About this blogger:
Ronda Chervin received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Fordham University and an MA in Religious Studies from Notre Dame Apostolic Institute. A widow, mother, and grandmother, she currently teaches philosophy at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut. Write to her at chervinronda@gmail.com.
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“Indeed, we may not hope for real Latin poetry any more, because Latin is now a dead language to all of us. However well a man may read, write, or even speak Latin now, it is always a foreign language to him, acquired artificially. It is no one's mother tongue. Does a man ever write real poetry in an acquired language?”
— Rev’d Adrian Fortescue (d. 1923)

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Spiritual Warfare concerning Anger
published 16 April 2013 by Dr. Ronda Chervin

RECENTLY had several intense bouts of anger, most of them concerning dissenters from moral truths held dear in our Catholic faith. I wrote to a priest about how to deal with this, telling him that I always try first spiritual warfare in the form of rebuking the spirit of anger, or despair…and laying it at the feet of Jesus. This is a technique described in great detail in the book Unbound by Lozano.

I was surprised by his reply but I think it is important for me to ponder and act on and you might find it important to ponder also.

“The Prayer to St. Michael and other “techniques” can be helpful, but are only “techniques” to help deal with a given situation. There’s the danger that they treat only the symptoms, not the cause.

I don’t know what your understanding of “the spirit of …” is but I have noticed that often people are talking about an evil “spirit” (demon), who is tempting them into sin. The problem with such prayers and techniques (such as “I rebuke the spirit of dissent …”) is that it tries to deal with the problem as if it was something external to the person, making the person just a victim of evil influence, when in fact, we ourselves, more often than not, are the problem. Many people blame the devil for many things, but the greatest source of temptation and disorder comes from within ourselves. Therefore, although such prayers can be of help, the real solution lies in treating the cause itself—our vices, our disordered emotions, our pride, etc. The solution is found, not so much in prayers, techniques, and calling off spirits, but in changing ourselves—i.e., cultivation of the virtues that will squeeze out our vices and make of us a new person.

Virtue is what helped the saints love sinners… Patience and compassion helped them deal with all of the imperfections and foibles of others. Humility helped them realize that they have their own imperfections and foibles. We can’t act as if we want to control everyone, in order that they march to our tune, when we want and how we want. (Ronda’s thought here is that for teachers, like myself, this is particularly hard to get because in the classroom precisely we sing the tune and the students have to march or flunk out and they have to do it the way we want and when we want. So we expect the same obedience when we are in other situations such as social situations or family situations with adults.) Humility helps us see our own shortcomings and realize how we can be a thorn in the side of others, while thinking that we are always right. Common sense helps us realize that there is not and never will be an environment where everyone is perfectly pro-magisterial in the way that we want them to be. There is no such thing as utopia on this earth.

Remember that Jesus ate with sinners and didn’t fly into a rage because they didn’t immediately accept Him. We attract more flies with honey than with vinegar. If we really want to convert the world and make a difference, we have to live among sinners (sometimes very big sinners) and show them the beauty of Christianity and not try to shove it down their throats. We also can’t just isolate ourselves from them, so that we can feel comfortable. You yourself wrote that “Jesus wasn’t a zealot and He had much more than I to come against.”

I’m always amazed at how Providence works in our lives. These last couples days I pondered about what I might write to you. Then, suddenly today, as I was reading Psalm 37 in today’s Office of Readings, it was as if I was being given exactly what I needed to convey to you.

Do not fret because of the wicked
Calm your anger and forget your rage;
do not fret, it only leads to evil.
For those who do evil shall perish;
the patient shall inherit the land.
Surrender to God, and he will do everything for you.

And what is absolutely essential for one attempting to life the Christian life? Detachment from self. We all have to practice detachment from things of this world, things that are external to us, but detachment from self is far more difficult because “self” is internal to us. It goes to the very depths of our soul and is our most prized possession. Only when we strive for detachment from self do we begin to see our own miserable imperfections and worry more about how much we offend God, rather than how much others offend Him because we have passed judgment upon them. We won’t concentrate so much on whether others are the problem, and may begin to think that “perhaps, I’m part of the problem.” Only then, are we no longer driven to control and demand. And it is only then, that we can begin to achieve true peace and love people into the Church through prayer and patience, rather than by force.