The list is exhausting--but not exhaustive! The forces of evil twist and turn in various forms, functions, and faculties. Just in the past couple days, this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit has been the recipient of a few more tricks of the devil. (We all are targets, from children through elderly, and this hermit is sure you readers have examples come to mind, as do I.)
The devil is allowed by God to operate in numerous capacities. One such is in our dreams. A couple mornings ago, I awoke after a dream that got right into an area of concern and vulnerability. The dream involved my primary care physician saying the physical pain I have for which I take medications, was not all that terrible. Thus, no more medication. In the dream, I tried to explain that without, the pain at my age gets so intense that I cannot think clearly, cannot function physically, and emotions go awry with spontaneous sobbing. But in the dream, nothing changed the doctor's cold and calculated responses.
It took just a few minutes for my conscious mind to awaken after that night of some sleep. Of course, the physical pain level upon waking was above the usual pain. That figures, huh? And I have a medical appointment coming up, and the evil one knows that reality. Big deal--other than the devil used my current, cyclical build-up of increased bodily pain, and my sleep state, to confuse and create vulnerability and fear.
Yes, once fully awake, I knew who was behind the scenes of the dream, orchestrating the performance. The day before it had been attempts to get to me in ways that used to be frustrating. That did not work; I told the devil then he would not get a reaction, not going to get to me. So once more, the morning after the dream, I said aloud that the dream trick would not work, either. Good try, but he lost it.
The next trick was an increasing concern that the parish priest was no longer willing to bless Te Deum Hermitage nor to confer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick--two requests that a week ago he'd seemed quite enthusiastic to do. He'd told me to call the church office and leave contact information. I had done so, then waited. I waited a few days with no response so called again, explaining that perhaps the number had been confused, which often happens as I have a phone number that is easily interpolated, causing frequent wrong number phone calls to someone else.
I waited a couple more days, and counting. Seemed strange. At one point, I even wondered if my concerns were accurate--or was I falling victim to paranoia? Was there a logical reason for the priest to simply not call me even to say too busy? Or was it that he was awkward now regarding my mystical state during Mass and was doing what some priests in the past had chosen to do: shun and with some, request I not come to Mass in their parishes?
So, with this--what turned out to be a masterful trick of the devil--we have two prongs, at minimum, of his pitchfork trickery. He worked on my lived experiences of the past, nasty as they were for priests to do and be toward a nothing Catholic, a nothing consecrated Catholic hermit, at that. Then there was the prong trickery of creating a sense of victimization and paranoia. Messing with imagination, emotions, memory, and knowledge covers a few more prongs. (No priest should ever tell a person they are not welcome in their parish or at Mass.)
Notice that in all the tricks of the devil I've described above as well in some previous, recent posts, the devil works from a basis of some truth and reality, and then twists and turns the trick much like a magician utilizing sleight of hand, psychology, and mastery of creating illusions and altering perception.
Then came another trick. I received a call that the laptop was repaired--this time fully repaired. So I made the long drive into civilization, returning some items to Lowe's and purchasing some additional window trim wood. At the Apple Store, I could not log onto the laptop. My log in password would not work, not at all. The tech could not figure it out. We changed the password; still I could not get the computer to function as even the new password would not work.
I felt chagrined to have to explain to the mystified computer tech that I have chronic pain, and that the pain level was very high that morning...and sometimes when the pain is at a certain level, there is interference with electronic equipment. (I did not explain that it can go beyond electronics, as that information unnecessary for the password enigma facing us in that present moment.) I termed it physiokinesis--not psychokinesis, not telekinesis, but physiokinesis. I'm not sure there is a diagnostic term as such, but it covers the condition. The body energy alters from pain and interferes with normal physical interactions with temporal elements.
She asked me to try again, and she watched closely and I typed carefully. No log on. She called over a supervisor. No log on. Finally, she asked if I'd mind if she typed it in, after saying she had not encountered this before but my explanation made some sense. So she typed in my laptop password quite successfully.
Now, I know that my pain level was involved, but within, at the same time, I also knew that the devil was delighted not only in causing fifteen minutes of frustration for the computer technician but also more sitting and elevating my already gnarly spinal headache--and a long drive ahead of me yet. And there was the added little gouging the devil did by having me risk some embarrassment explaining to the clerk the physiokinetic reality that I live with when the pain is at a certain level--not always, but sometimes. The devil was making me vulnerable once more to seem weird.
