By TAMI QUIGLEY Staff writer
“God wants and desires us to freely choose him,” said Father Stephen DeLacy, presenting the Faith and Spirits session “Spiritual Battle: Good vs. Evil” Nov. 20 at Allentown Brew Works.
Father DeLacy, director of the Office of Vocations in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, explored how we are daily engaged in spiritual battle. He examined such questions as “Does Satan really exist?” “Can I lose salvation?” and “How does sin affect me?”
The Diocese of Allentown Office of Adult Formation offered the discussion.
Mary Fran Hartigan, secretary of the Diocesan Secretariat for Catholic Life and Evangelization and director of the Office of Adult Formation, and Rick Dooley, assistant director, attended.
Father DeLacy said there are three types of persons: human, angelic and divine.
“Angels are not limited physically, we are – they are smarter and more powerful than we are,” Father DeLacy said. “Demons are fallen angels.”
Father DeLacy said angels are a higher species than humans, and angels were tested when they were told they would have to worship the second person of the Trinity when God became man. A third of the angels rebelled, and “St. Michael the Archangel led the charge to drive out the bad demons.”
He explained because of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, humans have a fallen nature. “The devil is always looking to see if he can entrap us and bring us down. The devil is not like God in any way.”
Father DeLacy said Adam and Eve had a friendship with God, but the serpent tempted Eve into doubting the love of God and she ate the fruit. Adam, he said, should have been defending his bride and the garden, but instead stood there cowering as the serpent tempted Eve.
“But God shows mercy right away, and gives the promise of the savior. God never leaves us without help.”
The fall of man in the Garden of Eden caused our human nature to be altered. “Therefore we are all born with original sin – we’re born fallen and rebelling,” Father DeLacy said. “Each of us is damaged by original sin with the tendency to rebel against God.
“We need to let Jesus intervene in our lives to save us from sin.”
Father DeLacy said baptism is performed with water on the head or immersion, during which an adult is held down long enough to need a breath. “This reminds us in baptism the old self of sin dies with Christ and rises with him in new life.
“What happens at baptism is the relationship is healed between us and God.”
Father DeLacy said the punishment for not repenting and overcoming sin is addiction, or staying in sin. “The goal of evil is to enslave us,” he said, to sins such as sexual sins, drinking and drug addiction.
“Jesus overcomes sin by dying on the cross. Every time we celebrate the Mass, Jesus says, ‘Come, follow me.’ We join with him on the cross.”
Father DeLacy said Isaiah had a vision of heaven in which he hears angels singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts,” and those words are part of the Mass.
“We’re all fallen. We’re all works in progress that must repent all our lives.
“We unite ourselves to the cross in the act of active repenting, and we are free.
When we unite with Christ we push deeper and deeper into heaven.” However, there are forces trying not to let this happen.
“The devil in most cases is only allowed to tempt us. He draws us into sin, then shames us about our sin,” Father DeLacy said. “There is no room for shame in the Christian world.”
Angels, he said, have specific missions of good. Demons can in some cases recognize our vice to rebel against God, for example, lying. “They can rest in these and the vice becomes larger. With a demon resting in a lie, a person’s ability to repent is compromised,” he said, adding this is not possession.
“We need to call on the name of Jesus to rebuke the vice and close that door on the demon. We need to rebuke the lies and rebellion.
“Our Lord wants to give you freedom and evil wants to hold us back.
“The need to repent is real – sin can be mortal.”
The sanctifying grace is our ability to hold God within us. “But mortal sin breaks our unity with Jesus, and we’re in danger of going to hell,” he said.
“There is a realness to God’s justice. If we’re habitually in mortal sin, we need to call upon our Lord God to save us.
“It’s super easy to repent – go to confession. God died on the cross to save us.
God wants his mercy to be that easy, that quick.”
Of confession, Father DeLacy said, “It’s Jesus absolving you, working through the priest, to draw you back into unity with him.”