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We are living in a time when many people are under the influence of demons. This leads them to commit horrendous sins, including murdering their own children through abortion and sexual sins that include adultery and sodomy. They also lie, steal, cheat and disregard the sanctity of the Sabbath.
The prevalence of these sins is evident in the rising crime rates; for example, nearly 700 people have been killed in Chicago in the past year alone. This grim statistic does not even account for the unborn lives lost to abortion.
What this shows is that people have lost, or have not been taught, strategies to defeat the devil. So keep in mind that a big part of winning in spiritual warfare is to always be on guard.
As you run errands on a weekend afternoon, remind yourself that some people you might encounter are extremely dangerous, both spiritually and physically. They have let evil reign in their hearts and given free rein of their lives to the Devil.
But there are effective ways to protect yourself against both the Devil, who never sleeps, and his followers — let me explain.
Not too long ago, I was in a post office waiting in line to post my packages. A man close behind me in line let loose with the demon within him. He began cursing me while others in line quickly stepped back. I simply pulled out my rosary and prayed my beads out loud. The man continued with his tirade, but I didn't let it take away my peace or equilibrium. After posting my packages, I left — as simple as that.
Others in the post office were visibly disturbed by what they saw and heard, but because of my training in spiritual warfare, I knew better. I knew no evil spirit could hurt a man armed with the rosary and devoted to praying it regularly.
The Devil, or the people he controls, cannot hold sway over us when we are in a state of grace — when our armor against such attacks is strong. Strive always to be in a state of grace, to be holy, and the Devil will keep his distance.
Also, wear the brown scapular with devotion and become enrolled in the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel — that way, you can enjoy all the graces and spiritual privileges associated with the scapular. Centuries ago, our Blessed Mother appeared to St. Simon Stock, promising her motherly care and protection to all who wear her brown scapular. I have been a member of the confraternity for years, and I never go out of the house without wearing my scapular. As a man in my sixties, I can assure you that Mary has always lived up to her promise of protection for me.
Summary: Remember to stay in the state of grace, and you will be ready for battle. Keep a rosary ready in your pocket. Wear Our Lady's brown scapular. As sacramentals, the rosary and the brown scapular are both powerful weapons that clerics and laymen can wield against evil spirits.
Of all the tools the exorcist has at his disposal to free someone from the power of the evil one, the Rosary is the preeminent one. The famous Roman exorcist Fr. Gabriele Amorth (now deceased) recounted that during an exorcism, "Satan told me, through the possessed person, 'Every Hail Mary of the Rosary is a blow to the head for me; if Christians knew the power of the Rosary, it would be the end of me!'"
Father Amorth's experience makes it clear that all Christians would do well to pray the Rosary often and with devotion to defeat the Devil.
Recall, too, how our Blessed Mother gave the Rosary to St. Dominic centuries ago as a means for him to fight the rampant heresy that he encountered each day in his travels. In a similar fashion, we can use the Rosary as our tool to fight the heretics and evil people we encounter in the course of our day-to-day lives.
Many saints since have testified to the Rosary's power. Sister Lucia of Fatima said, "There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot solve by the prayer of the holy Rosary." Saint Pio of Pietrelcina declared, "The Rosary is the weapon for these times."
And if you or a member of your family are under serious spiritual assault, the more Rosaries prayed, the better. Anyone serious about spiritual warfare will pray at least one Rosary a day.
The recitation of the holy Rosary is so powerful that it is considered one of the strongest exorcising prayers. During one exorcism, the evil one declared, "It is our courage, our ruin, our defeat."
Summary: Remember that exorcists recognize the Rosary as their number one tool. All people of faith need to be proficient and reverent in praying the Rosary and pondering its mysteries. It's powerfully effective in breaking the hold of the evil one upon people.
For us as disciples, it's really important to develop the capacity to recognize the voice of God, as compared to the voices of others. A mature disciple knows the voice of the Shepherd compared to the voice of the evil one or one of his minions. God's voice gives joy to a man's heart, whereas the voice of the evil one chills the heart and leaves him with foreboding feelings.
God will never tell a man to do something that is contrary to His law found in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Keep this in mind when assessing voices that you hear in your head or from those people you encounter.
Many times, in the confessional or in spiritual direction, an individual will come to me all worked up as they struggle with some errant idea he has in his head. For example, "Father, in my head, I don't see a problem with moving in with my boyfriend. What do you think?"
Today, compared to prior generations, many people are quick to do whatever pops into their heads instead of stepping back and considering what Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition tell them about a course of action. These days, people forget that the evil one, the father of all lies, likes to plant sinful ideas in people's heads to get them to sin.
In centuries past, no penitent would dare expect St. Jean Vianney to approve of an action that was condemned by God through the Catholic Church or in the Bible. But today, it has become commonplace for people to presume that God's Word does not apply to them and that they are above keeping God's commandments.
For us as disciples, it's important to remind ourselves that God's Sacred Word needs to be followed at all times and that under no circumstances are we above keeping God's law.
When He speaks to us, God's voice gives us joy, hope and peace. Always remember this! The Devil's voice, on the other hand, gives rise to disquiet, distemper and distrust. Those are the three D's the Devil bequeaths upon a man. If you feel any of these things in your heart, it's always a good idea to get down on your knees and pray to immediately put the Devil at bay.
Summary: It's important to discern the voice of God as opposed to what competing voices of the world are saying to us. To discern the difference between the voice of God — the Holy Spirit — as compared to other spirits and lost souls, remember God gives us joy and peace, and the devil bequeaths the three D's.
When talking about the discernment of spirits, it's important to talk about what spirits or souls can make things go bump in the night. It's key to making a determination as to whether the noise you hear in the dark is caused by an evil spirit trying to scare you, or a soul in Purgatory seeking to get your attention.
Souls in Purgatory can, at times, disturb our sleep by making things go bump in the night. It's a reminder for us to pray for them. Part of spiritual warfare is to pray for the release of souls from Purgatory.
In my own home, I am visited almost daily by deceased loved ones seeking my attention and prayers. These souls like to keep me on my toes and praying for them. They open the drawers in my kitchen, adjust the arms on my grandfather's clock, tinker with appliance settings or rattle dishes in the kitchen sink.
When these things first started happening, it sort of scared me. But I could tell the soul's actions were not harmful and even playful; the knives from the kitchen drawers did not start flying through the room, so that was an indication of their good intentions.
When these things happen, I am reminded to offer up a prayer for a poor soul in Purgatory, and I recommend that you do the same. Remember, when they get to Heaven, they will pray for you, making you a stronger spiritual warrior.
Summary: Be sensitive to the nudges that souls in Purgatory may be giving you as reminders to pray for them. Don't be afraid of their reminders; rather, pray for them, rejoicing that they, in turn, will pray for you!