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Posts Tagged ‘Evil’

Christians must guard against slyness of the devil

In Uncategorized on 2014/10/24 at 12:00 AM
ROME, ITALY(CNA/EWTN News)  The Holy Father warned of the discreet presence of the devil, exhorting those gathered to be astute in their spiritual lives.“We must always be on guard,” exhorted the Pope to those who attended Mass in the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse, “on guard against deceit, against the seduction of evil.”Referencing the day’s gospel reading, in which Jesus has just healed a possessed man and is accused of casting out demons by the power of the devil, the Pope noted that often in history there have been those who wish to “diminish the power of the Lord” by offering different explanations for his works, urging that his is a temptation which has “reached our present day.”“There are some priests who, when they read this Gospel passage, this and others, say: ‘But, Jesus healed a person with a mental illness.’”“It is true,” he affirmed, “that at that time, they could confuse epilepsy with demonic possession; but it is also true that there was the devil! And we do not have the right to simplify the matter. No!”“The presence of the devil is on the first page of the Bible, and the Bible ends as well with the presence of the devil, with the victory of God over the devil.”Observing that the Lord has given many criteria in order to “discern” the presence of evil in our lives, the Pope stressed that “we should not be naïve,” and that one of the criteria which has been given is “not to follow the victory of Jesus” just “halfway.”“Either you are with me, says the Lord, or you are against me” he said, noting that Jesus came to conquer the devil and “to give us the freedom” from “the enslavement the devil has over us,” which he cautioned, is not “exaggerating.”“On this point, there are no nuances. There is a battle and a battle where salvation is at play, eternal salvation; eternal salvation.”

He exhorted those in attendance to question themselves, asking “Do I guard myself, my heart, my feelings, my thoughts? Do I guard the treasure of grace? Do I guard the presence of the Holy Spirit in me? Or do I let go, feeling secure, believing that all is going well?”

“If you do not guard yourself, he who is stronger than you will come,” warned Pope Francis, “But if someone stronger comes and overcomes, he takes away the weapons in which one trusted, and he shall divide the spoil.”

“Vigilance…Do not confuse the truth!” stressed the pontiff, giving three criteria of his own to use in the spiritual combat.

“Jesus fights the devil: first criterion. Second criterion: he who is not with Jesus is against Jesus. There are no attitudes in the middle. Third criterion: vigilance over our hearts because the devil is astute. He is never cast out forever. It will only be so on the last day.”

Pope Francis recounted the biblical analogy of the impure spirit who leaves a man, noting that once the spirit is gone “it wanders in deserted places, and seeking rest and finding none, says: ‘I will return to my house, from which I left.’”

When the spirit returns and finds it “swept clean and adorned,” he explained, it then “takes another seven spirits worse than he, who come and make their homes,” and in that way “the last state of man becomes worse than the first.”

“Vigilance,” he stressed, “because his strategy is this: ‘You became Christian. Advance in your faith. I will leave you. I will leave you tranquil. But then when you are used to not being so watchful and you feel secure, I will come back.’”

“The Gospel today begins with the devil being cast out and ends with the devil coming back! These are not lies,” he urged, “it is the Word of the Lord!”

“Let us ask the Lord for the grace to take these things seriously. He came to fight for our salvation. He won against the devil! Please, let us not do business with the devil! He seeks to return home, to take possession of us… Do not relativize; be vigilant! And always with Jesus!”

National Catholic News Agency
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Essential Truths

In 07 Observations on 2014/02/21 at 12:00 AM

Detailed notes taken by Aida Tamayo on Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism Series

EXISTENCE OF GOD
St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas present a strong case for the existence of God, using math, reason, and logic. Aquinas developed 5 arguments.  Contingency.  Things come into being and they pass out of being.  They don’t carry within themselves the reason for their own existence; there is an extrinsic cause that brought them into being- a cause outside of them…  A flower opens up and withers, a dog is born and dies, a cloud develops and passes away, even the planets are contingent and will end one day.  We haven’t explained the existence of any of it.  We must come finally to some reality which does exist through itself, to some necessary being whose very nature it is to BE.  This is GOD.  Keep this in mind and remember the answer Moses got when he asked God its name: I am who AM. Not a being among many, but the one whose very nature it is to BE.  The theological language is meant to change us spiritually in relation to God.  God is the one I can never control.  Through a sheer act of generous non-violent love, He creates all from nothing.  Personally, I don’t question God’s existence, just His Will when it comes to me.  Working in Faith Formation, with a temperament for reflection, and with Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament next door, I have the opportunity to experience God daily, and I need no other proof of God’s existence.  I see Him acting everywhere and to me His existence is palpable.

MYSTERY OF GOD – HE WHO IS
This is a reality – Psalm 139 tells us that we cannot grasp God in his transcendence, and we cannot hide from him either.  Adam and Eve learned this hard lesson having tried to do both. We just need to Love Him.  Augustine said:  If you think you understand God, then it is not God.  St. Augustine also knew that our souls are searching for eternal satisfaction and it is not to be found in any terrestrial thing.  Jesus also revealed to us the Trinity: The lover, the beloved, and shared love (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

THE QUESTION OF EVIL
If God is benevolent why does he permits evil?  I used to ask myself that same questions until one day I gazed upon the body of Christ on the cross above the tabernacle.  I got it, this is the greatest evil ever committed in the history of humanity:  The killing of Goodness Himself by His own creation, in the most horrible way possible.  We are not talking about sinful men killing sinful men.  We are talking about sinful men killing the One who sustains them, the One in front of whom they should have been prostrated in adoration.  Even after Jesus in His humanity asked the Father to take this cup from him, He still surrendered to the Will of the Father and so this most hideous evil occurred.  Why did God the Father willed that the Son submit to evil? There are a few lessons here.  I finally realized…this has to do with free will, choices, and consequences and God’s perfect balance of justice and mercy… and yes, our place in the order of Creation.

