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April 20, 2009

Fr. John Hardon: The Strategy of the Devil in Demonic Temptations

It was divinely providential that Christ allowed Himself to be tempted by the devil at the beginning of His public ministry. He is teaching us one of the most important lessons we need to learn in life. If He, the living God in human form, was tempted by the evil spirit, then we must expect to be tempted as well. In order to imitate Christ, we must resist the devil as Christ, Himself, resisted the devil.

As St. John tells us, we are tempted from three sources: by the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world is the attractive sinful conduct of other people. The flesh is our concupiscence, the natural inclination that we now have after the fall of the human race, to follow what appeals to us even though it is displeasing to God. The devil is, in some ways, the most powerful enemy we have in the spiritual life.

If there is one thing we learn from the masters of the spiritual life it is to expect to be tempted by the evil spirit. It was the evil spirit who tempted Eve and brought on the fall of the human race. As we reflect on temptations by the devil in our own lives, we must keep in mind who the devil is. He is the evil spirit. Spirit because he is not sensibly perceptible. We cannot hear him with our bodily ears or see him with our bodily eyes. He is an evil spirit whose number is legion and who has been phenomenally successful in seducing untold numbers from their allegiance to God.

St. Ignatius has a key meditation in the Spiritual Exercises on what he calls the Two Standards. The Two Standards correspond to the two leaders in the world who are drawing people to follow them. One leader is Jesus Christ, who inspires believing Christians to dedicate themselves to the extension of His kingdom throughout the world. The other leader is Satan, who is trying to seduce people to follow him for the extension of his demonic kingdom, which, in the words of St Augustine, is the City of Man, which is in constant conflict with the kingdom of Christ. The devil knows that you get nowhere alone, you inspire others to follow you. Then you train your followers and disciples and they will carry on your work. The devil trains his followers to seduce not just people or cities, but whole nations. . . . (continue reading)

Looking for Love in China and Not Finding It

Communist China's "One Child Policy" isn't just stupid, it's extra-strength stupid, as more and more panicked Chinese parents are discovering.

It's common knowledge that the government forces abortion on couples who cross the line and conceive more than the one child legally allotted to them. This disastrous stricture, combined with socio-economic factors, has resulted in a disproportionate number of abortions of female babies, in favor of males.

This Asian behemoth huddles in the shadow of the culture of death — a shadow that in great part it is responsible for casting — because its institutional family planning policies have turned China into one of the lonliest of all lonely hearts clubs.

Let's start with the money quote from this article, as it points out the key reason why these Chinese parents are getting really jittery about their adult sons' inability to find a wife:

"As a result of the one-child policy introduced in China in 1979 and a cultural predisposition for males that has lead to forced abortions and female infanticide, there is a disproportionate number of eligible young men in the country.

In the year 2000 there were 117 boys for every 100 girls – and that ratio is believed to have grown.  Worrying about your child’s marriage prospects has long been a major part of Chinese culture, but the striking statistics have compounded the issue."

BEIJING – On Sunday afternoon thousands of people gathered near Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium for a mass blind date.

But the scene was not the usual one of young swinging singles mixing and mingling; rather, it was full of anxious parents looking for love for their still single adult children.

At the entrance a billboard with heart shaped signs gave attendees instructions: "If you are a parent of a son looking for a girlfriend, please wear a blue ribbon. If you are a parent of a daughter looking for a boyfriend, please wear a red ribbon. If you are a single, please wear a tag [saying] ‘I’m looking for you!’"

Parents strolled around hunting for different colored ribbons, striking upconversations and asking for details such as "How old is your daughter?" or "How tall is your son?" They exchanged information, complete with pictures and resumes, in the hope of finding their son or daughter the perfect spouse. . . 

All Information Highways Lead to Rome

This is the true story of a young woman who abandoned the Catholic Church of her upbringing and careened through a spiritual wilderness for years. With stops at abortion, contraception and Evangelical church-hopping, she was finally guided back home to Christ's Church and His sacraments by, of all things, the signposts on the information superhighway.

A cradle Catholic, I'd spent my early years in an Irish-American ghetto in inner-city Boston. Here, during the pious '50s, I'd developed an awed fascination with Catholic culture. I loved its mysterious milieu: the statues, votive candles and stained glass...the Latin hymns, May processions and novenas...the dimly-lit churches filled with incense during High Mass and Benediction. I eagerly read Lives of the Saints, borrowed from the public library's bookmobile. And like many little girls of that era, I dreamed of becoming a nun.

But after we moved to the suburbs when I was eight, the Catholic influence faded. My mom, who'd always inclined toward skepticism, gradually withdrew from parish involvement. By my teens, I too had become a skeptic. I stopped attending Mass and drifted into unreflecting agnosticism.

Then, in my late teens, something happened. After a disastrous semester at an "experimental" college, I was living at home, listlessly looking for a job. On weekend nights, my hippie friends and I hung out at a "coffeehouse" sponsored by the local Congregational church. Soon several friends invited me to a Bible study at the home of a local lady who'd helped organize the coffeehouse. I had nothing better to do, so I tagged along. In the weeks that followed, as we plowed through the Synoptic Gospels, I found myself powerfully attracted to Jesus.

I argued, balked, objected; but I kept coming back for more. Finally, our hostess took us for an overnight trip to a Christian coffeehouse in western Massachusetts. There, when the youth ministers asked if I was ready to receive Jesus, I surprised myself by saying yes. The next morning, on the trip back home, I felt elated, freed. I knew little about the faith I'd just embraced, but I did know I'd passed a turning point. Everything seemed fresh and new.

A few months later, when I returned to college, I discovered that some of my classmates had also "accepted Jesus." But after flirting with Pentecostalism, these friends had hankered for a richer, more liturgical tradition. Now they were attending a local "high church" Episcopal parish. Under their influence, I too journeyed from Fundamentalism to Anglicanism -- and eventually back to Catholicism. . . . (continue reading)

It's Game Time. Are You Ready to Help Fight the Good Fight?

Consider these dismal realities we face today:  The "Notre Dame Scandal," FOCA, rampant moral relativism, militant atheism, anti-Catholic attacks in the media, apathetic and confused Catholics . . . The list of such contemporary problems is a long one. 

If the above challenges bother you as much as they bother me — and I personally believe that they should bother each and every committed Catholic — then I have no doubt that you'd like to do something to help correct the serious problems they represent.

You want to help spread the Truth of Jesus Christ far and wide. You want the Truth to shine even more brightly into this present darkness that is steadily enveloping our world.

Well, now there is a simple, highly effective way for you can join me and many other dedicated Catholics in becoming part of the solution: You can become a member of
the Envoy Institute of Belmont Abbey College — a vibrant, thoroughly Catholic apostolate dedicated to the promotion of Truth to the modern world. . . . please click the banner to see how you can help . . .

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