The brethren also asked [Abba Agathon], “Amongst all good works, which is the virtue which requires the greatest effort?”
He answered, “Forgive me, but I think there is no labor greater than that of prayer to God. For every time a man wants to pray, his enemies, the demons, want to prevent him, for they know that it is only by turning him from prayer that they can hinder his journey. Whatever good work a man undertakes, if he perseveres in in, he will attain rest. But prayer is warfare to the last breath.”
Ah, those demons. How is it that they are so clever, anyway? They have ambushed me twice in the last week, and neither time did I see it coming, nor recognize the attack for what it was until they had the upper hand. They managed to disrupt my praying of the Divine Office a couple of times.
Of course, the Lord and the saints come to my aid. Still, sometimes it’s hard to take back the ground that is lost – something that requires, I think, absolute trust in God’s mercy, and reliance on our saintly defenders in Heaven.
Always, the demons leave me with a lingering sense of depression. It’s a struggle to overcome that vestige of their attack, and I am trying to learn ways to cope with it. It does help to “offer it up”; sometimes the thought that I can offer my suffering for the salvation of souls even makes me happy to be depressed!
Other times, I simply remind myself that it’s just the demons manipulating my emotions, and that how I “feel” doesn’t matter – what matters is what one knows to be the truth about God, about His great mercy, about our Faith.
And then there’s always chocolate. ;-)
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.