Now, when we read the phrase ‘Spiritual battle’ it often invokes images of the mighty battle that raged in the heavens between the once favored Lucifer and St. Michael the Archangel. It is the battle in which Lucifer was cast out of heaven into the fiery pits of what became hell, dragging with him all the other evil spirits who did not wish to serve God. The phrase though, can also conjure up dark images of mankind doing battle with demons and the demonic. This image is quite dramatic and not for the faint of heart… although, I am not saying that we will not be called to such heroic scenes, for now, I’d like to focus on the spiritual battles most of us deal with on a regular basis.
We have all heard about putting on the ‘armor’ of God, so we know that as the Church Militant we are called on a daily basis to do this battle. For most of us though, our battles will be a bit more mundane. And unfortunately, some of us even believe that our daily battles really aren’t that important and don’t matter in the whole scheme of things. But nothing could be further from the truth!
Each day we are called to battle. From the very moment our alarm clocks sound, we are called to the ready. You might be surprised to hear, but this is the moment for us to begin our battle. We must rise quickly and without hesitation. God wants us to work for Him, and to do so, we must conquer ourselves… we must conquer our tendency to be lazy… even if it is just for five more minutes… It is in these ‘small‘ battles that we can gain so much from the Lord. Some of our sweetest victories happen, when we overcome ourselves, and offer these to the Lord. For without Him, nothing would be possible. Even St. Josemaría noted :
” The heroic minute.’ It is time to get up, on the dot! Without hesitation, a supernatural thought and . . . up! The heroic minute; here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does not weaken your body.”
This is just one battle, and we haven’t even gotten out of bed! So now dear reader, you can see that as conscious Christians, we are called every moment of our lives to do battle for the Lord. Most of it will be like this, small, and invisible to the outside world. These will be small victories to give to the Lord if we can accomplish them.
Another important part of our spiritual battle comes with us in learning how not to get discouraged when we fail. We may not overcome our temptations or our weaknesses easily, but we mustn’t fret. We mustn’t allow the peace of our soul to be disrupted. In the book Searching for and Maintaining Peace, Father Jacques Philippe writes:
“The 1st goal of spiritual combat is not always in attaining a victory over our temptations and weaknesses, but rather in the learning to maintain peace of heart under all circumstances- even in the case of defeat.”
This is the hard part for most of us. We can find peace when things are going well. When we are alone and no one is bothering us. Or if we have all of our needs fulfilled. We may begin to mistakenly think that if so and so were like this, or if such and such were more like this, well then, I’d have peace. We start to blame our shortcomings on others. We may even begin to think that since we continue to struggle with our personal vises that somehow God is okay with our faults. Instead of putting more effort into our conversion, we still try to change those around us so that we can regain our peace. We don’t even realize that we have given up on the battle. But it shouldn’t be like that. God has made us all for great things… we just have to stop fighting with His goodness.
In order to do the Will of God we must maintain our peace. We can’t expect to overcome all of our faults and failings so easily. It will take work, and lots of sacrifice and prayer. We must rely on God for His help. We must be in total surrender to His Will. That is why we must overcome ourselves in the little things. ‘We’ must decrease so that He can increase’…(John 3:30)
We have so many excuses as to why we lose our peace… The people who try our patience. The project that isn’t coming together. The spouse that won’t change… The list is endless as there are a many number of things that try us throughout the day. This is our battle. Not so much to change them…but to change ourselves. To maintain our peace. It is difficult, but it is our battle… our spiritual battle so that God may work and move in our souls. It is only when we have peace… true peace… that we can then begin to work on eliminating our defects and imperfections. Of course, we must remember, all of this can only be done with God’s grace.
As we start each day, and are confronted with our ‘spiritual battles’, let us face each of these moments with the desire of doing God’s Will. Let us work to overcome our tendency to want to do it by ourselves and let’s open our hearts to God’s love so that we may carry His Love in our hearts, not only for the benefit of others but for our own peace too… Remember, this is a daily struggle a daily ‘spiritual battle’ and we will fall. Over and over again, but we mustn’t lose hope or get discouraged … We mustn’t lose our peace, because it is in this first step of maintaining our peace that we can even begin to fight the good fight in overcoming the evils of sin. God Bless.