Prayer – "Hand to Hand" Combat

Peace be with you!

After a prayer service for peace in the troubled neighborhood in which I teach, I was asked, if it were legal, would I carry a weapon for protection. I pulled out a rosary and said, “I already do!”

Armed and dangerous

Ok, I was being a little factitious. But, I really meant it. I try to pray the rosary each day on my way to work. I think often about the 15 promises of the rosary and realize that it is indeed a powerful weapon. In fact, any prayer in the name of Christ is a powerful weapon. But, unlike a firearm, it cannot backfire, there is no moral question that needs resolved before its use, it cannot be turned around and used against me, it will never fail and the only training I need is found in my faith.

Furthermore, it is weapon that can effectively defend me against evil but unlike a firearm, it cannot be used to harm anyone else or used in a vengeful manner.

Is it proper to refer to a pious devotion as a weapon?

The Holy Father spoke of the Rosary as “a particular prayer of the Church and a spiritual weapon for each of us.”

Ephesians teaches us — “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you are able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Therefore take unto you the whole armor of God, so that you are able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girded about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, take the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” -Ephesians 6:10-11, 13-17

Earthly vs. Spiritual Weapons

The word “weapon” is often associated with pain, destruction and death. Unfortunately, Earthly weapons are often used unwisely for these purposes. However, when we are talking about the use of spiritual weapons for the destruction of death and sin, we should all seek to be armed and dangerous.

Brothers and sisters, as Lent approaches, don’t forget to arm yourself!

3 Replies to “Prayer – "Hand to Hand" Combat”

  1. Deacon,
    I hear some of my Protestant friends refer to ‘spiritual warfare’. Is that just a term for prayers against demons and their call to sin and evil? Is there a particular Catholic approach to ‘spiritual warfare’?

    1. The only one I know of and the one I use against temptation is a scriptural reference. I recall James 4:7 “Give in to God, then; resist the devil, and he will run away from you.”
      I first encountered it as a help the day after my mother’s funeral in November 2008. I was in a hotel in a strange town and had received a fairly large check for a deposit on the estate and was beset by a temptation to cash the check and “drown my sorrows” as the saying goes.
      For some people this may not have been appropriate but, it wouldn’t necessarily be massively self destructive either. However I knew that, for me, it would have been like playing Russian Roulette with all chambers loaded. In spite of facing the inevitable consequences of giving in; the temptation clung and continued to grow so, flicking on the television in the hotel room which I was in, I saw a Christian station displayed on the channel listings.
      I switched to that channel just in time to hear a speaker state that, in times of temptation, one should turn to James 4:7. Recalling that most hotel rooms had a bible, I dug it out and turned to the reference. For some reason my vision swam and verses 7 and 10 became entwined and it looked like; “Humble yourselves before the Lord, resist the devil, and he will run away from you.”
      At any rate, hitting my knees I prayed out the most humble prayer I could paste together and, it must have worked, because a massive and powerful sense of peace flooded into me and any sign of temptation was swept away.
      Giving in to God and humbling myself before Him do seem to bear a lot of similarity as best as I can tell.
      It seems someone thought that I could be taken down at a vulnerable moment and ended up tangling with a whole lot more than he bargained for.
      These days temptation or angry thoughts or negative obsessions crumble away whenever I follow those three easy steps. These days my prayer of preference for such moments is the Alcoholics Anonymous Third Step Prayer;
      God, I offer myself to Thee — to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!
      Then I state that evil has no choice except to leave and, not by my power but, by the Power of God. After that – peace. In between I try to do my share of the work to keep such options available.

    2. Jamie,

      Pope John Paul II said, ” ‘Spiritual combat’ is another element of life which needs to be taught anew and proposed once more to all Christians today. It is a secret and interior art, an invisible struggle in which (we) engage every day against the temptations, the evil suggestions that the demon tries to plant in (our) hearts.”

      For Catholics, our weapons of spiritual warfare are grounded in the Sacraments. Our protestant brothers and sisters share in some of the sacraments but only Catholic tradition possessing the fullness of God’s graces. That may be where our concept of Spiritual warfare divergences.

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