For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. – Ephesians 6:12
This scripture gives us a picture of the invisible air that surrounds us, and those spiritual beings who occupy it. From the moment we were born, there has been a battle raging for each one of our souls. God has given us a guardian angel to protect and guide us through this life. To lead us on the path towards God and away from the world. But the devil’s main objective is to steal our souls. Demons were once angles who fell. Paragraph 414 of the Catechism of The Catholic Church states:
Satan or the devil and the other demons are fallen angels who freely refused to serve God and his plan. Their Choice against God is definitive. They try to associate man in their revolt against God.
Because they were once angels, demons still retain the supernatural powers God gave them before they fell, and they use them to tempt us towards sin. God limits those powers but even so they are far more intelligent than we are. They observe us and are therefore privy to our weaknesses, and they use those flaws to pull us into sin, and tear us away from God. They whisper lies into our minds and do everything in their power to influence us into their way of thinking. They never grow weary, and they will never stop trying to destroy us until we die.
The World and the Occult
It cannot be denied that in the world today what is good is seen as bad, and what is bad is seen as good. This sad reality has been accepted by many people, but it is an epidemic among our youth and young adults. There are a lot of things I could focus on here but I am going to choose one, which is actually multi-faceted: the occult or the New Age movement. It is presented as a good and has been interwoven into our culture today. Many people are drawn into the occult because the world makes it so attractive and accessible.
It has infiltrated even the Catholic Church. I googled Catholic retreats and what I found shocked me. There is a long list of pagan and Eastern religious practices taking place at these centers. They include energy therapies, yoga, labyrinth, mindfulness training, centering prayer, meditation halls, training workshops, eco-spirituality, and more. These forms of meditation actually come from non-Christian religions. For example, the Labyrinth comes from Geek mythology, centering prayer comes from Buddhism, and yoga comes from Hinduism. None of these have anything to do with Catholicism, yet they being taught in Catholic retreat centers. It gives the laity searching for God a false sense of security, and opens them up to false gods and religions that are totally contrary to the Catholic faith. Lay people put their trust in the Church; if these new age beliefs are presented to them as acceptable, then they will most likely believe and use them. These practices are a mockery of the true faith. They are mixing different gods and religions with Catholicism. It is a deception not only of the faithful, but also those perpetuating these heresies.
A person does not have to take a workshop or learn centering prayer to achieve peace. Coming to truly know and love God in the depths of our hearts isn’t learned; it is His free gift to all of us. All you have to do is pray. Sit quietly in adoration and pray, and you will be brought to contemplation. That is not something you have to learn; it is simply the fruit of consistent prayer before our Lord in the Eucharist. Jesus is the one true God, you are not going to find Him in yoga and meditations based on Eastern religions. These practices are “I” centered not God centered. If meditation is placed on anything other than Christ, it may open a door to the demonic.
There are also some common new age practices we see every day including dreamcatchers, crystals, horoscopes, astrology, numerology, psychics, tarot cards and I could go on. People do not know the dangers they put themselves in by participating in these occult practices. The devil uses deception to pull people away from God. One example is people who wear shiny stones around their necks thinking it is going to transmit cosmic energy into them, thereby spiritually enhancing their lives. That is just impossible, yet people believe it is true so they do it anyway. The devil’s deception is working. These things are idols that take the place of Jesus Christ. God commands us: “You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
Power of Witchcraft
I read an article recently about witches who have started gathering across the country to begin a ritualistic attack against President Donald Trump. I think it is essential to point out that witchcraft is a very real and powerful form of black magic. I know this personally because I was spiritually attacked by witchcraft. I had no idea what was happening to me or why my life was so out of control. During those years, God taught me so much about the evils that exist and how to defeat them. At first, I didn’t believe in witches. So, I understand that there are going to be people who will also find it hard to believe, but witches are real. They are people who have chosen to serve Satan in exchange for worldly favors and supernatural powers that give them the ability to secretly harm or control others. Father Garbriele Amorth said, “Just as Christ gave his apostles and their followers specific powers for the good of the body and the soul, so Satan gives specific powers to his followers for the destruction of the body and the soul.” An Exorcist Tells His Story Pg. 30. We can see then that witchcraft is a much darker form of the occult. It is real and can cause great harm and even death to the innocent who are attacked by it.
Anyone using magic is practicing witchcraft. There are different forms of witchcraft and some are more powerful than others. Satanism is the worship of Satan and it is one of the most powerful forms of witchcraft. They perform rituals and black masses in mockery of the Catholic Church. There is also Voodoo and Santeria, which are both a mix of Catholicism and African Magic. Again we see a mockery of the Catholic faith and its practices. Wiccans do not believe in the devil, they focus on the earth and goddess worship. This doesn’t mean Wicca is any less dangerous, they are still calling on evil spirits to do their bidding whether they acknowledge that or not. Wiccans use pentagrams and magic, which you also find in Satanism. Father Gabrielle Amorth states that “It is not necessary to become a Satanist in order to serve the devil and become one of his followers. There are many, alas, who do not officially consecrate themselves to Satan but choose to follow his basic principle, and as a result they place their souls at great risk.” An Exorcist Explains The Demonic pg. 34. This statement shows us that all forms of the occult, whether one believes in the devil or not, reject God and have the potential to lead to eternal suffering in hell.
There is no way I could cover everything concerning the New Age and the occult movement in one article. But I hope I have given a good picture of the basics. If we make ourselves aware of what is happening in our parishes, in retreat centers, prayer groups and even within our own homes, then that is a great start in protecting ourselves from these dangers.
My own personal experience as a victim of witchcraft taught me some very good lessons. If you are uneasy or uncertain about something, then follow your instincts and do not engage in it. People say don’t rely on feelings, but I am living proof that you will feel the existence of evil when it is around you. Pray and God will guide you as to what to do. Parents pay attention to what your kids are involved in and ask questions. My son’s friends once wanted to use the Ouija board and he refused because we had talked about it; otherwise he probably would have done it. The devil does not rest, he continually pursues us and if we are not alert then we will be caught up in his trap. We have been given the power to defeat the enemy through the name of our Lord Jesus. As we read in the Gospel of Luke: “The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.’” Luke 10:17