In the last paragraph of the introduction to Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Pope John Paul II states, “it is my hope that the present Encyclical Letter will effectively help to banish the dark clouds of unacceptable doctrine and practice so that the Eucharist will continue to shine forth in all its radiant mystery.” In the paragraph before this sentence he alludes to liturgical abuses and shadows that try to strip the Eucharistic mystery of its sacrificial meaning.”
The Eucharist has a shadowy enemy and he is the ancient tempter of souls. “He was a murderer from the beginning. He is a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44). Is there spiritual warfare around the Eucharistic Presence? Yes! Saint Peter warns, “Be sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings” (1 Pt 5:8-9).
It is important to understand the spiritual battle over our soul is not an intellectual concept of good versus evil. The spiritual warfare around us consists between personal wills. Satan opposes the will of God who is Love. Satan wills the blasphemous mockery of God. He maliciously mocks God and his beloved disciples. Therefore, the Blessed Sacrament (body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ Risen) is opposed and hated by the ancient Enemy. In God’s perfect preoccupation with our personal salvation, he allows us to be tested. Such tests can help build spiritual muscle called virtues.
As soon as we enter into an intensely Eucharistic life (Mass and Adoration as often as possible) we experience the enemy’s opposition. Satan wills that Jesus be profaned, not worshipped, in the Blessed Sacrament. In our day unfortunately Satan is able to find people to do his bidding against the Eucharist. The random assaults of the enemy should be seen for what they are: Satan has yet to concede that Jesus won the final victory through his passion, death and resurrection. The Body and Blood of the Risen Lord is the worst possible news for Satan since they reveal the truth of Christ’s victory once and for all.
When we draw closer to God through worthy participation in the Mass and holy hour we become a threat to the kingdom of darkness. The Eucharist sanctifies us and holy souls are serious threats against the works of darkness. As children of the light we dispel the darkness. Satan is always looking for opportunities to snatch souls away from God; to destroy human persons, families, churches, nations. The easiest way for Satan to divide God and his beloved adopted sons and daughters is by tempting us to fall into the personal degradation of sin.
While we acknowledge that our evil foe would like to carry us off to eternal torment, we are not afraid! Jesus often said to his disciples, “Be not afraid!” God made every provision for us to engage and win the spiritual battle on our earthly sojourn.
The Sacrament of the Body of the Lord puts the demons to flight, defends us against the incentives to vice and to concupiscence, cleanses the soul from sin, quiets the anger of God, enlightens the understanding to know God, fills the memory with spiritual sweetness, confirms the entire man in good, frees us from eternal death, multiples the merits of a good life, leads us to our everlasting home, and re-animates the body to eternal life – Saint Thomas Aquinas.
It is a victim that we have received and it is into a victim that we are transformed. Every time we receive Christ, we become bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh, humility of his humility, purity of his purity, and holiness of his holiness. It is especially at the time of receiving the Eucharist that we can say as Saint Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and the life I live now is not my own. Christ is living in me” (Gal 2:19-20). I still live in my human life, but it is a life of faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave himself for me St. Augustine.
The Body and Blood of Jesus is transforming and empowering. The more we are transformed into Christ the more we are dead to the selfishness of sin. A Eucharistic life means that Christ is increasing and we are decreasing. The grace of the Eucharist is sanctifying.
A Eucharistic church should not live in a state of indifference about spiritual warfare. The bible is filled with explicit accounts of spiritual warfare. Satan tempted Christ. Christ warned us—we will not be above the Master and what was done unto him will be done unto his followers. Everywhere we are experiencing the enemy’s exertion upon our lives especially in the family, workplace, government and church. The Roman Catholic Church possesses a spiritual arsenal of armor and weaponry against the enemy (cf. Ephs 6:10-17). We are not called to be helpless victims against the tactics of evil. We are called to be a Eucharistic people engaged in the good fight. We are called to be soldiers for Christ. We overcome evil by doing good. A holy soul is feared by Satan who is a coward in the face of Godliness.
My daily Eucharist is my spiritual armor. My daily holy hour is contemplative training so I can engage in the spiritual battle and defend God’s territory: my soul, family, church and country. In adoration, when I look at Jesus and He looks at me, our contemplative gaze of love empowers me to live the Gospel and choose Christ over all else. I must fall in love with Christ and remain in love with Christ in order to live the Gospel. It is only for love that I will do so. My daily Eucharist sustains the bond of love.
The greatest defense against the devil is sanctity of life. Sanctity of life stems from a life centered on the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Through Eucharistic transformation we are truly empowered to further God’s kingdom and defeat the evil one. With the Body and the Blood we are not afraid. We recall the words of Saint John, “They conquered him (the Accuser) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony (Rev 12: 11). Let us never cease to give the word of our testimony!
O Body and Blood of the Word Incarnate protect us from evil. Amen.