If you are a nun here in Cor Unum Abbey, you know what it is to wake up before you might otherwise choose, to spend time in worship and prayer that might have been given to movies and books and leisure time delights, and to maintain goals of spiritual and internal change … “Conversatio” … that might be given to more glittering successes outside these walls.
You also know what it is to keep your peace in time of trial and terror, to hope against hope, to love when jealousy and hatred demand attention. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal here, but they are mighty, even to the pulling down of strongholds … even to the destruction of those snares that have kept us locked up and lonely.
Snares. Strongholds. Traps. All of us have taken refuge in dangerous corners. We have hidden behind pride at times. For some, it is a boasting in strength, and for others boasting in lack and inability works just as well. We have been known to hide even behind fear, which seems to work, even seems sensible, for a while until we hear the firm, quiet, inexorable voice of God telling us, “Fear not … I am with you.” We have hidden behind busy-ness and boredom, behind wounds and words that should not have been spoken. Since Adam and Eve, we hide, but if only we knew, we cower in plain sight. Others can see our deceptions more often than we know, and the better we hide, the greater the danger to our souls.
We battle powers and principalities, just as the Scripture says in Ephesians 6, but here in Cor Unum Abbey, and for our own safety, we first take on the strong man, the one who stomps around in our hearts, hands on hips, feet spread, scowling, telling us that we cannot change, and that it would be foolish to try. “He” is a dragon man, guarding his treasure, breathing fire, and his riches are our sins and faults and fears. How he loves them! How he dotes over them! It hardly seems an enviable pile of loot, but oh! – what POWER he claims as long as every little chain stays fastened. What are diamonds and rubies compared with power and lust over the souls of men?
So, our warfare will ever be to relieve him of his armor and to distribute his plunder. More on that in the days ahead, but it will take place. Honesty and humility of heart will sustain us, repentance and rest upon the Word of God will save us. Joyfully, even as we bring the strong man down, others are shifting in their cages, testing the locks and rattling the bars, and before we depart to be with the Lord, many will be free and equipped to carry on their own combat maneuvers, to fight and to win, to triumph just as we are meant to do.
. . . thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.
2 Corinthians 2:14
New recruits prepare to step through the silver doors of the receiving building, an action which symbolizes the transition from civilians to recruits and the beginning of their transformation into United States Marines. Credit: United States Marine Corps photo, public domain, by permission