Home Forums Prayer, Devotions, Spiritual Life Handling Demonic Oppression– Practical Helps– Effective Responses

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  • #20045
    Becky Mayhew
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    Handling demonic oppression — Practical helps — Effective responses

    Could we share experiences and insights?  It would be good for all of us to take care that we are in alignment with the CCC and Church teaching on these matters.  

    1.  For example, isn't it correct that only a qualified priest (trained, approved by bishop, etc.) should be involved in “binding and loosing”?  A few years ago I was present in a prayer meeting which consisted largely of anticipating every bad thing demons might try to do and then “binding” the demons from doing those things. (the plumbing, the house wiring, the automobile, etc.)  What does the Church say about this sort of thing?

    2.  What have you found to be most effective in enduring, combating, short-circuiting demonic oppression?

         I have a few answers but want to learn from you first.

    3.  Why does God allow hateful, loathsome demonic oppression of His servants?  
         Is it the only way we can grow muscles of a certain kind?

    4.  I find the loss of peace so painful.  Normally I have a serenity and rest in the Lord.  When this demonic oppression comes, peace is sucked out and the Accuser “beats me about the head” with all sorts of accusations against me (most of them I'm not even guilty of, others I've already repented and been granted absolution for).  Do you think Satan's attitude is, “Well, might as well try this and that, never know what might drag her down”?

    5.  If one does well in handling an episode of demonic oppression, will God just allow a longer, stronger episode in order to grow those spiritual muscles?

    6.  Is it just spiritually childish to want to be spared these experiences of oppression, like one who never wants to exercise or eat properly?

    7.  It is interesting that, during this same period of time, God has been showing me more of Himself.  Sometimes I am left just silenced.  Words won't come, or have to be forced, for days.  The whole process is exhausting, though I am filled with joy.  

    If books are recommended, it would be a great kindness to give certain chapters, certain pages (unless the index is already helpful).

    What can you share?

    Becky

    #23039
    David W. Emery
    Keymaster
    Status: Convert to Catholicism
    Member Since: September 29, 2006

    1. …Isn't it correct that only a qualified priest… should be involved in “binding and loosing”?

    Yes. A diocesan bishop is canonically required to appoint one well-prepared and holy priest in his diocese to serve as the official exorcist. And, where applicable, this is one of that priest’s duties. But Catholic sensibilities seldom move in the direction of “binding and loosing” unless actual exorcism is indicated; in other words, it is not very common.

    A few years ago I was present in a prayer meeting which consisted largely of anticipating every bad thing demons might try to do and then “binding” the demons from doing those things. (the plumbing, the house wiring, the automobile, etc.)  What does the Church say about this sort of thing?

    In the Catholic Church, any person or physical item (incuding animals) can be blessed for this same purpose, and the blessing can be done by any priest. We should not, however, become superstitious in thinking that Satan will actually use any or all of these things, because it is precisely this fear of Satan that will lead to one’s entrapment and fall. Physical items in the world seldom do anything but the predictable things known to science. The Church’s practice is to wait until there is a definite sign of disorder, and then to begin with a blessing. If this does not produce results, other measures may be necessary, the most severe being major exorcism.

    2. What have you found to be most effective in enduring, combating, short-circuiting demonic oppression?

    Prayer; without any doubt, this is the one key factor. This does not make prayer any easier, if one is suffering difficulties in practicing it. But at least it shows where the “way out” is.

    Yes, there are other things that help. But you wanted to know what the “most effective” one is, and I am assuming that exorcism, which is an extraordinary measure, is to be excluded at this point.

    3. Why does God allow hateful, loathsome demonic oppression of His servants? Is it the only way we can grow muscles of a certain kind?

    I’m afraid so. It’s a rule of life that God makes extraordinary demands when he wants to bring someone to extraordinary perfection. How else is a person to be perfected but by trials that force him to acquire the virtues and put them to use? It doesn’t happen to “ordinary” people, and the main thing the person offered an opportunity for holiness receives in having to stave off demons and other ills which disturb him is a great humility and an appreciation of his own frailty, but also a profound trust in God. For angels and demons are much more powerful than we are; I recommend what St. Paul says in Ephesians 6:10ff in this regard.

