Spy Wednesday – April 8, 2020 – Tucson
Sed libera nos a malo – But delivery us from evil.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
My Dear Faithful,
Now it is upon us, Now is the redemption of humanity about to take place. Now Satan is about to be cast out! Rejoice, for our salvation in near! All of Lent, we’ve been preparing for this week, we’ve made penances, sacrifices, almsgivings, works of charity, works of piety and devotion, we’ve made our Sacramental Confession, and our many Spiritual Communions, and now we’re at the most glorious event of humanity – the Hour of the manifestation of Our Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God!
Today, Spy Wednesday, the darkness entered Judas’ heart, Satan moved him to betray Our Lord. And how fitting is it that we’re closing up our Lenten commentary on the last petition of the Our Father: “and deliver us from evil.” In the 6th petition we saw on Palm Sunday, we prayed for avoidance of sin, now in the 7th we pray for avoidance of the punishment. Tomorrow night, Our Lord says to His Apostles speaking of Satan: behold “the prince of this world cometh,” and later in His Last Supper discourse, Father “I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from evil”. The great Cardinal Burke recently said: “Prayer and worship are the most important means of combating any evil.” Thus tomorrow night, the night in which Satan began the greatest of sins, Our Lord began with establishing the Sacraments of Eucharist, the Priesthood, and celebrating the first Mass before leading His Apostles to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. This will be our model for how we seek to combat evil with worship and prayer.
Our western world denies objective sin and denies “evil”. As Satan, “the ruler of this world” and the “deceiver of the whole world” has now taken over the hearts of many, sin and evil are now glorified, promoted, and encouraged. Thus, it’s fitting that on this Spy Wednesday when he begins the betrayal of the Son of God for His Crucifixion, that we pray today for “deliverance from evil.”
If God is good, then why does evil exist? It is human nature, that often when things are going well for us, we grow ungrateful, complacent, and slothful in our duties toward God. Though evil is a consequence of sin, which God didn’t create, He uses “evils” to arouse us from our le-thargy, to re-evaluate our spiritual life and place Christ at the center, and to serve God with greater gratitude, with greater humility, with greater fidelity, and with greater love. The devil doesn’t thwart God’s plan as God, being omnipotent, can draw spiritual good from evil.
To put this petition in context, we must remember that in the Our Father, Our Lords teaches us what we ought and can pray for, with the order and hierarchy of the most import being first and least important last. Thus, “hallowed be Thy name”, “Thy kingdom come,” and “Thy will be done” are the most important to which the subsequent petitions that concern us in our spiritual and temporal lives must be referred. In other words, our number 1 reason to pray, shouldn’t be to be delivered from the coronavirus, from the evils of the neighbor, for deliverance of our headache, etc. As we mentioned above, often God uses these evils to wake us from our spiritual slumber to begin anew our spiritual life of prayer. Thus, the good prayer of a Christian when he prays for deliverance from evil, is so that he can do greater glory for God as in the prayer of the Psalm 50: “Deliver me from blood, O God, thou God of my salvation…and my mouth shall declare thy praise.”
What is the Christian view in how we seek to be delivered from evil? The Roman Catechism, like the perennial truths of Jesus Christ is always relevant. The Catechism when talking of deliverance from sickness needs to be heard by all today, namely, our prayers concerning deliverance from the coronavirus. It states that we must view God alone as the Author of all good, our deliverer, our refuge, our principal hope. Our principal hope of being delivered from God does not lie in modern science or the magniscope putting God to the side. The Catechism states, we believe that “the healing virtue that resides in medicines is implanted in them by God; and think that their efficacy in restoring the sick is such as God Himself wills; for medicine is given by God to mankind to heal their infirmities… They therefore, who have pledged fidelity to Jesus Christ, place not their principal hope of recovering health in such remedies; but trust chiefly in God himself, the Author of medicine.”
What primarily is the evil we pray to be delivered from? For the soul, there are some “evils” that are salutary for eternal life, and there are other “evils” that bring no advantage to the soul, but its harm. An example of a perceived evil that leads to eternal life, was when St. Paul suffered a “sting” in the flesh that with God’s grace His “power [was] made perfect in infirmity.” We pray in this petition to be delivered from “all evils, past, present, and to come” from the “danger of temptation; from internal and external evils.”
While the good Lord delivers us from some evils, “He does not wish that sojourning in this pilgrimage [on earth] that we should be exempt from all evils.” Just as God doesn’t give us each every good under the sun, though He is infinitely Good; in a similar way He doesn’t deliver us from every evil, for some are good for us to endure in adversity.
