Spiritual Armor: Godly Relationships

At a teaching conference for the formation of priests and their teams working in the Church’s ministry of healing, deliverance and exorcism, an experienced exorcist shared a tragic story of how a young woman became fully possessed by demonic spirits. She had become estranged from her family and alienated from friends through a series of losses and broken relationships. Overwhelmed with loneliness and full of despair, one night she sank onto her bathroom floor and cried out from the depths of her desolate heart, “Is there is anyone out there who will be my friend?” Here, a very desperate, isolated girl opened a doorway and sent an invitation into the very real spirit world that surrounds us all. Fallen angels, demons, were quick to seize the opportunity to enter into a “relationship” with this poor soul.

The evil spirits desire relationship with their host person to mock God and torment the soul. Evil spirits try to fill up the empty space inside the heart of the host person and seductively mock true friendship and companionship. More cunning than the human mind because they are pure spirit, the angels of darkness strike at our “Achilles’ heel”—our most vulnerable wound. For example, if we have a wound of rejection (especially by a spouse or parent) the demonic spirit might exacerbate our pain, anger and self-degradation with temptations to retaliate against those who reject us.  The evil one may bombard us with temptations such as, “You are not worthy to be loved; everyone will reject you—but I’ll be your friend and I’ll give you power to overcome your enemies.”

God’s creation is about relationship. Even the fallen angels work in “families” so to speak. For example, during an official Rite of Exorcism, in response to the priests inquiry about the name of the spirit, we heard, “My name is depression and I entered with negativity and doubt.” There are fallen angels of depression, negativity and doubt and they tend to group themselves together to be more effective in tempting humanity.

The Catechism explains the office and nature of angels:

329. St. Augustine says: “Angel” is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are ‘spirit,’ from what they do ‘angel.’”

414. Satan or the devil and the other demons are fallen angels who have freely refused to serve God and his plan. Their choice against God is definitive. They try to associate man in the revolt against God.

As the Catechism teaches, demonic temptation, oppression, obsession and possession all aim at the demonic goal of associating a person with the devil’s revolt against God. The fallen angels refused to serve God and his plan of salvation. The perennial revolt is against the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ sent to be Savior of humanity. Therefore, let us deepen our devotion and gratitude for the greatest gift of the Incarnation!

The greatest spiritual armor you can possess is your intimate relationship with the Person of Jesus Christ who is Lord! The deeper your relationship with Jesus Christ becomes, the greater strength you have to resist the devil and his works because it is Christ in you—the indwelt Spirit of the Living God that defends you from evil.

The most important step to being protected from the evil one or to become free from his grip is to solidify our relationship with the Person of Jesus Christ. How? Through sacramental life: more Holy Communions (assuming one is in the state of grace), Confessions and prayer: the Holy Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Liturgy of the Hours, more scripture and spiritual reading, more retreats, spiritual direction, more fellowship at the parish or cenacles of prayer, more service to the poor, greater charity in the home toward spouses, children, parents, siblings. These are the living stones that build a strong spiritual edifice around our hearts.

We must guard the heart for God alone. Who and what fill your heart? Who and what occupy your thoughts? Evil spirits enter and exit through our five human senses and prudence requires that we guard these always. The structure of the five sense organs of the human body is: vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch. What are you looking at, hearing, tasting or touching? Invite God into each sense area asking Him to continually sanctify your senses.

God, who is infinitely magnanimous, desires us to have full communion with The Three in One and as many healthy relationships and holy friendships as possible. Holy relationships not only protect us from serious onslaught of demonic spirits, they also contribute to the abundant life that Jesus desires for us to enjoy.

In this present time, many families are broken and relationships are estranged. Take solace, because we can intercede for the family and work toward reconciliation that comes through mutual forgiveness and the desire to extend charity again. Patience and perseverance is required to heal family relationships.

We all have recourse to the rich and vast family of God through Holy Mother Church. This is my favorite expression about the Church—she is my Holy Mother. The Church, like a good mother, is there for me with sacramental fountains of grace, priests who are “other Christ’s” and people who are truly my brothers and sisters in Christ. All men sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), but together we are on a journey of faith, being perfected in grace through God’s daily medicine of divine mercy. God is faithful and grace is always super- sufficient!

The Lord and His Church encourage us to develop relationships with our patron saints and guardian angels. If only the young lady who invited “anyone out there” into relationship with her had called on her patron saint or guardian angel for help, she may have been spared the intense suffering of demonic possession. Thanks be to God, through the Church ministry of exorcism the girl was liberated.

Devotion to our personal guardian angel and patron saint is strongly urged in healing and deliverance ministry as a means of real and abiding protection. I’d like to relay a personal story of how I became convinced of the importance of the Church’s tradition regarding patron saints. When I arrived at the hospital to meet the newest member of our family at the birth of my nephew, nothing could have surprised me more. A first glimpse of the baby revealed that he was born with a severe cleft palate. His mouth, gums, teeth, nose and palate did not form together so there was a wide-open gap in his face. As we were standing together welcoming the baby and loving him with tender sympathy, the nurse entered the room and asked the parents what they wanted to name him. My brother responded with a name other than a saint’s name. The Holy Spirit urged me to interject and to make a case for a saint’s name—in particular—Saint Luke, evangelist and physician. I urged his parents to name him after Saint Luke who would intercede powerfully for the child as he underwent many surgeries from birth to eighteen to correct the cleft palate.  They agreed and things have gone well for him through several surgeries.

