While meditating on what I had just read I looked out my window on the rolling hills of Southeastern Ohio. A soft light washed the hills as the sun had not yet come up over the Eastern horizon. Birds were singing and rabbits nibbled on grass in the cool of the morning. The shape of a large animal sitting in the yard caught my eye. At first I thought it was a whitetail deer sitting on its haunches looking up at me. I soon realized that the animal I was locking eyes with was an enormous lion.
My heart froze and I couldn't breath as the animal stared at me and I at it. My first thought was concern for my family. I jumped up and ran down the hall toward the bedroom where my sons sleep on their bunk beds. I again froze in the doorway. There in the middle of the bedroom was the lion with his back to me watching my sons sleep. I quietly backed away and ran downstairs to check on my wife. She was still sound asleep with our youngest boy snuggled up beside her and our daughter sound asleep in her crib. I screamed without even thinking when I saw the lion resting quietly on my side of the bed hungrily watching them all.
The nightmare ended but the reality set in.
"Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8
Peter's description of the devil should scare the hell out of anyone (pun intended). Satan is described as actively looking for victims. He doesn't want to scare them, gnaw on them, or make them turn toward God. He wants to devour them. He wants to devour and destroy my family and our souls. He doesn't sleep. He is no respecter of persons. He pulls no punches and he'll take no prisoners. He is purposefully seeking to destroy me and those I love.
This is not fanciful imagery. The evidence surrounds us. How did he get into my yard? I have neglected my prayer life and have neglected to call upon the saints and angels to protect us. How did he get into my sons' bedroom? He has led me to believe that I'm more useful making money than rearing my children. How did get into my bedroom? He has made me question the Church's (God's) teachings on marriage and sexuality. (see Genesis - Did God really say that?).
If you need incentive to get back to a prayer life, the sacraments, family time, or just putting God and family first, imagine that lion at the door or in the house. Actually, don't imagine it, see it, it's happening now.
"So, submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7
P.S. - Today one of the most common ways to allow that roaring lion into our home is via the Internet. He enters our homes in form of mindless entertainment, consumerism, and alas, pornography. Talk to any priest and you will find that this is the most commonly confessed sin today - pornography use and masturbation. In fact it's no longer limited by age or gender and the numbers of addicted are growing daily if not hourly.
Here are a few resources to help defend your family or if need be, cast the demon lion from your home.
1) Internet filter - Although no filter is foolproof, something is better than nothing. Over the years we've tried many. Recently we purchased a number of Chromebooks for our children's school work. We could find no software that was compatible with our Chromebooks. While investigating we discovered that we would be better protected if we had a filter at the router level. This would help us filter every device connected to the router (phones, tablets, computers, even our Roku!).
We finally settled on CleanRouter. This is a router that is downstream from your modem (if you aren't tech savy, don't worry. The folks at CleanRouter are fantastic). This device allows you to filter the Internet, get daily reports, control who has access to the Internet and at what times, and so much more. We can't recommend CleanRouter enough. You can try it for 30 days to see if it will work for your situation. If you want to give it a spin, click on any of the CleanRouter links. When signing up and asked how you heard about it, give us some love and choose Friend, and enter firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Accountability - Along with the filter there should be some sort of accountability. Maybe both you and your spouse get the daily email reports. If you are single, maybe the reports can be sent to an accountability partner or spiritual director. Having someone who will help you up when you fall, encourage you, not judge you, and recognize the problem/addiction for what it is, makes all the difference between slavery and freedom.
3) Spiritual Exercises - Two of the most powerful and freeing programs for addiction of any kind are the Exodus 90 program (for men) or Nineveh 90 (for men and women). While not specifically designed for overcoming addiction, they have that potential. They strip participants of their worldly comforts and desires by immersing them in rigorous exercise, spiritual readings, and mortification for 90 days. They incorporate accountability groups where members are free to share the good and bad without judgement while trusting in the fervent prayers of the entire group for their freedom and movement toward God.
Filtering, accountability, and spiritual programs are all becoming a powerful force for change and resistance to that menacing but cowardly lion. Join us in the battle for the hearts and souls of friends and family. Remember too that that roaring lion has met his match in the Lion of Judah! Trust in that!!
* Contains affiliate links. No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room. Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy. All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...