Day 4 – 90 Days to Peace

Day 4 – 90 Days to Peace

“Freedom from Predation” by Fr. Bill Peckman

The devil is the ultimate predator. St. Peter warns his readers, “Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The devil is always looking for any opening in which he can pounce and destroy. He uses everything from occult practices to our concupiscence (our predilection to sin) to gain a beachhead. He will also teach us how to follow him as predators ourselves.

We live in a society that encourages predation. From the mobster who shakes down the local merchant for protection, to the sex trafficker and pornographer, to the predatory interest charged in so many loans, to the endless scams used to bilk people out of money, to the common bullying (cyber and otherwise), to those engaged in domestic violence — our society is full of predators looking for their mark, looking for their next meal. Many hide behind the cover of darkness, anonymity, or even behind the law.

Our Church has been rocked over the past half century by predation. The most obvious examples have stemmed from the scandals in which clerics preyed on their own flocks for sexual gratification, heinously even preying on the lambs of their flock. Others have preyed on their flock through financial malfeasance by defrauding their parishes or dioceses of funds. Many are also complicit in withholding from their flocks how to stave off predation. In abandoning their flocks, they are every bit as guilty as the wolves they welcomed.

Certainly, we can extend these behaviors to the most basic building block of the Church: the domestic church, or the family. In these places we can see domestic violence, molestation, and other nefarious abuses of power that have their roots in the diabolic. The demonic mimicking of the predatory behaviors of the devil must be purged from all levels of the Church.

All predatory behavior stems from selfishness: the person’s needs or wants are so important that all means to satisfy them are justified. For a predator, his or her satiation is of far greater value than your happiness, security, or life. While a predator may be infatuated by their prey, they cannot love them. Their intent is to eventually destroy or discard, after they have taken all they want. What force could possibly stand up against such an insatiable beast?!

We look to Christ the Good Shepherd for our answer! Christ does not prey on His flock. No, He places Himself between His flock and that which would destroy them. He stands in that breech, sacrificing Himself for their salvation. Jesus tells us, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep” (John 10:11). Why would He do this? Because He loves them. It is impossible to love someone and prey on them at the same time. Hence, the virtue we cultivate to conquer the desire to be a predator is the theological virtue of love. Love, divine love (or agape) is completely selfless. Instead of focusing on one’s own desires and satiation, love allows you to look to the good of others, even when doing so incurs suffering or sacrifice. Love, because it is of God, chases away the devil and his minions. It helps us, as St. Paul says of himself, to be “poured out like an oblation” (2 Timothy 4:6)  (From “Let Freedom Ring“)


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