• This Sunday we have Parent-Teacher Conferences (March 10). Seniors are exempt from this one. Freshmen come at 6:30 PM; Sophomores at 6:45 PM; Juniors at 7:15 PM.
• The next Dads’ Prayer Group meeting will be on Sunday, March 17, at 7:00 PM, in the Perpetual Help classroom.
• Students currently taking Latin will take the National Latin Exam on March 12 during their class time.
• Remember that the non-refundable down payment for next school year is due by March 20.
• Third Quarter Oral Exams are March 18-22.
• Our archery team is competing this weekend in Los Angeles.
• Our next baseball games are: Tuesday, March 12, at 6:00 PM, at Valley Christian Cerritos [Valley Christian High School, 17700 Dumont Ave, Cerritos, CA 90703]; and Thursday, March 14, at 3:00 PM, at St. Michael’s; and Saturday, March 16 (double-header), at 11:00 AM.
Lent is a contest, a struggle, a battle, a battle against Satan and his army. This is how the early Church Fathers and saints have always viewed Lent. You can read it in sermon after sermon by St. Augustine, St. Leo the Great, St. Jerome, and on and on. Lent is a battle against Satan.
Now, unlike other battles, in this one we have to both fight against the enemy and flee the enemy—that’s how we win. Usually fleeing from the enemy is not a way to win a war, but when it comes to this enemy it’s what we have to do. Fleeing the devil is essential to beating him. Attack and flee for as long as you live in this life. We spoke a little about how to attack these last couple of weeks: reading Scripture, fasting and penance, prayer, forgiveness. We’ll return to some of these before Lent is over; but now, a few words about fleeing.
The devil is very sneaky, to put it mildly. As an angelic being, he is endowed with natural gifts far surpassing our own. He is far more powerful, on the natural level, and far more intelligent. In fact, St. Augustine once said that, if God did not hold them back, the demons would easily destroy us all in an instant. And regarding the devil’s sly approach, C.S Lewis wrote in his classic “Screwtape Letters”: Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one…. As father of lies, the devil is the master con-artist. Think about his very first victory over Adam and Eve. We can learn much by looking at this.
The devil first engages Eve in a dialogue with a question: Why did God command you not to eat of every tree of paradise? She ought to have fled right away; she didn’t. She listens to him. She begins to consider the question. He raises doubt in her mind. She continues to dialogue. Then he drops the bomb. He finally presents the lie, appealing to her pride: You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
A famous 17th century theologian and bishop, Jacques Bossuet, gives us a great commentary on this: We see how the devil first incited Eve to error; but if he had proposed the error at first (which is where he wanted to lead her), an obvious contradiction to the commandment and word of God, he would have inspired more horror in her than desire. So before proposing the error, he begins with a doubt: “Why did the Lord forbid you?” He doesn’t dare say: “God has fooled you; His precept is not just; His word is not true.” Instead, he asks, he inquires, in order that he might get information from her and learn more about her.
So the devil begins with a question in order to produce a doubt. The doubt begins to weaken the intellect, and thus pave the way for winning over the will, where one’s faith ultimately resides. Speaking of the fall of Judas, Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote: Was avarice the cause of the fall of Judas? No! His fall began with lack of faith and trust in the Lord…It was Judas’ lack of faith that hardened his heart…The first mention in the Bible that Judas was a betrayer was not when he revealed his greed, but when our Lord declared Himself the Bread of Life.
Again Bossuet comments: The first fault of Eve is to have listened to Satan and to have begun reasoning with him. At the moment that he wanted her to doubt the truth and justice of God, she ought to have closed her ears and fled. But the subtlety of the question having made her curious, she enters into conversation and perishes. The first fault of those who error, either by error of the mind or by the seduction and folly of their senses, is to doubt. Satan says everyday to both heretic and to all those who are carried away in their pleasures and passions this miserable “Why?”: and if he succeeded against Eve before concupiscence and the passions, ought we be astonished that he has such prodigious success with this help? Flee, flee: and from the first “why”, from the first doubt which begins to be formed in your heart, plug up your ears; for, as little as we might falter, we shall perish.
Unfortunately, this sounds all too familiar: -“C’mon, why are you going to go to Mass today? You’re on vacation!.” -“Are you really going to pray a Rosary everyday? Isn’t that a bit extreme?” “Why do you believe everything the Church teaches? Can’t you think for yourself.”
“C’mon, take a second look at that image on your computer screen. It’s not gonna kill you.”
– “You’re not going to forgive that person for what they did to you, are you? They’re making
you look like a fool.”
So what happens next? Eve then considers the fruit. “It does look good, after all.” Again Bossuet: Eve begins to look at that forbidden fruit, and this is a beginning of disobedience: for the fruit that God forbade to be touched ought not to be even looked at with complacency: “She says, that it was beautiful to see, good to eat, agreeable to look at”: It is the desire to be seduced that makes her so attentive to the beauty and taste of what had been forbidden to her. Therefore she is occupied with the beauty of this forbidden object; and almost convinced that God was too severe in defending them from the use of a thing so beautiful, without imagining that sin does not consist in using things which are bad by nature—since God has not and cannot make them such—but in using badly good things. The tempter does not fail to add the suggestion; and he strives to ignite the concupiscence which Eve until now has not known. But once she had begun to listen and to reason over so precise a commandment, its hard to believe that God did not justly withdraw His grace at this beginning of infidelity and that the concupiscence of the sense did not follow quickly on the disorder which Eve had already voluntarily introduced into her heart. Therefore she eats the fruit and the serpent is victorious.
So Eve takes the fruit. But it gets even worse. She drags her own husband down with her. Bossuet one more time: The devil does not push the temptation further; and he is content with having instructed and persuaded his ambassador Eve; he leaves the rest to her, now that she has been seduced. Note that the devil spoke not only for her, but also for her husband, when he said not: “You (singular) will be like God”, and “Why has God forbidden you (singular”)?; “but You (plural) will be as gods”, and “Why has God forbidden you (plural)?” The demon was not wrong in believing that this word carried by Eve to Adam would have more effect than if he himself had brought it to Adam. Adam would have resisted Satan more easily, but Eve asks him to partake of the fruit, Eve, his own wife. So, finally, Adam not only eats the fruit; he then tries to hide from God. And when caught, he blames his wife. She blames the devil.
The devil very often starts his attack with something small—If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread. The first Adam fell for it. The Second Adam, Christ, did not. He fasted and responded only with quotes from Sacred Scripture, and never entered into a conversation with the devil, never gave him even an inch.
• For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.
• For all the students and families of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
• For all faculty and staff of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
• For the Sturkie Family’s very special intention.
• For the Church.