Spiritual warfare is something many Christians avoid. It is little understood and poorly portrayed in movies such as the original Exorcist. In the movie, the Exorcist, the priest, Fr. Karras, the Jesuit psychiatrist challenges the demon to enter him in order to save the possessed little girl. The movie was based on a real-life life possession, however, the Exorcist never challenged the demon and neither should any faithful person entering into spiritual warfare.
Every Day Evil Challenges Us
The world, the flesh and the devil are all very real challenges we must face daily as Christians. We have an eye on the present and hope for future glory with God in heaven. But the world, the flesh and the devil get in the way every day. We may not notice it but it subtly creeps in our every day lives. Many pious folks wake up every morning with the intention to do God’s will and avoid sin that day. At the end of the day, if we do a sincere examination of conscience we will find many flaws and faults, moments we fell and moments we were victorious.
Spiritual warfare is not only engaged in by priests, exorcists, deacons or very holy people. No, it should be part of every Christian’s every day battle against the world, the flesh and the devil. Spiritual battles are not only fought against the demons it is also a battle against fallen, broken human nature and against the pull of the world.
Jesus And The Holy Spirit Fight The Battle
While the Church does not recommend for the faithful to enter into battle with Satan and his minions for many good reasons, we do have authority and power in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit who are the Ones fighting the battle. Remember, demons are fallen angels. They are stronger and more intelligent than human beings are. Entering into a battle alone with even one of these creatures is a bad idea, it could even be fatal. This is why the Church has strict guidelines regarding exorcisms. The demons will know when a priest is acting in disobedience and without the authority of the Church should he perform an unauthorized exorcism. Obedience to authority has the utmost of importance when fighting the evil ones. There is a hierarchy of authority in heaven, in the Church and even among demons. Even in the spirit world, there is no such thing as anarchy, although the enemy does try and inspire such ideas. Disobedience and rebellion are cloaked in anarchy, which is packaged in rebellion and formulated in pride, the first major faults of Lucifer. Lucifer was jealous, prideful and rebellious and look where it got him.
Weapons for Warfare
The faithful have power and authority as baptized Christians. Our power is in Jesus and the weapons He and the Church have given us. One of the most powerful prayers to invoke against the enemies of our souls after the Our Father, Hail Mary, and the Rosary is the St. Michael prayer. The best defense is living a holy life, make frequent use of the Sacraments, especially holy confession, assist attentively and with love at Mass and have a spirit of humility. Self-denial, fasting and having a good self-awareness is another good remedy against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Prioritizing what is truly important and doing all things with the love of Christ will certainly help. That does not ensure bad things won’t happen to good people. It does not ward off temptation. But, as Scripture tells us, resist the devil and he will flee from you.
St. Francis And The Stigmata
By the time this is published it will be the Transitus of St. Francis of Assisi (October 3rd) or his actual feast day (October 4th). St. Francis was an excellent example of the model we could look to in fighting against the world, the flesh and the devil. He imitated Christ so well that he was blessed to have received the very painful stigmata. He embodied the Christ he loved. He imitated Him so well that Jesus in the form of a Seraphim pierced Francis’ flesh. Francis was filled with joy. Francis was attacked by demons, as was Padre Pio another great Franciscan stigmatist but they resisted and the demons fled. Sometimes they were left bloodied but they grew stronger in Christ.
Before You Get Out of Bed Consecrate Yourselves
Spiritual warfare begins the moment you open your eyes in the morning. Upon waking, make the sign of the cross and consecrate yourself to the Lord and our Blessed Mother for the day. Think of them often throughout the day and google a daily Scripture reading to meditate on. Think about the Lord, Our Lady and the saints all day as you would a new love. Can you remember when you first fell in love? How that person was always on your mind? Fall in love with the Lord all over again, keep Him in mind all day, all night. In Jesus, our Citadel, we find protection, safety, and peace.
Many People Are Suffering Oppression
Many people suffer oppression from demonic forces. They suffer real battles day and night. Nighttime is a particularly hard time for people besieged by demonic attacks. Some believe it is because the veil between our world and the spirit world becomes thin. Perhaps it is because there is darkness and like a coin, spiritual dimensions have two sides, the light, and the dark. There is life and death, sun and moon, day and night. Scripture records the departure of Judas from the Last Supper with the line, “and it was night” John 13:30. This has always held particular significance for me as I pray The Stations of the Cross and read Scripture every Holy Thursday outside the Church under a brightly lit moon after the Lord’s Supper. If you meditate carefully enough on that fateful night you can almost imagine yourself with the Lord in the Garden.
Evil becomes bold in the darkness. It can not be readily seen but you know its there. Evil is referred to as the “Power of Darkness”. Maybe this is why so many people who are oppressed suffer more intensely at night. So many people suffer attacks at night, especially those who may have addictions, compulsive habits or are ill or in pain physically or emotionally. For those folks, I recommend having a texting friend who is in love with Jesus and is willing to pray with you.
I was blessed to have friends in my parish who were there for me as I was recovering from injuries sustained in a car accident. Many times, at 3 AM I would be in excruciating pain suffering from despair and depression. I would text my friends from the Church telling them I needed prayer and my friends Chickie and Maria would immediately respond with – “I have your back, I’m praying the Rosary for you right now”, or Divine Mercy, or both. This was a great relief to me. I knew that I had intercessors helping me fight. If you don’t have the luxury of having anyone available day and night then I suggest you pick a favorite saint, your guardian angel or the poor souls in purgatory. They will help you. Remember the Eucharistic Prayer III, “You are indeed Holy, O Lord, … and with all the Saints, on whose constant intercession in your presence we rely for unfailing help.” Unfailing help! I pray the Mass along with the priest and when I get to those words I get choked up with emotion because God loves us so much that he provides such powerful intercessors who never fail us.
Life Is Full Of Seasons
Life is full of seasons. When things are going great we can proclaim with great joy about the blessings of almighty God in our lives. When we are being besieged by evils, it is much harder to do but we should do it. Being a Christian does not insulate us from temptations, failure, pain, and hardship. There are seasons, good and bad and nothing lasts forever. When Jesus was in the desert tempted by Satan, He resisted the evil one by quoting Scripture, and the Bible records that Satan left Him for a season. Being tried and tempted is part of life.
When evil comes knocking and we manage to resist, survive, fail, fall down and get up again we become tried like gold in the fire. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Satan leaves for a season but he comes back and if we can manage to keep our eyes and hearts on Jesus, we will be able to weather every storm. And always remember our heavenly friends, whose constant intercession in the Blessed Trinity’s presence we rely for unfailing help. Unfailing help! Amen.