Thursday, May 30, 2013

Saint Teresa of Avila: She took the Cross to Confront Demons

How does one handle spiritual attack? How powerful are evil spirits? How do they find a way to infiltrate our defenses?

Here we have the counsel of Teresa of Avila.

"Well now," said this great saint, "if the Lord is powerful, as I see He is, and know He is, and if the devils are His slaves (and of that there can be no doubt, for it is an article of the Faith), what harm can they do me, who am a servant of this Lord and King? How can I fail to have fortitude enough to fight against all hell?"

In saying that, Saint Teresa related how she took the Cross to confront demons.

"It certainly seemed as if I had frightened all these devils, for I became quite calm and had no more fear of them -- in fact, I lost all fears which until then had been wont to trouble me. For, although I used sometimes to see the devils, I have hardly ever been afraid of them again -- indeed, they seem to be afraid of me. I have acquired an authority over them, bestowed upon me by the Lord of all, so that they are no more trouble to me now than flies. They seem to me such cowards -- as soon as they see that anyone despises them they have no strength left. They are enemies who can make a direct attack only upon those whom they see giving in to them, or on servants of God whom, for their greater good, God allows to be tried and tormented. May His Majesty be pleased to make us fear Him Whom we ought to fear and understand that one venial sin can do us greater harm than all the forces of hell combined -- for that is really true."

It can be a "great favor," said Teresa, to be given a fight with evil, and "unseemly" to "act like a coward, or be afraid of anything, save of offending God," since He is "all-powerful."

Demons keep us in terror because we make ourselves liable to be terrorized by contracting attachments -- to honors, for example, and "to possessions and pleasures," she warned.

When this happens, said Teresa, they "join forces" with us. We're on the same side!

We certainly don't want that.

We don't want to give them weapons -- allow them to fight against us with our own arsenal.

This comes when we take comfort in vanities.

"Please God that I not be one of these!" wrote the saint (a doctor of the Church). "May His Majesty help me to find comfort in what is really comfort, to call honor what is really honor and to take delight in what is really delight -- and not the other way round. Not a fig shall I care then for all the devils in hell; it is they who will fear me. I do not understand these fears. 'Oh, the devil, the devil!' we say, when we might be saying 'God! God!' and making the devil tremble. I am quite sure I am more afraid of people who are themselves terrified of the devil than I am of the devil himself. For he cannot harm me in the least, whereas they, especially if they are confessors, can upset people a great deal, and for several years they were such a trial to me that I marvel now that I was able to bear it. Blessed be the Lord, Who has been of such real help to me!"

- Spirit Daily