DENVER CATHOLIC REGISTER
The title of Robert Abel's latest book, "The Catholic Warrior" simultaneously serves as a description of the author himself. A lifelong Catholic and St. Thomas More parishioner, Abel writes of his own experiences battling demons and temptations, and he crafts an effective regimen for keeping evil at bay. He draws the reader in and illuminates something that so many people try to deny: the power of Satan at work in the world today.
"The book is designed to help Catholics walk an authentic walk with the Lord," he said. "It starts with spiritual warfare and confronts the complacency and lukewarm tendencies that we sometimes fall into. God doesn't want us to be complacent pew-warmers. He came to give us power, and we are to advance the kingdom of heaven here on earth — just like the saints of old."
The 37-year-old author thought he had it all after earning enough money to retire and live off his investments.
"But I got greedy in the stock market and started trading high-risk commodities," he said.
The loss of a quarter of a million dollars devastated him and brought him to his knees, broken and crushed. Afterwards, he surrendered his life to God, giving the Lord his time and efforts by working with the homeless. He was a daily Mass attendee and "started walking in obedience with whatever the Lord wanted from that point forward." But he kept something back from God.
"I gave Him my life, my ministry, my tithe, church attendance and prayer, but I was withholding my heart because it was a sacred part of my being. Part of me was scared to give my heart."
Abel kept seeing a vision of how beautiful God was and how cold and empty his own heart was.
"I had to surrender my heart to Jesus in the same way I would to a romantic lover," he explained. When he did that, he had what he calls a Spirit-filled conversion experience. He likens it to what Peter found on Pentecost or what struck Paul on the road to Damascus.
The opening of his heart to the Lord took him on a journey he couldn't have imagined. He sold his house and left family and friends to follow God into the wilderness, deep into the jungles of Central America. His struggles, his difficulties, and his conversion dovetailed together into inspiration for "The Catholic Warrior."
The book is a fast read, well written, educational and practical. It traces Satan's work in the world from Adam and Eve in the garden and Cain's murder of his brother to the demons cast out by Jesus and the Lord's own temptation in the desert. Evil is just as present today, Abel said.
"Christ needs laypeople who are willing to put on the full armor of God, push back enemy lines, and advance the kingdom of heaven here on earth."
The spiritual warfare encouraged in the book is feasible because "all Catholic warriors have been given the authority to drive out all forms of evil that violate their inner sanctuaries."
Abel outlines seven common doors evil uses to enter a warrior's house and extinguish the light of Christ. His practical and effective means of countering sin include employing the word of God ("a warrior's best defense against the seductive whispering of evil's temptation"); daily reception of holy Communion ("the source and strength that makes spiritual armor glow"); the grace of confession ("the power from God that adds inches of steel plating to a warrior's armor"); and fasting ("denying the physical need for food in exchange for spiritual food").
In this absorbing book, the author presents his audience with a challenge: Are you traveling the hard and narrow road? Are you using your talents and gifts to promote the kingdom of God? By donning the armor of a spiritual warrior, Abel enables readers to emulate Jesus himself who "remained loving and broke Satan's power."
by Claudia Cangilla McAdam