It is absolutely amazing what you can learn on the internet. You can become competent with many things just by using YouTube. For example, yesterday I did some work on my van and was able to simply pull up a video on how to fix it. You can learn about things from Literature to fishing techniques. Of course, we do often lose something in the process however. Most of the time, what we learn is technique instead of a more foundational understanding. Believe it or not, this seems to be happening a lot in the Church. Sometimes we focus too much on technique, and in doing so, we often leave our foundation behind and inevitably lose something in the process. The foundation for all growth in the Church is holiness.
Let us take a parish apostolate, for example. There are myriad trainings, movements, books and thought-leaders giving us plans and techniques to make parishes “successful”. (I happen to be one of them) Most of these plans take holiness for granted and focus on programs and techniques. When a parish or a pastor comes to me for help in evangelization, the first thing I ask everyone on the leadership team to do is read The Soul of the Apostolateand then start an intercessory prayer group. I cannot tell you how many people desire to skip these steps and “get to the programming aspect” of parish evangelization. For years parishes can limp along in perceived success or failure. Then there are parishes that have no technique, no flash, and maybe even no plan but are churning out disciples left and right. In this case, even before encountering the parish, I always know what is happening. I know there must be a saint there. There must be some real holiness, even if it is just in one person. Why? Because there is always organic fruit from holiness. There are things that naturally happen when people truly strive for holiness. Like spiritual radiation, everyone around them gets warmed by grace, even when there is not great “technique”. Take, for example, the parish in Ars, France of St. John Vianney. At the height of his ministry, it was possible to wait several weeks to a month in line to go to confession to St. John. The parish was a holiness factory, and they never put on a program or had greeters at the doors. Now I am not saying that these things are bad. Certainly, being greeted while coming into the house of the Lord is a good thing, but technique should build on a foundation of holiness. Only then will there be real growth.
This is not only the case for parishes. The organic fruit of holiness can affect all of our lives and all of our apostolates. In most cases, simply striving for holiness is the most efficacious route. I love flashy websites, exciting programs and friendly greeters. I like to learn techniques and strategies but these cannot take the place of holiness. Strive for holiness and see the fruit growing organically all around you. When in doubt be a Saint.
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Are you interested in learning about what the Catholic Church teaches regarding Spiritual Warfare? Would you like to learn more about strategies and tools to succeed in this battle? If so, look no further than this unique day of training in traditional Catholic methods of Spiritual Warfare. I have taught thousands of people across the country about the victory Christ gives us in the Church, and I am excited to offer this training for all Catholics who are serious about learning more of the Church’s teaching on the spiritual war raging for souls.
-This training will take place on June 2, 2018 at the St. Bonaventure Parish hall, from 8:00am-5:00pm.
-The cost is $50, which includes all materials.
- Lunch will be provided and each attendee will receive a copy of the book “Deliverance Prayers For the Use of the Laity” by Fr. Chad Ripperger.
Space is limited, so sign up today!
All questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To sign up or to get more information click the "Event Info" below.
Here is a schedule of the day of training:
You can progress very far in Divine Union without an advanced intellectual knowledge of the spiritual life. In fact I think these three simple principles can get you farther than you might realize.
1. Consistency and Generosity
Just like working out at the gym, success in your prayer life has so much to do with consistency. If God is going to accomplish in us what He wants we need to be available to Him on a consistent basis. If you engage in Christian meditation each day you will advance. It is that simple. Most of the battle of consistency will be to form a rhythm of life that is conducive to prayer. With consistency we must add generosity. We need to give God plenty of time each day. Again, like working out, if you expect any real bodily change then you need more than 5 minutes each day. The more generous we are with God the more He can accomplish in us.
Living a life of holiness has a lot to do with being led by the Holy Spirit. Throughout each day there will be countless moments of quiet inspiration from the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it might just be a pious thought that we lean in to. It might be an intention that flashes into your mind. The more we cooperate with these movements the more autonomy we give the Holy Spirit in our soul. This will go a long way to bless our prayer life. This is a skill that will become especially beneficial when we advance in prayer and our prayer is less active and more receptive.
