The Holiness of Restraint and Privacy

The devil cannot read our thoughts. For the devil’s craving to fill our mind with temptation and distraction, God designed a protection from satan’s plan for each of us through our will. Privacy, discretion, and prayer. So that each of us become like a portal to and from Heaven while living in a corrupt world. In our early years, it is the family that is supposed to protect our mind for lack of will. Protected in these ways we become invisible to satan.

Once our thoughts take on concrete word or action however, they become visible to satan. He then can show up. Look only how Jesus lived hidden from the world most of His life beginning with His conception in the womb of the Virgin. Even the angels of God did not know the exact moment of His conception, but could only announce it beforehand.

“The angel announces the birth to the virgin not after the conception, lest she should be thereby troubled, but before the conception he addresses her…”

St. John Chrysostom

“…the virginity of Mary was meant to baffle the prince of the world, who, when he perceived her espoused to a man, could cast no suspicion on her offspring.”

St. Ambrose

Satan showed up however once Jesus was directed to become public by the Virgin mother at the wedding feast of Cana. There was no temptation of Jesus in the wilderness before that. There was no visibility. When Jesus attempted to become public as a youth by teaching at the temple, He was whisked away by His mother and stepfather. Zeal is not a sin but timing is everything. With this invisibility, Satan’s only option are indiscriminate attacks, like the mass killings by King Herod, triggered by a moment of indiscretion by the three wise men. Note also, for later discussion, the context of the Nativity, which was the call to government census.

So are our holy thoughts to remain in us, never manifesting into action or word? Of course not. This is the realm of Holy prudence, discretion, patience and restraint. Designed to protect us from the devil and enemies. There is an incubation period needed. A formation. Charity can always manifest however in invisibility and can even enhance it, so do not restrain that. But charity can be imprudent and presumptuous sometimes. In phony cultures, the government deems charity must be public, such as for tax exemption, but that is not the way God works (Matthew 6:3).  In fact, most of God’s work is hidden from the world (John 21:25).

We can also act without speaking first to maintain invisibility. Not everything needs to be announced. God is the important witness of our acts.

How can we know more about when to act or speak? By God of course. But who protected and directed God the Son? The Virgin Mother. And who protected and directed her? Only God could have done that. The whole story of Jesus, from His conception to His crucifixion cries out that she must have been prefigured without sin. The devil may be in the details but the details of God are in the Virgin Mother.  Christianity without the Virgin Mother is unrestrained, even reckless.

In our understanding of all this, what can we make of our culture’s and government’s obsession with records, data, details of your life, notoriety, and fame. How can it be for any good? Can it really be for our protections or is it a framework for satan and our enemies. God certainly does not need it for our sanctity.  Take pornography for example:  If the  very act that creates us is public domain, then you have the guarantee that your life will be public domain from conception to grave. A corporation or government that spies on citizens has gone beyond their definitions. One that does the same while professing to be Christian is quite a distortion. But let’s restrain ourselves there.

“But still more has it baffled the prince of this world, for the malice of devils soon detects even hidden things, while they who are occupied in worldly vanities, cannot know the things of God.”

St. Ambrose