“We must prepare for temptation if we want to approach God.” (St. Padre Pio)
Pope Benedict XIV wrote an encyclical on Lent in which he said: “The observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it, we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the Cross of Christ. By it, we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it, we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God’s glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted, but that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private woe.“
“The more a soul is pleasing to God, the more it must be tried.” (St. Padre Pio)
In the Season of Lent especially, we enter into spiritual combat with the devil after the example of Our Lord who was led into the desert by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. Saint Augustine says that “Christ was tempted by the devil and in the person of Christ, you also were tempted…“
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina recounts that as a young boy he had a vision in which he saw Jesus. Jesus took him into a countryside where two large groups of people were present – the first one consisted of “very handsome men dressed in robes which were as white as snow” and the second one of “very ugly men dressed in black robes (…) who appeared to be more like dark shadows.” Saint Pio was put in the space between the two groups of people and saw a dark giant creature whose forehead was touching the clouds coming toward him. Saint Pio was told by Jesus (who was still near him) to fight the monster. He refused but Jesus’ response was, “You cannot escape this. You must fight. Courage! Go, fight boldly and with confidence. I will be here beside you to help you and I will not allow the creature to defeat you.” Saint Pio entered into battle and won and as the reward for the fight, Jesus put a beautiful crown on his head but then immediately removed it saying, “Another crown, more beautiful than this, will be yours if you learn to fight this creature you have just defeated. He will be back to attack you. Fight bravely and count on my help. Don’t be afraid of being harassed by him nor terrified by his terrible appearance. I will be with you and I will help you every time so that you will be victorious over him.“
“There is joy in the spiritual battles. Learn how to fight and you will be certain of victory.” (St. Padre Pio)
Spiritual combat with the devil is something that cannot be avoided but we must not be discouraged because Christ and Our Blessed Mother are by our side, fighting with us.