3. Earnest Struggle with Sin
Being methodical and strategic in our fight with sin will go a long way in advancing the life of the Trinity within us. Taking a serious look at the state of our soul and taking care to avoid even venial sin can be a battle but it is one that is worth fighting. St. Paul uses the example of running the race. When we lay aside the weight of sin that holds us back we are lighter and more free to run. Even venial sin binds us and when we loose those binds the Holy Spirit is more free to work within us.
If we seriously try to live by these three principles we will see a great advancement of the life of the Trinity within us.
In the past few weeks, I have talked with several people who believe, for one reason or another, that a curse has been placed on them. In one case, a person was in an argument with someone involved in the occult, and the occultist explicitly told him that a curse was coming. In another case, an odd interaction with a neighbor along with some occult-looking material left on the porch, led another to this conclusion. Finally, in another case, a good catholic woman who had been divorced by her husband experienced a strange string of sicknesses and problems; her daughter told her that the husband's new wife had a small altar in their home with bizarre materials on it and had a picture of this poor woman in the middle.
The vast majority of people reading this will laugh it off, and to be honest, growing up in America, I can hardly blame them. Magic is something we only see on television and is not a normal part of life. That being said, it is a growing part of American culture. The paranormal industry is growing exponentially, and many esoteric practices from other cultures are coming here each day. Just look at the news and see the group of witches trying to curse our president.
The fact of the matter is that curses are real, and while I would never want a serious Christian to live in fear, it is important that we recognize there are people out there who willingly cooperate with the world of evil and maliciously target others for vengeance or strategy. This is the reason that I decided to poll several exorcists who are friends and write these possible steps to take if you think you might be a victim of sorcery.
1. Take a deep breath and remember that God is completely and totally in control. Nothing can happen to you without God's permission. NOTHING. Even if someone targeted you, nothing can happen without God's permission.
2. Remember there are no emergencies with the devil. This is one of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given. It can be scary dealing with extraordinary evil; but once again, God is in control and we do not need to speed his hand. This means you do not need to track an exorcist down in the middle of the night and demand that he come over immediately.
3. Evaluate our vulnerabilities. In most cases if we are being affected by a curse, it is because there is a chink in our armor, so to speak. Exorcists often talk about Christians having a "hedge of grace" surrounding them and protecting them. If we are vulnerable to the effects of curses, it is often because there is a problem in our relationship with the Lord. Are we persisting in serious sin? Have we left the church or the sacraments? Have we committed an injustice that has not been remedied? Or have we become lukewarm in our relationship to God? All of these could be the door we left open to the evil one.
4. Evaluate any possible implicit permission. In order for evil to attack us extraordinarily, there must be some permission given by someone. What can be tricky about this is that the permission is often implicit. So if you believe you are the victim of a curse, what are the circumstances surrounding it? Did someone give you something? Did you accept something into your home? Did you allow someone to move in or have you begun a new relationship with someone who is not a faithful Christian? Curses often involve the use of a Fortuna or a cursed object. It doesn't have to be something explicitly occult in nature. I was once handed a slip of paper that had been cursed. It could be as simple as that.
5. Intentionally deal with vulnerabilities and implicit permission. Once we have taken inventory of why we are being affected by a curse, we need to deal with it. That usually means getting right with the Lord and repenting of wrong doing and taking care of any implicit permission we may have given. I know of a woman who had accepted a statue from a man at her work who was infatuated with her. The man had cursed the statue, and she needed to destroy it and get it our of her house.
6. Ask God to break the curse and free you from all evil. A simple formula for that prayer could be: "Lord Jesus, I repent of my sin and any part I had in accepting or cooperating with this evil. I ask you now to break this curse and break any tie the world of evil has over me. I forgive anyone who has cooperated with evil to perpetrate this against me. Amen." You can put it in your own words or use another prayer, but this is a basic formula.
