Points of discussion: Some thoughts from Bishop Chad Jones:
- Who and what are demons?
- What warfare are we engaged in?
- How to recognize evil and demonic activity?
- Practical measures against demons.
- The role of sacraments against demons.
- The reality of our current cultural situation
- Who and what are demons?
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world (I Peter 5) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (Saint James 4)
Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the Church’s Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called “Satan” or the “devil”. Satan means accuser, devil means slanderer. The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: “The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing.”
Scripture speaks of a sin of these angels. This “fall” consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection of that rebellion in the tempter’s words to our first parents: “You will be like God.” The devil “has sinned from the beginning”; he is “a liar and the father of lies”.
It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the fallen angels’ sin unforgivable. “There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death.”
Scripture witnesses to the disastrous influence of the one Jesus calls “a murderer from the beginning”, who would even try to divert Jesus from the mission received from his Father. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” In its consequences the gravest of these works was the mendacious seduction that led man to disobey God.
Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command. This is what man’s first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.
In that sin man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned him. He chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good. Constituted in a state of holiness, man was destined to be fully “divinized” by God in glory. Seduced by the devil, he wanted to “be like God”, but without God, before God, and not in accordance with God.
The doctrine of original sin, closely connected with that of redemption by Christ, provides lucid discernment of man’s situation and activity in the world. By our first parents’ sin, the devil has acquired a certain domination over man, even though man remains free. Original sin entails “captivity under the power of him who thenceforth had the power of death, that is, the devil”. Ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action and morals.
God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. . . It was through the devil’s envy that death entered the world.
The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God’s kingdom. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries – of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature – to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that
providence should permit diabolical activity, but we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.
Satan or the devil and the other demons are fallen angels who have freely refused to serve God and his plan. Their choice against God is definitive. They try to associate man in their revolt against God.
- What warfare are we engaged in?
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6.12)
We are engaged in the continual spiritual battle, the lifelong Lent, against the world, the flesh, and the devil – united to Christ in His war against and victory over sin, Satan, and death. The entire Christian life is ascesis, struggle, effort, combat, against our spiritual foe in which we are to allow Christ to have the victory in us and through us, to allow the Kingdom of God to prevail in our own lives and souls. ‘Like a might army moves the Church of God, brethren we are treading where the saints have trod.’ Our Lord wishes to reproduce His life, His triumph, His Resurrection in our lives, and can only do so if evil is thwarted on the battleground of our souls. Our soul is the main battlefield, the ultimate contest. Every Christian must face this conflict head-on – there is a war on for our own souls and the souls of the entire human race. We cannot escape evil – rather, we must confront it and defeat it with the theological and cardinal virtues: faith, hope, love, prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. It is the Holy Ghost who gives us the grace and power to vanquish Satan in the Name of Christ.
The Lent of Life = against the devil prayer, against the flesh fasting, and against the world almsgiving. Our Lord was so tempted… to create stones out of bread (flesh), to cast himself from the temple to abuse His divine power (devil), and to inherit the kingdoms of the world through satanic service (world). Our Lord went into the desert to keep the first Lent and to be tempted and to overcome temptation – and so we are called throughout life to follow Him who is the one who blazed the trail of faith, hope, love, and obedience in the desert of the world. We take up our crosses and follow the author and finisher of our faith.
The Temptation of Christ for our sake – the Gospels speak of a time of solitude for Jesus in the desert immediately after his baptism by John the Baptist. Driven by the Spirit into the desert, Jesus remains there for forty days without eating; he lives among wild beasts, and angels minister to him. At the end of this time Satan tempts him three times, seeking to compromise his filial attitude toward God. Jesus rebuffs these attacks, which recapitulate the temptations of Adam in Paradise and of Israel in the desert, and the devil leaves him “until an opportune time”.
The evangelists indicate the salvific meaning of this mysterious event: Jesus is the new Adam who remained faithful just where the first Adam had given in to temptation. Jesus fulfils Israel’s vocation perfectly: in contrast to those who had once provoked God during forty years in the desert, Christ reveals himself as God’s Servant, totally obedient to the divine will. In this, Jesus is the devil’s conqueror: he “binds the strong man” to take back his plunder. Jesus’ victory over the tempter in the desert anticipates victory at the Passion, the supreme act of obedience of his filial love for the Father.
