“Despite the peace in my soul, I fight a continuous battle with the enemy of my soul. More and more, I am discovering his traps, and the battle flares up anew. During interludes of calm, I exercise myself and keep watch, lest the enemy find me unprepared. And when I see his great fury, I stay inside the stronghold; that is, the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
– Diary of St Faustina, para.1287
All of us are engaged in the precise battle which Saint Faustina describes – a battle with the infernal one, the enemy of our soul. Not all of us, however, have an awareness that there is a battle going on.
Life in the modern world is very focussed on the corporeal, the tangible, the ‘real’ – as though the spiritual was not real, when in fact it is the most real of all. We believe in what we can see and touch and feel – and that is one reason why we should constantly give thanks to God that we have been granted the gift of Faith; this priceless gift allows us to look beyond what is merely in front of us, and to place the tangible into it’s proper context. This gift of Faith should evoke within us feelings of great humility that the Almighty has looked with such kindness upon us. It should also evoke prayers of petition for those who do not yet share this beautiful gift.
Faith reminds us that life is more than just a succession of events and experiences which culminate in our eventual death. It also reminds us that this life of ours, whether short or long, and whether it is lived in the glare of the world or in the silence of obscurity, has both a meaning and a purpose. Life is not it’s own end, but rather a means to an end – the end being God Himself, and eternal life lived in His presence.
But how to get there – that is the question.
For Faustina, the ‘how’ was clear; it consisted of the full renunciation of self in all things, seeking God alone and His divine will. Clinging to that will meant a life lived in a spirit of great and enduring trust, for there were many times when she did not understand the divine will at all; of course, like all of us, our task is not to understand but to do.
And in following this path the Lord had set for her, Faustina realised it would be a great battle, one which would be played out every day of her life – for that following of the divine will is harder than it sounds and the enemy is there at every step. Self-renunciation does not come easy to the human heart.
Thankfully, it is not the human heart we should rely on.
Instead, we should do what Faustina describes in the quotation above – that is, we should fly to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and take our refuge there. She describes His Heart as her ‘stronghold’, which echoes the words of the Psalmist, who says the Lord is our rock and our fortress. And once inside that stronghold, we rely entirely on Him – not on ourselves. When we rely on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, that great and enduring spiritual battle becomes a little easier.