Today we celebrate the feast of St. Benedict, founder of modern monasticism and patron saint of Europe. Because of his enormous influence on the Church, much has been written about St. Benedict. I encourage you to read of his life and influence here.
For me, the first thing I think of when I hear the name “St. Benedict” is childhood memories of my grandmother. I received my first St. Benedict medal from her with the advice to pray to St. Benedict because “He will protect you from the devil.” That will always be embedded in my mind. He’s a big one in the fight against evil. I knew little of his greatness in the Church until adulthood, but in my childhood and childlike faith, he was a go-to guy.
The other day, I read St. Catherine of Siena’s words about fighting evil and resisting the devil. I share them with you today with a prayer that they will bless you and exhort you to steadfastness in prayer.
St. Benedict, pray for us!
St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us!
It is this [lordship of the devil] that brings us into that original death so that we lose the life we have through the blood of Christ. This happens when we choose to serve our selfish sensuality by inordinate desire, whether for prestige or wealth or children or any other created person or thing in any way that is not directed to and grounded in God…
Often the devil deceitfully makes us think that what we are saying and doing is neither pleasing nor acceptable to God. He says, in effect, “Why isn’t’ God pleased? Because you are so wicked! Let it be for now. Perhaps at another time you’ll feel better and be able to make your prayer.” The devil does this so that we’ll give up the physical and spiritual practice of actual holy prayers both vocal and mental. Why? Because once we have lost the weapon with which God’s servants defend themselves against the blows of the devil, the flesh, and the world, he would have what he wants from us. Then the city of our soul would be surrendered to him, and he would enter it as lord. That’s the only way it can go once we have lost the weapon and the power of prayer.
Prayer in its turn gives us the weapons of true humility and blazing charity, because holy prayer gives us perfect knowledge of ourselves and our own weakness and of God’s infinite charity and goodness. And we come to know both ourselves and God better in times of struggle and when our spirit is all dried up. We learn more perfect humility and conscientiousness from theses [experiences].
So if we are wise enough not to serve our own selfish will in the guise of consolation and not to believe the devil, but with holy hatred [of our selfishness] persevere in prayer in whatever way God grants it to us – whether with feeling of sweetness or with a sense of bitterness – we gain more…in the bitterness and pain, no matter in what form God sends it, than in the sweetness.
Saint Catherine of Siena
Magnificat, Vol. 15, No. 5, July, 2013, pp. 122-123