A real relationship with saints and angels is the best spiritual armor we can have as we fight the good fight. Let us solidify our Godly relationships and let go of all ungodly ones. Ask the Lord to choose your friends and start with His friends.

Saints and Angels of God, pray for us. Holy Mother Church, protect us. Amen.

2bears / Shutterstock.com

Kathleen Beckman

By

Kathleen Beckman, L.H.S., serves as Co-founder and President of the Foundation of Prayer for Priests (www.foundationforpriests.org). She is an author, radio host and retreat director who frequently speaks to priests, seminarians, religious and laity in the United States and abroad. Often featured on EWTN TV and radio, Kathleen hosts the weekly program Living Eucharist, which airs internationally on Radio Maria. She serves as spiritual director, advisory board member and faculty for the Pope Leo XIII Institute, and the Magnificat advisory team. Her new book, Praying for Priests: A Mission for the New Evangelization, is available from Sophia Institute Press.

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  • DaughterOfLourdes .

    This article is outrageous and misleading. You are stigmatizing the mentally ill with the absurd proposition that “depression” and other forms of mental illness are in actuality “demons” that have “possessed” people. It’s 2014. Psychiatry, although a severely limited science, has identified mental illness as legitimate: brain dysfunction, chemical imbalance, endocrinological issues, at times even tumor related. I once heard from a Protestant pulpit a pastor sermonizing that people remain sick because their “faith is not strong enough”. Do not tell me the Catholic church is going down that wide road straight to Hades. My daughter had schizophrenia and was bipolar, her suffering was enormous. She wore a crucifix, she read the Bible, she downloaded pictures of Jesus, do not tell me she was possessed. She was terminally ill with a combination of psychosis that literally ate her brain, slowly. Isn’t it bad enough that those who suffer mental illness or serious emotional problems are stigmatized by society? Now the Church that supposedly represents Jesus is doing it also? God forgive you.

  • 4HimthruHer

    DaughterOfLourdes,

    Please don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, yes some depression and mental illness exist and is physical in nature, but this article is true in that demons can and do affect and take advantage of these situations. Please do not blame and accuse the Catholic Church. I have personally experienced family members who suffered mental illnesses that unfortunately were abused and overcome by demonic influences. I also believe that our Loving God has a special care, love and understanding of these situations and tends to these unfortunate souls most mercifully… God bless you and have peace about all of this… Thank you for this article it is good to know that God always provides healing and salvation for us.

  • Veronica Jensen

    Talk about completely missing the boat! No one is blaming the mentally ill for anything. Demon possession has increased by 500% in the last few years. In fact, the demons don’t even try to hide any more. You can find literally hundreds of news reports illustrating this problem.
    This country does a horrible job of looking after the needs of the mentally ill. We as a country are guilty of a crime against our own mentally ill population and our country is also guilty of massive amounts of immorality. I do not believe that these things are merely disconnect events in the history of our country. I think they are symptoms of a sick destructive society.

  • Kelli

    I think the what struck me more was how loneliness opens us up to demons through our own despair. I didn’t feel this was a commentary on mental illness. We as a society, are lonely. No wonder the greater need for exorcism. Excellent article!

  • noelfitz

    I am a great fan of CE and am encouraged by its excellent Catholic articles, so I am disappointed with this one.

    First of all it is vague, as we get no details of the tragic story initially alluded to. Where and when did it occur?

    What are ‘fallen angels of depression’? where does the Church teach us about these?

    Secondly there seems to be no connection between various views expressed. There seems little logical links.

    Thirdly Pelagianism seems to be supported here, as by our own efforts it appears one can be protected from evil spirits, there is no mention of grace.

    I read here “The perennial revolt is against the Incarnation”. What does this mean?

    Perhaps I am wrong, so I would like to hear from more subscribers to CE to see if my views are shared.

    Am I unduly critical?

  • Maria Flores

    Before you make the assumption there is a oppression and or possession ….Let the Church determine the fact, The Church always consults professional qualified individuals in these matter. Psychiatrists, psychologists. Yes demons are real… But never make generalized statements…concerning demon possession, etc. For the woman who’s daughter has schizophrenia, I apologize for those who label and or ignore solid scientific evidence and facts and jump to uninformed conclusions.

