How smart are demons



Vigilant against worldliness

Friday October 13, 2017


(from: L'Osservatore Romano, weekly edition in German, No. 44, November 3rd 2017)


Pope Francis warned against the "friendly demons" who, well camouflaged, cleverly suggest temptations and seductions with good manners and end up producing "cultivated" obsessions. These must be countered with "vigilance", which means: "prayer, examination of conscience and works of charity" in order not to fall into "worldliness" and also to deserve the term "unreasonable", which St. Paul reserves for Galatians. Hence the invitation to the faithful at the Holy Mass in Santa Marta on Friday, October 13th, to look at "Christ crucified" and to take off the robe of "lukewarm Christians".

"Many times in his sermons Jesus exhorts us to be vigilant, to watch, to remain in expectation," the Pope immediately remarked. On one occasion he warned to be vigilant "since none of you knows the hour in which the Son of Man will come". Because "vigilance must be prepared according to the Lord's coming". On other occasions Jesus repeated this same advice "and underlines the 'preparation': this is the case of the ten virgins, the wise and those who are not wise, who were unprepared". The first "had prepared everything, including the oil for the lamps"; the second "were just there without thinking about being prepared."

"Be vigilant" is the advice of Jesus, who "advises other times to do this with prayer, vigilance so as not to be tempted". For example, according to the Pope, "he says this to his disciples in the olive garden: they fell asleep out of fear" and he advises: "Pray and watch so as not to be tempted". Thus: "The Lord demands many times to be vigilant" because "the Christian is always vigilant, he watches, he is attentive; he has something of a guard post, he has to be attentive «. And "today the Lord surprises us with another kind of vigilance, which is not easy to understand, but which is very often asked for," declared the Pope, referring to the passage from the Gospel of Luke of the word worship (11: 15-26).

It is practically the case that Jesus “casts out a demon and then this discussion comes about. Some said, "He has Beelzebul's permission," and this whole story; Jesus defends himself and leads them in the dispute almost to the point of ridicule. When he is done, he stops and tells us something that is not a simile: he speaks like a simile, but it is not a simile, he tells a truth. When the unclean spirit has left a person, he wanders through the desert looking for a place where he can stay. If he doesn't find one, he says: 'I want to return to my house that I left'. After he has arrived, he finds it cleanly cleaned and decorated. The person who lives there is free. So he goes there, fetches seven other spirits who are even worse than himself. They move in there and settle down. So in the end it will be worse for this person than it was before. The condition of that person before the demon was cast out of his life was better than this «.

What do these words of Jesus mean and when do these things happen? That was the question the Pope asked himself when considering the passage from the Gospel of Luke posed. "It is a pictorial figure," he explained. And the Lord »takes the figure of demons who wander in the desert, suffering. Let us remember when Jesus cast out those demons who were called "legions" because there were so many, and they ask to be allowed to go into the pigs because they do not want to roam the desert. " And in particular, »it says here:› He wanders through the desert and seeks a place where he can stay ‹and after a while he returns«. But here there is then the "surprise" to return and find the house clean and decorated: the soul of that person was at peace with God and he does not enter ". So "he's looking for another seven who are worse than him."

"That word - worse - is very powerful in this passage," said the Pope. "And then he comes in," says Luke. But 'how does it come in? He enters very nicely: he knocks on the door, he asks for permission, he rings the doorbell, he returns in a friendly manner. " And "this second time it's about well-bred, polite devils". Man does not notice it: they step on velvet paws, they begin to be part of life. With their ideas and their inspirations they also help that person to live better ... and they enter into the life of the person, they enter his heart, and from within they begin to change that person, but very calmly, without To make noise «.

"This [whole] way", says Francis, "differs from that of possession by the demon, which is strong: this is a somewhat 'cultivated' possession by the demon, let's put it that way". And "that is what the devil is slowly working in our lives to change the criteria, to bring us to worldliness: he camouflages himself in our way of acting, and it is difficult, we do not notice it easily." In this way "that man freed from the demon becomes an evil man, a man crushed by worldliness". Precisely "that is what the devil wants: worldliness".

In fact, worldliness is »one step further into - I allow myself this formulation, in quotation marks - 'possession' by the demon. I remember the adjective that Paul said to the Galatians when they took this path: 'You unreasonable Galatians, who blinded you? Hasn't Jesus Christ been made plain to you as the crucified one? '"So, the Pope affirmed," this is a magic: it is seduction, "since the devil" is the father of seduction. Let us just think of what he did with Eva: he began to talk very sweetly ", and" then came out with his 'who is supposed to have enchanted you?' ". But "when the devil steps in sweetly and politely in this way and takes possession of our attitudes, then our values ​​shift from service to God to worldliness."

So "we are lukewarm Christians, worldly Christians, this strange mixture like in a fruit salad made from the spirit of the world and the spirit of God". But, so the Pope's warning, "one cannot live like this: that is far from the Lord, but it is very subtle." The point, Francis went on, is to ask "how it is possible not to fall and get out of this situation". The answer is clear: "Above all, I am taking up the word 'vigilance' again: do not be frightened, as Isaiah said to Ahaz, 'vigilance and calm'", as if he were saying: "Be careful". Because "to watch means to understand what is happening in my heart, it means to pause a little and explore my life". In this context, the Pope did not fail to submit the questions for an examination of conscience: “Am I a Christian? Do I raise my children more or less well? Is my life Christian or worldly? And how can I recognize that? ”For an answer, one would have to fall back on“ the same recipe ”that Paul used:“ look to Christ crucified ”. Because "only before the cross of the Lord does one understand where worldliness is and how it can be destroyed". Precisely "that is the goal of the cross in front of us: it is not an ornament", but "that which saves us from this magic, from these seductions that bring you worldliness".

So the essential question is presented again: “Am I looking at Christ crucified? Do I take the Way of the Cross to see the price of salvation, the price that saved us not only from sin but also from worldliness? ”And then, continued the Pope,“ as I have said, ”is necessary it "the examination of conscience" in order "to see what is going on, but always prayer before Christ crucified". Moreover, "it will do us good to break, but not to break the bones: a break with comfortable attitudes: the works of charity". So: "I like to be comfortable, but I'll do what costs me". For example "visiting a sick person, helping someone in need: a work of charity". And "that breaks the harmony that this demon wants to create, these seven demons together with their head to bring about spiritual worldliness".

In conclusion, the Pope invited “to think of these three things: Christ, the crucified, will save us from these courteous demons, from this slow slide into worldliness; he will save us from delusion, from seduction. An examination of one's conscience will help us see if there are these three things. And the works of mercy, those that cost something, will make us more attentive, more vigilant, so that these so clever types do not come in ”. Finally, he expressed the hope that "the Lord will grant us this grace and remind us of Paul's adjective: 'you unreasonable ones" ".