7. Practice a rigorous life of faith and refuse to be mastered by evil. You can actually start this at the beginning. No need to wait until step seven.
Is this an over simplification? Possibly. If these things do not help you, it may be time to contact an expert from your diocese who can help.
Fasting is one of those classic tools of of Catholic Spirituality that has great benefits for every aspect of our being. It is a tried and true method of asceticism. For most of us this is not new information, but often times we forget completely about fasting until Lent comes around. This is unfortunate, however, because fasting can be of great spiritual, emotional, and physical benefit throughout the whole year. I recently finished the longest fast I have ever attempted and wanted to share six insights I gained while doing it.
1. Fasting is a perfect retreat for those of us who are too busy to go on retreat. How many of us can make a week-long or even weekend-long retreats? As the modern world gets busier and more demanding it is more difficult to find time away to focus on our relationship with the Lord. What I found during my long fast was that even while at work or running errands it was easier to focus on the Lord. It was like that small feeling of hunger was a reminder of the presence of God and of the availability of myself. I found myself praying more and even having more clear discernment on things. It was basically like being on retreat for five days. When I finished I even had the same feeling of being refreshed that I get after being on retreat. I am not advocating replacing an annual retreat with fasting but if you have no other choice it is a great option.
2. "I could never do a full fast because . . ." Fasting is difficult, there is no question about that, but most of the difficulties go away after about twenty-four hours. Headaches, aches, dizziness, etc. all pretty much go away after about twenty-four hours of fasting. I am sure there are medical reasons not to try a black fast but most of us can do it and just need to try. I understand more than anyone about being "hangry" (hungry/angry) but fasting often brings to the surface deeper problems we need to work on.
3. Fasting quiets our prayer. I have said it before and I will probably say it again--fasting helps mental prayer. I cannot tell you how many people who have asked about struggles in mental prayer that have solved them through fasting. Most people doubt the advice at first but it honestly can help rid our minds of distraction during prayer. I do not know why it works, but it does. On the longer fast I found it helped more and more the longer I fasted.
4. Fasting and Holy Communion are an awesome combination. Receiving communion during a fast was for me a very special experience. Fasting creates a spiritual and physical longing and because of the genius of our faith we can be satisfied in both ways. Like many beautiful aspects of our faith, fasting is both spiritual and physical and the physical influences the spiritual. Holy Communion is the same. When these two meet it is really extraordinary. Particularly during the long fast, receiving communion was just an incredible sensation both spiritually and physically. You really get a tangible experience of what it means to be satisfied by the Lord alone.
5. Fasting and "Blessed are the poor." When you fast there is a constant thought about not having the food you normally would. For some reason it also makes me think of the other ways I am impoverished. It is like I finally see the empty cup of my soul that needs to be filled. Fasting is a way to become poor in spirit.
6. Fasting and Solidarity. Most of the major struggles with fasting go away after a day or two but at least once a day or in the middle of the night I experienced intense hunger. I am such a wuss and it was a real struggle. I could not help but think about those people who have been without food but also had no end of the hunger in site. I found myself praying a lot more for the truly poor of the third world. Fasting helped me to see that I have so much and I take it for granted.
I cannot recommend it enough to you to try a longer fast than you normally would. When I finished I felt both physically and spiritually rested. I cannot wait to try it again.
P.S. If you decide to try fasting please remember me in your prayers. God bless you!
Recently my life has been pulled into two distinct and seemingly opposite realities. One is that we have begun perpetual Eucharistic Adoration at St. Bonaventure for Lent. I have three assigned hours per week, but I also fill in for hours when others can not make it. Even when I am not there, I live across the street and feel a great tug on my heart to be there all day.
The other direction tugging at me is the almost constant barrage of medical testing and appointments for my daughter Louisa and my son Max. This direction began as the exact opposite of the peaceful tugging of adoration, because it is filled with ups and downs and a doom of sadness, or at least a life full of questions without answers.
