Lent can be a difficult Liturgical Season for some Christians. In addition to the fasting, abstinence, sacrifices, alms-giving, and penance, it often seems like the devil ups the ante on spiritual warfare. It’s almost like he is throwing a satanic temper tantrum. And you know what? He actually might be.
The devil hates Lent.
During Lent, the Catechism tells us that “the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.” We hear about how Jesus was tempted by the devil in the desert. So it makes sense that the faithful may experience more temptations during Lent as we strive to unite ourselves more closely with Christ.
But this is not why the devil hates Lent.
The devil hates Lent because Lent is good for our souls. Really good. And if something is good for our souls, that is bad news for Satan. In fact during exorcisms demons have been known to scream out in agony, “I hate the season of Lent! People do what they should always do and I hate it!”
So how can we beat the devil during this season of penance? Here are four ideas!
1. Make this your best Lent
What it is it that we can do that makes demons writhe in pain and the devil throw tantrums? We can start by observing Lent through an increase in prayer, fasting at least on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, abstaining from meat on Fridays. We can increase our acts of mortification, alms-giving and penance. All of these practices have the spiritual effect of strengthening one’s conscience, self control, and ability to resist temptations.
Want to make the devil really angry? Make at least one good confession before Easter. The Sacrament of Reconciliation alone has the power to stop the devil’s plans in their tracks and derail all his efforts to snatch a soul away from God. This is why Satan hates Lent. A soul sincerely trying to observe Lent well renders him impotent and thwarts his best efforts at tempting that soul away from God’s Grace.
2. End Lent better than you started it
Lent is not meant to be observed in a vacuum. A person should strive to develop at least one good spiritual habit, or try to tame one of the passions that needs reining in, and then keep it up! If you want to really mess with the devil’s plans, do something or mortify yourself in a way that you will continue after Lent is over, and fast well.
Perhaps as part of Lent you will observe the Ash Wednesday and Good Friday fasts and then choose a mortification, a ‘fast’ from something that is not good for you. During Lent it is particularly encouraged to choose something to “give up.” This is a form of fasting. It can be something that distracts you from praying, something that prevents you from growing closer to God, a vice, a bad habit, or something that you really like, but don’t need.
Fasting is powerful. “Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, kindles the true light of chastity,” Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote.
In scripture Jesus told us that there are some demons who can only be removed or stopped through fasting. No wonder the demons shriek about their hatred of Lent!
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