MEDITATION OF THE DAY
Christ’s Authority and Power
At first glance, the Church’s teaching on the active and nefarious presence of the demons could be somewhat frightening. And, in fact, when poorly integrated into doctrine as a whole and Christian life, belief in demons has sometimes given rise, individually and also collectively, to an existential anguish, an unhealthy panic, as if man were passively prey to occult powers, whether good or evil, who battled inside him without his consent. This view of things is a clever victory of the demon, because Christianity, quite the contrary, has presented itself from the beginning as a message of liberation from the fatalism and fear inspired by the “Powers.”
To cut short these unnatural fears, it is enough to recall that in the final analysis the demon has no power over us but what our freedom is willing to grant him. Certainly…the difference in nature between man and the demon may seem to make the spiritual combat an uneven match. But it is not, inasmuch as man can freely have recourse to the help of divine grace and of the angels. In fact, this teaching about the activity of the demons is not an invitation to panic but rather to a calm and peaceful vigilance over oneself and to a healthy fear of God.
In this combat, the Church, following Saint Paul, encourages the faithful to put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Eph 6:11)…. Thus the believer participates in Christ’s Paschal victory over the forces of evil. A vigorous life in union with Christ is consequently the best defense against demonic attacks: “The greater evidence we see of demonic power over these depths on earth, the more inseparably should we cling to the Mediator by whose power alone we can rise from the deepest depth to the heights of heaven” (Saint Augustine). Prayer (whether private or communal—“deliver us from evil”), frequent reception of the sacraments, and good works are the most effective weapons of the Christian in spiritual combat.
Father Serge-Thomas Bonino, o.p.
Father Bonino is a Dominican priest, professor at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), and the Secretary General of the International Theological Commission. [From Angels and Demons: A Catholic Introduction, Michael J. Miller, Tr. © 2016, The Catholic University of America Press, Washington, DC. Used with permission.]