From The Sayings of the Desert Fathers:
A brother said to Abba Poemen, “Give me a word,” and he said to him, “As long as the pot is on the fire, no fly nor any other animal can get near it, but as soon as it is cold, these creatures get inside. So it is for the monk; as long as he lives in spiritual activities, the enemy cannot find a means of overthrowing him.”
This again reminds me of my recent trip to California to visit friends (see “Failing, Getting Up and Starting Over”, February 25). My pot was no longer directly on the fire. I tried to keep it warm by praying the Divine Office when I could, but those times were few and far between for four days. There were definitely flies and other “animals” in my pot by then!
Of course, the “saying” isn’t really true. Flies can and do get into a pot even if it is over a fire; I’ve been camping enough times to have observed that! And flies and moths have flown into the flames of my little votive oil lamps; sometimes they put out the flame but die in the oil.
In the same way, it seems to me, the demons can and do get into our spiritual activities even when we are maintaining discipline in reciting the Office or the Rosary, etc. I am not a perfect temple for the Holy Spirit, and those evil creature find a way into my “pot” by way of my own weaknesses and shortcomings.
Nevertheless, it’s clear that, as Abba Poemen says, we maintain our Rule , we are safer than we would be without our “spiritual activities”; even if the demons find a way to crawl in through the cracks and crevices, it is easier to stomp on them or drive them away if the structure and discipline of our Rule is in force. The enemy cannot overthrow us if we are staying close to God.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.