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Tragically and to our detriment, disciples of Christ, much of the time, forget that we are in what is fundamentally a spiritual battle — a battle against powers and principalities who hate us and want us to lose and be damned with them for eternity. Recall what St. Paul wrote: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).
Although many disciples give lip service to the importance of prayer in winning one's salvation, many forget this simple truth put out there by St. Paul when dealing with the day-to-day struggles of discipleship. We think about making time for prayer more than we pray. And we look for solutions in New Age psychology rather than the remedies advised by saints.
Think, for example, of anger — of a man who goes off over something in the Church parking lot (not that uncommon) and fellow parishioners who witness it, discussing his apparent need for "anger management" as compared to simply remonstrating him not to give license to the old demon of rage, and perhaps offering to pray with him. This shift away from looking at things from a spiritual perspective to only and exclusively a psychological dynamic or character defect is a relatively new phenomenon.
The great saints from our tradition never discussed the importance of "anger management"; they discussed how each disciple needed to renounce and battle demons and never give them any berth. "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" Saint John the Baptist, not a man to mince words, called those who came to him for baptism what they were — disciples of the Devil. No "All are welcome" blather here, just an upfront call to repentance and conversion.
Lamentably, over the last 40 years, in talking about and dealing with the homosexual abuse crisis in the Church, little has been written about how the origins of this crisis are demonic and how evil powers behind the scenes have played pivotal roles in bringing this all about.
Lots has been written about how homosexual abusers are the product of poor seminary formation, societal influences that have given license to the phenomenon, "free sex," psychological defects and so forth. I will not waste any time here rehashing any of these explanations, some of which are more valid than others. But, the schoolyard rationale, "everyone was doing it, so I went along and did it too" demands a comment.
So much evil has been done by so many people in the last half a century simply because the perceived action — the behavior — has been looked at as trendy. Doesn't it seem that in our culture it is trendy to be gay, trendy to have an abortion? Sure it does. And the morally objectionable evil is committed and millions of babies are aborted, thousands of kids are sexually abused, sodomy has become rampant and on and on. Just 50 years ago, the acceptance and approbation of these serious, sinful actions by society at large would have been unimaginable. The great confessor, the Curé of Ars, St. John Vianney, would not know where to begin sitting in his confessional today.
This cataclysmic spiritual battle we are in will be won! Our Lord has promised us the victory! The downside, however, is how many will be saved? Just a small remnant like the 1% that survived the Babylonian captivity, or maybe more?
To win this spiritual battle, we have to fight it with all the spiritual remedies that we have — prayer, prayers of deliverance and exorcism, fasting, the regular reception of the sacraments and the blessing and consecration of our homes and businesses. In this context, the discussion of how the abusing Fr. So-and-So has a psychological problem is inane. Yes, he has a psychological problem, but even more so, he has a spiritual problem — he has let an evil spirit possess him.
In both of my experiences of abuse, the reality of an evil spirit in the person that was abusing me was tangible. You could see the evil spirit of lust in their eyes, and the demon's look disabled me from fighting back. This happened when I was abused at the age of 11, as well as when I was 19. In both cases, I shut my eyes from this demon and, rendered motionless by the demon, fled in my mind as far from my body as I could go, pretending what was happening was not.
In the aftermath of sexual abuse by a priest, many victims are suicidal. Although they receive psychological treatment, which is helpful, what can be most helpful, however, are the prayers of exorcism and deliverance administered according to the discipline of the Church.
A good priest in the aftermath of sexual abuse can assemble a small group of good, holy men and women to say these prayers over the victim, and this can make all the difference, allowing the victim to move beyond the trauma of homosexual predation at the hand of a priest. These prayers can free the victim from the residual haunting and attacks of the Devil. They can give him or her the wherewithal to move on with their lives, to put aside thoughts of suicide and defeat, and, for those victims called forth by a true vocation, pursue ordination to the sacred priesthood.
As St. Paul reminded the Ephesians all those centuries ago, "remember, disciples, that the fight we are in is a spiritual one!" And let's win this fight through prayer, fasting and then some more prayer and fasting! Christ does have the victory! At this moment in time, in the midst of what seems like the entire world heaving in social disintegration and destruction, let us recognize that in large part this is caused by the Evil One and his minions and use all of the spiritual armor that God Almighty has given us to keep Christ's victory!
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