Know Your Enemy

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Altarpiece of St Michael - by DAVID, Gerard - from Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna . . . . . .


Know Your Enemy

by Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv

Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv.

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victory.gif (20791 bytes)When we imitate Mary in her humility, we disarm Satan of his power to control us. Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv points out the vital role of the Woman clothed with the sun - the Blessed Virgin Mary and how, relying on her through prayer and exemplifying all she imparts by living her messages, we imitate Our Lady's virtues and can better fend off the evil one, because we are doing what her Divine Son Jesus asks of each of His children.


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The Army of Men from Tolkien's great Catholic epic "Lord of the Rings" is symbolic of the Church Militant here on earth. We are all called to put on the Armor of Christ in the battle against Satan and his evil forces.

The Subtleties of Satan
(The Raging Battle)

There is in our very midst a raging battle in progress between the forces of good and the forces of evil. There is an army made up of those whose primary objective in life is to fulfill the wishes of God, the wishes of Him to Whom every creature owes its existence. There is also an army of those who are in opposition to the wishes of the Creator, choosing rather to follow out their own wishes, setting themselves up as gods unto themselves. The army of those wishing to give their allegiance to God, is being led by Mary, the Mother of God. It is God Himself Who appointed her as the leader of the army, which fights for that which is good and holy. The army of those who choose to turn their backs on God, wishing to live a life totally independent of Him, is being led by a self-appointed leader, Satan. In the final analysis, therefore, this very battle between good and evil, narrows itself especially in our day to a raging conflict between the forces of Mary and the forces of Satan.

As leaders of their respective armies, both Mary and Satan, have their individual objectives. Originally, Satan, as Lucifer, mutinied against God. "I refuse to be a servant of Yours," is the paraphrased statement given by him to God. Because Lucifer was a top ranking angel, he had many angels under him who followed him in his defection from God. It is not known how many nor what they did once out of the presence of God, but when Adam and Eve were created, they came in on the scene in the person of their leader, now Satan.

queenofworld.gif (30221 bytes)There are those theologians who posit a possibility that God created human beings to fill the empty places in Heaven left by the fallen angels. When Satan and his angels fell out of the bond of love between God and themselves, they turned to hatred. Hating God, Satan sought to gain revenge by deceiving Adam and Eve, causing them to take their allegiance away from God in order to capture them for himself. This same expression of revenge is found in our midst this very day.

      Mary knows what Satan is about and works lovingly to protect her children from his trickery and snares. She has received from the Triune God all that is needed to strengthen her children in such a way that Satan's power over them is thwarted. As the Mediatrix of all graces, she places at the disposal of each of her children who turn to her for assistance, whatever it is that they need in order to become aware of Satan's deceptive ways, and be able to overpower him.

It is Mary's wish, as our Mother, as the Mother of Jesus the Redeemer, as the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and most assuredly, as the beloved Daughter of the Heavenly Father, to carry out the plan that has been set forth by the Father to bring that salvation, merited for mankind by the suffering and death of her Son, to every human being who has the desire to be saved. Her chief objective, therefore, is diametrically opposed to that of Satan's. Satan works for the damnation of all human beings, Mary works for their salvation.


The Subtleties of Satan
(Feelings suffocate Reason)

With all of this said, let us now turn attentively to the means that Satan uses to bring about the damnation of every human being. Let us remember that Satan still has his angelic nature - not that he is angelic. In addition, we are told that he held a very high position in the court of heaven. His intellective qualities were of the highest calibre; the power coming forth from his angelic will was exceedingly great. He is assuredly well equipped to carry out his heinous objective of bringing every human being to an eternal ruin. He is no match for any mere human being. In fact, putting to use the perfection's given to him in his creation, he can readily outsmart and cunningly overpower all human beings put together with the exception of her, who is the Immaculate one. He can neither outsmart her nor does he have the slightest power over her.

lucifer.gif (13631 bytes)As the great deceiver, Satan is very clever. He can run circles around anyone of us. He can influence our thinking without our knowing it. He is able to manipulate our minds in such a way that we are led to behave in opposition to the Will of God. He can so jam the network of our intellect that the very notion of God can be blotted out. He can - and does - keep our minds so stimulated with new incoming thoughts that there can be not even one thought left of God and goodness in them. As the prince of this world, and, with the angelic powers which are his, Satan has easily led mankind to a culture which wholly centers around intellection, to the degree that there is no room for the activities of the will. Not only can he do this, as has been said, but also he has already done it.

