But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things." -- Matthew 16:23
(Extracted from Fr Ronald Rolheiser's article, Saturn lurks in our fears, anger.)
"WHEN YOU READ the lives of the saints, especially in some older books, you can get the impression that they lived in a different world. Many of them describe physical encounters with Satan within which they would, literally, get beaten up by him.
"Satan, it seemed, was forever lurking under a bed, in a basement, in a stairwell, or in some dark corner, just waiting to pounce on them and beat them up. They had to be careful not to venture naively into dark places; though, conversely, there were times when they readied themselves and went deliberately, to the desert, to openly do battle with him.
"And, in that fight, they had a great weapon, simple one-line mantras: "Get behind me, Satan!" "Satan, leave this room!" "Satan, leave me alone!" That brought guaranteed results. He left them in peace for a while, though they emerged somewhat scraped and bruised from the encounter."
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love." -- 1 John 4:18
"SUCH LANGUAGE SOUNDS pretty esoteric and even superstitious to us. Not many of us have ever had Satan pop up from under our beds or from some dark place and begin to beat us up. Or have we?"
"Who or what is Satan? Believers today are split as to whether they believe that Satan is an actual person or simply a symbol for a venomous power that can overwhelm you, strip you of moral strength, and leave you precisely with the feeling of having been beaten up.
"Either way.... the encounters the saints describe happen to us too in our rational, agnostic lives just as surely as they happened to pious believers in former times. Satan, Scripture tells us, is the prince of jealousy, bitterness, paranoia, obsession and lies. Few things in life torment us and beat us up as badly as these. They lurk in every dark corner, come out from under our beds at night, generally threaten us, darken our days, dampen our joys, and make us anxious as to what might lie around the corner. We just word things differently.
"... Every time our minds and hearts begin bitterly replaying, like cassette tapes, old conversations, old wounds, old rejections and old injustices, so that everything inside of us wants to scream: "That isn't fair!" "How dare he say that!" "How can she do that, after all I did for her!" "I hate those people!" "Why do I always get cheated?", we are being tormented by Satan and need to say: "Get behind me, Satan!"
"... Every time we feel a deep emptiness inside and our world feels flat and empty of meaning ... Every time we feel pangs of jealousy (not necessarily overtly directed against someone else's good fortune) but in the disappointment that we feel because our bodies, marriages, careers and even our mortals haven't turnedou as perfectly as we'd have liked, whenever we find it hard to be grateful for our own lives, we are being beaten up by Satan and need to say: "Get behind me, Satan!"
"Indeed, any time we have trouble falling asleep at night because some memory, some disappointment, some lost love, some wrong-turn taken, or some obsession won't let go and give us enough calm to sleep, Satan is harassing us, right in our own beds, and we need, like the saints of old, to say: "Get behind me, Satan!"
"... Like the saints of old, we need at times when we feel strong enough to wrestle with him openly in the desert, but we need too, whenever our fears and obsessions begin to beat us up, to say the ancient prayer: "Get behind me, Satan!"