    4. I find the loss of peace so painful. Normally I have a serenity and rest in the Lord.

    I realize that certain doubts may arise when a person is under attack. But the loss of the underlying peace that comes from the Holy Spirit shows that what is being suffered is not so much a demonic attack as a temptation of the flesh (taken in the spiritual sense as “human nature,” for an attack “from within” can be the most upsetting). So if you are thinking that you are suffering from demonic oppression but you also suffer a loss of the underlying peace of God (in your heart of hearts, as opposed to the external attacks that leave you unsettled and doubtful in your mind), this is an indication that you (or your confessor or spiritual advisor) have perhaps misjudged. I say this in spite of the fact that the demons may be harrying you in addition.

    I point out the above merely by way of information. I am not making a judgment in your case because I do not have enough facts to do so. I leave this to you and your confessor/spiritual advisor.

    Do you think Satan's attitude is, “Well, might as well try this and that, never know what might drag her down”?

    This is the “real” Question 4. The answer: Satan attacks our human weaknesses, which he can see in most cases simply by observing us. In other words, you are underestimating what Satan can and does know.

    5. If one does well in handling an episode of demonic oppression, will God just allow a longer, stronger episode in order to grow those spiritual muscles?

    It depends on how one is progressing in the development of those “spiritual muscles” (the virtues, especially true humility, as explained above), and the level of holiness to which God is calling the soul.

    6. Is it just spiritually childish to want to be spared these experiences of oppression, like one who never wants to exercise or eat properly?

    Aversion to suffering is a natural reaction, and it can be mostly overcome through natural means. However, advancement in the supernatural virtues is a much greater help. Yes, St. Paul and St. Peter both refer to this advancement as “growing up” (Ephesians 4:15; 1 Peter 2:2), so to refer to demonic oppression as “childish” is at least partly correct.

    7. It is interesting that, during this same period of time, God has been showing me more of Himself. Sometimes I am left just silenced. Words won't come, or have to be forced, for days. The whole process is exhausting, though I am filled with joy.

    The joy you speak of here is the peace given by the Holy Spirit in your heart of hearts. With that in place, I don’t think there is anything to worry about, no matter how much you suffer externally.

    For now I am not recommending books. The doctrine outlined above is available in a large number of them. If you already have Tanquerey’s book, The Spiritual Life, I should think it sufficient. It is very organized and a quick look at the table of contents or index should point you to where the passages are that refer to the different points of doctrine.

    David

    #23038
    Becky Mayhew
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    Handling demonic oppression– Practical helps– Effective responses

    from Intercessor:

    Isn't it correct that only a qualified priest… should be involved in “binding and loosing”?

    from D. Emery:

    Yes. A diocesan bishop is canonically required to appoint one well-prepared and holy priest in his diocese to serve as the official exorcist. And, where applicable, this is one of that priest’s duties. But Catholic sensibilities seldom move in the direction of “binding and loosing” unless actual exorcism is indicated; in other words, it is not very common.

    from Intercessor:

    Years ago I was present in a prayer meeting which consisted largely of anticipating every bad thing demons might try to do and then “binding” the demons from doing those things. (the plumbing, the house wiring, the automobile, etc.)  What does the Church say about this sort of thing?

    from D. Emery:

    In the Catholic Church, any person or physical item (incuding animals) can be blessed for this same purpose, and the blessing can be done by any priest. We should not, however, become superstitious in thinking that Satan will actually use any or all of these things, because it is precisely this fear of Satan that will lead to one’s entrapment and fall. Physical items in the world seldom do anything but the predictable things known to science. The Church’s practice is to wait until there is a definite sign of disorder, and then to begin with a blessing. If this does not produce results, other measures may be necessary, the most severe being major exorcism.

    from Intercessor:

    The whole thing did not feel right to me.  These were dear people with good intentions.  My guess is they picked up this sort of thing at a conference somewhere.  Perhaps they are straightened out on it now since I heard one lady say she had been informed that lay persons were not supposed to be laying hands on each other for the purpose of  “binding and loosing.”  

