Phoenix, Ariz., Mar 21, 2018 / 03:35 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a Lenten reflection, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix said spiritual war needs spiritual armor, and the best armor is accessed through the sacraments.
“The sacraments, then, are the armor of choice in this spiritual war,” he wrote in a March 20 column at the Catholic Sun.
“Through them, Jesus continues to heal, to forgive, to strengthen and to sustain us in our fight against the devil and his minions.”
He said this spiritual war is a crucial battle, where the devil and his demons are determined to attack the souls of the faithful. Pointing to the ideology of secular culture, he said the devil’s hostility can be seen in society’s view on sin, heaven, hell, and repentance.
“This spiritual war against the devil and his minions has crucial consequences in our daily life with an outcome that determines our eternal destiny. The devil does all in his power to destroy the work of God in us.”
This is a great and dramatic battle for souls, he said, and it needs the help of a God who encounters Christians in the present with living sacraments. But Catholics must be willing to embrace sacramental grace with the proper disposition, he said.
Taken from the Latin term sacramentum, he said the word originally referred to an oath Roman citizens would swear upon entering the military. He said, as soldiers, the men promised to defend the empire from from whatever force threatened it.
Likewise, Christ promised to accompany his Church, he said. “In a distinct way, he fulfills this promise through the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. So, whenever a sacrament is celebrated, Christ is there to fight along our side for our salvation.”
However, he said the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of Catholics, who should receive these rites with repentance and faith.
“A sacrament can be validly given and received but still may not be fruitful. Sadly, it is an outcome that seems to be widespread today.”
“Repentance from any attachment to sin is essential to conduct one’s life in harmony with the purpose of the Sacraments, i.e. to increase divine life within us. Therefore, renunciation of sin and the devil is essential for receiving the true spiritual values of the Sacraments.”
And where faith is strong there is transformation, but where faith is dismal the fruits will be vague, he said.
“When we participate with sincere faith in prayer and the Sacred Liturgy, the reading of Scripture and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we do so with greater awareness and expectations of encountering the living God, an encounter that changes us for the better.”
Bishop Olmsted expressed hope that Catholics may finish this Lenten season with spiritual fruit and a freedom from evil.
“During Holy Week we will be reminded of the battle that our Lord waged and is still waging in us members of his Mystical Body. May this season of Lent be a time to free our spiritual life from the evil one. And may the fruits of the great spiritual struggle – sacrifice, prayer, fasting and the witness of our faith – hasten the coming of the Kingdom of God.”
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