Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.
Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Some people seem to exist specifically to make us miserable. A student, a teacher, a classmate, a teammate. A kid you actually gave birth to. Someone whose very existence is a nine iron and you a golf ball eternally buried in the sand. They hit you over and over: just the sound of their voice, or the arrogant way they enter a room. Their insistence on being correct all the time. Their clueless fashion choices. Their too-perfect fashion choices. Their hair, their teeth, their smile. Everything about them. Other people, let’s be clear, are truly horrible.
But Paul declares that our true struggle in life is with evil spirits. Not with flesh and blood. Not with other people. They aren’t horrible. The evil spirit is.
In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius describes the evil spirit as that which causes the soul to be restless and agitated, depriving someone of faith, hope, love. Everyone has felt this.
What we loathe in others often has more to do with things we can’t stand about ourselves. That is the evil spirit at work. We don’t need to change other people or rage at them. We need to ward off the evil spirit in our life that can give others such power over us. Even if it feels archly medieval to call something an “evil spirit,” it is a reality that truly exists. Naming it where it lives is the first step to overcoming it.
—Joe Hoover, S.J. is a Jesuit brother writing and acting in New York. He serves as poetry editor of America magazine and also works at St. Ignatius Grammar School.
Jesus, I feel within me a great desire to please you, but, at the same time, I feel totally incapable of doing this without your light and help, which I can expect only from you.
Accomplish your will within me, even in spite of me.
—St. Claude LaColombiere, S.J.