Do we even believe or fear the snares of the devil anymore? In recent years we seem to have progressively relaxed our awareness of this very real component in the spiritual war that is Catholic life. But not only does the devil indeed lay snares and traps to “catch” souls and wreck lives, he has a unique snare especially for faithful Catholics.
The devil’s traps, or snares are engineered using the material of things we love, even (and usually) things that are good. By disordering a Good, or disordering how we see or understand, or love a Good, the devil can use it as an occasion for sin. We saw it first in the temptation of Eve in Genesis.
"When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it." -Genesis 3:6
We see the same formula in the devil’s temptation of Jesus in the desert as he uses scripture as the material for temptation (Luke 4). We ultimately see it in our everyday lives as things that are not intrinsically evil but are intrinsically Good become occasions for sin and bondage, such as sex, pleasure and leisure, and natural appetites. But how does the devil engineer such a snare to trap faithful Catholics who are generally aware and vigilant in keeping watch for such things?
Do we still believe in the "snares of the devil?"— A Catholic Adventurer (@forthequeenbvm) July 24, 2023
If so, then understand that the devil has special snares engineered especially for faithful #Catholics
He ensnares us not only through sin, but also through a disordering of the things we love, which are Good. Good things can be…
Let’s explore that question now.
As I said, the devil uses the material of Good things to draw us into sin by manufacturing occasions for sin using that material. Hel lures us into a sort of reality distortion field to deceive and tempt us, leading us to see things incorrectly and to misunderstand them and act errantly on them. Again, we see that in scripture. The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge was good. But not for man. The fruit “was good”, but Eve, through the devil’s lies, perceived it as being good to eat and that it was pleasing. Similarly scripture is Good, but the devil distorted its meaning when quoting it to Jesus. Sex is good, but the distortion and disordering of the sexual nature of man has resulted in terms like “Safe sex” becoming a fixture in modern language. Sex is already safe. It’s the distortion of sex that has made it unsafe.
This is the very formula and strategy the devil uses to form unique snares or traps for faithful Catholics. He deceives us to see things incorrectly, and to act on our misunderstanding. But the snares and lures intended for faithful Catholics are of a slightly unique character to those he employs against secular people. That’s because faithful Catholics are, in hunting and trapping terms, large game. And the devil can’t trap large game with the small traps that usually work on secular people. For big game, he needs a big trap.
The Big Trap
Going back to the original question, “What do faithful Catholics love in common that the devil distorts (or causes us to see it in a way that is distorted) so that he can lead us astray by it?.” It's the faith itself! It may be surprising to hear, but a significant material for temptation that the devil uses to ensnare faithful Catholics is the Catholic faith.
As he does with every temptation, satan disorders our perception of what the Good (what faith is, and what the Church is, in this case) in order to mislead us in our actions concerning them. He seduces us, by small, degrees to turn the faith into something that is merely experienced, like a possession, rather than a gift humbly received, lived and expressed without alteration. He continues the deception by leading us to valuate and appraise this "possession" (the faith) by a misinformed measurement of orthodoxy. It's a measurement informed by components that are good such as Tradition, scripture, theology and liturgical philosophy. But they are applied in ways that are distorted just enough to be false/bad, but not distorted enough to be obvious, even to those who are usually spiritually alert.
Ultimately this seduction changes the hearts and minds of faithful Catholics, but not in the right direction. Out of sincere love for the Church and the faith, but sometimes prompted by an incorrect understanding of them, some Catholics fall into a pattern of assessment and judgement of other laypeople, of priests, and of the Magisterium and of the body of work of the Church. This infighting and atmosphere of constant suspicion has progressively formed a subculture within the Church. The church is divided and at war with itself.
Why would the devil do this? Why would he lure faithful Catholics to be what, on the surface, appears to be more Catholic or more devout? Because, in warfare, you don’t have to destroy an army to defeat it. You only need to disable it. That's the devil's endgame. He wants to disable the army of his enemy. And he's doing a very good job of it, too. The devil doesn't need to turn us into villains. He's fine with us continuing to be Catholic. But he wants "Catholic" to be effectively meaningless and inert.
In the very near future I'll cover the means and purpose of the devil's ambition to disable the faithful to address the question of why the devil wants do disorient and disable the faithful. It may be an essay or it may be a podcast.
Any Catholic who believes that our love for the Church and for the faith could never be used to undo us is fooling themselves. In warfare even a human strategist would see it as a brilliant tactic. Why would the devil, who is much smarter than we are, not see that as well? He can’t ensnare us with small traps, but instead needs big traps to catch us. What “trap” is bigger than our love for the Church? There is none.
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