    There was no attempt at an exorcism; nobody was possessed.  They just wanted to protect themselves from all the ways they could think of that demons might attack (oppress) them, their families, and their possessions.  

    from Intercessor:

    2. What have you found to be most effective in enduring, combating, short-circuiting demonic oppression?

    from D. Emery:

    Prayer; without any doubt, this is the one key factor. This does not make prayer any easier, if one is suffering difficulties in practicing it. But at least it shows where the “way out” is.

    from Intercessor:

    As a Baptist I was taught these approaches to oppression:

    1. Repeat the name of Jesus Christ aloud several times.

    2. Say aloud that I am covered by the blood of Jesus Christ or ask God, aloud,
             to cover me with the blood of Jesus Christ.

    3. Praise Christ aloud.  Speak or sing praises to Jesus.

    4.    Bringing the thought life into compliance with Philippians 4:8.

    As a Catholic I have added a few things:

    5. Use holy water.  Unfortunately I had none in the house the other day.

    6. I always wear a Miraculous Medal.  The other day I placed a crucifix around
             my neck as well and kissed each of them reverently at intervals.  

    7. I also placed a larger crucifix in my shirt pocket.

    8. And, of course, as you say, “Prayer is the one key factor.”  I ask the intercession
             of my guardian angel, St. Michael, the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, and other saints.

    9. Finally, I draw strength from frequent confession, frequent receiving of the Lord,
             and frequent adoration.

    from D. Emery:

    Yes, there are other things that help. But you wanted to know what the “most effective” one is, and I am assuming that exorcism, which is an extraordinary measure, is to be excluded at this point.

    from Intercessor:

    I myself would not even have thought of using the word exorcism in this discussion.  In the title of the thread, I carefully used the word oppression instead, which is very different (at least in the Protestant tradition) from possession.  All my questions and comments in this thread have been regarding only oppression.  —-just to clarify   🙂

    from Intercessor:

    3. Why does God allow hateful, loathsome demonic oppression of His servants? Is it the only way we can grow muscles of a certain kind?

    from D. Emery:

    . . . the main thing the person offered an opportunity for holiness receives in having to stave off demons and other ills which disturb him is a great humility and an appreciation of his own frailty, but also a profound trust in God. . .

    from Intercessor:

    This is it, David.  This, I think, is what God is doing.  

    from Intercessor:

    4. I find the loss of peace so painful. Normally I have a serenity and rest in the Lord.

    from D. Emery:

    . . . external attacks that leave you unsettled and doubtful in your mind. . .

    from Intercessor:

    Yes, that is what I meant by loss of peace.  It’s that external attack that tries to rattle you, tries to drive you toward scrupulosity (when you do not suffer from scrupulosity), tries to destroy or shake your confidence in your spiritual state.  The accusations do not even make sense if one goes back over what the facts are.  There are spirits of fear and spirits of strife (shrewish, nagging contentiousness) behind it.

    from Intercessor:

    6. Is it just spiritually childish to want to be spared these experiences of oppression, like one who never wants to exercise or eat properly?

    from D. Emery:

    Aversion to suffering is a natural reaction, and it can be mostly overcome through natural means. However, advancement in the supernatural virtues is a much greater help. Yes, St. Paul and St. Peter both refer to this advancement as “growing up” (Ephesians 4:15; 1 Peter 2:2), so to refer to demonic oppression as “childish” is at least partly correct.

    from Intercessor:

    To be precise, I think you meant that wishing to avoid the suffering from such oppression is a form of spiritual childishness. (not that the oppression itself is childish)  Right?

    from D. Emery:

    The joy you speak of here is the peace given by the Holy Spirit in your heart of hearts. With that in place, I don’t think there is anything to worry about, no matter how much you suffer externally.

    from Intercessor:

    By “suffer externally,” you mean to include, do you not, interior suffering caused by evil spirits (as long as the interior suffering is not caused by one’s own sin)?  In other words, the suffering they cause is not limited to one’s body or one’s possessions.

    from D. Emery:

    If you already have Tanquerey’s book, The Spiritual Life, I should think it sufficient.

    from Intercessor:

    Yes, I also have St. Teresa of Avila's autobiography and Scupoli's  Spiritual Combat—once scanned parts of both books but not recently.

    I spoke with a different priest today who said the Devil hates a Christian who is living in peace because such a person is less likely to give in to temptation.   He suggested the repetition of Jesus Christ’s name (see under Baptist above) during such attacks and also spoke about constant monitoring, filtering of suggestions/thoughts (being the gatekeeper of one's soul/mind and spotting thoughts that were not one's own).

