Friday, January 25, 2008

SPIRITUAL WARFARE: Holy headlocks and saintly slams!

"Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm."
Ephesians 6:11-13
The Associated Press recently reported on a wrestling priest in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Sergio Gutierrez, with clerical collar, has been in the ring for 25 years. It’s true the bouts are staged but there’s still an occasional outbreak of real violence; Gutierrez has broken his nose, ribs, ankle, and arm.

Gutierrez is known in the ring as Fray Tormenta: Brother Storm. Proceeds help fund a 200-bed home for underprivileged boys Gutierrez opened some 15 years ago.

Brother Storm is training Manuel Ortega, another priest, to wrestle part-time to also raise more funds. Ortega holds a black belt in karate, which he earned before entering the priesthood.

Popular in low-income neighborhoods in Mexico, professional wrestling sometimes draws crowds upwards of 10,000. Fans see the matches as a kind of morality play: good versus evil. One of the priests’ major opponents, Damian, is a taunting, mocking wrestler with 666 on his forehead and flames around his eyes.

The real match, the one Paul calls “our battle”, is real and vicious warfare. Yet, the devil wants the Soldiers of the Cross to view it with the same earthly eyes as spectators at a Brother Storm match.

Satan’s greatest weapon is deception; if he can deceive large numbers of believers into viewing our battle as nothing more than religious extremism … well, the body of Christ would be no different than Adam and Eve in the beginning … “naked” and “afraid” [Genesis 3:10].

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