Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Nunc et in æternum! Amen.
Before I get into the post, I just want to say that since it’s been nearly a month since the March and I don’t think you all want to endure another 2,000 word essay, Imma just link you all to my Facebook photo album so you can see what I saw (they are mostly pictures of the Basilica).
OH! I figure I may as well give you all an update on veiling. It’s been exactly one week since I started wearing my beloved “piece of oppression” (what the feminists probably call it) at my home parish.
If you are reading this, it means the heavens haven’t come crashing down. Yay!
I have only one major nay-sayer. Really, they have been the only one. I am anticipating another one since I felt daggers being stared through me at Holy Mass yesterday but both of them I was really expecting. Why? Because I dealt with them last year. The only difference now: I ain’t budging. If my wearing a piece of lace on my head is such a big deal to them, well, thank GOD it’s Lent, OFFER IT UP for all the CINOs/heretics who put their souls in danger of eternal hellfire by receiving the Lord sacrilegiously and how about for the protection of all human life from conception to natural death (Catholic Social Teaching’s cornerstone right)?
And all other comments I have gotten (from various age groups … including some of my former altar servers) have been very positive and even supportive. One lady, who is a family friend (as in: we go out together a lot with her and her family) said that her mother may have some vintage/antique (there’s a difference) veils that she hasn’t worn in years that she may be willing to part with!
Needless to say, I said that if she was willing, that I would be very grateful. A good traddy girl can never have too many veils.
When it rains, it pours.
And did I mention that I just ordered a new black veil since white/ivory/cream seems kinda outta place during Lent and since I need a black one anyway. My first mantilla was black and I got it in college from the EPIC Catholic store across the street from the traddy Polish parish I attended at the time. I cannot for the life of me remember what happened to it. Luckily, I had a light blue back-up and, of course, my standard cream-colored mantilla, but black goes with everything. lol
I got it from Veils and Mantillas which is a business owned by a “traditional wife” and homeschooling mother of six who lives near the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama (Mother Angelica’s monastery is there). She has a great selection of different styles, colors, and sizes so you’re bound to find at least one that you like! And (at least right now) she is having a sale! Half off! And her shipping is free within the US (sends first class USPS). And you get a bag in which to carry your veil so it doesn’t get snagged and nasty! WIN!
A few friends and I started a Facebook group for Catholic women who veil and when one of us commented that the lady at Veils and Mantillas was having a sale, four of us went online and bought veils. lol She shipped a few veils to Michigan on Friday. lol
Yeah, I am excited about getting that veil. Yeah. Quite excited.
I am just so happy that I am finally being able to be more fully myself at the parish that has been my home since I was baptized. It sucked to feel like a hypocrite for a year but it was a penance and no penance is undergone for naught. Kinda made it all worthwhile.
Moving on …
When I was at Holy Mass yesterday, the Gospel really stuck out to me. I love the Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent in that it details how Christ owned the Devil in the desert when he was trying to trip Him up with temptations of temporal power and glory. hahahahahhahahahahaa.
Oh, Satan, you’re so diabolically silly (and stupid) blinded by your evil and pride! Silly as death.
For those who need a refresher, here is the text from the USCCB website:
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,
to be tempted by the devil.
He ate nothing during those days,
and when they were over He was hungry.
The devil said to Him,
“If You are the Son of God,
command this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered him,
“It is written, One does not live on bread alone.”
Then he took Him up and showed Him
all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.
The devil said to Him,
“I shall give to You all this power and glory;
for it has been handed over to me,
and I may give it to whomever I wish.
All this will be Yours, if You worship me.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“It is written:
You shall worship the Lord, your God,
and Him alone shall you serve.”
Then he led Him to Jerusalem,
made Him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to Him,
“If You are the Son of God,
throw Yourself down from here, for it is written:
He will command His angels concerning you, to guard you,
With their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“It also says,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
When the devil had finished every temptation,
he departed from Him for a time.
-Saint Luke 4:1-13
That last line caught my attention. Why? Because of what it says: “… he departed from Him for a time.”
Just because Our Lord overcame the temptations of the Evil One (of course, He did, He’s God) this time, does not mean that the Devil gave up on Him. We can assume that he came back because Luke indicates that he didn’t just give up on trying to get the Lord to fall … “for a time.”
The Evil One is very persistent. Sadly, I can attest to that from my own experience and from what some have shared with me.
The Devil is not limited by corporeality (he doesn’t have a physical body) and thus does not tire like man is prone to because of bodily limitations and fatigue. The Devil is a powerful (but fallen) angel. He, and all demons, have all the time in the world. They are very patient. They can bide their time with a soul and wait for the right time to “attack” it with temptations.
