Ever since creation, mankind has had to battle against evil. In every age, Satan has been prowling about seeking to destroy, attempting to separate us from our life in Christ. Fortunately, because God cares for us so immensely, He has given us countless tools to equip us in this battle. Romans 8 reminds us: “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?... For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” However, because our loving God created us in freedom, it is a daily act of the will to remain in His love and under His umbrella of protection. We have resources to help in the fight against evil, as well as advocates we can call upon to accompany us in driving away the demons that seek our ruin.
One such advocate whom we celebrate today is St. Patrick. A simple young man who was sold into slavery to Ireland in the 5th century, St. Patrick ultimately gained his freedom and chose to return to the land of his captivity as a missionary to spread the love and truth of God. While in captivity, Patrick prayed constantly and nurtured his faith to overcome the harsh circumstances, and God strengthened him to grow into a saintly superhero known for driving out demons. His prayer, the Lorica (otherwise known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate), is comprehensive in covering all the ways we can be attacked by evil. It is a beautiful prayer that my husband and I pray aloud together each morning; and I can attest to its protection in many incidences. The act of reciting this prayer brings a spiritual covering over us when prayed in faith.
St. Patrick is celebrated annually on March 17th, a feast day which occurs during the season of Lent. Today, we can attend Mass on this day and enjoy a traditional Irish meal and festivities as we remember the gift Patrick gave us by his example of driving out evil and spreading God’s love amidst treacherous conditions. He is a bigger than life example for me of how God can equip us with His power to do battle against evil. And Lent is a perfect time in the Church year to remember and celebrate him. During the season of Lent, we focus on our individual weaknesses that allow evil to creep into our lives and practice ways to defeat the darkness within and around us. We look inward and examine our thoughts, words, and actions through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These three Lenten pillars can be physical ways to drive out evil influences, reorient our hearts and minds to serve others, and recommit to living in Christ. Having such a superhero of faith as Patrick helps me realize that I need help and cannot do it on my own.
Cardinal John Henry Neumann reminds us: “We are not our own masters. Through creation, redemption and regeneration we are God’s property and He has a triple claim upon us. We find that independence was not made for us – it’s an unnatural state, and will not carry us on safely to the end. We are creatures and have two duties – to be resigned and to be thankful.”
So, I contemplate during this season of Lent that I am in need of a Savior! Each day I need to rededicate myself to more time in self-examination and prayer for divine assistance to battle against the evil in my life. The Church offers us ways to walk with our brothers and sisters through the Stations of the Cross, to redirect us to follow in Christ’s footsteps. There’s great power in doing this together, as most battles are won by an army working together.
Other suggestions for becoming more adept in driving away the demons and battling evil are:
Lastly, I encourage you to adjust your armor daily as instructed in Ephesians 6:11, 14-18: “Put on the full armour of God so as to be able to resist the devil’s tactics. So, stand your ground, with truth a belt around your waist, and uprightness a breastplate, wearing for shoes on your feet the eagerness to spread the gospel of peace and always carrying the shield of faith so that you can use it to quench the burning arrows of the Evil One. And then you must take salvation as your helmet and the sword of the Spirit, that is, the word of God. In all your prayer and entreaty keep praying in the Spirit on every possible occasion. Never get tired of staying awake to pray for all God’s holy people.”
Through Christ and the intercession of the saints, particularly St. Patrick, I can wholeheartedly enter into these weeks of Lent to learn more precisely how to drive out the evil in my own life so I can be more disposed to proclaim the love of Christ in who I am and what I do. May you have a Lent filled with freedom from all evil and experience a deep renewal in living for Christ!
For more Lenten resources, please click here.
To learn more about St. Patrick, please click here.