Jesus’ temptation reveals the way in which the Son of God is Messiah, contrary to the way Satan proposes to him and the way men wish to attribute to him. This is why Christ vanquished the Tempter for us: “For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning.” By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.
The temptation in the desert shows Jesus, the humble Messiah, who triumphs over Satan by his total adherence to the plan of salvation willed by the Father.
The coming of God’s kingdom means the defeat of Satan’s: “If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Jesus’ exorcisms free some individuals from the domination of demons. They anticipate Jesus’ great victory over “the ruler of this world”. The kingdom of God will be definitively established through Christ’s cross: “God is reigning from the tree”
Jesus is LORD – He ascribes this title to himself in a veiled way when he disputes with the Pharisees about the meaning of Psalm 110, but also in an explicit way when he addresses his apostles. Throughout his public life, he demonstrated his divine sovereignty by works of power over nature, illnesses, demons, death and sin.
Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross, but this mystery is at work throughout Christ’s entire life: -already in his Incarnation through which by becoming poor he enriches us with his poverty; – in his hidden life which by his submission atones for our disobedience; – in his word which purifies its hearers;- in his healings and exorcisms by which “he took our infirmities and bore our diseases”; – and in his Resurrection by which he justifies us.
By his Passion, Christ delivered us from Satan and from sin. He merited for us the new life in the Holy Spirit. His grace restores what sin had damaged in us.
Christ went down into the depths of death so that “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” Jesus, “the Author of life”, by dying destroyed “him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and delivered all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.” Henceforth the risen Christ holds “the keys of Death and Hades”, so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” Satan controlled the human race by making people afraid to die. Christ is risen from the dead and has freed mankind from the fear of death. Death no longer has dominion over us.
By the expression “He descended into hell”, the Apostles’ Creed confesses that Jesus did really die and through his death for us conquered death and the devil “who has the power of death.’
- How to recognise evil and demonic activity?
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (I Saint John 4)
Satan likes to tempt us with money, fame, sex, power, and the appearance of freedom. He fashions these into idols and beckons us slowly and subtly to worship them instead of the one good God. Sometimes, he accomplishes this with a whisper or a suggestion to shirk responsibility or to skip prayer. We must be watchful for the moves of the enemy. In his master epistolary novel, The Screwtape Letters, Christian writer and apologist C.S. Lewis explains some of the ways that Satan tempts us. The following are summaries of some key points.
In these letters, the chief demon Screwtape is instructing the young apprentice demon Wormwood. So, the formulations will seem backward; this is part of the brilliance of Lewis’ writing because we get an insight into how the demons plot our demise.
The demonic forces will try to convince us to “estimate the value of prayer by success in producing the desired feeling (21).” However, feelings are usually products only of whether we are feeling well, are well rested, and so forth at a given moment. Feelings are entirely unreliable and inconstant and cannot be a trustworthy barometer of the spiritual life. There must be objectivity in our life of affective prayer, discipline and order, not merely emotion.
They will attack our anxiety. “There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy. God wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them (28).”
The demons will immobilize us in our feelings about a situation. “The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel (61).”
The demons will keep us fixed on the future rather than the present moment. “It is far better to make them live in the Future…it is unknown to them, so that making them think about it we make them think of unrealities… it is the most completely temporal part of time for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays (68).”
The evil will make Jesus seem far away. Remember, in this writing, the “Enemy” of Screwtape is our Lord. “For the presence of the Enemy, otherwise experienced by men in prayer and sacrament, we substitute a merely probable, remote, shadowy, and uncouth figure, one who spoke a strange language and died a long time ago. Such an object cannot, in fact, be worshipped (107).”
The evil spirits will have us further our pet causes first rather than seek Christ first. We are the Church of Christ, not a church of causes. “The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience (108-9).” We must lose sight of the nature of Christian vocation to be a disciple of the Lord entirely, and the calling of the Church to save souls.
The foe will tempt us only to attempt virtue until it gets difficult. “A chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky (137-8).”
The sins that lead to demonic activity…
Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Many martyrs died for not adoring “the Beast” refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.
God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility. All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to “unveil” the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.
All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity.