LESSON FROM THE CRUCIFIXION OF THE SON
1. Good over Evil – God allows an evil to occur to bring about a greater good.  (For example, Christ’s death and resurrection).  On the cross the darkness of the human condition met the fullness of divine love and found itself transfigured into light making even death itself a place of hope.  Good and evil meet. Justice and mercy flow. His justice flows from His holiness, His mercy flows from His love. Thus the Suffering Servant.

2. The Suffering Servant – Jesus suffered for our inequities (justice) so that turning to Him we can find mercy.

3. Underserved Suffering – What about evil that befalls us causing underserved suffering like it did Jesus?  Let’s take Job from Old Testament, a righteous and faithful servant who saw everything taken from him.  When Job challenged God on this question, God took Job on a tour of the cosmos, showing Job all the patterns of His designs and how the event of Job’s life is but a dot in the great canvas of God’s Creation.  God looking from eternity has a perfect view of all events and he is always bringing goodness out into existence. Job saw his suffering was not wasted and at the end greater goodness came about in his life.  We lack holiness to offer sufferings directly to the Father for reparation but can join our suffering (deserved or underserved) to Jesus’ suffering to help others.  When we look at our lives, we must include eternity in our range for this to make sense.

FREEWILL, CHOICES AND CONSEQUENCES –

The Church teaches that when God created humanity He gave it a touch of divinity by creating a soul in his image with faculties to reason (intellect), to choose (will), and capacity to remember (memory).  Unlike God the Son who was begotten not created of the same nature as the Father, we are just a creation with limitations and lacking the attributes of the creator.  Our perfection and goodness is tied to our union with God by freely choosing love and fidelity to Him. The moment we take our eyes off God and contemplated ourselves as God’s equal we opened the door for evil.  God cannot commit evil because his essence is love and goodness.  He is the source of Goodness.  If we separate from the source, then our goodness fades away.  What remains is evil.  Evil does not have an origin as does goodness, it is the lack of goodness.

We are made in God’s Image, but we are NOT His equal.  Every time we make a choice there a consequence that will bring us closer to God or set us apart from Him.  Evil in the world is the result of choices humans have made throughout humanity’s existence that negates the goodness of God, because the choice goes against one of God’s laws, whether it is physical, moral, or natural laws.  God is always acting to bring goodness out of evil but if He gave us the freedom to choose, He will respect our choices, thus the suffering.  If more people were making good choices we would see goodness overtaking evil.

A Trilogy of the Unreal: Part 3 – The Reality of Evil

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2012/07/28 at 9:09 AM

There are those who contend that the U.S. has become awash in sin, corruption and evil of all kinds. They can offer rather convincing statistics to support their belief. They cite the high abortion rate (55 million), the billion-dollar pornography industry, the high numbers of illegitimate births and the explosion of sexually transmitted diseases and more.

There are even more who contend that there is nothing wrong and that those who do “evil” are not immoral at all, but are merely exercising their free choice to determine for themselves what their personal moral code will be. (Can a society survive without objective moral codes?)

Why do we call evil “evil?” It is the opposite of good and in order to call anything evil, we must be familiar with a standard of goodness. If we did not know what was morally good, we could never judge anything to be morally evil because there would be no standard of comparison. The only absolute standard of goodness is God and His moral law which binds all humans to obedience whether they believe it or like it or not. When an action or a series of actions violates the natural moral law, it is considered to be evil or sinful.

A problem arises when a society rejects God, at least in practice as has American society. The standard of moral goodness is changed from the infallible God to fellow human beings in various positions of power: legislators, judges, media. They tend to set the standard based usually on personal and subjective preferences. Those who do not like the restrictions of divine law to begin with easily succumb to the lure of evil now described as a good, or at least no longer evil. (None of this changes God’s mind at all.)

Machiavelli, the author of “The Prince”, taught that humans were basically evil in action and intent. Jean Jacques Rousseau, the French “philosopher”, taught that people are all basically good and that society corrupts them . . . forgetting that a society is composed of people.  St. Paul called men sinners, but he did not say they were evil. The Church teachers that, because of Original Sin, man has a tendency to sin and evil and does fall, but is not per se evil because there is the possibility of forgiveness for the repentant. Evil does not seek forgiveness because real evil sees nothing to be forgiven for because it does not see its evil actions as evil.

There is an objective standard of moral goodness and moral evil (sin). This is imposed by the Creator and its validity and force does not depend on human acceptance of the standards. This is the standard by which all humans will be judged. Too many people think they are free to change divine law to suit themselves. The Supreme Court attempted this in Roe vs Wade. The problem is that God did not agree. A city council cannot change state law and a state cannot change federal law, and humans cannot change divine law . . . even though they attempt to do rather frequently.

The safest course is to strive to be on God’s side if for no other reason that no human or group of humans has even a scintilla of divine intelligence. Why follow the ignorant and weak? “Right is still right even if no one is right and wrong is still wrong even if every one is wrong.”

The choice is ours, choosing human “wisdom” because it appeals to us is at least risky. Choosing divine wisdom is not always to our liking, but it will keep us on the right road. And only the right road will reach the destination.

Repentance

In 07 Observations on 2011/04/22 at 3:39 PM

One cannot merely scrape away at the surface of evil; one has to get down to its roots, its causes, the inner truth of conscience….Lord, let me know how to live and walk in the truth.  K. Wojtyla