Satan cannot tamper with our wills. This is off limits to him by God's command. God has made the will to act freely, and only He can work with it, move it, and yet, it remains free to act. Satan can get to the will, though. He can do it indirectly. How? He can and does enter into the mind. Through the mind he gets into the emotions and through the emotions, when we act emotionally, he enters into our behavior. His power is great over the person who lives by his/her feelings. Satan knows that emotions, by and large, can control our everyday behavior especially in those individuals who are ignorant of the gift of the will and act only by how they feel. One FEELS like or does not FEEL like doing something. When one allows himself/herself to be governed by feelings, it is not the same as positing behavior with a clarity of mind and a freedom of the will. Satan has so worked things in today's lifestyle of people that he pretty well dominates what is done in our present day world.


The Subtleties of Satan
(Spread Confusion)

One of the other subtleties of Satan is that he so cleverly works things that it becomes part of the way we live in our day, to take life EASY. DON'T EXERT, is the order of the day. Well, you may say, what's so bad about that? When we don't exert, we do not have power to resist evil, nor do we have energy to do that which is virtuous. We become like strands of straw in a fast flowing river. When we do not put forth effort into life, we become victims of every force in life. Every fad, every promotion of the media governs our behavior. We do not have the energy to make decisions for ourselves. Because Satan has taken the world to be his own, he governs it in the way that serves his purpose; he, together with the demons under his charge, men and women who have given themselves over to him.

lucifer2.gif (31255 bytes)CONFUSE THEM! That is the order that Satan gives to his legions. When the mind does not know what to do or what even to think, Satan has us in the palm of his hand. We know what it feels like when we are driving along to a destination and we become confused because we either took a wrong turn or missed a road sign. Satan thrives on confusion. Hardly does our world today recognize the darkness it has been put into because of the manipulations of Satan in bringing mankind into a state of utter confusion.

      What gives him special jubilation is when he sees that he has succeeded in bringing confusion into Christ's Church. Through this, he has put a noose around the necks of the faithful, for in the state of confusion, they do nothing. Spiritual growth, evangelization, and the influence of the Holy Spirit are brought to a halt, or, to a very slow pace.

Another subtlety Satan thrives on is the introduction of speed into our daily living. HURRY UP! The mind and the will cannot work well when there is the pressure brought on by our culture propelling it to speed everything up. Our way of life is a far cry from that of our grandparents. In years gone by, there was a more deliberated life. People were not so in a hurry and so could take more time to think more clearly and to do things better. It is an interesting point that, as we have with us fast foods, fast this and that, instant this and instant that, we still complain that we don't have time to do what is expected of us. "Hurry up and wait" comes to the foreground quite often. How does Satan gain in all of this? When we try to pray and when we try to serve God, it does not work when we do it in a hurry. The mind and especially the heart need to be in a peaceful state if they are to do their best in the service of their God. God is deprived of so much when we try to give to Him what is His in a hurry.

shepherd.jpg (7387 bytes) The process of separating the faithful from their Shepherd is also one of Satan's subtle ways in gaining control of human beings and revenging himself on God. He, amongst other means, uses the media to accomplish this. There is the dissecting of whatever comes out of the Vatican for the faithful. It is no business of the media, but the media makes it its business and makes it very difficult for the faithful to give respect and obedience to what the Holy Father as the Supreme Shepherd, wishes of his flock. There is so much of the priest bashing going on. Satan has a major part in this, and through it, prods people to lose reverence for their priests upon whom in so many ways they depend so much.

