"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Monday, April 23, 2018

Resisting the Devil by the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893

Resisting the Devil
by the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893
"An enemy hath done this."--Matt. xiii. 28. 

 Today's Gospel is explained by our Lord Himself a little further on in answer to a question of His disciples. He tells us that by the good seed in the parable are meant "the children of the kingdom"--i. e., good, faithful, practical Christians; that the wicked are the cockle appearing in the field of the Church. 

There are some who trouble themselves about the question why God should ever have permitted evil to exist at all; perhaps they will even go so far on that account as to impugn the wisdom of God. Why, they ask, since God is almighty, should He have permitted evil to exist when He could have prevented it, especially since the result of it all is the loss to so many of His creatures of the end for which they were created?

Now, while to-day's Gospel suggests this problem--a problem that has troubled man's mind for ages--the same Gospel suggests also the solution; not, indeed, that it gives a complete answer to every question we may ask, but the solution of the problem so far as its practical bearing on the difficulties in our own daily life and work is concerned. And why should we seek to fathom the depths of the eternal counsels of the Creator, asking why He does not root up the cockle in His creation? We know, and it is enough for us to know, that there is an Almighty, All-wise, All-good, All-loving God, and, on the other hand, the fact of the existence of evil is evident to us.

Whether the reasons we can give for this fact are satisfactory to us or not, the fact itself remains as it is. The enemy has sown his bad seed, and the mixture of good and evil is there and stares us in the face, wherever we go and whithersoever we turn.

Whether we understand the reasons for this or not, of this one thing we may, in any case, be sure, that for everything God does or permits He has His own sufficient reason. It is blind folly for us to seek with our puny minds to penetrate too deeply into the mysterious side of God's providence. Let us then be content with the explanation of our Lord, that the cockle is allowed to remain for the good of the wheat. It is through combat with the powers of evil that we are made strong and perfect.

History tells us of a great general who was informed by his aide-de-camp that a certain regiment directed to take possession of a hill could gain no foot of ground, owing to the tremendous fire of the enemy's artillery planted on top of it. But the chief commander, knowing what his soldiers could do, coldly turned his back on the messenger with the words: ''Forward, then; let them first take the battery." And the record further tells us that this was done, not without great loss on the part of the attacking force, yet done it was at last.

And so shall it be with the battle we have to fight, if we will but remember that our trials and difficulties, however great they may seem to us, are only such as thousands before us have suffered and surmounted. We have first to take the battery. The battery the enemy uses against us is our own passions.

If we overcome our evil inclinations the victory is ours. "He only earns his freedom and existence who daily conquers them anew." The conflict with evil may be under disheartening conditions, but there is never any reason to despair. The steady progress of good and righteousness proves that the struggle is not made in vain. Remember, therefore, the words of St. Bernard: '' That which tires the combatant crowns the conqueror.''