Dangers of the 21st Century,
by Fr. Joseph M. Esper, a powerful look at the way evil is attacking -- from
societal issues like the microchip, monitoring, genetic manipulation, possible
martial law, and New Age to personal attacks on the family by demons that in
some cases may come through the popular culture or down through generations! A
rare, candid, controversial look by a priest who has also written on the anti-christ.
WHILE TENDENCY IN CHURCH CAN BE TO MINIMIZE EVIL, BIBLE SPELLS OUT MANIFESTATIONS, REMEDY
The other day, after a Mass reading that dealt powerfully and solemnly with expelling demons, a priest gave a homily warning against blaming the devil when we sin. "The devil made me do it. The devil made me do it." (Remember that comedian's line in the 1960s?) Too often, he pointed out, we attribute what we do to demons.
The point about Satan is well-taken: we can't blame him for everything we do (and choose) through free will. Our sins are our sins.
But there are certainly demonic temptations (we recall these particularly during Lent) and we suggest that by far the larger problem is that too often we are flip about the devil (no pun intended, Mr. Wilson); evil goes "unblamed" vastly more than it gets blamed (see the recent uproar over a candidate who dared to mention its workings) -- and we additionally submit that the reading that day -- Monday, February 20, from Mark 9: 14-29 -- bears tremendous missed lessons in spiritual warfare.
"As Jesus came down from the mountain with Peter, James, John and approached the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and scribes arguing with them..." it starts. "Someone from the crowd answered him, 'Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit. Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid."
"I asked Your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so.' [Jesus] said to them in reply, 'O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him to Me.'" We see that deliverance and exorcism were constant in His ministry. "They brought the boy to Him. And when he saw Him, the spirit immediately threw the boy into convulsions. As he fell to the ground, he began to roll around and foam at the mouth." The devil made him do it. "Then [Jesus] questioned his father, 'How long has this been happening to him?' He replied, 'Since childhood. It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.'
"Jesus said to him, '''If you can!" Everything is possible to one who has faith.'" Then the boy's father cried out, 'I do believe, help my unbelief!' Jesus, on seeing a crowd rapidly gathering, rebuked the unclean spirit and said to it, "Mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again!' Shouting and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out. He became like a corpse, which caused many to say, 'He is dead!' But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up. When He entered the house, His disciples asked him in private, 'Why could we not drive the spirit out?' He said to them, 'This kind can only come out through prayer.'" (Actually, a more correct translation, still in some versions of the Bible, is "This kind can only come out through prayer and fasting"; somehow recent translations leave fasting out.)
Note the reaction of the demon. It even threatened the boy's life -- throwing him into water and fire. We see that demonism can cause bodily ailments. Seizures. Impediments of speech. Here is a great lesson for the modern Church that too often does not see evil. Can you imagine the effect if bishops were allowed to leave their offices and spend the majority of time among the people (like Jesus)?
How many in our own time commit "suicide" -- or shoot classmates? How many times, without protection -- without prayer -- do injuries and accidents afflict us?
Jesus emphasizes faith -- and shows that there is power in naming a demon.
How to protect? A viewer in New Mexico wrote to say, "I am a psychiatric technician (psych tech) and have worked on an inpatient behavioral health unit for going on eight years. I have begun to carry some blessed sacramentals in my pocket as well as a small bottle of Holy Water and have these with me whenever I work. I feel comforted and protected by them, and at times put Holy Water on my forehead or sprinkle a few drops at work. I feel also that they bring a positive influence in my interactions with patients. I pray before I go to work, asking the intercession of Jesus, St. Michael, St. Pio, St. Joseph, St. Raphael, Mary, and my guardian angel. I ask for guidance, protection and healing, and that I be helped to say the right things to patients and do what is most helpful for them, and to keep them safe. I am very grateful to God and to the saints and angels for helping me and our patients in this way." Now, that is fodder for a homily.
It's a tough time, spiritually. Bizarre things swirl around us (note the feedback below). There are strange lights. There are occult shows. There are ghost hunters. There are salacious reality shows. There are alleged "crop circles" (as at left: some resembling occult symbols). There is pervasive demonism in music and across the breadth of motion pictures and we are in a society that threatens to persecute or at least trivialize Christians.
Yet we can't always lay all the blame on society. We choose darkness or Light.
It is a matter of discipline (see: fasting).
"I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse," said the Mass reading the day after Ash Wednesday, from Deuteronomy 6: "Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him."
[Feedback for our discernment: from
[see also: advice on protection from priest who combats spirits]
[resources: spiritual warfare books and Retreat in Austin, Texas: prophecy, family healing, spiritual warfare]
[For your discernment: blog claims church art has demonic elements]
[resources: Spiritual Warfare Prayers and Retreat in Austin]
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