      There are many more subtleties, too many for us to go into now. From what has been already put forth, it is clear that Satan is shrewd and cunning. He is pulling out all stops and making use of every one of his fallen angels, as also people in our midst into whom he has entered, to bring destruction to faith, to trust, to love, to obedience. We must be careful not to become obsessed by him or his ways, for then, we, too, play into his hands.


The Subtleties of Satan
(Mary's Plan for Us)

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Dragon stalks Woman and Child (symbolic of Mary/Holy Mother the Church and Her priests) from the Book of Revelation

When you and I entered the world, we were indeed unaware that we had been born into an arena wherein there is raging a continuous battle between the Woman clothed with the Sun and the Angel submersed in Darkness. Although the opportunity was given to us in Scripture, and, although we may have been told of this ongoing battle, it is not until recent times that anyone of us have had the internal depth experience that there was a war raging, and that each one of us, by the designs of God, is to take an active part in it. It is expected of you and me to make a decision whether to stand with Mary, or with Satan.

Nor is it so simple as to make one decision once and for all. Angels could do so and have done so, but humans have it otherwise. We struggle day in and day out in our decision making. Satan, as the Great Deceiver, revenging himself against God, wishes to steal us from Him, our Creator. Mary, having been given by Jesus, our Savior, the motherly charge over each one of us, pleads that we remain close to her that she might carry us in her arms to the Father to Whom we really belong. Satan uses subtleties to confuse and trip us up. Mary makes use of her motherly wisdom and love that we might not only clearly understand the ways of Satan, but obtains graces for us that we might have continual power over him.

Previously, we had given some thought to Satan's subtleties. Let us now turn our attention to what it is that Mary asks and pleads for in order to give us a helping hand to detect these subtleties and to opt continuously for the directives she offers.

Foremost, and perhaps the most basic of her directives is that we pray. SheHolySpirit_small.gif (21176 bytes) emphasizes this often by repeating the word "pray" three times, i.e. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY. In addition to this, over and over again she speaks of the necessity to pray with the HEART. She asks that we seek guidance from her Spouse Who is the Source of Wisdom, understanding and knowledge. She makes it clear that if we pray, we will find out what it is that the Father wants of us. She continually requests of us to pray the Rosary for in this form of prayer all of the above can be put into practice. christandmary.jpg (4344 bytes)

Mary is the Mother of all children whether these be good, bad or indifferent, whether these be of the True Faith, of other faiths or of no faith at all. It is to all of her children, all without one single exception, that she pleads for prayer from them. Prayer is the umbilical cord that connects each human being with his/her Maker and Owner. This cord may be of different sizes, different textures, different forms, but it must be there if human beings are to be in touch with their Source of Life. Imagine an employee who never touches base with his/her employer. There are many of God's most special creatures on earth who never make contact with Him. Especially for these does Mary weep. She knows well that Satan is the chief destroyer of this umbilical cord, thus contributing to a condition that keeps the minds of human on themselves rather than upon their God.


The Subtleties of Satan

Mary, knowing full well the ploys of Satan, begs through some of her instruments that we go deep, deep, deep into prayer that we get into that prayer that is sponsored by her Spouse, the prayer of contemplation. She knows that the winds of immorality are so strong that unless her children put their roots deep into prayer, they will be blown away and lost forever. She warns against simply SAYING prayers. She never says that we should SAY prayers, SAY the rosary. She knows that unless we have the EXPERIENCE of prayer, wherein we humbly speak from the heart with our Father, and receive His Words through our hearts, we become easy prey for Satan.

Because Satan is prince of this world, he uses everything at his disposal to keep us away from prayer and/or so active in mind with material things, that we cannot pray without being plagued with distractions. Making use of his many intriguing ways, he has seen to it that hardly any one speaks of goodness, that hardly any one speaks of the source of goodness, the will. Without the use of our will, it is impossible to keep our mind on God even for a minute. It is the will that has power, and most especially with grace, to harness the mind and to raise it up to God. It is for this reason that Our Lady emphasizes that we pray with the HEART. The word HEART is being used synonymously with the word WILL.