At first, one was serving the other. I recovered from the exposure to suffering by exposing myself to the one who suffered for me. But each time I entered His presence, I found myself weaker and more injured. It wasn't a sustainable balance I was striking--basically letting myself drown in doubt, worry and sadness, and then letting the Lord resucitate me. One morning in particular I left adoration at 4am and by the time I grabbed my door knob at home, a mere 20 seconds later, I was completely filled with worry and doubt. There had to be a better way. The very next day the Lord responded with a question: "Do you have the courage to let love consume all?" I knew exactly what he meant. One of the worst realities of suffering are the questions: Will my daughter be ok? Will she walk? Will my son ever run like his brothers? Why did this happen? Could we have done something? Will I ever be happy again? What will the next test show? Why? Why? Who? Much of suffering comes from over complicating life. We ask questions that we may very well deserve answers to, and we try desperately to relieve ourselves. While these are both reasonable and natural inclinations, are they totally necessary? What is absolutely necessary in any given situation? The answer: love. The only real necessity in life is that we love. We do not need answers, we do not need relief. Sometimes they come, of course, but we are talking about absolute necessity. The absolute necessity of any given situation is that we love Jesus Christ and those in front of us: that we fill each moment with love.
There are many responses to suffering, and I have tried almost all of them. I have tried to run from it. I have tried to pretend it is not true. I have tried to drink it away, eat it away, work it away. I have also tried healthy ways of dealing with it. With great faith I pray that my son and my daughter will be healed. I have used hope, thinking: "in heaven we will all be new and healed," hoping that will take the pain away. Some of this gave me relief, but I needed something more. The answer was to let love consume every single moment.
This is not a new idea. You can find versions of what I am saying in the thought of many saints. I have recently been convicted of this again by the writings of Jacques Phillipe. He says:
"But the Holy Spirit takes a hand, and then: "What is God asking of me in all this?" Or: "Where are the most faith, hope and love to be found?" These are questions that have answers--if not at least for today. And that is enough."
Finally in this solution I am finding peace and fulfillment. It is scary to wonder if my son will be healed. My response is to pour love into that moment. It is terrifying to wonder about my daughter's future: my response is not to wonder, but to love. It is oppressing to look at a day that will be consumed by appointments, when I want to be here at the parish evangelizing. My response is to spend that day loving. This is not ethereal, new age or an over simplification. It is simply responding to pain by suspending my demand for answers and relief and saying to the Lord: "How can I be faithful to you and love my best in this moment?" This is not sticking my head in the sand and not dealing with imminent realities. In fact, I would say I have received more real answers from this mode of life than trying to hash them out on my own. Letting love consume all has finally satisfied me. Those times I struggle now with the sadness and pain, I have trained myself to ask "Am I over-complicating this? Why can't I just be faithful in this situation and abandon myself fully to God's will without reserve?"
Recently, Amber and I were walking in to the boys' room to tuck them
in for bed. Before we entered we heard Max say to his brother Sam, "I wish I could stand and walk, Sam." As Max gets older, we've heard several of these comments, and they usually completely wreck me for days and days. This was not really different at first. It was like getting punched in the gut. I was heartbroken and speechless. I just sat there until about 2am asking for answers and begging God for mercy. I thought about Max not getting to play basketball or be a soldier or live out his dreams like every other little boy. It was then that I came to myself and remembered my "safety" question: "What is absolutely necessary?" and the answer came as it always does: Love. Love me and remain in my love. This finally is an eternal solution. One that will last forever. God is teaching me the true meaning of love. There is no situation where it is not applicable and no thirst it can not quench. A life completely consumed by love is available to all of us. Those who have the courage to let every moment, situation, hurt, joy inconvenience and breath be consumed by it will be eternally satisfied.
Faith will end in seeing. Hope will end in receiving but love never ends.
