This being the month of Our Lady, our school organized a kind of Living Rosary, where each bead laid out on the gym floor was marked by a student. Each decade was recited in a different language, showing the universality of the Church. My oldest was leading the Marian songs between each decade and my son was serving the event. All the kids wanted to look their best, to which I spent most of our precious morning minutes doing hair and straightening uniforms. Parents were invited to attend at the bright and early hour of 8 am.
That morning was hectic. In addition to getting my five kids ready and out the door, I had a few things to prepare as well, and it seemed we'd never get out of the garage. As I backed out of the garage, the first time, one of the children yelled to wait, as she had forgotten homework inside.
Again, as I tried to leave, another child had forgotten her coat. As I slammed on the breaks and quickly returned inside the house for said coat, my oldest, who was holding my tea got bumped, and spillled the tea all over her uniform skirt.
We did a quick clean up and started on our very short drive to school - 7 minutes. On the way, a car nearly hit us, and we swerved to miss them, hitting the gravel on the side of the road. To top it off, traffic was unusually high.
Kids were fighting in the back, the noise level was at its height and I was at the end of my rope. Ugh..
WE ARE GOING TO BE LATE!
And then I laughed. I laughed hard. The kids couldn't understand why Mom was laughing at all the inconveniences we had that morning, I should be mad, frustrated or worse sad.
Indeed, I felt all these things...but when it's obvious someone is trying to send a message, one has got to sit back and roll with the punches. And indeed I saw them as punches.
I told the kids, between my laughter, "Gosh I wonder who in the world might want us to miss the Holy Rosary this morning. Who might want us to be late, or skip it, or simply not pray. Who hates the unity that a whole school Rosary can bring?"
A few older children chimed in, "The devil, Mom."
"Yes, all these little distractions and frustrations are certainly coming all at once this morning."
Then I yelled in the car.
"Hey, you, yeah you evil, get away, be gone. We are going to the Living Rosary today, and nothing will stop us!"
All the kids laughed and began their own speeches to evil and then my one son said loudly, "Even if you put a log in our way, we'll drive over it!"
I quickly reminded him, there are no deals with evil. We should never tempt evil. We might say a log in our way, and he'll put a tree on our car. You never know. All we should do, is tell them to go. That's it. Just go away. Like this: 'Evil, be gone. I don't want you here. I believe and love Jesus and we want to pray. In Jesus' name, go away!'"
My son who didn't quite understand, asked for more clarification.
"Hey Buddy," I said, "Do you think evil will keep their word? Do you can trust anything from evil?"
"We don't negotiate, bargain or make deals with evil. Never. Never. We don't tempt him or talk with evil. We tell him only that we love Jesus, that Jesus loves us, and that evil needs to leave. That's it. That's how dangerous evil is. Not only dangerous, but smart, cunning to confuse you, to scare you, to hurt you.
There is no playing games with the devil. He aims to win, and he is a cheater, a liar, and a fraud."
Seeing the the quick turn to the seriousness of our discussion, my very perceptive 12 year old asks, "If this is so serious, why laugh, Mom?"
"Oh honey, I laugh because, even though we can see evil working in the world, battling so often, I have trust and faith that God wins the war in the end. Even if we are late or miss the Rosary, God knows that we tried our hardest, and wanted to to be there. And that's the real victory here. That we made every effort we could, our hearts wanted to be there, and we did our best. That's what helps God...not always the end result, but how we got there. God wins in the end!"
My 10 year old son asks, "Hey can we tell our friends about the devil bothering us today? I mean, how do we know it's really the devil?"
"Hummmm good question. I don't know for sure. Perhaps we didn't give ourselves enough time to get ready today, or we are more distracted for some reason. Sometimes, it is us being unprepared. Sometimes, evil likes to take advantage of our being unprepared as well. It's hard to say. I don't know. But it never hurts to tell evil to go away, if you feel it's presence."
I certainly felt it. And it was my rising temper. It was my chaotic van. It was my reactions to spilt tea, kids forgetting their items, and a another car in a total rush.
How we react to life situations will give power to one or the other side of the battle. If we lose our cool, our temper, give in for the immediate gratification that blowing off steam can give, then we give a little boost to the enemy. If we can control our passions, keep our purity of intention intact, then chalk one up for the good guys.
Who do you want to win the battle?
This is why I laugh. I laugh not only because if I didn't, I might cry instead, which only leads to despair.....I laugh because in my heart, I know God is in charge. And He allows this evil, allows my free will to be exercised, for my benefit. So I might learn to love and trust Him more. So I might be fearless in conquering the smallest acts - even the fight to get my family to a Living Rosary at school. He brings me peace and joy, when I can see objectively, what exactly has caused our chaotic morning.
God wins in the end. Always has, always will. The hard part is that the devil refuses to believe it. The pride takes over, and we have a choice...all the time, a choice. Do I give allow evil to work, or be quick in my reactions, and keep the peace, bring the joy, even in times of frustration. What is my role as a yes, a mother and wife, but a quiet soldier in the ranks of the most grand battle of our times?
How am I contributing? To which side do I belong. And believe me, we choose sides all the time. We pick this good and then in the next minute we choose this evil. We do it every day. It's a conscious exercise to be quick with our choices, to be well educated in order to be able to tell the difference. We all know, at times, we aren't picking from a distinct good and evil. It's between two goods, or two evils, but one is slightly better than the other. It takes forming habit to see it.
My son, before reaching school asked, "Mom, do you think we should open the window?"
"Why, are you hot?"
He states, "We need to let the devil out."
Amen, dear boy, though a window will not stop him, our actions to prove our belief in Jesus will do!
Lord, give us a tender and delicate conscious. Lord help us to be the peacemakers and bring joy. Help us to decipher when evil is present and be ready to push it out, push it away, without reservation, without regret, and with great hope in you.