The Devil Prowls Around, Seeking Someone to Devour
We who have faith are stalked by the devil and in constant danger of being devoured by him. Let us make no mistake about this: evil is real and it is personified not only in the great adversary himself, but also in the various people and situations that cause us to doubt our faith and to despair over what it requires of us every day. St. Peter teaches us this in his first epistle: “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
The image of a lion stalking his prey is not only a strong metaphor for how the devil lusts after our body and spirit, but also a powerful reflection on what it means to be his prey. The fact is: we wake up every day with the devil breathing down our necks and his minions seeking every opportunity to cause us doubt and to weaken our resolve. Thus, it is our job to persevere in seeking union with God. “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world” (1 Peter 5:9).
The good news is that each of us is not alone in this struggle. In fact, we know that all believers face the same attacks that we do on a daily basis. The proof for this can be found the world over. But the matter is even more personal than that. If we truly carry the faith, we will suffer for it in the ‘everyday moments’ of life, even at the hands of those who claim to have faith as well.
I realize that it is not popular to talk of the devil, especially in such stark terms. But we must be clear about what we’re dealing with here. After we are given the gift of faith, begin to worship the one God, and recognize that He alone protects and provides against the daily assault of evil, only then will we come to know that Christ alone will restore the image of God to all of us who accept His offer of transfiguration. This is what is meant by St. Peter when he continued: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you” (1 Peter 5:8-10).
So why is this so important to us? We must live the actions that mark those who have faith: (1) praying, (2) participating in the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments), (3) embracing the gifts of the Holy Spirit who transfigures us in Christ (which includes battling against the devil), and (4) evangelizing. As it is written in Mark 16:14-18 (emphasis mine):
“[…] he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover’.”
Therefore, in these evil times, let us pray for one another that we may truly live by our faith in the Most Holy Trinity.