Shun murmurers like a plague. Let all act as they like; you are to act as I want you to.
Observe the rule as faithfully as you can. If someone causes you trouble, think what good you can do for the person who caused you to suffer. Do not pour out your feelings. Be silent when you are rebuked. Do not ask everyone’s opinion, but only the opinion of your confessor; be as frank and simple as a child with him. Do not become discouraged by ingratitude. Do not examine with curiosity the roads down which I lead you. When boredom and discouragement beat against your heart, run away from yourself and hide in My heart. Do not fear struggle; courage itself often intimidates temptations, and they dare not attack us.
Always fight with the deep conviction that I am with you. Do not be guided by feeling, because it is not always under your control; but all merit lies in the will. Always depend upon your superiors, even in the smallest things. I will not delude you with prospects of peace and consolations; on the contrary, prepare for great battles. Know that you are now on a great stage where all heaven and earth are watching you. Fight like a knight, so that I can reward you. Do not be unduly fearful, because you are not alone. —Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy in My Soul, n. 1760
Our Mother knows that the dangers today are like no other generation. Pornography is two mouse clicks away; materialism pounds at our mind’s door; sensuality drips from the majority of advertisements, programming, and movies; and the light of Truth that would guide nations into true spiritual freedom is growing dimmer and dimmer. And so, she calls to her children, numbed by the constant bombardment, to cry out to her, to grasp her hand, to flee beneath her mantle. And if you are listening, you will hear her direct your soul to the Great Physician who will heal your wounds, bandage them, and strengthen you in the battle. Yes, she will direct you to the Confessional, to the Word of God, and to the Holy Eucharist. Jesus is, and always will be, the answer to our souls aches and heart’s yearnings.
And so my brothers and sisters, let us take this battle seriously! You cannot grow spiritually until you begin to reject the path of sin, especially and most certainly mortal sin. We have to reject sin when it is presented to us in its always enticing and seemingly reasonable forms. Even more so, we must reject the near occasion of sin, so as to keep ourselves distant from the snares which are ever present.
Get up. Renew your vows to God this day, and begin again. Fight like a knight. Your sins are but a grain of sand compared to the Ocean of God’s mercy. Trust in Jesus who would die for you again if need be. Renew your time of daily prayer, that special time alone with God when you open your heart to Him, and allow his Word and grace to transform you. Call out to your Mother whom He gave you beneath the Cross. Hold her hand, and she will lead you—as the Ark led Joshua and the Israelites through the desert—to the Promised Land.
How soon and how completely will we defeat the evil in the whole world? When we allow ourselves to be guided by [Mary] most completely. This is our most important and our only business. —St. Maximilian Kolbe, Aim Higher, p. 30, 31
The invitation to have recourse to a good spiritual father [director] who can guide every individual to profound knowledge of himself and lead him to union with the Lord so that his life may be in ever closer conformity with the Gospel still applies for all—priests, consecrated and lay people, and especially youth. To go towards the Lord we always need a guide, a dialogue. We cannot do it with our thoughts alone. And this is also the meaning of the ecclesiality of our faith, of finding this guide. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, General Audience, September 16th, 2009; commentary on Symeon the New Theologian