Prowling for the ruin of souls
The warning is actually meant for everyone, but I believe it is meant especially for priests who carry the most delicate task of ministering the people of God so that Christ, not the priests, would always be shown to them, and that Christ’s words, not the priests’ words, opinions, theories, etc., are what the people hear.
The warning comes from the first letter of St. Peter: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We, priests, should take these words very seriously.
It cannot be denied that a certain worldly culture, so prevalent these days, can easily lend credence to the subject of this warning. Priests are the best target of the devils because when they fall, they don’t fall alone but bring many others with them. The devils are shrewd and they know about the so-called “economy of scale.”
And we have to understand that when we get closer to God because of our work of sanctification and our position in the Church and society, the devil works double-time to trick and trap us. He will use very subtle means, coming up with many good-looking and sweet-tasting ploys that are injected with his venom.
We should always be most discerning. We cannot let our guard down at any time, because the devil does not take vacation until he succeeds with his plots against us.
We, priests, should know how to do spiritual combats with the devil. We ought to know the art of offense and defense. And this can only happen if we try our best to keep our spiritual and supernatural bearing.
We should be the first one to heed what St. Paul said: “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” (Eph 6:13).
We, priests, should take our life of prayer and sacrifice seriously. We should be the first to wage continuing interior struggle, never falling into complacency in this regard. Doing all these does not alienate us from the people, but rather would attract them to us properly.
We have to overcome the myth that by being serious with our spiritual and supernatural identity, we end up acting strange and weird, unable to relate ourselves with the realities on the ground. Hardly anything can be farther from the truth. By being close to Christ, we in fact would know how to act with total naturalness, knowing how to blend with anyone and anything, without compromising the essential.
Let us follow Christ’s advice to deny ourselves and carry the cross with him. That is how we can keep ourselves safe from the deceptive tricks of the devil. That is also how we can effectively show Christ to one and all in an abiding manner, and not just intermittently.
Let us just focus on what we are supposed to do, and give our all there. We are promised that what we give will actually return to us a hundredfold. It’s the best deal that we can have.
One good prayer that we can say everyday in this regard is that addressed to St. Michael:
“St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do you, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.”*
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