God’s first commandment condemns the main sins of irreligion: tempting God, in words or deeds, sacrilege, and simony. Tempting God consists in putting his goodness and almighty power to the test by word or deed. Thus, Satan tried to induce Jesus to throw himself down from the Temple and, by this gesture, force God to act. Jesus opposed Satan with the word of God: “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test.” The challenge contained in such tempting of God wounds the respect and trust we owe our Creator and Lord. It always harbors doubt about his love, his providence, and his power. Sacrilege consists in profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions, as well as persons, things, or places consecrated to God. Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made substantially present for us.
Illicit sexual relations and activity – St. Paul stigmatizes this especially grave offense: “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you . . . for a man is living with his father’s wife…. In the name of the Lord Jesus … you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh….” Any form of adultery or fornication corrupts family relationships and the dignity of the human person.
A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving. “The Lord denounces lying as the work of the devil: “You are of your father the devil, . . . there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
- Practical measures against demons
Stay close to JESUS – one good Confession and one good Holy Communion are more powerful than an exorcism. Exorcism is but a sacramental – the Blessed Sacrament is God Himself given to us as our Spiritual Food and Substance and Absolution is the very forgiving power of Christ’s Blood freely applied to our souls.
How can we resist the inclinations of the Devil and our own selfishness?
The only answer is Jesus Christ. “Without Me you can do nothing (Jn 15:5).”
We must not trust ourselves, rather we should trust in Christ. “So, for the duration of our life, every day and at every moment, we must keep unchanged in our heart the feeling, conviction and disposition, that on no occasion can we allow ourselves to think of relying on ourselves and trusting ourselves.”
We must also be wary of our own response to idleness, gossip, greed, lust, pride, and all the other temptations in our lives within our hearts and in the world around us. We must be aware of our surroundings.
We must be wary of the company that we keep. If we surround ourselves with people who do not prioritize Christ, then our own priorities will suffer. Or worse, we will slip into the vices and bad habits that they embody.
Besides being resistant, we must also be proactive in our spiritual struggle. We must especially be diligent in prayer. If we are not in a habit of prayer, it is a good idea to carve out some
time for prayer and make it a habit. The more time we spend with Jesus, the more we become like Jesus.
The most important thing that we can do is live a sacramental life, especially the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance.
“Our Lord Christ Himself strikes down our enemies through us, or in company with us. For he who eats Christ’s flesh and drinks His blood abides with Christ and He in him. Therefore, when we overcome the enemies, it is the blood of Christ which overcomes, as it is written in Revelation: ‘and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb.’”
The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Sacraments and it is the True Body and Blood of the Lord. By receiving the Eucharist worthily, we are coming into union with the resurrected and glorified Christ. We become One Body and One Blood with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, that we may dwell in him and He in us. Saint Cyril of Alexandria calls our Eucharistic Communion ‘a natural union’ with Christ Himself. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood dwells in me, and I in him.
A beautiful sacrament which flows from the cleansing power of the Eucharist is the Sacrament of Penance. By making a habit of going to this Sacrament, we enter into communion with the Cross of Christ. Our sins and offences are brought to the foot of the Cross, with the knowledge that Christ already died for the forgiveness of our sins. The Eucharist and Penance apply the Person and Work of Christ to our bodies and souls.
Satan wants us to stay away from the Sacraments. We must do everything in our power to live a sacramental life and trust in Jesus. This is the greatest offence against the Enemy.
The Holy Family is powerful against the demonic. Our Blessed Mother, the Ever-Virgin Mary, is foretold by God in Genesis 3 as crushing the head of the serpent, alongside her Son. She walked with Jesus to Calvary and a sword passed through her soul as she watched in agony as her beloved Son was nailed to the Cross and raised high. Mary is a powerful ally and intercessor. Satan and the demons absolutely hate Our Lady and are immediately repelled by her. We should always keep that in mind and heart and remain close to Our Lady in intercessory prayer.
Consecrate self, wife, children, family, and home to the Mother of God. Ask for her help – and she will definitely come to your aid. Jesus Mercy, Mary Help. ‘Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.’ Please do not be afraid to ask for Mary’s prayers. Use her images and icons. Allow her to be present in every aspect of your personal life. She is our Mother – ‘Behold your Mother.’
