St.-Jerome-of-StridoniumWhen the hosts of the enemy distress you, when your frame is fevered and your passions roused, when you say in your heart, “What shall I do?”

Elisha’s words shall give you your answer, “Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”

He shall pray, “Lord, open the eyes of thine handmaid that she may see.”

And then when your eyes have been opened you shall see a fiery chariot like Elijah’s waiting to carry you to heaven, and shall joyfully sing:

“Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken and we are escaped.”

So long as we are held down by this frail body, so long as we have our treasure in earthen vessels; so long as the flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, there can be no sure victory.

“Our adversary the devil goeth about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” “Thou makest darkness,” David says, “and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. The young lions roar after their prey and seek their meat from God.”

The devil looks not for unbelievers, for those who are without, whose flesh the Assyrian king roasted in the furnace. It is the church of Christ that he “makes haste to spoil.”

According to Habakkuk, “His food is of the choicest.” Job is the victim of his machinations, and after devouring Judas he seeks power to sift the other apostles.

The Saviour came not to send peace upon the earth but a sword.

Lucifer fell, Lucifer who used to rise at dawn; and he who was bred up in a paradise of delight had the well-earned sentence passed upon him, “Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.”

For he had said in his heart, “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God,” and “I will be like the Most High.”

Wherefore God says every day to the angels, as they descend the ladder that Jacob saw in his dream, “I have said ye are Gods and all of you are children of the Most High. But ye shall die like men and fall like one of the princes.”

The devil fell first, and since “God standeth in the congregation of the Gods and judgeth among the Gods,” the apostle writes to those who are ceasing to be Gods—“Whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal and walk as men?”

Jerome (347-420): Letter 22 (to Eustochium), 3-4.