“I must tell you what has happened to me during the past two nights. I had a very bad time… From about ten o’clock, when I went to bed, until five o’clock in the morning, that wretch did nothing but beat me continually. He presented to my mind many diabolical suggestions, thoughts of despair , distrust in God.”
We may have trouble sleeping sometimes, but these experiences that St. Padre Pio had would have done more than keep us awake. We would have been scared to death, for this villain who left him bloodied, bruised, and swollen was none other than the Devil.
“But praise be to Jesus, for I defended myself by saying to him repeatedly: “your wounds are my merit.” St. Pio knew that the Devil was more afraid than he was , and was frustrated that this holy priest was saving many souls by prayer and hard work in the Confessional. Holiness scares the Devil.
The Real Battle
Satan is a real person, who works together with the other devils and demons to try to overcome good with evil. Satan and the other devils rejected God, and eternal happiness, so their goal is to bring many human beings to share in their misery by also rejecting God as well and being condemned to Hell.
It is a real life-and-death battle, where the eternal destiny of souls is at stake. Satan is working hard, but he knows he is losing. God is more powerful, and has already won the battle with Christ’s victory over death and sin. Nonetheless, no one is completely safe on earth, and we must continue to be vigilant in this war.
Where he is more nervous
In spite of the fact that we see some evil people affected by the Devil, Satan is actually more apparent in the lives of many people who are close to God. He is terrified by this closeness to God and to God’s goodness.
We especially see the Devil at work in the life of Christ. We see how the demons panic at the presence of Christ. We also see the Devil openly trying to get Jesus to stumble and fall.
In the Gospel Christ teaches us how the Devil works, and uncovers his plans. Christ shows us that Satan works through deception and fear; sneaking and hiding from the truth.
Not so fast…!
One of the Devil’s deceits is that he is more powerful than God, or God’s equal.
But, the truth is that God is more powerful. However, unlike Satan, he does not use his power to cause terror, but rather, good. He guides our lives through his lovingprovidence and brings us closer to him.
The Father shows us in the life of Christ that even our weakness allows God’s strength to be more visible. Christ seemed weak and seemed to be under the Devil’s power when he was tortured and crucified. But this was a plan to defeat Satan and free us from his grip.
The Devil makes us want to feel powerful, to think we can control the future and the present instead of trusting God. He tempted Adam and Eve with the promise of power to know more, if they would go against God. He tries to tempt us to use fortune-telling, Ouija boards, and superstitious ways to know the future. He entices us to distrust God, and to think that God does not really want our good.
A key virtue in the fight
Humility is a virtue that God loves and the Devil hates, so when we practice this virtue Satan flees. The humble person does not try to know everything about the future. The real believer does not get mad at God when things go wrong. He trusts God, recognizing that he is our Creator and our Loving Father, and decides to let him be in control of his life.
When St. Padre Pio was attacked, he knew how to fight back: “The rosary is my weapon.” It is fascinating to see that Mary , a simple woman and an unlikely fighter, has such a powerful role in the fight against evil.
Satan is afraid of our Lady because he was never able to get near her. He was never able to make her sin. Her absolute trust in God showed in an unconditional “yes” to God’s will and his love, while the Devil said a selfish “no”. She crushed Satan without meaning to. Drawing close to Mary is a sure way to fight the Devil.
Other powerful allies in our fight against the Devil are the saints and angels. St. Michael the Archangel is a protector of Christians in a special way. Each saint helps us in our battle too, using the full spiritual weapons of heaven.
Real exorcists also remind us that Satan is expelled by the sacraments of Baptism andConfession. Fr. Gabriel Amorth, an experienced exorcist in Rome, tells that what the Devil fears most is a good Confession. Christ made us able to beat sin and Satan through this sacrament. A good Confession really makes us saints.
Have you ever noticed how much you feel peace in Mass or after a good Confession? Confession and the Eucharist are a source of peace. Christ is truly present there and reminds us that he is more powerful than sin and death. Feeding our life of gracethrough frequent reception of the Eucharist and Confession not only strengthens our spiritual lives, but it lessens the Devil’s power over us. Satan is afraid of any Catholic living the life of grace.
Preaching Christ is also a powerful way we overcome the Devil. The saints show us this.
We have a big role in preaching today. Often we have friends who play with dangerous things. If we charitably but firmly remind them that Christ is the true power and the peace that they are looking for, we can help them see the Devil’s tricks.
Pointing these friends to the sacraments and to prayer will give them the tools they need to find real peace and true strength . This often requires real moral courag e on our part, but we can offer them the best gift a friend can give: the peace of God’s strong, faithful love. We can remind them that anyone who fears the Devil, who has dabbled in superstitious things, only needs to come close to the sacraments to be strengthened again.
Drawing good out of evil
A recent movie, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, showed the story of a young girl who was actually possessed by the Devil. Possessions are not always due to accepting Satan, even though this can happen too. But sometimes this is not the person’s fault at all.
We do not have to be completely surprised at this, because it happens in the physical world as well. Look at a car accident. Remember the last time you got sick. It is not always the fault of the person. It is not a special punishment.
Like many saints who had to battle with the Devil, and like many sad things that happen, sometimes God allows this in order to bring about a greater good. In the case of dramatic manifestations of the Devil, these cases often help people to believe in God more, to trust his power, and to care more for others.
Those who have carried the unusual cross of having the Devil own their body for a time (even though he can never own their soul if they do not let him) have gained tremendous graces for the Church by their effort and fidelity.
Those who have allowed some level of evil in their lives through sin, but come back to Christ, gain tremendous merit before God, and gain graces for the Church.
Every priest is a powerful exorcist through the Sacrament of Confession and through preaching. He drives away many demons when people come to be reconciled with God or stirs conversion in their hearts. In special cases, however, the Bishop can designate a priest for the special role of an exorcist.
