Dr. Marlon De La TorreMA, MEd.,PhD
How do we liberate ourselves from evil?
John Senior in his noble work the death of Christian Culture describes how the educated class views Christianity in the following way(warning long quote);
For the greater number of educated people, Christianity is not serious; it will not bear up under critical shock. We quit Christ with our marbles and take up adult things like cigarettes and logical positivism. And yet spirits are facts and Christ and the martyrs in imitation of Him shed real blood. You can stumble over spiritual substances and slip in this blood, but neither Oriental nor Occidental religion will every really make sense unless you include them. When a person begins to reflect on this, he looks for some book, some teaching or science that might throw light on it. It seldom occurs to him to consider Christian books or institutions because people no longer shed their blood for them and rather talk about improving society and combating prejudice.
Senior makes an important characterization of man's gradual Christian deterioration to the point of a visible unwillingness to sacrifice for your fellow man let alone Christ Himself. St. John reminds us of Christ's call to his Apostles and disciples to nurture and care for the people around them not by removing them from the world but protecting them from the evil one. Our Lord's petition echoes His prayer the Our Father where the last petition is to deliver us from evil.
Is evil an abstraction?
One may choose to live a life of positivism in order to avoid an all true reality; there is evil in the world and man will choose to perform bad things and act on his vices over Christian virtue. Evil exists because it was forged and introduced by Satan himself who chose to oppose God and destroy His Kingdom. El Diablo attempts to interrupt God's salvific plan and he never ceases to satisfy his brokenness until he sways every single person away from Him hence Christ's directive in St. John's Gospel. Evil does not make man engage in evil acts and the Devil has no authority over man's soul unless God allows it. Man freely chooses to either act in accord with Christ or against Him. The Devil is the seductive voice that challenges man's free will and makes the practice of positivism, more desirable than an active relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us:
A murderer from the beginning . . . a liar and the father of lies, Satan is the deceiver of the whole world. Through him sin and death entered the world and by his definitive defeat all creation will be freed from the corruption of sin and death. Now we know that anyone born of God does not sin, but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.
How do we liberate ourselves from evil?
The recognition of God as our Father in Heaven is the first step in the liberation of evil from our very lives. However, this first step involves an initial free act of trust to establish an intimate relationship with God through God the Son Jesus Christ; surrender to the will of Christ were your desires, wants and fear of Christ decreases and your trust in Him increases; and finally a conversion of heart where you recognize that you are indeed a child of God who is loved infinitely and without condition.
The conversion of heart allows man to seek the grace of Christ which begins at baptism the first sacrament of Christian initiation. In baptism man is offered the opportunity to enter the Kingdom of God and hold on to this gift until the appropriate time where one's physical state on earth ends and our new journey in heaven begins. It should come to no one's surprise that we are called to renewal our every Easter and that the first stage of this renewal is the rejection and liberation of the devil and all of his empty works and promises. This renewal of baptismal promises offers man the opportunity to seek Christ and shun the devil. When we pray for the final petition of the Lord's Prayer, we ask God;
to be delivered from the Evil One, we pray as well to be freed from all evils, present, past, and future, of which he is the author or instigator. In this final petition, the Church brings before the Father all the distress of the world. Along with deliverance from the evils that overwhelm humanity, she implores the precious gift of peace and the grace of perseverance in expectation of Christ's return By praying in this way, she anticipates in humility of faith the gathering together of everyone and everything in him who has "the keys of Death and Hades, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
St. Ambrose leaves us with a reassurance that the devil has no authority over us;
The Lord who has taken away your sin and pardoned your faults also protects you and keeps you from the wiles of your adversary the devil, so that the enemy, who is accustomed to leading into sin, may not surprise you. One who entrusts himself to God does not dread the devil. If God is for us, who is against us?