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity has become one of my very favorite Saints. She has been known as the “Prophet of the Presence” or the “Prophet of the Divine Indwelling”. She is a really important saint for our times. Her writings are filled with lessons that are incredibly pertinent to the maladies of modern day catholics. Here are six quotes that I think we can draw so much wisdom from. I’ll add some thoughts below each quote.
“Of what importance is feeling? Perhaps you are all the closer when I feel you less.” Unfortunately emotivism is so prevalent as a rule of faith now. We base so much of our faith on feelings. In my limited experience of the spiritual life feelings are a terrible gauge for our closeness to God or the health of our soul.
“May my life be a continual prayer, a long act of love.” Echoing “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence, Elizabeth practiced a continual recognition on the indwelling Trinity. She constantly reverenced the presence of God within her soul.
“During painful times, when you feel a terrible void, think how the capacity of your soul is being enlarged so that it can receive God- becoming as it were, infinite as God is infinite.” Modern man has a tendency to avoid suffering at all costs and in every way. I have learned in my own life that the greatest moments of grace come after God has tilled the soil of our hearts with suffering. I almost desire it now because I know that suffering has become one of the greatest graces of my life. I do not yet suffer well but I definitely recognize that each inconvenience and suffering has meaning.
“You will never be commonplace if you are vigilant in love.” The current obsession with being unique is a hopeless pursuit when it is driven by our own efforts. On the other hand, God creates a beautifully unique tapestry out of our souls when we turn our lives over to His love. Have you ever wondered how there can be so many unique saints? Love is always new and alway exciting.
“I go to him as a baby goes to his mother so that he can fill me and invade all and take me in his arms.” I just love the part of this phrase that says, “invade all”. It is a common plea of my heart for God to conquer me. At times I feel this is the only viable option. To invade me like an army and take captive those things out of line with a life of discipleship.
“O consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, come upon me, and create in my soul a kind of incarnation of the Word: that I may be another humanity for Him in which He can renew His whole mystery.” So much here. Her great desire is that she would be wholly given over to Christ. That she would be a living mystery of the gospel message renewing the world as Christ did.
“Forget self, give up self, ignore self, look at the Master, look only at Him, accept as coming directly from His love both joy and suffering.” Boom! Accepting joys from God’s love and attributing suffering to no cause at all is so easy. But to look at both joy and suffering as a gift of love from God is where “the rubber meets the road”. No matter what life has brought you look at it as a gift coming directly from the love of God.
Elizabeth of the Trinity: Pray for us!
Here are four prayers I use regularly for Spiritual Warfare and in Deliverance ministry. You could use them for any situation where the action of evil is detected. I will add some thoughts after each prayer. Prayers are italicized. My comments are bolded.
BREASTPLATE OF ST. PATRICK
I arise today Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, Through belief in the Threeness, Through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.
I arise today Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism, Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial, Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension, Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today Through the strength of the love of cherubim, In the obedience of angels, In the service of archangels, In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward, In the prayers of patriarchs, In the predictions of prophets, In the preaching of apostles, In the faith of confessors, In the innocence of holy virgins, In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through The strength of heaven, The light of the sun, The radiance of the moon, The splendor of fire, The speed of lightning, The swiftness of wind, The depth of the sea, The stability of the earth, The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through God's strength to pilot me, God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak for me, God's hand to guard me, God's shield to protect me, God's host to save me From snares of devils, From temptation of vices, From everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and near.
I summon today all these powers between me and those evils, Against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and soul, Against incantations of false prophets, Against black laws of pagandom, Against false laws of heretics, Against craft of idolatry, Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards, Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul; Christ to shield me today, Against poison, against burning, Against drowning, against wounding, So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, Through belief in the Threeness, Through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation. Amen.