    In “The Simplifying Power of Eucharistic Adoration,” I shared assurances I had received of God's great love.  It is also important to be reminded of Satan's hatred for us.  What a mighty God who can take even the malicious attacks of the Accuser and use them for our good.  

    I have tried to represent my own experience accurately while also putting this thread together in such a way that future readers might find it helpful.

    Becky

    #23026
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    I'd like to add two things to this excellent discussion.

    Having been a facilitator in two healing/deliverance ministries as a Protestant, the Evil One used that fact to try to keep me from becoming Catholic.  It was definitely a temptation of the mind.  His taunts circled around how I would have to give all that up and how many people would suffer if I wasn't there to help them.  Not only did he tempt me in my own mind, but also out of the mouths of other people — friends, who had witnessed me in spiritual battles for the souls of others.  One friend said that should be my test of whether or not the Catholic Church was where Jesus was really calling me — the test being if I was allowed to continue my ministry.

    Through all this, despite some trepidation about my own physical safety, I had the peace of Christ that I could give up anything in order to follow him into his sheepfold.  I was glad when my friend said out loud what had been circling in my mind, because instantly I knew it was a temptation and not a real dilemma at all.

    During RCIA, I was curious to see how I would fare in terms of spiritual attacks, and how others would seem to be faring.  Everything seemed about the same with me, and as for the others, I couldn't really tell, but there seemed to be a calmness overall.

    At my first confession, I experienced such deep cleansing, such a washing away of sins, that I didn't even have words to express how I felt afterward.  Later, as I thought about my experience, I realized that what had taken place within me in the span of about half an hour with the priest would have taken hours or even weeks in the former healing/deliverance ministries that I had facilitated.

    This leads me to a theory:  since Protestants don't have the powerful sacrament of reconciliation/absolution/penance, they are kept busy trying to develop methods and ministries to achieve the same results.  Of course, sadly, they never will reach the same level of purifying absolution, because they are outside the stream of power flowing through apostolic succession that Jesus gave to his Apostles, which they gave to the bishops and they to their many priests.

    What a treasure Catholics have in the sacrament of reconciliation.  And now I have that treasure as well.

    Another eye-opener for me, in terms of spiritual oppression, came from the Catechism in a section on faith.  The whole section is wonderful (2087-2092).  The description of “despair” is what especially caught my attention during the first reading.  The Catechism states that despair is a sin against hope.  Despair is a sin!  Not only an oppression of the devil or psychological depression.  It is a sin!  And to even allow oneself to “play around” with the feelings of despair, testing the waters of despair, is to be allowing ourselves to be drawn into sin.

    At that point in my life I was not in despair about God, but perhaps about his goodness.  Because of having lost for five years a son and his family, because of being divorced, because of all kinds of upheavals in my life, I despaired of God's goodness.  I never turned away from God, but I had a hard time trusting in his goodness.  And, as months turned into years without any contact with my son and my grandchildren,  I certainly despaired of every having my family intact again.

    Once I learned it was a sin to even dip my toes into despair, I battled hard against the mind, the flesh and the devil to yank myself back from the edge of despair whenever I noticed that I was moving towards it.  Hard work.  Most interestingly, to me at least, I realized in this process that there is a certain comfortableness in allowing oneself to sink into despair.  Yikes!  All the more reason to fight against it.

    Rarely do I even tiptoe to the edge of despair anymore.  I take captive any thought or any fleshly leaning toward that “comfort” that sliding into despair brings.

    And I did all this long before my son re-established contact with me, which was just before this past Christmas.  Maybe conquering the sin of despair was necessary before my son and my grandchildren could come back into my life.  Who knows.  God knows.  Yet I am grateful to know that despair is a sin against hope, and that it can be fought off and conquered like any other sin that tempts us.

    #23035
    Becky Mayhew
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    Another eye-opener for me, in terms of spiritual oppression, came from the Catechism in a section on faith.  The whole section is wonderful (2087-2092).  The description of “despair” is what especially caught my attention during the first reading.  The Catechism states that despair is a sin against hope.  Despair is a sin!  Not only an oppression of the devil or psychological depression.  It is a sin!  And to even allow oneself to “play around” with the feelings of despair, testing the waters of despair, is to be allowing ourselves to be drawn into sin. . . .