One of the monikers of Mary is “Our Lady, Help of Exorcists, Terror of Demons.” She is the most powerful woman in the history of the world. Completely freed from sin, she accepted the words of the angel in faith and furnished the human nature of Jesus. She is the mould from which Christ willed to come and we must allow her to mould us by her prayer for us more into the image of her Son. Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
Saint Joseph is called the “Terror of Demons.” He is the Protector of the Church, the Patron of a Good Death, the earthly protector of Jesus, and a man of righteousness and purity. May we imitate his example and ask for his powerful intercession. “The prayer of a righteous man availeth much, is powerful and effective (James 5:16).”
One of the most powerful weapons against Satan that we have is the Most Holy Rosary. Saints have simply referred to it as “the Weapon.” In it, we dwell on the Mysteries of Christ and cling to Our Lady who is the health of the sick, refuge of sinners, and comfort of the afflicted.
Those tools that Jesus gave us are these:
The helmet: That is, the Gospel, the word of God, which protects the mind from obsessive thoughts, depression, confusion, and fear. If Jesus, with his teachings and gestures, is present in our minds, there is no room for the enemy there. This is achieved by repeated and constant listening to the word of God every day.
The sword: Prayer, above all in moments of temptation, blocks the work of the enemy. Prayer is dialogue with God. We should ask for the prayers of Mary, and the saints. The diabolical enemy fears the Holy Rosary particularly. Prayers of thanksgiving manifest a humble heart, which rejects the pride that the enemy seeks to instigate. The purpose of the devil is to lead us to fall from grace through pride, just as he did.
The sacraments: These are the armor that protects soul and body. The Eucharist puts us in the most intimate communion with Jesus, the teacher and strength of Christians. Confession brings us closer to God. Absolution is more powerful than exorcism inasmuch as it is, like all the sacraments, a direct action of God in our lives, and furthermore, it exercises humility, which contrasts Satan’s pride.
Faith: This is the shield that rejects the temptations and extraordinary actions of the evil one. It is nourished by repeated listening to the word of God, by constant prayer, and by the frequent reception of the sacraments.
“BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL” – the Lord’s Prayer
The last petition to Our Father is also included in Jesus’ prayer: “I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.” It touches each of us personally, but it is always “we” who pray, in communion with the whole Church, for the deliverance of the whole human family. the Lord’s Prayer continually opens us to the range of God’s economy of salvation. Our interdependence in the drama of sin and death is turned into solidarity in the Body of Christ, the “communion of saints.”
In this petition, evil is not an abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God. the devil (dia-bolos) is the one who “throws himself across” God’s plan and his work of salvation accomplished in Christ. “A murderer from the beginning, . . . a liar and the father of lies,” Satan is “the deceiver of the whole world.”
Through him sin and death entered the world and by his definitive defeat all creation will be “freed from the corruption of sin and death.” Now “we know that anyone born of God does not sin, but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one.” The Lord who has taken away your sin and pardoned your faults also protects you and keeps you from the wiles of your adversary the devil, so that the enemy, who is accustomed to leading into sin, may not surprise you. One who entrusts himself to God does not dread the devil. “If God is for us, who is against us?”
Victory over the “prince of this world” was won once for all at the Hour when Jesus freely gave himself up to death to give us his life. This is the judgment of this world, and the prince of this world is “cast out.”
Of Mary we know Satan pursued the woman but had no hold on her: she is the new Eve, “full of grace” of the Holy Spirit, the Mother of all the living preserved from sin and the corruption of
death “Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring.”
Therefore, the Spirit and the Church pray: “Come, Lord Jesus,” since his coming will deliver us from the Evil One. When we ask to be delivered from the Evil One, we pray as well to be freed from all evils, present, past, and future, of which he is the author or instigator. In this final petition, the Church brings before the Father all the distress of the world. Along with deliverance from the evils that overwhelm humanity, she implores the precious gift of peace and the grace of perseverance in expectation of Christ’s return. By praying in this way, she anticipates in humility of faith the gathering together of everyone and everything in him who has “the keys of Death and Hades,” who “is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Sacramentals – we can and should use them
Holy Mother Church has, moreover, instituted sacramentals. These are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy.
Sacramentals are instituted for the sanctification of certain ministries of the Church, certain states of life, a great variety of circumstances in Christian life, and the use of many things helpful to man. They always include a prayer, often accompanied by a specific sign, such as the laying on of hands, the sign of the cross, or the sprinkling of holy water (which recalls Baptism). Sacramentals derive from the baptismal priesthood: every baptized person is called to be a “blessing,” and to bless.
Sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the same way that the sacraments do, but by the Church’s prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it. “For well-disposed members of the faithful, the liturgy of the sacraments and sacramentals sanctifies almost every event of their lives with the divine grace which flows from the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. From this source all sacraments and sacramentals draw their power. There is scarcely any proper use of material things which cannot be thus directed toward the sanctification of men and the praise of God.”
Among sacramentals, blessings (of persons, meals, objects, and places) come first. Every blessing praises God and prays for his gifts. In Christ, Christians are blessed by God the Father “with every spiritual blessing.” This is why the Church imparts blessings by invoking the name of Jesus, while making the holy sign of the cross of Christ.
When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism. The word exorcism literally means to ‘oath out,’ the oath of the covenant to cast out evil. Jesus performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power and office of exorcizing.
In a simple form, exorcism can be performed at the celebration of Baptism. The solemn exorcism, called “a major exorcism,” can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. the priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science.
Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness. There is a 16-point process designed to distinguish mental illness from possession.
Vital sacramentals for the Christian fortification against evil include veneration of relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the cross, the rosary, blessed icons, statues, and medals, the use of holy water, and many more. Holy Water in particular is tremendously powerful against demonic influence. These expressions of piety extend the liturgical life of the Church, but do not replace it. The Mass is still the spiritual powerhouse of the Church above all else. If one is not using sacramentals, it is a great time to begin. Your priest can bless holy water, medallions, rosaries, scapulars, and images for you.
- The role of sacraments against demons.
All the sacraments unite our human nature to Christ’s human nature – the human nature of Christ is planted into our human nature through the sacraments, and subsequently our human nature united to Christ is deified, divinized, healed, transformed, elevated, renovated. They are the most effective, efficacious, and powerful gifts of all for overcoming evil, the covenanted means of grace.
Baptism – Since Baptism signifies liberation from sin and from its instigator the devil, one or more exorcisms used to be pronounced over the candidate. Today, the celebrant anoints the candidate with the oil of catechumens, and the baptised explicitly renounces Satan. Thus prepared, he is able to confess the faith of the Church, to which he will be entrusted by Baptism. Baptism is the first and most important sacrament and exorcism. It casts out the devil and makes the soul the temple of the Holy Trinity. The New Life of Christ is infused into the soul, and the baptized, incorporated into Christ, is made a living member of Christ, ushered into the Kingdom of God. Satan and the kingdom of evil are expelled. The baptized becomes Christ’s own possession forever – and the goal of Christian life is to keep the grace of our Baptism.
Grant that he may have power and strength to have victory, and to triumph, against the devil, the world, and the flesh. Amen. We receive this Child (or person) into the congregation of Christ’s flock; and do sign him with the sign of the Cross, in token that hereafter he shall not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under his banner, against sin, the world, and the devil; and to continue Christ’s faithful soldier and servant unto his life’s end. Amen.
Confirmation – makes us soldiers of Christ, the militia Christi, the Army of Christ and perfects and seals within us the grace of our Baptism. Confirmation empowers and strengthens the grace of Baptism by giving us the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost (Isaiah 11). The Sacrament of Confirmation is the sacrament of Christian maturity and adulthood and equips the Christian with more intensified grace to wage war against our spiritual enemies.
Holy Communion – as said before, the Eucharist is the Supreme Sacrament, our food for the journey of life, Jesus Christ Himself, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity objectively and substantially present under the form of bread and wine. The Blessed Sacrament is Christ Himself, the ultimate Gift and Giver. The Sacrament of Sacraments is above all the essential path to holiness, sanctifying grace, heroic virtue, and union with God. One Holy Communion can make the recipient a saint if properly disposed. Nothing is more important. The Holy Eucharist, our Eucharistic Lord and King, confers the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, and the healing of body and soul, by His True Body and Blood given as real spiritual food and drink. We literally eat and drink our salvation in Holy Communion – because we receive Christ in his glorified human nature risen from the dead, glorified in heaven, and objectively concealed in the Sacrament.