But, I laughed about it, thanked the tech profusely, and made the drive back to my abode in desert exile. Along the return trip, I verbalized aloud in my truck, Precious Blood, and for the devil to hear loud and clear: That trick is not going to work, either. Got the laptop back and will be able to write more easily, once again.
Then came yesterday. The cabinet installer arrived and went to work. But my pain level had escalated more and involved the more recent area of pain in the liver. Mercy! And I knew the devil was making the most of my physical senses being sabotaged by added pain, the newer pain, not-yet-adapted-to pain. I felt myself tempted to be grumpy, with the attitude and thoughts down-spiraling.
Nope! Not going to work, either. I let the devil know, also, that just because the cabinet installer had to come on a Saturday, that I'd be going to Mass later in the afternoon, and in time for confession.
The next trick of the devil was a good one. He tried to and for awhile succeeded, in getting to me because of a monetary and house situation involving the neighbors. Their trees that were planted by the previous owner, were not the type of trees anyone should ever plant in a residential area. The branches were pressing in on my fence in the back gardens. I had asked the neighbor man a few weeks ago if he would allow me to cut the branches, but he said he'd do it.
So I had been waiting for the weekend to make a call to him, as I suspected it might not be the most desirable issue he'd want to deal with. The trees are large and not trimmed since they moved in a year ago. The man has plenty of other work on their large property in addition to his contractor work in construction. So when the man and wife happened to be walking along the road when I had just put out some more produce on the roadside table, I brought up the request.
It did not go well, that I can report! And the problem is that the fence is being pushed in, the roots are invasive not only in that area but also threatening the drain fields for the septic tank and eventually the house foundation. I did point out that their foundation will be at risk at some point, too, and that I'd be willing to help trim the trees. No, the conversation did not go well.
And the devil is aware of the knowledge about me--about all of our temporal aspects. He and his legion are like top intelligence moles, allowed to stealthily infiltrate various levels of our souls and try to render damage to our lives as a result. Upend us, frustrate, cause fear, chaos, division, and downfall--these are the delights of the devil...if he can succeed with his trickery.
Yes, the stakes are rather high, temporally, for the simple request to have some branches trimmed back--not even mentioning to the neighbors the engineer and arborist reports about the root systems of the neighbor's trees and the damage that can occur to major cost-items in a building and property. But again, the devil did not win out for long. Yes, he did cause some upset for a couple or so hours.
Not going to succeed, though! I told the devil so and meant it. God will figure out the septic trouble, the fence trouble, the eventual house trouble. I gave it all over to God. Done.
So it came time to leave for Mass and confession prior. But right before I planned to change out of the paint-spattered work clothes, the cabinet installer started to pack up even though not the end of the work day. He had to leave sooner than expected.... The Lord was making it easy for me to get to confession and Mass. And part of my confession was going to be how I let the devil get to me over the neighbor problem--got me distracted, upset, concerned for awhile; the devil disrupted inner peace and my faith in God even if for a couple or three hours.
Why is that so bad? Well, in the full spectrum of sins, I suppose not that terrible. I've done and thought far worse sins, believe me. But I also wanted to double down, triple down, quadruple down on any aspect of the devil with his full bags of tricks. What better way than to confess any aspect that was successful for a time period or perhaps would come up again as a trick--and to have the power of a Sacrament of the Church to weigh in on and vanquish the very attempts and effects of the devil's dark works.
Anyway, these are a few more instances and types of tricks of the devil that I decided to share, for they might help all of us consider the spiritual realm existing under, around, above and through our every present moment in our lives here on earth. My personal examples might trigger your abilities to see through the obstacles, hindrances, upsets, uncanny and unconscionable actions of self or others--and see who is behind it, what his evil goals might be, and then all the more determine to confound and defeat the devil's tricks.
All the while, we turn more and more to God and proclaim victories in His Name! God is the one who assures the victories. He allows the devil his time on stage to perform his tricks; and God is the one who gives us all we need to not fall for the tricks and to turn them into increased faith, hope and love. God never fails us in times of trials and testing as long as we desire to learn, to catch on, and to turn to His power and might. All glory be to God!