Boost Your Spiritual Defenses this Advent

I love Star Wars. I’ve seen the original trilogy hundreds of times and I’m now enjoying the movies with my sons. If you’ve seen Revenge of the Sith (Episode III), then you know that Anakin Skywalker’s downfall was due to his fear of losing his love, Padame. Being manipulated by Darth Sidious, that fear led him to the Dark Side of the Force and eventually turned him into Darth Vader. Anakin felt alone and abandoned by the Jedi order. I think a similar manipulation is going on right now. Our fear of the Covid-19 virus and wanting to keep our loved ones safe allows Satan to manipulate us.

Everyone can sense it, there is something particularly strange about the COVID virus itself, but also the way government authorities and American public are reacting to it. It’s not just a normal virus/pandemic situation like humanity has experienced numerous times in the past, on a much worse scale. Something else is going on here. What is becoming quite clear is that The Virus, and the reaction to it, is a spiritual attack by Satan designed to destroy charity and souls.

The Devil’s in More than the Details: How Satan is using The Virus to Destroy Charity – The Catholic Esquire

This situation reminds me of a homily I heard a few weeks ago. My priest said that we are joyful and happy when we are grateful and charitable. Basically, we are happy when we feel connected to each other and serve each other. But in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re forced to isolate ourselves. The one thing we are forbidden to do is “connect” with each other. And while the mandates talk only about physical distancing, it creates a domino effect that reduces our willingness to connect charitably and spiritually.

Many of us have adopted a “me first” attitude this year. It’s not something born from selfishness, but rather our basic instinct of self-preservation. We’re always thinking about how we can stay safe, not contract Covid-19, and not pass it to others. We all want to do our part in fighting this pandemic. And there is nothing wrong with that as long as we realize that it affects our spiritual ability to fight off Satan.

When we feel alone and isolated we become an easier target for Satan. He can more easily influence an individual than a group. He can take our wanting to be safe and keep our loved ones safe and use that to push us into despair. We no longer feel a sense of community from our friends, family, and universal Church. Many of us cannot go to Mass regularly. And those of us who can go to Mass often feel like we have to rush through it so as not to be exposed to others for too long. We’re all like Anakin Skywalker, we want to do the right thing. But when we are cut off from sources of truth, Satan has a louder voice. It becomes harder to know what the “right thing” is because the Prince of Lies may be distorting our sense of truth.

The most important thing we can do in these last days of Advent is realize that our normal defenses against Satan are weaker. Many of us haven’t been strengthened by receiving the Sacrament of Communion or attending Mass regularly. We maybe aren’t praying as much as we should. We’ve substituted a spiritual Advent of charity with “rage spending” on extravagant gifts because we just have all this frustration from a year of cabin fever and missed events.

It’s not too late to strengthen ourselves. Pray the Rosary daily! Meditate on the daily readings. Attend Mass daily, even if it is just online, and go in person on Sunday when you can. Contribute to charities. Fast. Sacrifice as you do during Lent. Do these so that Satan will back off and look for easier prey. Pray for those who are at the greatest risk of being influenced by Satan’s lies.

If anything, keeping up with your spiritual needs will have benefits for your emotional needs too.

In 2019, about 42% of those who reported attending religious services weekly told Gallup that their mental health was excellent. In 2020, 46% said the same, an increase of 4 percentage points. Only 35% of those who attend services nearly weekly or monthly reported excellent mental health, down 12 percentage points from last year. Among those who attend seldom or never, 29% reported excellent mental health, down 13 percentage points.

Only frequent church attendees avoided downward mental health trend in 2020 (