Pope at Audience: God’s grace helps us triumph in spiritual combat

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Pope Francis picked up his catechesis series on vices and virtues at the Wednesday General Audience, focusing his reflections on spiritual combat.

The Pope said that our Christian life is never “linear or devoid of struggle,” but rather requires “continuous combat.”

He pointed to the oil with which Christians are first anointed at Baptism, saying it contains no fragrance, as if to announce that “life is a struggle.”

“The anointing of the catechumens immediately makes it clear that the Christian is not spared from struggle,” he said. “Our existence, like that of everyone else, must enter the arena, because life is a succession of trials and temptations.”

Temptations and grace

However, temptations are really a chance to allow God’s grace to work in us.

As St. Anthony, the first abbot, said, “Remove temptations and no one will be saved.”

The Pope said that Christians who “absolve themselves” of their own sins risk living in darkness since they can no longer distinguish good from evil.

“We must all ask God for the grace to recognise ourselves as poor sinners in need of conversion, keeping in our hearts the confidence that no sin is too great for the infinite mercy of God the Father,” he said.

Challenges and mercy

Even Jesus, noted Pope Francis, presented Himself for Baptism despite being free from all sin, so that we might follow His example and never be afraid to ask for God’s mercy.

After His Baptism, Jesus withdrew into the desert where He was tempted by Satan.

“He has experienced what we too must always prepare to face,” said the Pope. “Life is made of challenges, trials, crossroads, opposing visions, hidden seductions, contradictory voices.”

Spiritual combat and the Holy Spirit

Pope Francis invited Christians to walk the daily tightrope between opposite extremes: “Pride challenges humility; hatred contrasts charity; sadness opposes the true joy of the Spirit; the hardening of the heart rejects mercy.”

By reflecting on the vices and virtues, he said, we can overcome our nihilistic culture in which the “contours between good and evil remain blurred”.

At the same time, he added, our reflections on vice and virtues “reminds us that the human being, unlike any other creature, can always transcend itself, opening up to God and walking towards holiness.”

“Spiritual combat,” concluded Pope Francis, “leads us to closely look at those vices that chain us and to walk, with the grace of God, towards those virtues that can bloom in us, bringing the spring of the Spirit into our life.”

Source: vaticannews.va