Monday, July 17, 2006

When to run? When to fight?

Don't be such a coward as to be "brave." Flee!
- (on temptation) St. Josemaria Escriva The Way No. 132

That being said, it is not always an easy concept-especially for the young (especially young men) to grasp. The young believe themselves indestructible and capable of all things. Their optimism can be inspiring-but it also can be tragic. We want to fight the devil and stand up to his lies-but we don't realize that the devil is smarter and stronger than us: that alone, we will fall to his seduction. With God-only then we are strong (recall St. Paul's famous explanation that in his own weakness, that is when he is strongest because God has taken over the cause.) But of course in the heat of the battle, we sometimes forget to rely on God and fall again.

We can fight the devil by running-because the devil only has victory when we fall-not when we flee. We can think of the indian scout coming upon an Apache war party. He doesn't fling himself into battle, he flees, warns, and seeks reinforcements. There is no shame in this, only wisdom and bravery. If we are committed to fighting the devil and his works, even when this means fleeing, this decision itself is one of bravery. So we flee from the devil's temptations to our reinforcements: our guardian angel, the saints, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to our general, Christ. Once we make the decision, we as soldiers in Christ need to follow the military orders-which include the advice of the saints-such as above.

In other venues, we may stand and fight: praying outside an abortion clinic, picketing a movie, writing a letter to the newspaper etc. Surely we are cooperating with God's grace in these endeavors and not acting alone. But in temptation, the devil seeks to find us when we are alone-when we are not in prayer, when we are tired and ready to fall. Flee!

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