    Once I learned it was a sin to even dip my toes into despair, I battled hard against the mind, the flesh and the devil to yank myself back from the edge of despair whenever I noticed that I was moving towards it.  Hard work.  Most interestingly, to me at least, I realized in this process that there is a certain comfortableness in allowing oneself to sink into despair.  Yikes!  All the more reason to fight against it.

    . . . I am grateful to know that despair is a sin against hope, and that it can be fought off and conquered like any other sin that tempts us.

    Bless you, Jane, for your post.  Sometimes it's eerie how similar some of our experiences and thoughts have been.  

    So many people who are dear to me get up every morning and go to bed every night with broken hearts and no reasonable prospect that things will ever improve for a spouse, a child, a grandchild.  I myself have much for which to give thanks; yet I do have crosses to carry.  As I told the priest yesterday, I am weary from all this suffering and some days I just want to leave all the crosses on the street, go to bed, and pull the covers over my head.  Forgive me, Lord.

    The consolation God gave me (“The Simplifying Power of Eucharistic Adoration”), and the words from my elderly aunt, reassured me that God loves me and loves these precious people that I care about so much.  I'm thinking, though, that hope should probably be limited to what my consolation revealed—that comfort and happiness will come in heaven (not in this life).  It seems bleak to think of this life as only a vale of tears, to dig in with spiritual determination, grit one's spiritual and emotional “teeth,” and just tough it out until death. (And that all these suffering persons I love must do the same—give up serious expectation of comfort and happiness in this life.  That's an especially hard sell to the loved ones who are Protestant!)

    It's always helpful to have the objective perspective of a priest or of someone like you or David, but I may have diagnosed my own situation.  I think maybe God wants me to just stop caring about comfort and happiness in this life, to put all my hope in the beatific vision instead.  Or, maybe it's closer to the truth to say He wants me to continue growing (and there has been growth in this) in my love for Him and for His will until, like Therese of Lisieux, I won't really care anymore what happens to me.  As long as it is God's will, that will be enough.  The problem is it's a lot harder to take that approach about my loved ones than it is to take it about myself.

    I'm listening again to the audiobook of de Caussade's Abandonment to Divine Providence.  It is so helpful to get me back on track.

    In Christ,
    Becky

    #23036
    Christine Ann
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    Dear Becky,

    I am just now in the process of reading, Divine Abandonment.  It is a book with difficult subject matter.  Accepting even the painful things that happen as part of God's Will is a new concept to me.  I'm having trouble getting my mind around it.

    So the temptations we experience are allowed by God?  Are they a trial of our obedience?  If so, I understand that.  Is the book saying that apart from consolations, we must accept all the “bad” things that happen to us as coming from God? His will is supreme, so he must allow evil to occur, when it does.    It's hard for me to think of some of my bad experiences as God's Will for me.  But my thoughts, are not his thoughts, my ways are not his ways…if I remember this I can see that acceptance of all that happens is a form of obedience…a submission to him. We should pray for grace  to have a right heart toward God…even in the face of evil…not allowing ourselves sorrow or despair, but rather stoic acceptance that God intends it for the good.  I guess he is in the business of growing holy souls…suffering is a part of it.  This actually would leave no room for complaining…that could demonstrate a lack of faith in God's goodness.

    I hope I'm making myself somewhat clear.  I can see where protestants would have a hard time with this.  But, I have grown in my suffering, so it does have a good outcome.  We must believe that all things work for the good for the Father's child. It's like a child having to take bad tasting medicine given by our mother for the purpose of healing. We don't understand why mother is doing this, because right now it is beyond our comprehension.  We must trust in her love.

    Am I understanding “Abandonment to Divine Providence” somewhat?  I also bought another book by De Caussade called “The Joy of Full Surrender”.  Have you read it?

    Christine Ann

    #23033
    when we were one
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    Christine

    Have you ever picked up the pamphlet “Golden Counsels of St. Francis de Sales?”  Your comment reminds me of the first paragraph in the Peace chapter.

    “Do not look forward to the mishaps of this life with anxiety, but await them with perfect confidence so that when they do occur, God, to whom you belong, will deliver you from them.  He has kept you up to the present; remain securely in the hand of his providence, and he will help you in all situations. … Remain in peace; rid your imagination of whatever troubles you. … Often say in the midst of trials, “This is the way to heaven; I see the port ahead and I am sure that storms cannot prevent me from reaching it.”

