VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Addictions, fear, impossible perfectionism, consumerism and the inability to choose and love life are just some of the traps the devil uses to take away people’s freedom, Pope Francis said.
The devil “wants to take possession of us in order to ‘enchain our souls,'” the pope said Jan. 28 before reciting the Angelus prayer with about 20,000 visitors in St. Peter’s Square.
“We must be careful with the ‘chains’ that suffocate our freedom, because the devil always takes away our freedom,” he said in his main address.
Some of the chains that can shackle people’s hearts, he said, include addictions, “which enslave us and make us constantly dissatisfied, and which devour our energies, goods and relationships.”
Another chain is any way of thinking or trend that encourages “the pursuit of impossible perfectionism, consumerism and hedonism, which commodify people and spoil relationships,” he said.
There are also “temptations and conditionings that undermine self-esteem, that undermine peacefulness and the ability to choose and love life,” the pope said.
Fear is a chain, he said, when it “makes us look to the future with pessimism,” and so is “dissatisfaction, which always blames others.”
A terrible chain is “the idolatry of power, which generates conflicts and resorts to weapons that kill, or uses economic injustice and thought manipulation,” he added.
“Jesus came to free us from all these chains,” the pope said.
“Jesus has the power to drive out the devil” and free people from the power of evil, he said. However, people should note that in the Gospels Jesus never negotiates or engages in a dialogue with the devil.
“Be careful: with the devil there can be no dialogue, because if you start speaking to him, he will always win. Be careful,” the pope said.
“We must invoke Jesus,” the pope said. “Let us call on him from those places where we feel that the chains of evil and fear are tightest.”
The pope said people should ask themselves, “Do I really want to be freed from those chains that shackle my heart? And, also, am I capable of saying ‘no’ to the temptations of evil before they creep into my soul? Finally, do I invoke Jesus, allowing him to act in me, to heal me from within?”
The Lord wants love, joy and meekness to reign among people, not violence and hatred, he said.
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