Lin Weeks Wilder

Lin Weeks Wilder

Books, Christianity, faith, Gospel, peace, Prayer, sacraments, Virtues, Writing

The Real Spiritual Battle

the real spiritual battle
Render illustration of “SPIRITUAL COMBAT” title on head silhouette with cloudy sky as a background.

The Real Spiritual Battle

We’re approaching Holy Week, the days of silence, reflection and accounting we’re given by the Christian liturgy each year to reply to some questions and thoughts:

  • How did I do during these forty days?
  • Will there be reason to feel jubilant on Easter a week from today?
  • We  fight our spiritual battles alone; in the silence, in the reflections, in the accounting.

The real spiritual battle is forgiveness, not of others, but of ourselves. Because always, an honest examination of ourselves reveals flaws, failures and weakness–sin.

Annually we spend millions- more accurately billions- on drugs to anesthetize ourselves to the fact that we dislike, perhaps even hate, ourselves because of what we did or what we did not do. Of the reality of what we cannot forget or forgive.

Or worse, we lie. We pretend that the action, decision, loss or betrayal did not really affect us, was not truly wrong, deny that the injury inflicted callously on another was even an injury, justifying and revising history.

“The first and greatest commandment,” Jesus asserts, “is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. The second is like unto it: love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Unless we love ourselves, ” Father Charlie Banks declared in his homily a few weeks ago at the Saint Matthew’s six AM Mass, “we cannot love our neighbor.”

I’ve been thinking about his statement and its simple, profound truth. Only with a peaceful heart can I love: one devoid of anxiety about the evil in me and all around me. The real spiritual battle begins with forgiving ourselves.

This man Jesus did exist historically:

The events which take place during the Palm Sunday worship services and Masses all over the world today did happen. It is their meaning that is disputed among so many.

Only the religious leaders wanted him dead. Their power over their people was so great the religious leaders incited the masses to chose freedom for a known murderer instead of the King of the Universe. The Roman practice during the high Passover religious holidays was to release a prisoner. One chosen by the people. Despite the fact that neither Pontius Pilate nor King Herod find anything to condemn Jesus for,

The crowd screams “Free Barabbas!”

“Crucify Jesus!”

To which Jesus asks, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these good deeds are you trying to kill me?”

For three years, he speaks in the synagogues, in the public and private places. Addressing the Israelites, specifically, their leaders, the learned Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees, month by month, year by year,

He heals.


Exorcises demons.

Preaches a message of forgiveness and a Father’s love beyond all human imagination. Today he rides into Jerusalem amidst shouts of Hosanna!! Alleluia! Joyous shouts that must have risen to the heavens.

His was a joy, freedom, authority and incarnate love never before or again seen in the world. For those the leaders of God’s most beloved people had to kill him.

But he does not blame himself.

He does not seem to waste his limited time on self-recriminations or second-guessing himself.

“If only I had said this and not that.”

“Maybe I should have refrained from interfering with Lazarus.”

When most of his disciples–maybe hundreds, left upon hearing that eating his body and drinking his blood was the path to eternal life, he turned to the twelve apostles and merely said, “Will you leave too?”

On his last night on earth, Jesus and the twelve eat the meal where he institutes the Eucharist. Twelve men whom he had lived with, slept with, laughed and drank with for three years. Like each of us, each man is filled with weakness, cowardice and ignorance. One of the twelve he knows will betray him. Each man, including Judas, receives his body and blood.

Later, Peter, James and John cannot stay awake even for one hour despite his desperate plea for their company. .

But he does not blame himself.

We are permitted to see the sadness, the fear and the horror he ingests by our sins–all of them. We witness a love for human souls so vast that the loss of those who refuse him causes blood to pour out of the pores of his body like sweat. Three times, he implores the Father that those of us too stupid to follow him not be lost.

Finally we hear his total abandonment of his will to the Father’s.

Maintaining peace of heart

Apropos of Father Charlie’s remark about the criterion for loving our neighbor–husband, wife, politician, pope, fill in the blank, peace comes from lovingly accepting their flaws and weaknesses. We can do that only when we make friends with our own. It’s the work of a lifetime. Carl Jung termed that part of each of us the ‘shadow.’ For Jung, coming to grips with the darkness in ourselves was the most critical work of life. Without doing so, we’ve no hope of attaining and keeping a peaceful heart, the temptation to moral outrage is irresistible.

Some books warrant many reads, one is wholly inadequate. Jacques Phillipe’s Searching for and Maintaining Peace is one such book. Just a hundred or so pages, Father Phillipe packs it with spiritual wisdom from Saint Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, Dom Scupoli, and Saint Therese of Lisieux.

The primary message? Without genuine, consistent peace in our hearts, we risk loss of grace and preclude growth. The real spiritual battle is finding and maintaining peace of heart.

Peace is the simplicity of spirit, the serenity of conscience, the tranquility of the soul and the bond of love. Peace is order, it is the harmony in each one of us, it is a continual joy that is born in witnessing a clear conscience, it is the holy joy of a heart wherein God reigns. Peace is the way to perfection, or, even better, in peace dwells perfection. And the devil, who knows all this very well, does everything possible to cause us to lose our peace. The soul need be saddened by only one thing: an offense against God. But even on this point, one must be very prudent. One must certainly regret one’s failures, but with a peaceful sorrow and always trusting in Divine Mercy.

Searching for and Maintaining Peace

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blessing, catholicism, catholocism, christian, forgiveness, god, happiness, healing, sacred, telling the truth, thinking, working, writing

2 thoughts on “The Real Spiritual Battle”

  1. Pingback: Forgiveness, Ignorance and Redemption – Lin Wilder by Lin Wilder | Crossmap Blogs

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Lin Wilder

Lin Wilder has a doctorate in Public Health from the UT Houston with a background in cardiopulmonary physiology, medical ethics, and hospital administration. 

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