    #23034
    Becky Mayhew
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    Dear Becky,

    I am just now in the process of reading, Divine Abandonment.  It is a book with difficult subject matter.  Accepting even the painful things that happen as part of God's Will is a new concept to me.  I'm having trouble getting my mind around it.

    So the temptations we experience are allowed by God?  Are they a trial of our obedience?  If so, I understand that.  Is the book saying that apart from consolations, we must accept all the “bad” things that happen to us as coming from God? His will is supreme, so he must allow evil to occur, when it does.    It's hard for me to think of some of my bad experiences as God's Will for me.  But my thoughts, are not his thoughts, my ways are not his ways…if I remember this I can see that acceptance of all that happens is a form of obedience…a submission to him. We should pray for grace  to have a right heart toward God…even in the face of evil…not allowing ourselves sorrow or despair, but rather stoic acceptance that God intends it for the good.  I guess he is in the business of growing holy souls…suffering is a part of it.  This actually would leave no room for complaining…that could demonstrate a lack of faith in God's goodness.

    Hi, Christine Ann,

    I hope we can keep this thread on track and avoid wandering off too far from its subject:  handling demonic oppression.  Jane introduced a specific kind of demonic oppression which is a temptation to despair. 

    Some readers may not understand that oppression is not the same thing as an ordinary temptation.  Oppression suggests an ongoing pattern of attack on the spirit, the mind, the body, one's general situation or family.  It's not just a single temptation to sleep with somebody or to steal one thing or to tell one lie.

    We can stay on topic in this thread if we keep the focus on how Satan sometimes repeatedly (over a period of time) oppresses us with temptations to despair  (or oppresses us in other ways) and by sharing methods for protecting ourselves and for finding help when we get mired. 

    There are some basic principles and practices which can help us withstand demonic oppression.  My intent with this thread was for us to share those with each other.  One principle is de Caussade's point that God allows into our lives exactly those sufferings, temptations, blessings, and consolations which will, with our cooperation, give us the best chance for reaching holiness.  We have simply to accept them and allow God to work on us through them, he says.

    Certainly one's confessor should be made aware of what one believes to be demonic oppression.  A priest can help one determine the sort of thing David Emery was discussing:  discerning between a temptation of the flesh and demonic oppression. 

    Yes, if we fail to submit to God's will as revealed in what He allows to enter our lives, in our self-pity we could incorrectly blame demons for our misery when, in fact, we simply need to move toward obedient submission to God's will.  A confessor can help us sort out such matters.

    A confessor can also give helpful counsel about how to handle the oppression, if that is the problem.

    For example, one priest asked me a few weeks ago to thank God for both the sufferings and the consolations that He sent me.  That's a good habit.

    I shared earlier in this thread the advice a second priest gave.  He also spoke of walking in faith.  These are not new ideas, not new methods.  However, we forget.  Satan loves it when we forget that He is alive and active in the world, when we forget that He hates us and wants to destroy us, when we forget to be vigilant in our thoughts.

    Another good practice is studying the lives of the saints to see how they dealt with demonic oppression.

    God bless,
    Becky

    #23027
    Becky Mayhew
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    Have you ever picked up the pamphlet “Golden Counsels of St. Francis de Sales?”  Your comment reminds me of the first paragraph in the Peace chapter.

    “Do not look forward to the mishaps of this life with anxiety, but await them with perfect confidence so that when they do occur, God, to whom you belong, will deliver you from them.  He has kept you up to the present; remain securely in the hand of his providence, and he will help you in all situations. … Remain in peace; rid your imagination of whatever troubles you. … Often say in the midst of trials, “This is the way to heaven; I see the port ahead and I am sure that storms cannot prevent me from reaching it.”

    When We Were One, if we could keep this frame of mind and maintain this level of faith in God's love and in His plan for us, we would be much less vulnerable to demonic oppression, wouldn't we?

    Grace and peace,
    Becky

    #23028
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    I think there is a narrow path here which we need to carefully discern as we journey toward holiness.

    Both Peter and James admonish us in no uncertain terms to resist the devil.  (1Peter 5: 6-11; James 4: 6-10)  Many modern Protestants (particularly TV preachers) emphasize the call to resist the devil as written in these scripture passages, sometimes to the point of making a person think that it is all up to him — if he would only resist with more determination, there would be no suffering in his life.  That is not the whole truth, of course, yet it is true that we are to resist the devil.

