Satan is a big butthead, we all know this. But sometimes he feels like an insurmountable enemy, like the bullies Butch and Woim from The Little Rascals. Every evil has a downfall, though. The downfall of Satan hinges on the Eucharist and Intercessory prayer.
“Intercessory prayer?” you may ask. Yes! Fr. Venatius Oforka calls intercessors “wall builders”, people who bridge the gap between us and God. He writes, “God needs intercessors for some of the decisions He makes. He gladly leans on them to save souls, which otherwise would have been lost. In such matters that are conditionally willed by God, he would expect intercessors to stand in the gap. He is the person who provides defense for the accused.”
In his book The Art of Spiritual Warfare: The Secret Weapons Satan Can’t Withstand, Fr. Oforka further outlines several ways to defeat Satan, why they work, why we should use them, and what spiritual warfare is.
Ok, this one might sound kinda lame or at least very ordinary. Just stand up to the devil! We know that he loses and that Christ reigns supreme! But there’s more to it than that. Fr. Oforka elaborates: “A soldier who I snot firm on his ground . . . is more prone to abandoning the war when it gets tough, or, even worse, becoming a deserter. An intercessor must therefore take his ground and stand firm courageously. He must be smart, vigilant, and poised for action. . . . An intercessor should be ready to bear trials that might arise as a result of his spiritual deeds or the tests the Master might be pleased to send for the purpose of training and making him a seasoned soldier…An intercessor must also be able to react adequately to the urgency of his ministry and intervene timely in dicey situations.”
This one’s pretty straightforward: you cannot fight for the truth if you do not know the truth or even hold it to be true. But Fr. Oforka explains it even better: “Truth as used by St. Paul here refers essentially to the state of being sincere and authentic, of being genuine in serving in the Lord’s army…By extension, the armor of truth also touches on the authenticity of the deposit of faith that we keep.” So, it’s not just holding the tenants of the faith that is important to truth, but doing so sincerely and genuinely.
A breastplate (or bullet-proof) vest is worn to protect the vulnerable vital organs in the chest and abdomen areas. Similar to vital physical organs, we also have vital spiritual organs, and guess which ones Satan goes after hard? That’s right, the vital ones. But what is used as a spiritual breastplate for these spiritual organs? Righteousness! Righteousness is akin to being pure of heart and mind and humble before God. Fr. Oforka explains the necessity of righteousness: “Righteousness is accordingly an essential characteristic of an intercessor. It not only affords him protection against evil scheming but also helps his prayers to be effective.”
Zeal is that great desire to go spread the Good News. Clearly, very important in fighting Satan! Satan tries to thwart the spread of the Gospel and so an intercessor who has such zeal for the faith is absolutely necessary. “Thus, an intercessor puts on his boots when he zealously commits himself to making many experience the divine touch through his ministry and Christian living. With these giant boots of the zeal for his Father’s mission, the intercessor can tread upon ‘snakes and scorpions’ without being hurt and can bring Christ to many lost and distressed souls,” writes Fr. Oforka.
This is another one that might seem too simple to need to be talked about, but faith is just that important! Faith is like the defense weapon against Satan, like a shield for us. It is what protects us from despair and despondency. Faith may not do damage to Satan, but it gives us power against him and roots us firmly in the love and hope of Our Father. “Faith believes God completely and trusts Him absolutely. God is the center o the ministry of an intercessor. He has a complete knowledge of reality and is absolutely disposed to make the best decisions for His creation, especially man, and the intercessor is only a small but important instrument with a very limited knowledge of reality and the operation of the laws of existence. He must therefore submit to the wisdom of the Master to make decisions irrespective of the wishes and submissions of the intercessor,” Fr. Oforka emphasizes. This is serious business and faith is a linchpin in engaging in spiritual battle.
As Fr. Oforka reminds us, intercession demands selfless and committed service to others and to God. A great big part of this is sacrifice. We must give of ourselves to help others, to help ourselves, and to defeat Satan in spiritual battle. Fr. Oforka puts it beautifully: “Every intercessor is like a candle, which cannot give its light unless it burns itself down; or like salt, which cannot offer its taste unless it dissolves and loses itself. The ministry of intercession demands self-giving. . . . Here the Master is revealing that only by death comes life.” Remember that kids’ song This Little Light of Mine? We must give of ourselves to let our light shine, it is the only way.
