St Cyprian of Carthage: Do You Understand the Artifices of Our Deceiving Enemy?

Feast of Sts. Jonah the Prophet and Quadratus the Apostle

Cyprian_Square_1.jpegOUR LORD warns us with the words: “You are the salt of the earth” (Mt. 5.13). He commands us to be guileless with a view to being blameless, but also wise with such blamelessness. What else is fitting for us, beloved brothers, other than to take due care and, awake with a trembling heart, both to understand as well as to beware of the artifices of our deceiving Enemy? We who have been clothed with Christ, the Wisdom of God the Father, should not be seen to have less wisdom in the guardianship of our salvation.

For the persecution which rages at Satan’s open attack is not our only cause for fear, even when God’s servants are thrown in disarray and mortally struck down. Caution comes more easily where the threat is openly publicized, and the spirit is equipped in preparation for the engagement when one’s adversary declares himself. Our enemy is more to be feared and treated warily when he creeps up secretly, when assuming deceitfully an image of peace he moves serpent-like, with those hidden approaches from which Satan receives the name Serpent. That is always his slyness whereby a human being is ensnared, that is his hidden and shadowy means of deception.

Thus Satan has deceived right from the beginning, and, seducing souls with lying words, he deceived those that were green with a trustfulness that was less than careful. Thus, trying to tempt our Lord himself, he made his approach secretly, as if again to surprise and throw off course. However, he was discovered and checked, and thus overthrown when recognized and uncovered.

—St Cyprian of Carthage, The Unity of the Catholic Church

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