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Be careful of Satan when he’s sweet and polite, warns pope

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Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 10/13/17

Francis says we must examine our lives while looking at Christ crucified, to see if the devil has slowly taken over our attitudes

The devil is out to seduce us, and he comes into our lives “so sweetly and politely” to take possession of our attitudes, Pope Francis warned.

The pope said this today in his morning homily, drawing from today’s Gospel reading about the unclean spirit who goes out of a person but then decides to return, and brings with him seven other spirits “more wicked than itself.” Vatican Radio reported Pope Francis’ emphasis that the passage reflects how demons enter quietly, progressively becoming more and more part of a person’s life.

The devil slowly changes our attitudes, camouflaging himself to lead us to what’s called worldliness, Francis explained. This attitude brings us to look at things in ways contrary to the spirit of the Gospel.

When the devil enters “so sweetly, politely and takes possession of our attitudes,” the pope said, our values pass from the service of God to worldliness. Thus we become “lukewarm Christians, worldly Christians.” Francis described this as being like a fruit salad — a bit of the spirit of the world and a bit of God’s spirit.

Prevention

Nevertheless, the Holy Father also said there is a method for preventing this progressive progression of the devil’s seduction: “stopping for a while to examine my life, whether I am a Christian, whether I educate my children, whether my life is Christian or worldly.”

The daily examination of conscience is one of the spiritual practices most promoted by the Society of Jesus, the religious order to which the pope belongs.

It involves taking a few minutes at the end of the day to look over one’s day — to see the graces that God offered, and to thank him for them, and to see the moments when we refused his grace and chose to act in a way contrary to the Gospel. The examen concludes with a specific resolution to work on the next day.

The pope suggested today that this examen can be done while looking at Christ crucified, saying that the crucifix saves us from the charms and seductions that lead us to worldliness.

The examination of conscience, the pope said, is done always before Christ crucified, with prayer, after which one has to break loose from one’s comfortable attitudes, through works of charity, visiting the sick, helping someone in need and so on.  This breaks up the spiritual worldliness that the band of demons tries to create in us, the pope said.


LEARN MORE

To learn more about the daily examination of conscience, consider this reflection on how it compares to methods for growth in other (non-spiritual) areas of our life: The examination of conscience: easier than stepping on the scale each morning

Then see this how-to guide for doing an examen.

A step-by-step guide and A guide for going deep in the examen.

And there’s this: A nightly “examen” to help you become a better wife

Also consider other reflections Pope Francis has made about the devil and his works:

Pope Francis: You can’t dialogue with the devil!

Pope Francis: “We can only respond to the Devil’s attacks with the works of God…”

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Pope Francis
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