This is a wonderful prayer of protection and it is very thorough. One particular line from this prayer that I like is the phrase: “Against black laws of pagandom”. It is a troubling thought that most would believe this was an unreality or would feel it was inappropriate to mention, but there are individuals who are not only living immorally but who have also adopted a new law of darkness. These people give themselves over to evil and target Christians with spells, sacrifices, curses, etc. There is a kingdom of darkness and this line should remind us of that.
The Original Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel
Taken from the Raccolta
O Glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare, which we carry on against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, and spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist Thee, nor was there place for them any longer in heaven. That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan, who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men; his depraved mind, corrupt heart, his spirit of lying, impiety, blasphemy, his pestilential breath of impurity and of every vice and iniquity. These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the Spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered. Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate Thee as their protector and patron; in Thee Holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious power of hell; to Thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent who is the devil and Satan, do Thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.
V. Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered, hostile powers.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered, the root of David.
V. Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord
R. As we have hoped in Thee.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee
LET US PRAYGod, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy name, and we humbly implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin Immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious Archangel St. Michael, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all other unclean spirits, who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of souls. Amen.
Many of us are familiar with the shorter version of the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. This longer version was written by Pope Leo XIII after a vision of Satan. I have memorized this prayer and use it often in deliverance ministry. This prayer is contained within the Raccolta and is licit for lay people to pray. It is important, however, to distinguish between this and the Leonine Exorcism, which is very similar. The Leonine exorcism should not be prayed by lay people.
August Queen of Heaven
August Queen of Heaven, sovereign queen of Angels, you who at the beginning received from God the power and the mission to crush the head of Satan, we beseech you humbly, send your holy legions so that,
on your orders and by your power, they will track down demons, fight them everywhere, curb their audacity and plunge them into the abyss.
Who can be compared to God? Oh good and tender Mother, you will always be our love and our hope. Oh divine Mother,
send the Holy Angels and Archangels to defend me and to keep the cruel enemy far from me. Holy Angels and Archangels defend us,
protect us. Amen.
I cannot think of a situation where this prayer would not be efficacious. I use it most often as a diagnostic tool or prayer to help with discernment of the presence or action of evil. It was given by Mary to Blessed Fr. Louis Cestac in 1864. It is the very first prayer I turn to when someone requests prayer because of some evil in their life or the life of a loved one.
A Prayer for St. Josephs Protection
Most watchful Guardian of the Holy Family, protect the chosen people of Jesus Christ. Keep far from us, most loving Father, all blight of error and corruption. Mercifully assist us from Heaven, most mighty defender, in this our conflict with the powers of darkness; and even as of old thou didst rescue the Child Jesus from the supreme peril of His life, so now defend God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity. Keep us one and all under thy continual protection, that, supported by thine example and thine assistance, we may be enabled to live a holy life, die a happy death, and come at last to the possession of everlasting blessedness in Heaven.
One of St. Joseph’s titles is “Scourge of Demons”. This is because he was given the job of protecting the Blessed Mother and the child Jesus at their most vulnerable. He was up to the challenge then and is still up to the challenge of protecting us from the plans of evil. I do not know the origin of this prayer, but I know it is an ancient prayer. I often ask for St. Joseph to hide those liberated from evil the way he hid his family in Egypt. St. Joseph is one of the key characters in the drama of spiritual warfare.
When I am alone, I usually say these prayers out loud but when I am praying for another person in a possible deliverance situation I usually pray them in my heart. They have brought great grace to my life and I pray they will to yours as well.
Please say a prayer that Mary would crush the serpent in my life and I will do the same for all of you.
For the past four years one of the main ways I have supported my family is by giving a talk entitled: “The Catholic Truth about Angels, Demons, Exorcism, Ghosts and Hauntings.” I draw from my experience assisting priests with exorcisms and deliverances to bring light to a subject that is widely misunderstood, yet at the same time obsessed over, by most of the culture that we live in.