The Devil was a seraph (at least, this is from what I have learned, correct me if I am wrong), a member of the highest choir of angels (seraphim … six-winged angels) and his name was Lucifer (“light-bearer”). He fell because of his pride. He thought was was “all that and a bag of chips” and by merit of that, he didn’t need to obey God.
Wrong. But his error spread and he convinced a whole cohort of the heavenly host to join with him in his rebellion against God.
Angels, having irreversible wills, once they choose to disobey God, cannot go back on their decision and must suffer the consequences thereof for the rest of eternity. When Lucifer and the angels under him rebelled and Saint Michael and all the good angels threw them to earth and to Hell, that was final. The Devil cannot send the Lord a memo-prayer saying: “I am sorry, Lord. I won’t do it again.” Nope. Cannot happen. Once you’re in Hell, you’re always in Hell.
On the other hand, man has a reversible will: we can choose to do the good or the evil. However, that is not final (for most of our earthly life until death). We can choose to repent of our wrong. We can choose to doff the good and pick up the evil.
The Devil hates that. Among other things.
But anyway …
That phrase stuck out to me because it reminds me of the Devil’s persistence. Like I said, he has all the time in the world. Just because he doesn’t get us to sin at one point doesn’t mean he’s not waiting for the perfect time when our guard is down to get us to fall.
I can speak from experience.
I won’t get into detail because that’s between me, the Lord, and my confessor but I can give the basics.
I have struggled with a many vices during my life. But there has been one that was always my Achille’s heel. While I have learned how to temper it, I have to always remain vigilant.
Oh, and when you have strengthened your defenses in one area of your life, he will move onto another area that you think is secure.
When we fall into the mindset that we cannot be tempted or our chances of falling into a past sin are minute, I call that state “spiritual cockiness.”
Because it takes cajones (stupid cajones) to think that the Devil won’t find a way to get you to fall. He will take advantage of that false sense of security faster than you will be able to notice it. One second you feel fine, like you just need to keep going just the way you are and that nothing can keep you from doing so at this point, then BOOM! you fall to the very sin/temptation/proclivity that you thought you had overcome.
Clear? Probably not with how I explain things. Let me use two examples to illustrate it more concretely.
Let’s say someone has a good prayer life. They pray their Office regularly and they have stayed rather faithful to their rhythm (prayer in the morning and at night). This continues for a long time without problem. Then, when they are in their “prayer groove” … suddenly, one night, they decide they don’t really feel like praying or that they are “too tired” and that “God will understand.”
Sure it may happen once in a while and then you get back into the groove of a regular prayer life. That’s all right so long as we don’t let it become habit.
But let’s just say that it starts to happen more often, soon they are skipping prayer more. Then, leaving their spiritual life unchecked, they begin to skip more than they are faithful to their prayer life. Then they really open a door to the Evil One. A lax prayer life is the Devil’s gateway to further temptation in other areas of one’s life.
The Evil One has many tools when it comes to undermining the security of a soul. Sometimes he uses a chainsaw where he starts hacking away violently (when you fall, you fall hard and fast). Sometimes, he uses a pick axe: not as quickly as the chain saw but it does enough damage in a short amount of time. Other times, he uses a nail file: slow and steady undermining of the integrity of the soul like a nail file taking bits off a fingernail as it moves closer and closer to the quick. And still yet sometimes he uses dental floss: When he gets into the nooks and crannies that are gaps in the strength of the soul and tries to further widen the gaps so he can fill them with his influence under the guise of the quasi-minty freshness of sin (“It’s not a sin” and “Every one is doing it”).
In this situation, the Devil got the person to stumble once in their regular prayer life and gave them a justification for it. He allowed the person to get back on course, knowing that the hardest stroke is the first one. Then, once the person gets back into a false sense of security, he got back to work. Bit by bit, the unguarded soul’s spiritual life is chipped away and then, when the Evil One sees that he has the soul where he wants it, he starts hacking to the point that the person’s spiritual life suffers severely.
Here is another situation that directly involves sin:
A person struggles with sins of lust and impurity. Having lived in a rather nasty nasty state of sin for a while, they confess their sins, receive absolution, and make firm purpose of amending their life in the future.
They are doing well with their intentions to not fall into to those sins again and that continues for a very long time, years even (remember, the Devil is patient). Eventually, the person begins to think that they have overcome that phase in their life and those sins and proclivities are no longer things about which they have to worry.
The Devil has been waiting in the shadows all that time and now he sees that he can start working toward undermining the soul now that they think they can’t be affected by temptations of that sort anymore. He just has to pick if he wants to go at the soul with the chainsaw (quick and painful) or the pick axe (gradual with less pain).
When the soul thinks it has moved beyond a sin or temptation, that is when the Devil will begin to work at proving the soul wrong in the worst way possible.
