Monday, November 17, 2014

Fr. William Peers Smith, Speaking of the Devil

Philip Trower:

Shortly after my reception I went for a walk by myself in St James’s or Green Park near Buckingham Palace. I forget now which. Here I sat down on a bench and almost immediately my head was filled with a torrent of thoughts and ideas contradicting the faith I had just committed myself to. You don’t really believe it all. You’ve been deceiving yourself. You know it. It can’t possibly all be true and so on. I had never before experienced anything like it. It was as though another person was speaking inside my head, as was indeed the case.

Scared and appalled, I rushed back to Farm Street and asked to see Fr. William. I was shown into a waiting room where after a few minutes he joined me.

Gently but firmly he explained about temptations against faith and the way to deal with them. In so far as possible ignore them. They come from the Devil. Above all don’t argue with them. If you do you will only lose the argument. The devil is much cleverer than you are.

This went on for several months. It was worst when I tried to think about Our Lady or looked at pictures or statues of her. My mind would be besieged with filthy thoughts. The whole experience was appalling while it lasted, but in the end it worked to my advantage. It made the existence of the devil and the powers of evil real to me in a way nothing else could have. In that way he can be said to have overplayed his hand.

Another piece of advice I remember Fr. William giving was about how to tell the difference between the action of the devil on the soul and the action of the Holy Spirit. The action or suggestions of the devil is like water dripping on a stone. An aggravating drip, drip, drip, drip. The action of the Holy Spirit is like water gently falling on a sponge.

— Philip Trower, Why I Became a Catholic