In the words of the lay apostle “Anne” (an American-born wife, mother, and visionary), “A fellow apostle once said, ‘It’s no problem once you know it’s the devil. But usually someone has to tell you that.’
“How true. Who would fail to pick up a sword if someone approached them and began to duel? The enemy is more clever than that, though. The enemy comes in the form of a hurtful comment from a friend, an overdrawn bank account, a misunderstanding where our words are twisted and thrown back at us in mockery.
“The enemy can come dressed in perfect logic, with a superior attitude and a patronizing smile offering some ‘good advice.’”
As the “father of lies” (Jn. 8:44), the devil is always trying to deceive us, while slyly remaining in the background. Some of his many tactics against us include:
Discouragement—in which he tries to make us feel we’re unfairly treated and unappreciated by others, or that we’re spiritual failures, and that it’s useless to try to grow in holiness, so we may as well give up;
Distraction—in which the pleasures, concerns, and attractions of life monopolize our time and keep us from thinking about God and our relationship with Him;
Fear—in which the devil tries to make us afraid of what others will think, or what will happen to us, if we live out our faith;
Noise—in which we never have any quiet time in today’s busy world, leading to the point where it becomes uncomfortable and unnatural for us to spend time with the Lord in prayer;
Sensuality—with a focus on the needs and pleasures of our bodies, while ignoring the greater spiritual needs of our souls;
Resentment of Others—in which we harbor grudges, refuse to forgive, and act out of jealousy, anger, or pride; and
Disobedience—in which our spirit rebels against God and His commandments, and against the teachings of the Church (leading ultimately to the prideful assertion that “no one is going to tell me what to do”).
In addition to these general categories, the devil tailors his particular temptations to our own weaknesses, inclinations, and bad habits—whether in the area of a judgmental spirit, laziness, prejudice, an excessive desire for control, gossip, disdain for others, a lack of humility, or anything else. Above all, Satan wants us to become complacent about our ongoing need for repentance and spiritual growth—for the more we consider ourselves “fine as we are,” the easier it is for him to deceive and ensnare us.
(...)In examining the traps, St. John Bosco found them labeled such things as Pride, Disobedience, Envy, the Sixth Commandment, Theft, Gluttony, Sloth, and Anger. However, he also noticed that knives were located along the side of the road, which boys could use to cut themselves free from the traps; these were labeled Meditation, the Blessed Sacrament, Frequent Communion, Devotion to Our Lady, and Devotion to St. Joseph. There was also a hammer representing Confession—to be used in smashing one’s addiction to sin.