These priests have enormous confidence in God, knowing that the Devil is terribly afraid of Christ and the priest who is united to Christ.
Halloween means “the eve (evening) before All Hallows Day (All Saints Day).” During Halloween season, many people forget that the real celebration is November 1 st , All Saint’s Day. It is a celebration of the victory of all the saints, and the hope of our triumph as well.
The earliest Christians used to venerate those in their community who met the test of martyrdom and were successful in bearing witness to Christ till the end. They assigned special days to note the spiritual victory of each one who remained faithful under fear of death, but as the number of martyrs and saints grew, there were not enough days in the year to give each a feast day. Thus, one day was chosen to honor all the saints, both those known and those who were unnamed or unrecognized.
A celebration of holiness
For Christians, November can be a special time to renew our quest for holiness . We remember all the saints, and we remember all souls in general, especially those who have died but are waiting to arrive to Heaven.
The battle of their lives is over, but ours is still being waged, and the outcome has yet to be decided. We have the possibility of being holy, or of giving in to the tactics and temptations of the Devil. Christ tells us to not be afraid, because when we love him he drives out all fear, and drives the Devil away.
“All were struck with astonishment, and they began saying to one another: “What is there about his speech? He commands the unclean spirits with authority and power, and they leave.” (Luke 4: 36)
“Then war broke out in Heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. Although the dragon and his angels fought back, they were overpowered and lost their place in Heaven. “ (Revelation 12: 7-8)
“Our battle is not against human forces but against the principalities and powers, the rulers of this world of darkness, the evil spirits in regions above.” (Ephesians 6:12)
“The reason the Son of Man appeared was to destroy the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3: 8)
- 395 “The power of Satan is 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.”
- 2115 “…a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confi dently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the
- future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it.”
- 1673 “…Jesus performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power and offi ce of exorcizing. In a simple form,
- exorcism is performed at the celebration of Baptism.
- 1673 … The solemn exorcism, called “a major exorcism,” can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop.
- 1673 “…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.
- 1708 “By his Passion, Christ delivered us from Satan and from sin.
- 2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected… They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.
- 2024 Sanctifying grace makes us “pleasing to God.
“Satan suggests a triumphal messianism to Jesus, consisting in wonders… But Jesus’ choice, in total obedience to the Father’s will, is clear and unequivocal. (Pope John Paul II, General Audience, June 3, 1998)
“Jesus’ struggle with Satan, which began in the wilderness, continues throughout his life. One of his typical activities is precisely that of exorcist.” (Pope John Paul II, General Audience, June 3, 1998)
‘”May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle we are told about in the Letter to the Ephesians: ‘Draw strength from the Lord and from His mighty power’ (Ephesians 6:10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle, recalling before our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (Revelation 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had a very vivid recollection of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced a special prayer to St. Michael throughout the Church. Although this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.”’(Pope John Paul II, April 24th 1994 )
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host by the Divine Power of God – cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
SAINTS AND HEROES
BLESSED MOTHER THERESA OF CALCUTTA:
1910-1997. Mother Theresa worked among the poorest of the poor and was already considered a saint during her lifetime. Yet God allowed her to have severe spiritual trials during the last 50 years of her life. This may have been so that modern Christians understand that holiness does not always mean feeling holy. God asked her to experience constant temptations of lack of faith in Him and temptations of despair, yet her will remained fi rmly rooted in God. Apparently towards the end of her life the devil even tried to get access to her body during a time when she was very sick in the hospital one year before she died. Her bishop and spiritual director, also sick in the same hospital, ordered a priest to give her protection by performing a simple exorcism on her. The nuns who attended her reported that she was very happy about this and joined in the prayers. Calm returned to her body the same day.
ST. JOHN VIANNEY, Cure D’Ars:
1786-1859. St. John Baptist Vianney was born in the middle of the French Revolution, in 1786. He had to receive his First Communion secretly at age 13, because the Church was being persecuted. He was a simple shepherd who had little education, so when he felt called to the seminary he had trouble with the Latin and other subjects. However, he gained a reputation for his devoutness and holiness. As a priest, he watched over his fl ock, and was unafraid to speak the truth. People began to come from everywhere to hear him and have Confession with him, so much that he would spend 16 hours every day in the confessional. He often experience diabolical attacks, and taught the people how to resist temptations of the devil. He dedicated himself to the salvation of sinners until his death in 1869.
DESPAIR: Losing hope. Completely giving up. Not trusting in God’s goodness and help.
DESTINY: The result of one’s life. Final outcome.
VIGILANCE: Staying watchful or alert to danger or trouble.
PROVIDENCE: Guidance.God’s loving care for our lives and for our future.
HUMILITY: Recognizing that all the good in us comes from God. Considering yourself unimportant. Willingness to do God’s will.
SIMPLE: Not complicated, innocent.
UNCONDITIONAL: Without reserve, unlimited.
LIFE OF GRACE: Having Christ as Lord of our hearts. Love for him. Being free from any mortal sin.
SACRAMENTS: Sacred action that bring us sanctifying grace.
PRAYER: Dialogue with God. Listening attentively to God.
MORAL COURAGE: Bravery in living and defending the truth
MERIT: Something that deserves a reward, praise, or gratitude
CONFIDENCE: Firm belief, trust, certainty.
HOLINESS: Being like Christ. Living like Christ. Being authentically close to God.
EXORCISM: 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.
DIVINATION: The act of trying to foretell the future or explore the unknown by occult means.
1. What are some ways that the Devil influences society, and tries to keep people away from God?
3. What are some ways that you can fight the Devil?
4. What are some ways that you can help your family or friends fi ght evil and be on God’s side?