to the Holy Ghost,
the famous novena that guides
Catholics day by day in obtaining an increase of the priceless Seven Gifts of
the Holy Spirit -- leading to profound respect for God, enlightenment at all
levels, and joy in life (and even suffering) -- supernatural courage, fortitude,
wisdom, and counsel. Those are some of the graces received when we go to the
Spirit of God, made easy by this little booklet in prayers over the course of
WHEN EVIL COMES WINGING TOWARD YOU, STEP BACK INTO CAVE OF YOUR 'SECRET TABERNACLE'
When an arrow is shot your way, first, step back. Shield yourself in the shadows. Hide in your "secret tabernacle." If it is evil, it will come and then leave. If it is good, it will remain. Evil stays mainly when we step into its path and engage with it.
A priest made this observation the other day: when there is evil directed at you, stay out of clear sight and let it pass. It is time only to pray. There may be occasions, for sure, when we must confront evil head on (all it takes for evil to triumph is good men to do nothing) -- but frequently when something dark is around, it's best to step back and let it pass as it so often will (into thin air).
At the least, pray before you speak or take action. Remain in the comfort of your deepest soul. Step out only when you have girded yourself (Ephesians 6).
Often evil comes from a person who is "puffed up." Usually, it is someone close to us and often in our workplace or families. It is a person who imagines slights. It's a person who "takes umbrage" at everything (around whom we walk on eggshells). It's a person who wants to blame everyone else for their dilemma (see the Lord's own arrows, Deuteronomy 32:23).
It may be a person who attacks simply because he or she is working for a darkness that is attacking the light around you. ("For, behold, the wicked bend the bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string to shoot in darkness at the upright in heart," Psalm 11:2). It's a person with a spirit of anger, and it can be galling. They accuse you of something you never did. They have little good to say about anyone. They ruin fine occasions. You feel their sting in actions or words or e-mails; this is your discernment. "Who have sharpened their tongue like a sword. They aimed bitter speech as their arrow" (Psalm 64:3).
They may insult you. They may give you the cold shoulder. They will seek to make you the "bad guy" when you have done nothing.
Ignore it. Don't drink of that gall. Touch not their venom. They want you to share their grief. The vast majority of snake bites are caused by picking snakes up. Did you know that? Did you ever notice how a prickly bush not only pierces but nearly grabs as if to make you stay?
Until the right moment, remain in your little "sanctuary." Make it a special chapel. Fashion it after the grotto at Lourdes or St. Michael's Cave.
There is always the temptation to strike back when someone is unfair and indeed their darkness should be brought to light. They should not be allowed to cause actual damage. It's not good to allow evil to fester.
But take action only after consulting deeply with God in the secret tabernacle.
Evil always makes itself seem bigger than it is.
When we step right in front of it, it pierces; it gets under our skin. Think about the times you have argued with someone who is obviously wrong and how fruitless it was to engage with that person. It simply ratcheted matters. Did words really turn it around? By retaliating did you convince him or her of his transgression?
The only answer is silence (or very measured conversation).
Until the right moment.
Then, God will intervene.
So will the Virgin.
In the midst of thorns, in the briars, know that the rose blooms, and see Mary in it [right, taken at an apparition].
Reacting with emotion is a mistake because it throws gas on the flames of wrong anger. It also inflates you as a target. The whole of you becomes a bullseye.
Avoid the thorns and arrows. Don't speak with the devil (except to cast him out). Take action only after prayerful contemplation.
Then each movement will be definitive. It is "the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one" (Ephesians 6:16).
"If, in any perils and doubt, you do not stand according to the outward appearance, but if, in every such doubt, you enter into your soul by prayer, as Moses went into the tabernacle to ask counsel of God, you will soon hear the answer of our Lord which will instruct you sufficiently in many things, both present and to come," says the classic book Imitation of Christ. "We read that Moses always had recourse to the tabernacle of God when doubts and questions were to be solved, and that he there asked the help of God through devout prayers, in his own perils and dangers as well as those of the people. So should you enter into the secret tabernacle of your own heart, and there ask inwardly, with good devotion, the help of God in all such doubts and perils."
Is it really "hiding"? Is it really stepping into darkness?
It is being contemplative. When you do step out of the cave, you will be formidable. Evil becomes its own target. It will pass by -- sailing into nothingness. It will pop like a balloon (from the slightest prick). This is the Lord's "arrow of victory" (2 Kings 13:17).
Look for Jesus. Wait. "Then the Lord will appear over them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning; and the Lord God will blow the trumpet, and will march in the storm winds of the south" (Zechariah 9:14).
If God is for you, who can be against you?
The answer is "no one."
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