God does deliver us from impending calamities as in delivering the Israelites from the Plagues in Egypt.
God does deliver from extreme danger as in the children presevered from the fiery furnace in the book of Daniel.
By “Evil”, we first mean the devil. Satan is especially called “evil” because he is the author of the sin, transgression, and iniquity. It was under his deception in the Garden of Eden that mankind fell. Without having done Satan any wrong, he nonetheless wages perpetual war on mankind and pursues us for our eternal perdition by his lies and false promises, his treachery and deception, his temptations and fascinations. We pray in this petition, that we may delivered from evil, in the singular because we seek to be delivered principally from the devil, who is the author and instigator of evils
“deliver us”: out of charity we also pray for our neighbor, that they be delivered from purgatory, and that those on earth be delivered from the evils of the devil. Instead of being angry with our neighbors, the Roman Catechism instructs us to “turn our hatred and anger against Satan himself, by whom men are impelled to inflict injury. If, therefore, your neighbor has injured you, when you pray to God your Father, beg that He may not only deliver you from evil, namely, from the injuries which your neighbor inflicts on you; but also rescue your neighbor himself from the hand of the devil, by whose impulse men are led into injustice.”
If after we’ve prayed to be delivered from evil but are not delivered, what should be our reaction? In the beginning we said “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.” God hears all the pious prayers of His faithful children. He then grants our petitions in the way that is favorable to the coming of His Kingdom and the way that is agreeable to His will. All our prayers and petitions are subordinated back to God our Father and His glory. Thus, if we’re not delivered from evils and afflictions, these must be the opportunities for us to continue in prayer and in patiently enduring them, and awaiting the goodness of God to deliver us if He so wills. We remember that St. Gregory the Great instructs us that prayer doesn’t change the mind of God, but that through prayer God gives us what He has from all eternity willed to grant us what we ask for.
If we’re not presently delivered from evil, remember these words of Our Lord: “Father, if thou wilt, remove this chalice from me: but yet not my will, but thine be done.” As Christians, our model is nothing other than the life of Our Divine Lord. Our path to our resurrection is the same path that Christ shows us this week: “The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” Rather than be disconcerted, frustrated, or despairing in these trials, the Scriptures say that those faithful to Christ should suffer these inconveniences and trials with great joy: “Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.” St. Paul tells us that there is no exception to this: “All that live piously in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution.” Today, I’d like to encourage all you faithful, to renew your desire to accompany Our Lord spiritually through the liturgies of Holy Week whether by livestreaming or with the texts; and by meditating upon the Passion of Our Lord in the Gospels. For us Christians this week should be the most important to us, and like important memories, we like to revisit and relive them. Return to Jerusalem with Our Lord, Our Blessed Mother, and the Apostles. Follow them, listen to Our Lord’s most important instructions, pray with them. Tomorrow, Our Lord asks you: “Will you also go away?” We respond with the words of St. Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.” Then Our Lord says: “Could you not watch one hour with me?” Notice that Our Lord wants us to watch with Him, to pray with Him, to unite ourselves and our hearts with His Sacred and Suffering Heart. God though He is, He loves us, and as love unites, He wants us to be united with His prayer, with His being betrayed and abandoned, with His scourging, with His crucifixion and death. Do not run from Our Lord – He wants your heart, He wants your prayer, He wants your company. Like Judas, Peter, and St. Mary Magdalene, we have greatly offended Our Lord by our sins. Weep for those sins like St. Peter and St. Mary Magdalene, and anoint our Lord’s body with your tears. And these tears are precious to Our Lord because they are a spiritual ointment preparing His body for death.
My Dear Faithful, let us end on a note of Christian Joy. Yes, the greatest of evils is about to happen to Our Blessed Savior, but He says: “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you: because I go to prepare a place for you. And if I shall go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to myself; that where I am, you also may be… “The prince of the world is already judged…“Behold, the hour cometh, and it is now come, that you shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.” Beginning today on this Spy Wednesday and when we are faced with evil, let us unite our prayer with Our Lord as we take refuge in Him, so that freed from evil we can sing His victorious praises on Easter Sunday. Amen.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
O Beauty ever ancient, ever new! Ever read a Church document from the past and realize how it seems to have been written for the present moment? It seems like this paragraph from the Catechism of the Council of Trent was written about a Catholic response to the present COVID-19 coronavirus….
Part IV, Chapter 16, Q.4