We always have to keep up our guard against the wiles and temptations of the Devil. We can’t allow ourselves to fall into a sense of security or spiritual cockiness.
I am always reminded of what a priest once told me about the Devil: He wants us dead and in Hell with him suffering like him for the rest of eternity. He will do ANYTHING he can to get what he wants. Anything that can hurt the Lord, he will do. Leading the souls of those He loves the most (mankind who is made in His Image and Likeness and out of love) is the worst thing he can do so he intends to do it as much as he can.
Want some of the saints’ words on Hell? Check this out from Saint Peter’s List.
How do we fight temptation?
-Avoid the near occasions of sin be they people, places, or situations. If there are relationships that put you in proximate occasion of sin, end it, the eternal salvation of your soul is worth more than a sinful relationship that gives you a false sense of happiness.
-Go to Confession regularly and make good confessions every time (Father Z’s tips on Confession and Father Acervo’s article on how to go to Confession … they may be overlap but that only indicates how important it is). Ask the Lord to send you a good confessor.
-Develop and remain steadfast in a regular prayer life (if you fail, pick yourself back up and keep going, don’t fall into acedia. Once acedia creeps in, it can be hard to overcome and it only opens the door for the Devil to get his claws into more parts of your life. The health of the spiritual life plays into the quality of the rest of the person in a major way (spiritually strong = strengthened against other issues; spiritually weak = greater chance of falling in other aspects of life)).
-Spiritual direction. Solid spiritual direction. A good spiritual director is someone who will keep you accountable and on track. You want someone who will be honest with you and not worry about “upsetting” you with his honesty. My personal preference is for a priest-spiritual director. Pray to the Lord and ask Him to send you good and holy spiritual director.
-Examine your conscience EVERY night. Be honest with yourself. Self-knowledge is a good weapon against the wiles of the Devil. Don’t give him an inch or even a nanometer, he’s greedy like that. Here are some articles from Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction on the examination of conscience.
-Assist at Holy Mass whenever you can (in addition to Sundays and holy days of obligation). The Holy Mass is the greatest source of grace, the grace we receive from assisting at Mass is invaluable. The grace we receive from receiving Holy Communion worthily is even more invaluable and further steels the soul against temptation and its concupiscence.
-Oh, and don’t forget penitential practices. Observe Friday as a special day of penance. Penance toughens up the soul and helps it to look beyond instant gratification and makes it think beyond the self.
-Develop a devotion to the angels (especially your guardian angel and Saint Michael). Call on them often.
One day, I was watching EWTN and there was a priest talking on what to do when one is in experiencing great temptation at that very moment.
What he suggested was brilliant in its simplicity:
Start praying the Hail Mary.
The Devil HATES and is AFRAID of Mary. She is the woman that the Lord foresaw would step on his head with her heel. She’s our Mother and she will do anything to defend her children from that which wishes to harm us and keep us from her Divine Son.
You can also call on the Lord on the Cross since it is by the Cross that the Lord overcame sin and death’s power over mankind.
Remember, the Devil only has as much power over you as you give him. You give him an inch, he will take a mile. You give him a nanometer, he will take a kilometer. He’s greedy when it comes to driving souls into Hell. He wants your soul in Hell. He wants my soul in Hell. Don’t give him the satisfaction. Live your life close to Christ and Our Lady and you cannot go wrong. When you fall, do not dwell on your sin: confess it, be absolved, do penance, and amend your life. That absolutely angers the Devil. Make him mad. Often.
And never ever think that you are above a sin or proclivity. (Proclivities are not in themselves sins but they can lead to them so they should be fought before being allowed to grow) It will be those very sins and proclivities that will be your downfall because the Devil is intimately connected with pride and to think that one is “above” a sin or proclivity is a form of pride. He will play that to his advantage.
And if you have committed a serious sin or if you haven’t been to Confession in a long time (over 6 mos or even less), do not let another day go by without making a good confession and having that sin/those sins expunged from your soul.
No sin is beyond the mercy of God. His mercy is the deepest abyss into which our sins are cast. Go to Confession. Remember, the Devil doesn’t want you to go to Confession. He wants your soul to fester with sin and despair. Despair is the antithesis of hope. Hope in the mercy of God. Ask for the mercy of God and you will receive it (and tick off the Devil in the best way possible. WIN.).
Try to go to Confession as often as you can. Frequent confession does strengthen the soul and it helps keep the heart from being weighed down with sin and protects it from the temptations of the Devil.
All right, that’s enough sin talk for today. It is Lent after all. A time for all of us to take an account of our lives and see how we can improve our relationship with God and one another. One of those ways is keeping our souls clean and our consciences clear.
Have a great day!