    Both Peter and James talk about resisting the devil in the context of humbling ourselves before God and seeing that suffering is a part of our earthly lives.  Sometimes it seems to me that Catholics emphasize the suffering and the acceptance of suffering to the point of forgetting about resisting the devil.

    In the Letter to the Hebrews, the author refers to spiritual discernment as a sign of maturity in a Christian.  He lists a few of the elementary teachings, such as faith in God, repentance from sins, instructions about baptisms and the laying on of hands.  It is the ability to distinguish between good and evil that reveals maturity in a Christian, and that ability comes only with constant use. (Heb. 5:11-6:3)

    In my view, the WAY in which we humble ourselves before God is vastly important as we journey toward holiness.  A passive receptivity of both good and evil without spiritual discernment is not, I believe, what God is looking for.  He desires us to be alert, using the gifts he gave us, to distinguish between good and evil and to react as he would react to good and evil.  We are submitting ourselves to him humbly as a student to a teacher, knowing that his way, his words, his will are the best, and that we endeavor to also do things his way, with his words and that his perfect will will become our will.  This active receptivity to God's way of doing things is, I believe, a proper humbling, a proper submission, as preached to us in the letters of St. James and St. Paul.

    This is the narrow path.  The wide path of resisting every unhappy or uncomfortable situation in life as an act of the devil is incorrect, as it overemphasizes man's will.  The wide path of passive reception of both good and evil is incorrect, because it underemphasizes the gift of free will that God expects us to exercise in this world.

    In the Catholic way (which is the fully Christian way) we are to take a both/and approach to BOTH humbling ourselves to God AND resisting the devil.  Notice how St. James and St. Peter take the both/and approach in what they write:

    James first quotes from the book of Proverbs: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  Then he writes “submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Grieve, mourn and wail.  Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.”

    St. Peter quotes the same proverb and then writes: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.  Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power and glory for ever and ever.  Amen.”

    We must remember that it is by “constant use” that Christians have “trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” as the author of Hebrews writes. Constant use.  Every day and in every situation.  At one point in my Christian walk, I prayed desperately for the gift of spiritual discernment, knowing I was in the middle of something that was an admixture of good and evil.  God gave me the ability to see clearly in that time and place, and now I have confidence that when I go to him in prayer in similar situations, he will show me what to do, even if it's one little step out of the fog, without seeing the whole situation.

    Do pray for the gift of spiritual discernment, and as you put it to constant use, God will faithfully lead and guide you BOTH in your earthly circumstances AND in the purification of your soul.

    Bless his Holy Name.
    ~~Jane

    #23037
    Christine Ann
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    When we were one,

    Thank you for the quotation of Francis De Sales.  It is such good advice and says it far better than my poor words.

    Becky, my apologies.  I had only read your post immediately prior to mine and not the entire thread.  My mistake, I see where you are going with this.

    Perhaps I can add a “practical help” in resisting Satan.  When I was under severe demonic oppression to despair, I fought it by simply refusing the thought.  I would cut it off and pray for strength.  It took a while, but eventually the thoughts did not continue coming.  If I were to have entertained the thought at all, for even a moment,  he would overpower me…he is such a driving force.  I felt so free when I was no longer troubled by him.  When you resist, he does flee.  My Baptist friends used to say, 'discouragment is of the devil'.  So perhaps he is the source of the more deadly sin of despair as well.

    Jane,

    It is hard to discern between temptation which originates from our fallen condition, and demonic oppression.  It's easy to forget that Satan is out there and doing his dirty work.  But I wouldn't want to attribute every temptation to him.  Praying for spiritual discernment would be the way to determine that, as you said.  But, Satan would have no power except that the Lord allows it.  So we are put through trials of our faith in which our will is tested.

    Christine Ann

    #23029
    Becky Mayhew
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    I think there is a narrow path here which we need to carefully discern as we journey toward holiness.…

    Wow, Jane.  I believe this post is one of your finest!  Thank you! 
    How blessed we are to have you on the forum!

    Grace and peace,
    Becky

    #23030
    Becky Mayhew
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    Becky, my apologies.  I had only read your post immediately prior to mine and not the entire thread.  My mistake, I see where you are going with this.

