LITTLE FLOWERS OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, Chapter 23
HOW ST FRANCIS DELIVERED THE BROTHER WHO, BEING IN SIN, HAD FALLEN INTO THE POWER OF THE DEVIL
After our discussion of what's "real" and what's likely in previous stories, I should maybe be embarassed, if my understanding is correct of what the cannons of what is "real, likely and logical are generally among modern westerners, to say that this present story seems perfectly real and likely to me.
I think the present general impression that there is no real person or force for evil in the world, such as is represented in the Bible and spiritual literature generally as the Devil or Satan, greatly enhances the ability of this very real force to work much michief and evil unsuspected in the world.
I think it would be far less of an error to take literally a passage in the Bible or such spiritual literature as we're studying here when it was not so intended originally, than to take it as mere allegory when it was intended to recount events that actually occured.
The important thing about this story is, it's a story about vigilance. When the whole company was holy, the demons couldn't enter. "They remained, however, on the watch." When one brother was tempted, Brother Francis was alert and took decisicive action, confronting the fallen brother, and eliciting confession. the brother asked pardon and penance, and the devil fled.
If we over-spiritualize or over-allegorize these accounts of demons, we're left with a pretty mild event. If we recognize that there is a spiritual entity of evil that could have power over us IF WE GIVE IT TO HIM, these stories provide us with valuable lessons in how to react to such situations in the spiritual warfare swirling about our own lives.
I think the main lessons here are, do all we can to be holy, and the demons can't get to us; keep alert; and act quickly and decisively to confront evil where we find it. This is easy advice to give. The only real obstacle to seeing it through is the limits of our own moral integrity. If we don't take the idea of a real devil seriouosly, we'll be less alert, and if we don't love God with our whole heart, mind, and soul and love our neighbors as ourselves, we'll be less apt to act quickly and decisively.