The ARM of St. Michael
The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. – Deuteronomy 6: 5-6
Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured. Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. -Matthew 17: 17-20
The apostles are confounded that they could not drive out the demon. Were they trying to do the driving? Reading this Gospel in the light of consolation, Jesus reminds the apostles, and us, Who is the power, and who is the faith in the power.
Our Christian life is an odyssey to see and learn how many ways God moves His powers, and in relation to faith. There will be no end to the practice of the presence of God, being ever more aware of Him, knowing without seeing, His finger moving everything for the good.
In the hour of temptation, how many of us in weakness, at the edge of intoxication’s abyss, desire to be rid of an unclean spirit? Do I call on the Lord or do I choose to handle the storm myself by jumping into the water? The “satisfaction” of lust is an eternal illusion. Moreover, that lust intoxication induces repulsion for prayer is reason to prayer constantly, as often as possible.
What mercy that God does not punish us for our crimes. We punish ourselves with our crimes. Where does our love of God fly to?! The involuntary vice of sexual compulsion has tied us to inordinate excitements which make us wither away from a clear headed need to love God. Sin makes us stupid. Lust comes as a thief at night. Is our courageous desert faith suddenly microscopic and cold in the face of lust’s tropical warmth?
It is our stupefying intoxication that rebukes us with: “Where is your God?” But the Father says “Those who believe in Me have nothing to fear.” The meeting of David and Goliath gives further example of what is unconquerable, unless God is the conqueror, a God who is respected, valued, remembered, leaned upon in humility and with love: in whom we have faith. Here is David’s stratagem, humility and the loving certainty of God’s favor and intervention. This is pretty difficult for the drunken.
Do we the tempted stand with David? Or do we nauseously enter the cloud, somnolently greedy for intoxication because of the unpurged archive of attachments carried around in our old hearts, ever overlooked as the correct subject of our own prayers?
Is God our rock, our fortress, our deliverer, our shield, our horn of salvation, our stronghold, our Loving Father? Our weak faith must convict us. Faith must open out into all the affection and worship The God deserves by definition being the principal object of all faith: reverence, primacy, priority, supremacy, dominion, omnipotence. Where is our faith?
Avoiding a fall does not call for a last minute guess. Does it not happen well before that? Why do we remain silent when the subsonic hum of arousal eases in over days without any actual trigger in sight? Is it not like high pale overcast days before a hurricane? Why do we ignore the signs? Sadly, do we want to obey our cherished sin, to feel “alive”… again?
The implication of ‘with all your heart’ convicts us first about what is presently in them. ‘With all your heart’ would have to preempt a number of other things in order to be an undivided gift to God. We are so greatly in need of being restored to the knowledge of God’s loyalty and super-abundant mercy.
God tests our hearts to see what’s in them. The tests will come to sift us for fidelity, for real faith. Are we the child and is He The God? Can He be placed before the intoxicant? Are we fawning after a grass eating bullock, a lifeless objectification? Do I still know the difference between right and wrong? Do we want to crucify our attachment? Are we praying?
But again the test remains the same as for the apostles. We are helpless to rid ourselves of anything! The primacy of God must be asked for and allowed. Asking for fear of the Lord is a blesséd good idea. Humble prayer and diligent, vigilant faith can work the impossible. But God alone is faith’s surety.
God sifts our hearts down to the cell, seeking with his scalpel of mercy to sever our deepest self-reliance, our iron-grip attachment to the “life preserver” of private intoxication. Can we confess that we actually live for sexual arousal as if it were the be all and end all of any experience on earth? i.e. more desired than even company with God? But He doesn’t do the surgery unless we want it and ask for it, confessing our tumor of corporal weakness.
The peril of our holding on is articulated in a passage by David Murray on the primacy of the spirit, that deepest part that is capable of participating in the life of the Divinity, over the “soul” and “body” in the human structure. “The earthly person must respect the spirit’s right to holiness, to the possession of God made possible by the Redeemer, and act in accordance with the supernatural longings the spirit experiences.”
Those who cling to the idol, cling not to spirit but to flesh, choose to stand with the wicked, and are scattered like chaff by the wind. Do we want that? The recalcitrant and stupid addict (the writer for example) is in danger of slaying the spirit! Are we capable of spiritual suicide? If the Way to Life is narrow, do we have spiritual claustrophobia that makes us want to jump out of her skin instead? Is a new prayer taking shape yet?
This is the greatest risk that God has taken with His creatures, angels and men. And He has taken it for a simple reason: because without free will, that is, without the possibility of choosing between good and bad, we would be robots and not totally free creatures. Liberty – infinite in God – is a sign of our greatness and of our sonship in Jesus Christ. Without it, we could not call ourselves sons, but only slaves. God has given us everything: we must recognize only Him, adore only Him, and be guided only by Him, because inevitably, if we do not give to God, we necessarily give to idols. “He who is not with me is against me”, Jesus says (Mt 12:30). Half measures do not exist. Either we are of Christ or we are of Satan. -Fr. Gabriele Amorth, An Exorcist Explains the Demonic
This is the work of man: to believe in the One God sent. Believing is an on-going every day action.
My mercy is ready to absolve, provided you turn to it with faith and humility. My goodness is more inclined to free you from evil and misfortune than to leave you in them, if only you do not doubt me. My wisdom knows how far I can push trials for every single child of mine. If I were to overstep that sign, I would be imprudent, and thus no longer perfect, and thus not God. Do not fear, I tell you; do not fear. Believe in Me and in my name. - Jesus to M. Valtorta 12/30/1943
The Spirit reminds us today: believe in the Savior, worship the Lord God, pray always, have real faith. Give to God not to the idol.
God in Heaven, Who gives us everything, give us that purity of heart which will attach us to You alone, give us a deep hatred of vice and sin, purge from our hearts the ‘control’ of doubt, do not let us lose our ability to know right from wrong, nor suffer us to lose faith. Give us the grace of believing continuously in Christ, the desire to pray without ceasing, a tenacious will to endure and persevere to the end. Come o God and be our new sexual faculty. We beg in Jesus’ name to grant our request. Amen.