    Thanks, Christine Ann.

    Perhaps I can add a “practical help” in resisting Satan.  When I was under severe demonic oppression to despair, I fought it by simply refusing the thought.  I would cut it off and pray for strength.  It took a while, but eventually the thoughts did not continue coming.  If I were to have entertained the thought at all, for even a moment,  he would overpower me…he is such a driving force.  I felt so free when I was no longer troubled by him. 

    Christine Ann

    Good advice, Christine Ann.  As Barney Fife would say, you learned to “nip it in the bud.”  🙂

    God bless,
    Becky

    #23031
    Becky Mayhew
    Member
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    My father has been dead over seventeen years now.  How I miss him today!  Familiar with my patterns of weakness yet having a loving, gentle objectivity, he would have been able to tell me immediately what it has taken me many hours to discern (I'm a bit blind sometimes about my own heart and spirit).

    1.  I've been making the same mistake I made when my bridegroom left for a year in Vietnam, two weeks after we married:  collapsing under the weight of my cross because of looking for grace NOW to endure the entire coming year or the entire remainder of my life. 

    We leave ourselves more open to demonic oppression when we expect comfort and grace for the future.  God does not operate that way.  He will not let us gather spiritual/emotional manna for tomorrow, next week, next month, next decade anymore than he allowed the Israelites to stock up on that manna for physical nourishment. 

    My piano teacher in college taught me that when she saw the expression on my face a few days after my husband's departure.  “Never try to handle more than one day at a time.  Half a day is better.  Sometimes you should aim no higher than handling the pain from breakfast to lunch and then handling it from lunch to dinner.  Anybody can handle pain for that long.”

    The Devil got me again on that one.  So many folks looking to me for comfort.  So many folks who used to comfort me being removed from my life!  How can I bear these burdens all day, every day for the rest of my life?  Note to Becky:  remember your piano teacher!

    2.  Daddy would also have reminded me that Satan is the father of lies.  Life is full of ups and downs.  There is no reason to conclude that this life will never, ever offer comfort and happiness again.  He's a liar.  I know he's a liar.  Yet he got me again.

    3.  Like St. Peter as he walked on the water, I took my eyes off the Lord's face and then felt overwhelmed by the waves.  Such an old trick that Satan uses, and I fell for it—again!

    4.  Finally, from a dear friend who knows my heart and my life pretty well, comes this advice:
    “You've been doing a lot of good things and have more planned.  Maybe you need to take a bit of time to rest.”

    Yes, I believe I will get into the little boat and head for the other side of the lake.  If I find a “crowd” waiting for me upon my arrival, the Lord will provide strength and grace for me at that time.  I'm not going to ask Him for it now.  While I row, I'm going to sing songs like these:

    “One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus”
    “What Can Wash Away My Sins? Nothing But the Blood of Jesus.”
    “There Is a Place of Quiet Rest Near to the Heart of God”
    “How Firm a Foundation, Ye Saints of the Lord”
    “I Must Tell Jesus. I Can Not Bear These Burdens Alone”
    “Take Your Burden to the Lord and Leave It There.”
    “Sweetly, Lord, Have We Heard Thee Calling, 'Come, Follow Me!'”  (Footprints of Jesus)

    “In seasons of distress and grief, my soul has often found relief and
      oft escaped the Tempter's snare by thy return, sweet hour of prayer.” 
                    (Sweet Hour of Prayer by W.W. Walford)

    “When Love is Lord of Heaven and Earth, How Can I Keep from Singing?”
    “Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone? No, There's a Cross for Me!”
    “Be Thou My Vision, O Lord of My Life”
    “I Am the Bread of Life”
    “Agnus Dei”

    My grateful thanks to those of you who prayed for me.

    God bless,
    Becky

    #23032
    Estelle
    Participant
    Status: Lifelong Catholic
    Member Since: January 04, 2009

    I was recently fortunate enough to meet a wonderful woman named Palma Pascale. She has a CD called The Broken Cup. One song on it is entitled Give Me Just Enough Grace For Today.  When she introduced the song at the meeting she commented that if we ask for a month's worth of bread it would only get moldy.  Really helps me keep things in perspective.

    Resting in His loving arms,
    Estelle

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