Weekend Reflections for 9/6/19
Our Ongoing Spiritual Conflict
At the White House retreat center I hear many confessions. It is not uncommon for someone to begin with a statement like: I don't know what my problem is but I just seem to be confessing the same things over and over again. Sometimes I somewhat facetiously remind them that they are not perfect yet.
I sometimes remind them of Ignatius Loyola’s advice on dealing with the spirit of evil (whom he refers as the enemy of human nature or just the enemy). Ignatius points out that the enemy never stops trying to upset and frustrate us in our endeavors to draw closer to the Lord, and that one tactic of the enemy is to attack us where we are most vulnerable or weak.
In this Sunday's Gospel Jesus very clearly presents the radical demands of being his follower. There is no one person or thing which has priority over our following of Him. Moreover Jesus does not soft-pedal this. Rather he reminds us that just as the taking up of the cross was at the heart of his discipleship, so it will be a lifelong endeavor for each of us.
In many different ways the enemy will always be suggesting other priorities for us. And if working through our old faults and peccadilloes provides an opening for this, he will not hesitate to keep repeating this approach. But we too through our own self-examination are aware or can become aware of what our weakest points are. With this self-knowledge we can plan our own strategies to counter the attacks of the enemy.
If all of this sounds like a spiritual war or conflict to you, your analysis is correct. The enemy wants to weaken or destroy our allegiance to Christ; Jesus literally gave the totality of his life so that we might become and remain his disciples. So he very much wants to assist us and urges us to ask him for his grace and assistance.
-Fr. Jim Blumeyer, SJ