“But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one” – 2 Thessalonians 3:3
The final petition that we present to the Father is deliverance from evil. Once again, we turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC): “In this petition, evil is not an abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God” (CCC, 2851).
Bishop Fulton Sheen once said, “very few people believe in the devil these days, which suits the devil very well.”
Many in our modern culture, and perhaps even some within the Church itself, do not believe that the devil is real. They say that Satan is more of an allegory or a symbol than a real being. But let’s not be deceived; the devil is real, and he is our sworn enemy. Pope Francis has spoken often of the devil as our enemy.
That detestable beast strives for our ruin and will use every tactic possible to tempt us to sin. St. Peter reminds us to “be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). “Resist him” St. Peter commands us in the very next verse (vs.9), and resist him we must! Yet we cannot do it through our limited human power. We must rely on the power of God — our Father! — to help deliver us from the evil one. And thus we make this our final petition in the Our Father, sed libera nos a malo. Amen.
“Victory over the ‘prince of this world’ was won once for all at the Hour when Jesus freely gave himself up to death to give us life” (CCC, 2853). The sign of our victory over the devil is the cross. When teaching about the Our Father, we must not omit teaching about the Sign of the Cross, through which we begin and end our prayer. St Francis de Sales, quoting St. Marital says, “for the Cross of the Lord is your invincible armor against Satan.”
The Sign of the Cross is to be made with the right hand, using either three fingers, which symbolizes the Trinity, or five fingers, symbolizing the five wounds of Christ. It is to be traced from the forehead to the stomach, then the left shoulder to the right shoulder.
This sign was first traced on us at our baptism when the priest said, “I claim you for Christ.” The sign of the cross was again traced on our forehead when we were Confirmed in the Spirit.
We begin the Our Father with the Sign of the Cross. When we petition the Father for deliverance from the evil one, God answers this petition at the end when we conclude our prayer, “In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Questions to start the Discussion
What do we ask for in the final petition?
Is the Devil real?
Through what sign does God answer our petition?
How should we begin and end every prayer?
JAMES BLANKENSHIP is the director of religious education at St. Francis De Sales Church in Purcellville, Virginia. He is founder of the St. Isidore Project, dedicated to the poor by growing food and offering education and community.
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