False Peace, True Intimacy
As we proceed on our 40 days of prayer/fasting for loved ones, we discover a marvelous truth: prayer leads to intimacy with God. Simply being in His presence revives the soul. The God who gave all to gain us grants us a share in His generosity. Our stingy prayers swell with mercy for persons most in need of it. Prayerful intimacy makes us fruitful once more.
The peace of His Presence contrasts with the holy unrest we feel when we entertain false intimacy. That includes turning back to distorted images of self and others in order to pleasure ourselves. Illicit sensuality mimics the Spirit of God. In the moment, we feel sensationally connected to what appears divine.
We are all too aware of persons who have left faith and family for false intimacy. We have all heard the stories: ‘No-one ever loved me the way (s)he does’; ‘how could something that feels so right be wrong?’ etc. That is especially true of persons exercising new freedom to be ‘out and proud’ with same-sex partners. Such ones have come under a false peace born of the devil himself. Yes, the devil. The author of lies smokes out vulnerable ones whom he can deceive into forsaking all for intimacy that produces only spiritual barrenness and impotency.
Of this false peace St. Teresa of Avila writes: ‘When such persons of the world remain quiet, while going about in serious sin, and so tranquil about their vices, for their consciences don’t feel remorseful about anything, their peace is a sign that they and the devil are friends. While they live, the devil does not wage war against them.’
We must pray that deceived ones will hunger once more for His real Presence. We can pray that Christians will love them generously in ways that surpass fickle lovers. We can pray for the Holy Spirit to ‘paint the dragon red’ and so reveal to beloved captives the dark spirits vying for their souls.
And we who are vulnerable to false intimacy must rely wholly on the merciful, fearsome God who upholds us in true peace as we cling to Him and refuse the seduction of the world. Christians are safe only to the degree that we prayerfully make themselves homes for Him. In all humility, we recognize that ‘the devil could begin to offer us another peace in small things, so while we live, we must fear the Lord.’ (St. Teresa of Avila)