When this writer was a child some fifty years ago, his parents often talked about the devil and his tempting devices. The priests also preached about the power of the evil one. No more are we hearing about the devil or his temptations from parents or from the pulpits, and the devil is very happy about this era of ours as we do not try to defend us against him. No one feels tempted by the devil any more! The World and Flesh are at our convenience all the time and we consider all the pleasures coming from these two are basically amoral; in other words, there is no sin involved in our encounters with the World and the Flesh. After fasting for forty days, the devil tempted the Son of God by showing the world and its pleasures, and He rejected the proposal of the devil and crushed him down.
Do not think the devil is inactive anymore. The evil power is very alert and vigilant to keep the children of God away from Him. However we do not experience his active role much now-a-days. It is because the world and flesh have already conquered us for him; he does not need to work hard to tempt us, or divert us from God. We are already in his camp, sinning and offending God day after day. The devil really enjoys this generation, because the sense of sinfulness no more pricks it. There is no moral norm, no ethical standard. WE are free to enjoy our lives according to the urges of our bodies; that is what this generation tells us. The dearest terms for the devil are “permissiveness”, “politically-correct”, and “ecumenism”, where there are no strict standards or moral certainties. Standards and norms may make someone uncomfortable, which is the sin of this age! The devil loves this kind of pragmatic and utilitarian ethics. Christians, the Christian Ethics is directly coming from the mouth of God, from His commandments. His commandments are His norms and standards to live by. For a Christian there is no other alternative. When we pray, “Deliver us from the evil one”, we pray that the devil may not take over our soul and body, that we may not become servants of the devil and his standards.
If we study the lives of saints, we see their struggles against the devil. The devil literally tortured them. Every good Christian would experience this struggle if he is striving after Christian perfection. However, not many of us experience this temptation by the devil; it is not because we have already become Godlike, but because we are not really engaged in striving after Christian perfection; and that is what the devil wants and he ignores us.
But, Christians, start living the closest Christian life, you will definitely feel the devil working against you, like the saints. Then you will have two great sacraments to prepare you for your defense against the devil, the sacrament of confession and the communion with our Lord in His body and blood.
During this Lenten season, particularly the Holy week, make your confession and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord for complete communion with Him.
Orthodox Christians, surrender yourselves to the loving mercy of your Redeemer, who suffered and granted you freedom from sin. What you need to do is to come to the feet of the Lord with your tears of repentance.
Let us point out that the Orthodox regularly receive communion; but seldom make a good confession. In some churches there is a rite of granting absolution (Husoyo) without a genuine confession. In some churches the congregants receive communion without any rite of absolution. Both are not genuine practices. If you have committed a serious sin, you need to confess to a priest of God for absolution. An absolution without confession is spiritually dangerous. They say absolution without confession is only meant for minor offenses. But the people have no sense of clearly discerning what is grave or what is light. People may approach this practice in receiving absolution even with very grave sins. Hence the sacrament of auricular confession is the only genuine alternative to be reconciled with God before receiving communion.
Those Orthodox who receive communion without any rite of absolution, we urge you to regularly seek the grace of absolution through genuine confession. The purifying grace of this sacrament is an important weapon against the temptations of this world, the flesh and the devil, and it will guard you against committing sins in future.
We know that the Great Fast is going to end soon, and for another week we are going to meditate on the mystery of our Lord’s suffering on our behalf. WE want every Orthodox Christian all over the world to repent and make his sacramental confession by the end of this fasting period or during the Holy Passion Week.
May this Great Lent bring you peace of mind, reconciliation with your Creator and take you to the joy of Resurrection! May you be spiritually recharged, refreshed and restored for His Kingdom! +TVOO