THE THIRD WAY
BY WHICH THE DEVIL ATTACKS THE CHURCH
The third way by which the devil
attacks the Church is through HERESIES. Paul says: "I hear that
divisions exist among you. . .for there are factions among you." (1 Cor.)
St. Augustine says that one is a heretic in morals before becoming a heretic
in dogma. One is first corrupted in his way of life before he gets
corrupted in doctrine. One first withdraws from fraternal charity,
then he begins to entertain false notions about God.
How does the devil begin to destroy one's
morals? St. Hilary says, by making man tend towards reckless creating,
reckless changing and reckless abolishing in matters of religion, liturgy,
ascesis, etc. The changes are at first minor things, but they end up
in the creation of "new" spiritualities, changing biblical
interpretations and abolishing the Tradition of the Holy and Orthodox
Fathers of the Church.
Man is an easy prey to heresies when he
does not raise himself to the heights of infinity, but instead confines the
infinite within the bound of his tiny power of comprehension, thus making
himself the judge of religion. Man is an easy prey when he forgets
that religion is an obligation of obedience and not an object of theological
analysis. Forgetting who he is, a mere man, he becomes a reckless
reformer of Christ's commands.
Man easily falls into error, St. Augustine
continues, when he does not observe a happy mean and ceases to consider
TRADITION which could correct his aberrations; for only Tradition can
establish him in the position of truth.
St. John Chrysostom says: "The devils
sow founders of heresies (called Heresiarchs) within the Church."
These heresiarchs are symbolized by the TARES (cockles) planted by the devil
to destroy the Church from within. These are Catholics not beholden to
Christ. This is the society of heretics. Within the Church, they
This is the work of the devil, to bring
error side by side with truth, the tares with the wheat. His errors
always resemble truth so as to easily deceive the faithful. So, tares
are not just weeds but weeds that resemble wheat. And Chrysostom says
that ". . .tares are introduced into the Church through the ordination
of wicked men as priests." These are disguised heresiarchs.
With heresiarchs within the priesthood, the devil need not do anything; the
tares do their own damaging work.
John Cassian, writing against Nestorius,
states that heresies are reactions to heresies. Heresies in the Church
are like the mythical Hydra, that creature which, when a head is cut off,
several heads spring up so that its loss proves to be its gain. Thus,
in the Church, one heresy was born but when destroyed by the champions of
faith, several arose in its place. Today, we have a multi-headed
hydra, Modernism, that has engulfed the Church and nobody seems to know what
to do about it. But, as in the hydra, wherein fire cauterizes the
cut-off part thus preventing fecundity, so the TRUTH cauterizes
In his work to make man ignorant, negligent
and heretical, the devil uses the present things of this world. Love
for the things of this world arouse the passions; passions cause us to
sin. To resist the demons, the Christian must disarm them buy
renouncing these worldly things. "Deny yourself."
Maximus the Confessor says: "Do not misuse your thoughts lest you be
forced to misuse things." For, unless a man first sins in
thought, he will never sin in deed.