I do not particularly enjoy speaking about the devil and the battle with evil. For years I chose not to, but what changed my mind is that the culture we live in is carrying on the conversation about this topic already, and the Catholic Church has the only comprehensive and safe teachings on it. Furthermore, this teaching is not expressed in an exhaustive or credible way anywhere that is accessible to most lay people. I do not think there is a single topic where there is so much bad or misleading information; and even the good sources cannot go deep enough to do it justice. So, I began giving this talk in the hope of trying to accomplish a few goals for the people that hear it. Over the years I have given it enough to refine it and refine it again. I have gotten every different kind of feedback on this talk, from negative to positive, and from far too negative to far too positive. I’d like to try and express some perspectives I have gained from speaking about the devil across the country.
1. Belief in the devil or demons cannot be assumed, but it must be insisted upon. There is always one person who is constantly rolling their eyes in disgust while I speak. They usually voice their concern afterwards like this: “ You don’t actually expect me to believe that demons are real and try to influence us.” My response is this: “Actually, I do expect it, and so does Church teaching. The Devil’s existence has been affirmed by Church councils and can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. So when you roll your eyes thinking I am a weirdo, you should realize that I am just relaying the teaching of the Church.
2. Knowing that evil spirits exist does not mean we know everything about them. “So if the Devil and demons are real why can’t you answer everything about them and know definitively when their action is present or not?” This obsession with understanding everything does not always get satisfied. There are plenty of mysteries in the world we live in that we might think we understand, but we don’t. This is one of them. The Catechism affirms: “It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity…” (CCC 395)
3. The existence of evil spirits does not mean we should assume their involvement in every temptation or behind every tragedy. (Often, temptations occur simply because concupiscence is at work in our human nature.) I stress this constantly during my talks but no matter how I say it, someone always assumes that I believe the opposite.
4. Evil spirits do, however, involve themselves in trying to thwart our work. This means that there will be times, if we are working to build the kingdom, when the demons may cause inconveniences and trouble and these can be something small or something major.
5. Talking about diabolical activity can be dangerous outside of the context of God’s great story. People like to be scared. I am convinced that we control so much in our life that some people just want to know of the existence of things like possession and ghosts as a form of entertainment. I give this talk because I believe this topic is a great segue into sharing God’s story of salvation. Talking about the devil outside of this context leads to superstition, legalism and fear.
6. The soul in right relationship with God and the Church should not fear the devil. Period. I am not going to budge on this. In fact, the opposite is true--Satan is afraid of a soul aflame with the love of God. Most of the people who speak on this topic take the opposite stance but I know from years of experience the devil wants us to be afraid of him.
7. The Soul who is not in right relationship with God and the Church should fear the devil very much. Did I just negate point number five? No! If you aren’t living a life of grace then you absolutely should be afraid of the devil. You essentially lower the hedge of grace that protects us. Satan is constantly looking for someone outside the bounds of grace to destroy.
8. One of the most important points to get across is that the most harm a demon can do to you is in the form of temptation. Obsession, possession, vexation and infestation are horribly graphic ways the devil attacks people and this is what we see in the movies and usually hear about; but it would be a mistake to worry more about those things than temptation. The demons’ job is to get you estranged from God and dead as soon as possible. The soul in mortal sin is in much worse danger than the possessed person who has repented of sin.
9. The sacraments are the way to victory over evil. But this does not mean that there is not a place for spiritual warfare prayers, minor and major exorcisms, and the like. Oftentimes the path to victory is that these sacramentals help us to gain greater freedom to enter into the sacraments and when the Lord frees us, we will be free indeed.
It certainly is not easy to walk the line between these distinctions in an hour and fifteen-minute talk, but they are important distinctions to make. The most important point of all is that Christ has conquered and the more we let the redemption of Christ take hold of our hearts, the more we will gain victory.
“Take courage, I have conquered the world.” John 16:33
Dave VanVickle is a Catholic speaker and writer focusing on the Universal Call to Holiness and Authentic Catholic Spirituality. He is currently employed as the Director of Evangelization for the parishes of the Catholic Community of Wexford, PA.