How can we avoid the evil spirits around us (and within us)?
March 20 / Second Wednesday of Lent
For I hear the whispering of many — terror all around! — as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” ~ Ps 31:13-14
When at the gym, I occasionally toggle between MSNBC and Fox News, which happen to be abutting (not to mention head-butting) channels. Taking in two such opposed world views is a stark reminder that in our currently polarized society, the idea that the “other side” is out to get us is commonly expressed and accepted. We can name our foes with ease. How does this sense of our enemies carry over into our spiritual lives? Do we still countenance the idea that there are “evil spirits who prowl through the world, seeking the ruin of souls,” as the prayer of St. Michael the Archangel memorably phrases it? Or does this seem quaintly old-fashioned to our progressive and psychologically-modulated sensibilities? To me, the psalmist’s sense that there are agents of evil who wish to pry him away from God rings true. Sometimes these devils come in human form — the friend who pressures us to “have one more,” the family member who knows exactly which buttons to push, the neighbor who scoffs at our going to church when we could be out on the golf course or at brunch. Just as often, though, it is the demons inside us who ply their schemes — goading us to behave unkindly or to betray a commitment because, after all, our needs should come first. These whispering spirits are, as the psalmist knows, underhanded and stealthy. (The Hebrew for “whispering” derives from the verb for “gliding or moving gently,” perfectly capturing the insidiousness of their approach.) These plotters want to disrupt our relationship with God. To keep them at bay, we must guard our hearts, watch our souls and, most importantly, trust God by placing ourselves in his protecting, faithful hands.
Loving God, make me watchful against the incursions of the forces of evil, and keep me faithful to you.Amen.
For today’s readings, click here.
For the full text of the Prayer of St. Michael the Archangel, click here.