Absolution releases us from the bonds of Satan and the chains of our own sins. The grace of Christ’s forgiveness in the sacrament liberates and frees us for the power of sin, and the effect and spiritual harm caused of our own personal and particular sins; it opens our soul to the remedial and healing grace of Christ at the deepest level of our being, and overthrows
demonic power and temptation. The more frequently one receives Absolution, the greater the power is in the soul to reject Satan and refuse temptation. It provides a supernatural fortification and strength against evil thoughts and inclinations. The devil cannot use against any penitent any sin that has been confessed and then absolved by the Church. Absolved sin has no longer any power over the person who repents and receives absolution. It is vastly more powerful than an exorcism. Absolution penetrates deeply into the innermost being and opens the soul and mind to the restorative grace and power of Christ. It restores us to Christ and the communion of the Church after one falls into postbaptismal sin.
Matrimony – First, it was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name. Secondly, it was ordained for a remedy again sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body. Thirdly, it was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.
Unction – “So they went out and preached that men should repent. and they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.’ Unction forgives all sins and brings spiritual healing and grace – it absolves sin and heals the damage caused by sin, a powerful weapon in the spiritual arsenal.
Holy Orders are the Sacrament of Apostolic Succession – so that the authority, commission, and power which Our Lord gave to the Twelve Apostles, and especially the power over evil, are personally possessed in their fullest reality and sacramental power by the bishops and priests of the Church. Christ the Exorcist gave his power over evil to his personal representatives, the sacerdotium or Catholic priesthood. Sacramental ordination confers on the ordained the very same authority Jesus has over the devil. The Lord gave the Apostles the authority to cast out evil in his Name, and the Successor of the Apostles by sacramental consecration and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit still have, exercise, and transmit this authority.
- The reality of our current cultural situation
Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Pt 5:8).
In the United States today the occult has become even more popular than it was twenty years ago. Today, we have Satanic School Clubs, public Black Masses, Temple of Satan monuments at government buildings – there is popular Satanic music, Satanic groups and gangs, an increase in Satanic worship, and widespread satanism and occultism in movies, TV, streaming services, video games, and social media. Witchcraft in all forms has become chic, cool, popular, and widely practised. The Hollywood celebrity culture and its personalities are saturated in the occult. Virtually any rock concert or TikTok video will now feature some form of occultism. Occultism is now the religion of American pop culture. In spite of this, many people do not take the occult seriously.
Demonic influence is very real, and it constitutes a threat to our spiritual well-being.
We are Baptized and Confirmed Christians. In both of these sacraments we have renounced Satan, all his works, and the empty promises of the kingdom of darkness. In these Baptismal promises we profess our faith in Jesus Christ and in the Church. Now the kingdom of God is absolutely opposed to Satan’s kingdom. Salvation in Jesus Christ presupposes our rejection of the kingdom of darkness. Our life, though, is a spiritual warfare. In the first letter of St. John (1 Jn. 5:18-20) he tells us two things. First of all, we who are born of God (by Baptism and the Holy Spirit) are protected by God so that the Evil One cannot touch us. He also tells us that the whole world is under the Evil One.
The Evil One can tempt us, but he cannot conquer us unless we open the door for him. Under most circumstances, people are only openly attacked by the diabolical if an invitation is extended. We should not fear Satan, nor should we be constantly looking for him in the ordinary happenings of our life. The devil is not around every street corner – and a preoccupation with evil is unhealthy in the extreme, spiritually dangerous and potentially ruinous.
Do not concentrate or focus on the evil spirits but fix your eyes and your faith upon Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are saved by Jesus Christ alone, through prayer, our adherence to the Word of God in the Holy Scriptures, and through the sacraments, especially through the presence of the Lord Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist.
To reiterate, in our prayer we should not forget to invoke Mary, the Mother of God, who has crushed the head of the ancient serpent (Gen. 3:15). Devotion to Mary is a powerful means of protection in our daily life.
What is the kingdom of Satan, the kingdom of darkness like? It is a lie that seeks to resemble the Kingdom of God. Read Isaiah 14:12-15. It is about Satan. The prophet tells us that in his heart Satan is determined to be like God.
