Monday, 6 August 2012

Spiritual warfare: 4

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Heb. 4: 12)

Do we see Holy Scripture as a "sword"? More often we treat it as a blanket.

The remark is by David Hicks, speaking about the way the Church Father read the Bible. But the author of Hebrews continues: "And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account." Thus the Sword of the Spirit is not an "it" but a "him", it is the Lord himself. The sword we must pick up is not merely the words of the Bible, which are marks on paper, but something "living and active". The Sword is able to pierce to the very heart, to the spirit within the soul, to the "marrow" in the bones.

The quotation comes from the end of a passage where the author is talking about the Sabbath rest of God, the seventh day, the day when God and his people cease from their labours. But what is the connection with spiritual warfare? The Sword is the warrior's weapon. It brings an end to the fight, in victory. It does so by bringing our energy and will to a point. It does so through enabling the ultimate discernment. Cutting away everything worldly, including the soul and the joints and the hypocrisy under which we hide our true intentions, it leaves us "naked and exposed" before God. But this is the only way to enter his rest, to be with him in his glory.

Prayers for a New Chivalry

This is the last of a series of extracts from my notes for a future book. For more on spiritual warfare right away, read the CTS booklet by Vivian Boland OP, which in turn recommends the classic Spiritual Combat by Lorenzo Scupoli. See also the Angelic Warfare Confraternity of the Dominican Order, and the Knights of Our Lady for a contemporary manifestation of spiritual chivalry.

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