THAT’S simply because our life will always be in some warfare. And it is not so much in the outside or the visible world as in the inside or the invisible aspects of our life. Our war will be more in our mind, heart and soul, in our thoughts, desires, intentions, memory, imagination, feelings and passions. We need to be more aware of this reality.
The Book of Job already warned us about it. “The life of man upon earth is a warfare.” (7, 1) We should not take things for granted. We have to learn the art of spiritual warfare which should be a continuing project for all of us, since the battlefronts of this warfare will always be changing.
We have to remember that we are ranged against very powerful enemies, first among whom are our very own selves, our weakened flesh that can be the most treacherous friend we can have. It is afflicted with a three-fold concupiscence: the concupiscence of the flesh, that of the eyes and the pride of life.
Then we have the world that has absorbed the effects of our sinfulness. As a consequence, it now has structures and systems of evil working with great power and influence. Think, for example, of the plague of pornography, corruption and deception, and of the so-called culture of death that now legalizes and normalizes anomalies like abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, etc.
And then we have the devil himself, a pure spirit full of malice and cunning, capable of organizing a very sophisticated conspiracy to trip us in our way to our life eternal in heaven. We should always be wary of him, since he is always hounding us, made worse by the fact that he knows how to make his presence not felt by us. He is good in disguising.
Remember St. Paul’s warning: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph 6, 12)
We should not be naïve. Christ himself told us: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Mt 10, 16) The combination between serpentine shrewdness and dove-like innocence may be tricky, but with God, we can achieve it. There is no doubt about that.
We cannot overemphasize the need for extreme vigilance. This is not paranoia, but rather a basic norm of prudence. We have to do some intelligence work to detect as early as possible any oncoming danger and to nip it in the bud. We have to learn how to say No to temptations and to quell a raging urge, a strong impulse to fall into them. In this regard, we have to really be mean and lean, in perfect shape and fit for battle.
We also have to know how to closely monitor the progress of this warfare of ours, while keeping a stable focus of the ultimate destination we are aiming at. There, for sure, will be many decoys meant to mislead and confuse us. There will be false apostles and prophets and the devil himself can take on the form of an angel of light. (cfr 2 Cor 11, 13) We have to learn how to smell them from afar.
For all this, we really need to be vitally identified with Christ as much as possible, through prayers, recourse of the sacraments, development of virtues, the waging of the ascetical struggle, etc.
We have to learn to be on guard always, never letting our guard down even while resting or having some fun. Remember Christ saying: “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds on watch when he returns…Even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night and finds them alert, those servants will be blessed…” (Lk 12, 37-38)/PN