When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say.For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Matthew 9: 19-20
A few weeks ago Tracy from A Slice of Smith Life loaned me her family’s copy of For Greater Glory which tells the story of martyrs in the Cristero War during the 20th Century in Mexico. A couple of weeks after watching it, Pope Francis canonized the teenage saint Jose Sanchez del Rio martyred in the war after undergoing severe torture, at his death he refused to denounce Jesus and the Blessed Mother and instead repeated the Cristero War Cry: Viva Cristo Rey!
I started crying pretty much during the opening credits and continued off and on through the entire movie but by far, for me, the toughest scene was when the elderly priest Father Christopher Magallanes (played in the film by the late Peter O’Toole) was executed by firing squad. Canonized by St John Paul II, he gave his executioners absolution and was falsely accused and executed without trial. In the closing credits an actual photograph of Saint Cristóbal Magallanes Jara standing before the firing squad is shown.
I prayed as I watched the film, “God, when they come for me, let me be as brave.”
I was preparing myself in part, for the more immediate fall-out from the recent presidential election. The only thing that kept me going some days was the reassurance I had of the promises of Christ and the book of Revelation. And I reaffirmed that my trust in God had to be complete even if men did foolish and non-sensical things. It was what kept me from spiraling under the pressure of what was going on in US politics. (It’s what keeps me from spiraling daily in some struggles.)
And it was after I proclaimed on facebook this belief, this absolute faith and trust that Satan took the opening and I came under spiritual attack.
And like the clever devil he is, Satan made the attacker one of the last people I would have expected: a friend of twelve years who proudly announced they had voted for Trump and characterizes themself as an Evangelical Christian. I was publicly denounced on my own facebook status for not trusting humans AND I was told I had “turned to darkness.” I wish I were kidding. I have the screenshot because I still have a hard time believing it happened, but it did.
As I poured out my response I felt an overwhelming peace and love settle over me. I have rarely felt joy as I did in that moment. After I said all that needed be said (a mouthful as one friend commented), I began to process. I reread and realized, I don’t normally react so calmly nor with such a conciliatory tone. And as I message back and forth with a friend who had posted below me with Psalm 146, it became clearer to me what had happened.
Let me first explain that I avoid conflict at all cost. I seldom post anything political on social media. I have never discussed my votes in elections. In this election, no one knows who I voted for for president: not my husband, not my children, not my parents. I delete comments all the time or just choose not to engage. But an accusation like this? An accusation of turning to “darkness” aka Satan?
In that moment, the Holy Spirit took over, gave me the words and response God wanted this individual to see and hear. And I realized in that moment just how ugly and insidious spiritual attack is when we have faith in God. I felt a tiny sliver like Job must have when attacked by his friends after all the loss he had endured. (And trust me it was just the tiniest sliver…this is in no way equal to what Job went through.) And it was only by the grace of God and the gift of the Holy Spirit, that I responded in the way which I did. I can avoid the political drama all I want, but when my faith is tested, when it is challenged, mocked and purposefully denounced, I WILL defend it, I will defend God with my dying breath. I will seek Him with my last strength.I will stand up at the gates of hell. I know now, I can and will do it.
I went for a run afterward and prayed the Rosary as I ran for myself, my friend and our country. I began to be reminded of the words of St Paul, “Run so as to win”(1 Corinthians 9: 24). This race to salvation cannot come without challenges. And then from St Matthew’s Gospel, “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” (Matthew 5: 11-12). I began to understand just how powerful what was happening to me was. I almost always pray the Rosary when I run, but that day, the Blessed Mother was striking the devil with her heel especially hard, at my request.
I’m not going to canonized immediately after death or anything…probably not ever, but I continue to marvel at what the Holy Spirit is doing in my life. I continue to be in awe of the God we serve and His amazing capacity for grace and mercy which is so undeserved (at least in my case, often). It is difficult not to proclaim His goodness when He has filled one so full of the Spirit.
And in being so full of Spirit, I’ve decided to deactivate the personal facebook account two weeks early (I had already planned an Advent fast). It just felt like time to share the Gospel through the blog page in the shell account and let people deal with their realities and proclaim their superiority because they don’t de-friend people from different political parties without being a spectator. I’m a long way from being a saint, but I’m hoping this fast will help me get even the tiniest bit closer.
The heat I’ve felt is in no doubt not only attack of the devil (that heat burns), but the Spirit as it has enabled me to resist and fight back (this heat warms). And I look forward to the years’ end and the new year I am always reminded of my new verse (John 3:30) and how it has and will have a positive impact, turning to the Son prevents burning.