5 Things To Know About Spiritual Warfare
1. Spiritual warfare refers to the daily spiritual battle between good and evil.
Satan exists: "Evil is not an abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God. The devil (diabolos) is the one who "throws himself across" God's plan and his work of salvation accomplished in Christ” (Catechism 2851). Evil spirits exist: "We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6: 11-12). In spiritual warfare, the battlefield is the terrain of our souls. Having a basic understanding of spiritual warfare is an important part of knowing our Catholic faith.
2. Jesus won the victory over Satan, but our battle is not over.
Satan has been defeated but not destroyed. The enemy is no longer a threat to Jesus, but he does remain a threat to us: "Victory over the 'prince of this world' was won once for all at the Hour when Jesus freely gave himself up to death to give us his life. This is the judgment of this world, and the prince of this world is 'cast out.' 'He pursued the woman' but had no hold on her: the new Eve, 'full of grace' of the Holy Spirit, is preserved from sin and the corruption of death (the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God, Mary, ever virgin). 'Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring.' Therefore the Spirit and the Church pray: 'Come, Lord Jesus,' since his coming will deliver us from the Evil One.'" - Catechism 2853
3. Satan's power is not infinite like God's.
God created all angels, including the angel Lucifer, who became Satan after rebelling against God. Satan is powerful, but remains a creature: “The power of Satan is...not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries - of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature - to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history." - Catechism 395
4. We are not alone; God is with us as we endure the trials that come with spiritual warfare.
God the Father is with us. Jesus Christ is with us: "we are more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Romans 8:37). The Holy Spirit is with us. Mary, the angels, the saints and our fellow living members of the Body of Christ are with us. The Lord provides grace and spiritual armor: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11). "We are more than conquerors in Christ" (Roman 8:37). Because of the power of Jesus, we don't have to be afraid, but we should be vigilant: “Be sober and vigilant; your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour; resist him, firm in your faith knowing that your fellow believers around the world undergo the same sufferings” (1 Peter 5:6-11).
5. Prayer, the sacraments and sacramentals are effective means of remaining closely united to God and resisting temptation, which is the most common tactic utilized by the enemy in spiritual warfare.
"'Lead us not into temptation' implies a decision of the heart: 'For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. . . . No one can serve two masters.' 'If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.' In this assent to the Holy Spirit the Father gives us strength. 'No testing has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, so that you may be able to endure it.' Such a battle and such a victory become possible only through prayer. It is by his prayer that Jesus vanquishes the tempter, both at the outset of his public mission and in the ultimate struggle of his agony." - Catechism 2848-2489
"The seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life: they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian's life of faith." - Catechism 1210
"Sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church's prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it. 'For well-disposed members of the faithful, the liturgy of the sacraments and sacramentals sanctifies almost every event of their lives with the divine grace which flows from the Paschal mystery of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. From this source all sacraments and sacramentals draw their power.'" - Catechism 1670