“Another crucial quality an intercessor requires is the gift of wisdom. The Lord does not generally commission people with minimal common sense for great missions. . . . Wisdom could therefore be defined as the ability to make sensible decisions and give good advice because of one’s experience and knowledge. It means having insight, the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships: a wise attitude, belief, or course of action…Wisdom is a positive productive interplay between knowledge, insight, and judgment,” Fr. Oforka tells us. Wisdom is basically having good common sense, good knowledge and intuition of life and varying circumstances, right judgment, and the ability to analyze situations quickly and well. Fairly easy to see why this is so necessary in taking down the devil.
Stability, fortitude, and patience; these are the basic elements of steadfastness and it is easy to see why it is necessary in spiritual warfare. Satan may sometimes seem like he is very steadfast, but in reality he bores and gives up quickly, becoming frustrated when one of his ways does not work. Will he turn to other devices? Yes. But he cannot withstand an onslaught from us, which is why we must be steadfast. Fr. Oforka elaborates: “The intercessory ministry requires patient forbearance and doggedness. It is for this reason the it needs people who are rugged and tough. This is because at times he may meet conditions that can make one doubt the efficacy and reality of what one is doing. Sometimes answers to prayers are delayed or even appear unattended to. Naturally, this can lead to despair. But an experienced intercessor cannot allow himself to be intimidated or frustrated by this kind of experience. He does not give up easily or even at all.”
“Fasting humbles the body and liberates the soul to communicate with God,” Fr. Oforka proclaims. He’s right, of course. Anyone who has fasted for any amount of time knows this. It takes self-control and sacrifice and patience. It reminds us that we are not the be all, end all, and that we must and do rely on God for absolutely every aspect of our being and our life. It also frees us of our earthly desires, allowing us to order them rightly in our life and freeing us to communicate clearly with God. Because of all of these good effects, fasting is a powerful tool of an intercessor against Satan and all his evil works.
10. The Rosary
CALL. YOUR. MOMMA!! This cannot be stressed enough! Mary’s whole purpose is to bring us to our Son, which she does without fail, so asking her intercession is a foolproof way to make sure our prayers are heard and our needs attended to. After all, she crushes the head of the serpent. She’s more badass than any of us could ever be (this side of heaven) and so she’s the perfect one to go to. “The rosary is a very violent storm against the powers of hell. It is always a celebration of the triumph of the Cross. It replays the devastating raid against the kingdom of darkness, and this I what the devil does not like to be reminded of. The rosary is a sure means of torturing him with the memory of the woman who crushed an dis still crushing his head (see Gen. 3:15),” Fr. Oforka says.
11. Devotion to the angels and saints
Angels and saints, the Catholic’s ride-or-die friends, family, and intercessors. Our posse. They have our backs no matter what. Being in the presence of God, they go right to Him for us. They are our spiritual army. They are our partners in this fight for the faith. Fr. Oforka explains: “Considering the fact that we belong to the same family of God and accordingly become brothers and sisters, the Bible admonishes us to pray for one another and bear each other’s burdens (see James 5:16; Gal. 6:2). Those who have gone before us to join the glory above cannot stop praying for their brothers and sisters, whom they left behind here on earth, just because they have gone into eternity. After all, they are not dead. Death is not a passage into oblivion but a passing on into life. One should not think that those who have died are gone forever and have no communication with us anymore…Now, if we can request prayers from brothers and sisters we see, what is odd about requesting prayers from brothers and sisters we can see only with the eyes of faith?…The angels and the saints need our commitment to prayer to help us. Our prayers must principally be directed to God through Jesus…The angels and saints only support our prayers by telling God also about us and our petitions…God can also use them as our spiritual companions in our earthly struggles.”
These are several very important ways to combat the devil in his destruction, but it is not exhaustive. For more on these weapons and so much more, pick up a copy of Fr. Venatius Oforka’s book The Art of Spiritual Warfare.