When I was an evangelical Protestant, we were taught to see the devil everywhere. Got car trouble? It's probably the devil. Took a wrong turn? Again, probably the devil. The devil is talked about so much that it almost becomes paralyzing and one fears you can't really escape him. Ironically, when I became a Catholic, the devil was talked about fairly infrequently. So little, in fact, that one gets the impression that perhaps the devil doesn't really exist at all. But it has only been in the last few years really, that I have come to understand the devil and how he works. I owe that, honestly, to the instructions of a very good priest and traditional Catholicism. I am really grateful for this because I am not sure I would have had the graces to resist the devil just recently. Truthfully, I don't think I would have even realized I was being tempted at all. See this is how the devil works, actually. He is pretty wily. The less you recognize his temptations, the more freely you will succumb.
A few weeks ago, the devil was really working on me. Unfortunately, I didn't really recognize it. I just thought our family was having a financial crisis and that we would someone work through it. But it was more than that. It was temptation knocking and I almost opened the door. Let me explain a bit.
It is incredibly difficult to be a traditional Catholic in modern society. Everyone is modern. 4 out of 10 households have a mother who is the sole or primary breadwinner. And 75% of women with children work outside the home. I have no idea how this translates to Catholic women, but among the Novus Ordo women my age or younger, I knew very few who stayed home and/or had large families. It seemed to me, then, that our family was out of place in our local parish, especially when we had our 6th (and later 7th) child. Later on, when we decided to homeschool, we had friends who actually questioned our sanity. But once we found our way to traditional Catholicism, we found our SILK (single income lots of kids) way of life was pretty normal. Almost everyone we know in our traditional Catholic circles homeschools. And for the last 4 years we have been getting along pretty well. But then things changed....
For the last decade, my mother has been living with our family. Its been sort of a symbiotic relationship really. She was disabled and needed care, which we gave willingly, and she contributed financially with groceries, homeschool supplies, holidays, birthdays, and college. But in December, just before our son graduated from college, my mother had a massive stroke. It almost claimed her life. Instead, she is now living in the nursing home under constant nursing care. I am truly grateful to the Lord for her life and the wonderful nurses in charge of her care, but in addition to the loss of her financial assistance, I have to contribute a small portion the cost of her care. It has been a stressful time just dealing with her health issues, but also making the necessary adjustments in our personal life as well. And this is when the devil hit me....
Day after day, he planted in my mind the idea that I needed to go back to work. This would help, he said. You only need a few hundred dollars each month, he said. Your working is the simplest solution, he said. Don't cut your grocery budget, he said, just go back to work. Oh, yea, and put your kids back in school. It will be alright. They will adjust, make friends. And the voices around me, my own grown children who are fully modern, kept saying the exact same things. I was ready, really ready to give in. Until I saw the robins dancing in the yard....
In the midst of my anxiety, I realized that I hadn't prayed in over a week. I had been so focused on money and finances and worrying about making ends meet and buying groceries that I hadn't bothered to ask Christ for help or direction. I hadn't prayed a rosary. I hadn't sought the intercession of a single saint. I had just given into to despair and depression. But one morning last week, in anticipation of spring, I saw two robins dancing with each other outside my kitchen window. It was a reminder that this long, hard winter was drawing to a close and that spring was coming. And some how I heard these words: "All these things I will give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." It settled in my heart, I heard it, and I heard the twisted, lying voice who said it.
Through my fast, through my preparations, the devil had tempted me. I wasn't prepared. I almost caved. I was willing to put our children in public school, to risk their loss of morals and purity and innocence, their loss of faith, for a few dollars and a few groceries. I was willing to take myself, the mother, the heart of the home, away from the home, for a new car. I was willing to put myself into the workforce with all its sexual temptations, for a vacation. The devil had convinced me that evil was good, and I was willing to compromise my values and just do it!
The devil has one goal---to keep us from heaven. He searches and waits and plots and plans his attack. He creeps up on you and whispers things in your ear. He doesn't come to us in ugly forms because we would recognize him easily. Rather he comes to us in pleasing ways, in compromises, in practicalities. Once upon a time, the Catholic Church spoke out against evils and the whole world listened. In 1930, Pope Pius XI, in Casti Connubii, warned about the dangers of women working outside the home. He called the so-called emancipation of women a crime. He warned that it would lead to the loss of dignity of motherhood, the debasing of women, and a danger to the husband and children who would lose a wife and mother. How prophetic! Strange how the New Church, led by Wojtyla and Ratzinger, have encouraged women to work outside the home and pursue their interests and have given them prominent roles in the New Church! What the Church once called evil, it now calls good. Is this even possible??
Fortunately for me, I have been given graces immeasurable these days. I have come through this temptation. But I am exhausted, both physically and spiritually. In the kitchen that morning I cried out loud and clear, "Begone, Satan! for it is written, The Lord thy God shalt thou worship and Him alone shalt thou serve." I've survived this temptation. Our family will weather this storm, this financial crisis. And we will continue to put our faith and trust in the Lord.
Pray many rosaries! Ask for intercession in these dark times! Never doubt that Our Lord will provide for us! And never forget the devil lurks like a serpent waiting for just the right moment, in your hunger, in your weakness, in your loneliness. He will tell you all sorts of things, convince you of anything, speak to you through your family and friends. So be prepared always! So stay true to your Faith. Know it. Study it. Cling to it! For without the Faith, we have nothing, and we certainly can't resist the temptations of the devil.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, ora pro nobis!
St. Joseph, Protector of the Church, ora pro nobis!
Above image: Satan Tried to Tempt Christ: James Tissot, 1895