Therefore, in Satan’s kingdom he wants everything that is in the Kingdom of God. But his kingdom is a lie; it is false. In the kingdom of darkness, there is false worship and adoration; there is evil prayer. He offers us false happiness and peace. He holds out to us dark wisdom and knowledge. This is how he tempted Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:5). Satan said: “No, God knows well that the moment you eat it (the forbidden fruit) your eyes will be opened, and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.” In his kingdom, Satan also offers us a health that is unto death, and a protection that is false. Just as we picture the angels of heaven singing and worshipping God, there is also a special music that is evil in the kingdom of darkness.
Satan’s kingdom is a lie. He wants to be like God. But in the very first of the Ten Commandments, God told Moses: “I am the Lord your God. You shall have none other gods but me”
St. Paul tells us to be on our guard: “The Spirit says clearly that some men will abandon their faith in later times. They will obey lying spirits and follow the teaching of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). Let us hold fast to our faith in the Lord Jesus and his Church.
In The Home—Seeking God’s Presence
Although one may not a priest, as a baptized Catholic you have a power that you do not realize. St. Paul, in his letter, told the Ephesians this truth (Eph. 1:19): “How very great is his power that works in us is the same as the mighty strength which He used when He raised Christ from death and seated Him at his right side in the heavenly world. “The power of prayer is greater than we know.
Although we mostly do not have the power of an ordained priest, we can ask God to protect and bless our homes. It is good for us to keep blessed water in our homes and use it frequently. If we wish to ask God’s blessing on our own homes, we can say a simple prayer of blessing and then sprinkle holy water in each room.
An “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” could also be recited.
The consecration of the family and the home to the Our Lord and His Mother is another beautiful Catholic custom. We need to have a crucifix and pictures of Our Saviour Jesus Christ and Our Blessed Lady in our homes. We want home to be a sacred place.
There needs to be a place in the home where the members of the family come together to pray.
Through his passion, death, and resurrection, Jesus has broken the power of the Evil One. When the influence of evil is perceived in one’s own life, it most frequently comes about from personal sin. Family members suffer because of the sin of an individual member of the family. It is through the sacred power that the Lord has placed in his Church that the evil of sin is conquered.
Through medicine, psychology and other human means, suffering can often be alleviated. But Jesus in his Church, has given us basic helps that are often neglected.
In our day the Sacrament of Confession has fallen into disuse. There exists a power in this sacrament to break the power of the Evil One and sin that is not possible otherwise. Our faith in the Eucharist is weakened.
In the Eucharist is the power and presence of Jesus Himself. Persons who have actually needed exorcism from the power of the Evil One have been cured by sitting in church in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, an hour each day, for one or two months. These were very difficult cases.
Our Blessed Mother has been designated by God as the one who crushes the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:1s). The Rosary is a very powerful means of protection and salvation. Many sons and daughters have been saved from the power of sin and the loss of faith through the perseverance of their parents in saying the Holy Rosary.
When we are living in the state of Sanctifying Grace, we should simply reject all fear, and place our confidence in God, then live according to the advice of the Church.
We have to define sin according to the Gospel and the official teaching of our Church as it has been handed down by the Church’s Tradition and not define it by the viewpoint of the modern age which has been contaminated. Many people live in sin and have false peace, because their
conscience has been formed, not by the Gospel, but by the spirit of this age. They may be leading very respectable lives, be law-abiding citizens, and in the estimation of people, leading good lives. But if they are not living according to the Ten Commandments, the Gospel, and the moral teaching of the Church, even in just one area that concerns serious sin, they are probably living in the Kingdom of Darkness.
The Sacrament of Confession and the Eucharist, (as well as all of the sacraments) are very special weapons that Jesus gave to his Church to overcome the Kingdom of Sin and Darkness. We need to use these sacraments as Christ meant them to be used and have no fear of the enemy. The best path for all Christians is daily Mass and Communion.
If I am baptized and am living in the Kingdom of Light in the state of Sanctifying Grace, Satan has no dominion over me unless through fear I open the door to his influence. Sanctifying Grace means that I am sharing in a mysterious way in the life of God Himself and He is dwelling in my soul (Rom. 5:5; 2 Cor. 6:16; John 14:23). However, when I commit a mortal sin, a serious sin, then I lose Sanctifying Grace and begin to live in the Kingdom of Darkness. Even though I have been Baptized and possibly Confirmed, I become somewhat vulnerable. As I persist, unrepentant in serious sin, I become vulnerable to the influence of Satan.
St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.