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NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local parish, who professes faith and loyalty to the Church and our Holy Father. This "little work" is purely a personal expression of that faith and loyalty, and not an officially recognized ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu. ~ Peter


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Spiritual Warfare and the Occult

 "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against
the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]."

~ Ephesians 6:12
 
A couple of days ago, I was dragged into a situation that really troubled me.  It had to do with the occult, which I know from a traumatic personal experience, is extremely dangerous.  I can't emphasize that fact enough.  I wasn't bothered by the people involved, but really, it was the situation they were in that had me concerned and frustrated after having gone through what I did.  I felt the need to write about it; to again warn others about the importance of staying clear of anything remotely associated with occultism because its influence has gained increased mainstream acceptance throughout the years... and most people, including many Catholics, are largely uninformed about the truth of it.

So backing up a little bit... a friend called me on Friday to refer a coworker of hers who was in need of guidance and prayers because of an unusual problem - the woman had a sister who was suddenly exhibiting strange behavior and their family feared that she had been "hexed".  I was further informed the supposed victim - "Thea" - was normally a bright and healthy person but after she had fallen in with a certain man, and had tried to leave him, she started falling into trance-like states and behaving in a manner uncharacteristic of herself.  The family later heard news that the man's family was rumored to practice "black magic" so, more so, they feared Thea is under a malicious spell of some sort.
 
Fr. Gabriele's best-selling book
After hearing the story from my friend and meeting her coworker in person, my immediate advice for the coworker was to consult a priest if her family truly believed there was something sinister going on.  The situation was clearly beyond my capability to directly help... but I also felt for the woman because I saw fear and worry in her eyes.  So we prayed together and I provided Holy Face Medals, St. Michael Prayer Cards, and strongly recommended for her and the rest of their family to go to Confession, attend Mass regularly, and to pray the Holy Rosary for Thea, just in case the devil really was involved with her sister's case (please pray for this family).
 
Although I was somewhat on the fence with the entire matter, I knew from experience and from books I've read, that the situation with Thea was not entirely improbable.  Renowned Exorcists, such as Fr. Gabriele Amorth, have written extensively about the reality of the phenomena of curses... as well as the demons that work behind the scenes to apply them.  Sadly, the world in general, doesn't seem to take the devil all too seriously; it almost seems like a big joke now days to believe in his existence but we need to be consciously aware of him.
 
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion,
walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."
 
~ 1 Peter 5:8
 
In fact, I just finished reading another enlightening book, which I highly recommend to all who are interested in learning more about spiritual warfare.  The book is called "A Message of Hope, Confessions of an Ex-Satanist: How to Protect Yourself from Evil" by Deborah Lipsky.  I've read several books about the same topic, but what made this book different was that it was written from the point of view of a lapsed-Catholic who lived and practiced an extreme form of occultism, before a powerful conversion experience led her back to a fervent observance of the Catholic Faith.  In her book, the author detailed some of her alleged personal experiences with demonic entities and shared some valuable insights on how to recognize and combat the forces of evil that invisibly lurk around us.  She likened demons to "sharks", which really struck a chord in me given that I live on an island surrounded by waters teeming with tiger sharks!
 
Great book, highly recommended!
The bottom line is... the practice of anything involving occultism is perilous for the soul, including such seemingly harmless pursuits as ghost hunting, fortune telling/psychic readings, new age beliefs, and superstition.  Lipsky wrote that there's no quicker way for demons to gain entrance into our lives than through occultism of every sort.
 
To protect ourselves from attacks or oppression from evil forces, Catholic experts on spiritual warfare are unanimous in their advice - turn to Jesus Christ, sincerely and wholeheartedly; frequently receive the Eucharist and go to Confession regularly; seek the aid of the Blessed Virgin, the Holy Angels and Saints; and devoutly make use of Sacramentals (blessed medals, holy images, and relics).  Being especially dedicated to Our Lady and the Saints, I totally agree... and I enjoyed the parts in Lipsky's book in which she wrote of the Virgin Mary's powerful intercession against evil; she surmised the devil is so enraged with Mary's humility and exalted role in salvation history, that he is waging an ongoing personal "war" against her.  Mary, on her part, was gifted by God to us as a special helper in our faith-life... and she is more than eager to help those who have recourse to her.  It's a very reassuring and comforting thought.
 
"Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
 
~ Ephesians 6:11

I close this post by sharing a curious photo (bottom-left) that I rediscovered in my computer files.  In it, I may have visibly captured a glimpse into the ongoing enmity between the devil and the holy Mother of Christ.  The photo was taken when my Rosa Mystica pilgrim statue and my ministry's relic of the Blessed Mother's veil stayed with a friend whose family was plagued by unexplained shadows moving about in their home; I actually saw a few of these dark figures, myself, in their house and immediately knew they were unclean spirits.  I also had a strong sense the occult was involved, and sure enough, I learned that my friend's mother was regularly consulting with a relative who was supposedly a medium and psychic reader.  Anyhow, in the photo one can see two faint shadow-images on each side of the statue, which were not visible when I snapped the picture... and the scary thing is - they resemble common depictions of demons, complete with horns and pointed chins (compare the figures with the sketch at the bottom-right of the photo)!  How bizarre, right?
 
A glimpse of the battle between good and evil?
Skeptics will argue that the images are just a coincidental play of lights and shadows with the statue and its halo, and that could be the case... but personally, I believe there's more to it than mere chance.  Given the circumstances with the eerie sightings in the home, it was just too uncanny that the shadows were in the form of demons.  For me, and for friends who viewed the picture, we all agreed I had inadvertently confirmed the presence of diabolic spirits in the home... and judging by the photo, the demonic entities were angrily opposed to Our Lady's holy presence in the house (via the blessed statue), seeing how they looked up at her image in a defiant and confrontational manner. In contrast, the statue's lovely face appears majestically calm as it prayerfully gazes towards Heaven.  The entire scene reminds me of the prophecy found at the very beginning of the Holy Bible:
 
"I will put enmity between thee and the woman,
and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head,
and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel."
 
~ Genesis 3:15 (Douay Rheims translation)

The situation in my friend's home was clearly and directly triggered by his mother's dabbling with the occult... and for me, the above photo is just another affirmation of the spiritual warfare going on between good and evil; light versus dark.  So if you take away anything after reading this blog, please take some friendly advice and do not put yourself in a situation where you'll be actively engaging hate-filled demons and entities - stay clear of the occult and other esoteric practices.

The Bible and the Church both continue to teach us that Jesus Christ is the only Way, the Truth, and the Life.  He will be victorious in the end... so we, as Christians, can find Hope, Strength, and Joy in knowing that.  Amen.

Exorcism Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel
 
St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle.
Be our safeguard 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 Power of God, cast into hell Satan and all
the other evil spirits who prowl throughout the world seeking
the ruin of souls.  Amen.
 

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