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WHEN EVIL ATTACKS PERSONALLY, A SHIELD IS BUILT THROUGH THE SACRAMENTS AND LOVE
In the last installment, we covered some of the spiritual dangers posed to our society by the evil in our age, as spelled out in an intriguing new book by a priest, Father Joseph M. Esper, from the Detroit area, who has the approval of his bishop for this work.
He spoke of human monitoring. He spoke of the "microchip." He spoke of potential abuse and persecution via societal means.
We don't know what to make of every aspect, but we do know that his major point -- the rise of evil -- is obvious all around us. People are speaking to each other sharply. Evil has infiltrated everywhere. There are apparitions that may be deceptions -- demonic. There is the New Age. It's difficult to turn to any secular website without being hit with links to something occult or something sexual. Our children face an onslaught!
What about spiritual attack on a more personal level?
Here, Father Esper is especially intriguing.
Evil spirits, he notes, come at us in many ways. They may come through those who are jealous. They may come from past transgressions. They may come through the generations.
We must wage war with them, says the priest: combat.
"God has given us powerful spiritual weapons -- and these can be discussed in terms of what we might call 'spiritual guerilla warfare,'" he writes in Spiritual Dangers of the 21st Century. "Guerillas of course are resistance fighters who are used to being outnumbered and outgunned; rather than letting themselves be overwhelmed in a head-on fight, they choose their battles carefully.
"In a spiritual sense, this is what Jesus was talking about when He called His followers to be as 'shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves' (Matthew 10:16)."
"I suspect one of the things that will surprise us when we get to Heaven is the discovery of how truly dangerous hatred and sin are, and how infinitely much more powerful love is.
"In this regard, there are such spiritual realities as curses, spells, hexes, and other negative influences, and these can take on a life of their own, sometimes lasting for several generations or more [our emphasis].
"They always end up hurting the people who use, utter, or initiate them, for the simple reason that we can never upset God's Order of Creation by doing evil without paying a painful price.
"However, if we're the innocent targets, sometimes curses can also have a negative effect on us, even if we don't believe in them or are unaware of what's happening."
"The only defense is to follow Jesus' command to love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44).
"When we love others in Christ's Name -- especially persons who may be trying to hurt us -- we limit their ability to do us any spiritual harm.
"We can spiritually protect ourselves from people who hate us and who may seek to do us spiritual harm simply by loving them and, of course, by remaining in a state of grace, receiving the sacraments regularly, and by frequently praying for God's guidance and protection.
"Love becomes something like a spiritual mirror, reflecting any negative energy back to its sources."
The more we love, the less we fear.
Love, in other words, says the priest, becomes a "shield."
But we should not love for that reason.
We should love simply to love (not looking for a result).
"Praying each day, reading the Bible, attending Mass, receiving Communion and Confession regularly, spending time in Eucharistic Adoration, learning more about our faith, promoting and defending the truths of Catholicism, associating with other people of strong faith and morals, giving a good example to others, helping others in need, faithfully fulfilling our duties in life without grumbling or complaining, offering up our sufferings and struggles as sacrifice for the conversion of sinners, practicing the corporal works of mercy, accepting every opportunity life presents to us with patience and humility, and striving to overcome our faults and to grow in virtue" cause more protection around us, says Father Esper, who offers advice on going to Confession, sacramentals, and prayers to the saints.
Much of this we know much about. But how often do we focus on love?
Can we love those who dislike or hate or are jealous of us?
The great success is when we can do so from the heart.
Then, we are truly in His Will -- and then, too, we can move a mountain; we can slay the lion.
Let us add the assistance of the Blessed Mother, who crushes the serpent (as her name at Guadalupe implies) and who clears evil debris from around us.
Many have forgotten the Hail Holy Queen -- which brings special power when power is needed.
We also forget that spirits incite us to emotions because they draw actual energy from it.
"Satan is counting on us responding to his servants in a spirit of fear, anger, and hatred, for this will end up increasing his power," says the book, which has the ecclesiastical approval of Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Michigan. "If instead we respond with love, peace, and trust, the devil's plan is thwarted."
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