We often use the expression "hanging on by a thread" to indicate insecurity or uncertainty. I'd like to invoke it for another cause, namely, to indicate how a fragile link can become a mighty powerful means of constriction. I mean this in reference to the subtle means the devil employs to take control of someone's life and either enslave him in sin or else inhibit him from doing good or making spiritual progress. It merely takes such a "thread."
We often acknowledge the devil's activity and power in relation to evils that are widespread. Even though they be ever so common, mortal sins bring on the loss of grace and -- lfet unforgiven -- eternal damnation. The evil one and his accomplices can rightly be blamed a good deal for the commission of such sins. And then there are those great evils such as war, abortion, torture, sacrilege and the like which are more readily attributed to devils. My topic here has to do not with these notorious sins but rather with the minuscule, featherweight, insidious "threads" by which demons entangle and ensnare their victims. Although I claim no special discernment of demonic arts, I, as everybody else, have my own experiences with sin and my own tendencies to sin to reflect upon. It doesn't take much of a thought, attraction, word, or object to become not only an occasion of sin but a very powerful tool of enslavement to evil.
Threads. I recall the Canons of the Holy Cross telling me about people in a poor mission country that wanted to build a cathedral church for which there was insufficient money. The Masons of that place, hearing about the intention to build a church, offered the bishop to finance the entire cost of construction on one sole condition: they had to agree to affix to one of its walls a small Masonic emblem, barely noticeable. The offer, howsoever tempting, was wisely and firmly rejected by the Church. All the devil wanted, you see, was his small cut.
From long back in my priesthood I remember hearing about a wife whose husband was kept from converting to Catholicism because of a little fetish he carried about with him and which he cherished. The man, a rather affable sort and a Catholic-inclined man, never succeeded in making the jump. He died a non-Catholic, unable to part with his little "relic."
You may find these stories interesting but perhaps not relevant until you reflect a little on your own sins. How often it is that people fall into the same sins they so recently confessed because some tiny "thread" of an evil, so small as to be dismissed as a thing of little significance, wasn't severed. (An example of self-deception!) In such a case, the snare was set and one fell into it, predictably. The sinner is guilty not only for the sin committed but for refusing to acknowledge and cut that connecting evil strand, be it ever so fragile a cobweb -- the instrument employed by the evil one. Consider the possibilities: the use of a computer, or a cell phone; the company of a certain person or visiting a certain place; that one alcoholic drink which inevitably leads to too much; wearing immodest clothes which entice others to sin. Eating, exercising, reading, music listening ... the list of possibilities need not be long. There is a specific "thread" which is the deathline of this person linking him to hell. I invite the reader to consider whether there may be some such thing to which he is attached and can't seem to let go of. It is such a thing that is the subject of this writing.
It takes a great deal of self-honesty, that is, integrity, to admit these subtle affections to evil, to confess them, and to be resolutely firm to disallow them to ensnare thenceforth. What a shame it would be for you to lose your soul eternally because of a tiny little fiber that bound you to eternal damnation.
P.S. Today is Saint John the Baptist's feast day. (He was certainly not one to flirt with evil.) Friday is the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, two great giants of the Church. Next Sunday is -- already -- July 1st!
Thursday, June 28, 2018
The twitch upon the thread ... that can enslave to sin and damn
Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, June 24, 2018):