Husbands and fathers have a target on their backs. Their vocation is to be the providers, protectors and spiritual leaders of their families. If they don’t do their jobs well, their families become vulnerable.
Satan knows that if he can tempt men into sin, addiction, irresponsibility or complacency, their wives and children are more likely to stumble and fall as well. Men, therefore, must be particularly vigilant in protecting their families against the influence of evil.
“Not only does God have a plan for your life, but so does Satan,” said Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix, whose 2015 pastoral letter Into the Breach inspired a 12-part video series of the same name, produced by the Knights of Columbus. “And I see a real need to make people aware of this battle that we’re engaged in — that it’s a real battle.”
“What’s the role of a Catholic man? The only duty that’s going to matter at the end is if he gets his family to heaven,” said Matthew James Christoff, founder of The New Emangelizaton Project and one of the Catholic leaders interviewed for the “Spiritual Warfare” episode of Into the Breach. “He has got to lead his family through the attacks of Satan … so each and every one of them gets to heaven.”
That’s a monumental task, but it’s one a man can handle if he stays true to his vocation, seeks God’s guidance and makes use of the spiritual weapons the Church provides.
“The devil wants us constantly to think that we can’t really live this vocation that God gives to us,” said Bishop Olmsted. “And it’s in living our vocation that we have an impact on others.”
Author and speaker Jason Evert compared the devil to a military commander who looks for our vulnerabilities, whether it’s our pride, our anger, our lust, or some other area where we are weak in virtue. “Where the defenses are weakest, that’s where he wants to break in to get into the fortress itself,” Evert said.
Steve Greene, director of the Kino Catechetical Institute for the Diocese of Phoenix, recalled something a priest told him in confession. “He said, ‘The devil wants to destroy your family, but he has to come through you to get to them,” Greene said. “And so what he wants you to do is develop these habits of sin, so that when he comes to attack your family, you’re not even a threat.”
Grace Under Fire
Don O’Mara, who for years battled addiction, is a witness to the power of frequent prayer and reception of the sacraments. After helping a girlfriend obtain an abortion, he realized the gravity of what he had done. Prayer and the sacraments became his most treasured allies in his spiritual battle.
Confession, O’Mara said, is “the greatest weapon against the devil,” while the Eucharist “strengthens your armor as a man.” A sacramental marriage and daily prayer, he said, provide strength so that “we can fight any battle and not worry about what’s going to happen.”
“Don’t give an inch to the enemy,” O’Mara added. “Stay strong.”
Mortifications like fasting and self-denial can also prepare us to battle temptation, as Christ himself demonstrated.
Paul Thigpen, historian and author of Manual of Spiritual Warfare, noted how Jesus went into the wilderness to fast and pray for 40 days and confronted the devil before he began his public ministry. “If even the Son of God has to prepare for spiritual battle in his human nature by prayer and fasting,” he asked, “how much more so each one of us?”
Men must take courage and heed the frequent admonition of St. John Paul II, “Be not afraid!” The devil is a formidable opponent, but if we remain faithful, we know that Christ has our back.
“Don’t be fearful, because Jesus Christ is far more powerful than Satan,” said Father Charles Goraieb, a priest of the Phoenix diocese. “If Jesus is the platform in which we stand, we are victorious. But there is a fight, and there’s no getting around it.”
To view episodes of the Into the Breach video series and to access the study guide and other resources for promoting the series in your parish, visit kofc.org/intothebreach.