We are fallen but redeemed by Jesus. He wants to claim what’s His: our souls. However, the spiritual war between Christ and the devil for our souls never stops raging in this life. Therefore, similar to physical warfare, we must arm ourselves with weapons to defeat evil.
The Church recognizes that a nation has not just the right but the obligation to ensure its citizens’ security and respond to aggression—under very strict conditions—through the use of military force, which is known as the “just war” doctrine (this is, of course, top of mind with the Russian invasion of Ukraine). As Catholics in recovery, we also have an obligation to ensure the security of our souls and those of our family members and neighbors. The good news is that God is on our side in this constant spiritual warfare against evil.
The former American president and Allied Commander during World War II, Dwight Eisenhower, once said, “In preparing for battle, I have found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Planning is also necessary for spiritual warfare, for our enemies are relentless.
The Power of Prayer
Chief among the weapons in our spiritual arsenal is prayer. Through prayer, we can call upon the saints (through novenas to the Blessed Mother or to St. Jude, for instance) and angelic armies, Mary, and our Lord Jesus Christ to aid us. Further, we cannot go wrong by regularly reciting the “Our Father.” It is the only prayer that Jesus taught the Apostles. Think about that—it’s the prayer Jesus Himself gave us! Even reciting three Hail Marys when we wake up and before we go to bed every day can offer us protection in our fight against spiritual evil. According to a vision given to St. Mechtilde, the Blessed Mother said this about it:
“By the first Hail Mary, you will ask me in virtue of the supreme power which God the Father has given me to strengthen you in all your combats and to defend you against the power of the malignant enemy. By the second Hail Mary, you will beseech me, through the admirable wisdom which I have received from my Son, to let the truth shine upon your soul and to banish from it the darkness of ignorance and error. By the third Hail Mary, you will ask me by the burning fire of love with which the Holy Spirit has inflamed me to give you such ardent charity as will enable you to overcome the fear and struggle of death.”
Additionally, we can always and everywhere mark ourselves with the Sign of the Cross to ward off spiritual evil. This is what St. Cyril, a bishop of Jerusalem, had to say about this powerful prayerful gesture:
“Let us, therefore, not be ashamed of the Cross of Christ; but though another hide it, do thou openly seal it upon thy forehead, that the devils may behold the royal sign and flee trembling far away. Make then this sign at eating and drinking, at sitting, at lying down, at rising, at speaking, at walking: in a word, at every act.”
The Power of Scripture
Another spiritual weapon we should consider employing is reading Scripture. Through Scripture, we can put on the armor of God, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians: 6:15-17). We can also read the psalms or meditate on Scripture while reciting the rosary (I personally like to think of each rosary bead as a spiritual “bullet” aimed at Satan).
The Power of the Sacraments
Of course, the sacraments remain a key weapon in our fight against spiritual evil, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation. In our secular and sexualized society, our recovery is always under threat. But we must not forget that Christ directly engaged the enemy, the Devil, and defeated him with his Resurrection. Death has no power over us when we rely on the grace offered to us in His sacraments.
The Power of Sacramentals
We can also incorporate sacramentals like the scapular and holy water along with praying, reading Scripture, and frequenting the sacraments. Scapulars can offer us armor against infernal assaults, an impenetrable shield against the arrows of our spiritual enemies. For me, wearing the brown scapular has often been a visual reminder of my recovery commitment and prevented me from relapsing. And when it comes to the power of holy water, we need to look no further than the New Testament, where water takes on great significance in its connection with Christ as “Living Water” (John 7:37-39).
In closing, the spiritual battle between Christ and the devil for our souls is very real and continues to rage. But Jesus gives us the graces to resist the devil. And for this type of warfare, we must arm ourselves with spiritual weapons, including prayer, Scripture, the sacraments, sacramentals, and even fasting. But most importantly, we must arm ourselves with faith and hope in Jesus Christ and in His victory over evil through the Resurrection. With that in mind, let us take comfort in this truth that Saint Padre Pio beautifully captures:
“Let us always keep before our eyes the fact that here on earth we are on a battlefield and that in paradise we shall receive the crown of victory.”
Aaron Walter is a lifelong Catholic and former porn addict whose ministry, NewMenRising, is dedicated to pornography addiction recovery. He is a coach, mentor, and accountability partner and is passionate about helping husbands kick their addiction and transform their lives and relationships. You can connect with him at calendly.com/aaronwaltercoachingsessions.