Man does not think, reason, judge, with his brain; he does these things with the supra-organic faculty of mind or intellect, a faculty of the soul.
Mind  = Understanding, intellect, intelligence, reason


Satan is the essence of evil; Mary is the essence of goodness. Satan lives and operates in the height and depth, length and width of hatred. Mary, immersed within the Spirit of Love, will ultimately crush the head of the Angelic Hater. She asks us to help her in this by converting to her Son Who teaches us by word and example to love all, even our enemies. As followers of Jesus, we are to be LOVERS. Satan, on the other hand, strives with all of his angelic power to keep human beings in the head, i.e., the mind. He enjoins upon whomever he can, to be SMARTIES. The raging battle, therefore, is between LOVERS and SMARTIES. Mary teaches us that if we would become LOVING SMARTIES, wherein both of these qualities flow from our Divine Guest, the Holy Spirit, we have tremendous power over Satan. We will become aware of his traps; we will help to counteract his hatred with our love. (Love is an act of the Will)

All that has been presented above comes under the umbrella of DOCILITY. Ourholysprt.jpg (34054 bytes) Heavenly Mother offers this as one of her main directives. To be docile means to be clear of mind and open of heart to receive the influxes of the Spirit of God. It is this Spirit Who is the SANCTIFIER. It is He Who has the responsibility to remind us of all that Jesus taught. It is He, together with Mary, Who brought Jesus into our midst the first time. It is He, Who, together with Mary, will bring on the Second Advent of Jesus into our midst. It is the Divine Indweller Who, abiding within each of those baptized, will help to make all those of good will, simple as doves, shrewd as serpents. It is for this reason that Mary is directing us to look for guidance from her Spouse. She knows how imperative it is for each one of us to live with the Holy Spirit, giving Him a continuous, generous and free FIAT. Mary pleads with us to live within the Divine Will, so that we, as her children, will pattern ourselves after her. When we are so connected with our God, we are in the position to help Mary to expose the subtleties of Satan and to defeat him, first in our own life and through that, in the lives of our brothers and sisters.

Mary, as "The Handmaid of the Lord," instructs us in humility. She knows how important it is for each one of us to live in lowliness, in obedience, to our Heavenly Father. Satan's number one sin is pride. Satan introduced pride to our first parents and through them to each one of us. It is her loving concern for her children that she directs us to imitate her. It is no difficult task for children to imitate their mother. It falls within the nature of the child. Our humility is a powerful weapon against Satan's usurped power over us. When we imitate Mary in her humility, we disarm Satan of this power.

unithand.gif (2718 bytes)  Finally, Mary never stops asking her children to live in harmony with each other. Every mother wants her children to get along lovingly and to live peacefully with each other. When an effort is made, prompted by grace, to give respect to each PERSON, MADE TO THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD, we weaken and make dull the sharp points of confusion and disunity that Satan makes use of to keep us at odds with each other, thus being of no help to Our Mother in her battle against him. Again, it is to the Great Unifier, the Holy Spirit, to Whom we must resort to be one as Jesus and the Father are One.

trinity_ani.gif (6574 bytes)Because the bond between the mother and the child is the greatest bond known to mankind, the Triune God sent Mary to us to whisk us out of Satan's clutches. If we do not heed her, if we insist on going our own way, we will be lost. Mary is our Leader against Satan. If we fail to follow her, we will be lost to him. To refrain from making a decision to follow Mary by placing ourselves under the protection of her Mantle, is to make a decision to be swallowed up and fall victim to the subtleties of Satan. Mary is the Gift of the merciful Father to each one of His children. While there is still time we are encouraged to implement her directives in our daily living.

Let it be known that there are many more directives that Mary gives than those mentioned. These can be obtained through our life of prayer and through our life with the Holy Spirit. Through our prayer life, prompted by the Spirit, we will not only become aware of these, but will be assisted in implementing them into a network of Gospel living.