  • Steph

    i am only writing this because I can be Anonymous, I don’t know what more I can do, and I am used up and empty. All around me saints and sinners alike enjoying their days. I have hunted and followed after Jesus my whole life, begging him to take Heal me. I was beaten and abused by my parents, later molested by an uncle and a stranger, I was in and out of the hospital as a child, and as an adult, I suffer from mutiple auto-immune disorders – by suffer I mean Plagued, my stomach is nearly paralyzed, some times I am forced to fast for weeks at a time, when I can eat it’s not much and I am allergic to almost all foods – just meat, fish, and some well cooked vegetables, rashes cover my body, I am slowly going blind- I was diagnosed with glaucoma at 32, I have a rare Disease that causes constant pain! ( that I cant mention, since it is rare enough to give me identity, but many others with this are home bound, I take no Meds. Hoping that my pain with bring me to Christ) matter of fact when I try to seek spiritual counseling, and go more deeply in to the horrors that happen to my family, I just get stares of disbelief! I pray more than anyone I know, I home-school my children in Catholic faith, I work and volunteer, at two days a week in Charities, and lead other to Christ. I feel like I give endlessly,
    sure have most i know beaten out but maybe I’d not give enough ? I try to. Leave with less so we can give more a family of 7 on a one income of $50k ,
    I go to Mass twice weekly and take the sacrament, even though I am allergic to both the Gluten in the bread and alcohol in the wine – I cry myself to sleep after rosaries or novenas, begging for enough mercy to live the next day with my children –

  • Hope this helps

    The article does assume the reader has familiarity with this kind of material. E.g., judging from some of the other commentary here, it has failed to mention the usual warning that mental illness and demonic possession are not the same thing. This warning is so common that writers familiar with the material might assume that their readers already know it. But the article also tends to wander off topic (e.g. the surgery story in an article about spiritual warfare). If you believe the former is your issue here, there are some classic introductions to the topic, such as Malachi Martin’s Hostage_to_the_Devil.

  • question everything

    I still do not understand why the Angels in Heaven were not as eager to ‘seize’ the opportunity to have a relationship with this woman.

  • Evangeline

    You know what’s missing in your “confession” here….faith in God and fulfillment, happiness and love for God. Offer all these, you claimed, to our Lord. You mentioned everything wrong with you and what you do, but none of what Our lord does in our being here. All saints in heaven did not just become saints, they suffered gravely for the love of God. God knows our sufferings and what’s in our hearts. Keep doing what you’re doing and offer them to Him and always look up to heaven and the cross and what it stands for in your life. Do not see the Holy Sacrament as gluten bread,it’s His body & wine as alcohol. It’s His blood. Get more understanding about your “faith”, no matter how many novenas or prayers you say if in your heart, you sound like you’re blaming our Lord. Make a good confession & God Bless you.

  • Katherine

    Evangeline,
    I’m sure it was your intention to be helpful to Steph, however I simply read a shaming unhelpful reply. This is typical from most Catholics in the face of suffering from others, but very unhelpful. If you have not walked in their shoes, you should refrain from spiritual advice because more often than not, it does more damage.
    Steph is clearly tormented in mind and body. It is true that the saints suffered gravely for the love of God, but seriously? How is that comforting or helpful to one in such pain? Why do all Catholics assume that torment and suffering that literally paralyze someone and cause them to close in on themselves is simply some suffering to be offered up because the saints did it? For that matter, I have never read that that was what Jesus said to the suffering he encountered. He recognized that the woman hunched over was bound by Satan for 18 years, and risked delivering her on the Sabbath to set her free. I suppose he could have just left her and told her that she should offer it up because he was headed to his own suffering.
    Steph shared quite a bit of history that should tell anyone with discernment that there is something else at work here. It is natural to respond the way she is in the face of her difficulties. She is desperate She is “trying” everything she has been taught or knows to somehow please God enough to set her free. We all should know that is not the way God works, but it is what most have been taught, and it is truly very often the advice given by the Church. They don’t like to be confronted with this sort of thing because they don’t know how to set the captives free. In order to know how to set a captive free, you actually have to believe that they can be being held captive. It goes beyond “making a good confession”. There are many layers here..many sins from others….many wounds……many lies that have been instilled in Steph that need to be dealt with. Many areas that are footholds for the devil to torment and bring death to mind, body, spirit. How horrible to just be told “you’re blaming the Lord and go make a good confession. God Bless you”. I think the Lord can handle it….it’s where she is at right now and there apparently isn’t anyone in her Church or life that can lead her out of it. Thank God those two guys that brought their sick friend to Jesus and lowered him through the roof weren’t thinking like most Catholics do these days!
    Trust me that when you are in the midst of darkness, suffering in mind and spirit and body, desperate and it seems no matter what you “do” spiritually, no relief comes…..the devil is always there, too. He would love nothing better than to drive a suffering soul right over the cliff of despair to mock God and cause a soul to believe God abandoned them. People in this situation need help, and just maybe God places us in their lives to be that light, be that voice, be that strength that they need to make it out.
    “Logical” advice isn’t helpful in these circumstances.
    Steph, I pray that God the Father, in His love for you send you the person or person’s you need in order to obtain that freedom in Christ that is promised to all of us . Pray that He would send that person to you. You may not be healed of all of your infirmities in this life, but you will experience love and freedom and strength in the midst of your suffering .
    I will keep you in my prayers. The Lord knows who you are!
    God Bless you.

  • MTeresa

    Dear Katherine, I was grateful to read your response to Steph – her pain and suffering has me in tears. I hope your compassionate response to her is helpful and I too will be praying for her, that where ever she is she finds the people (filled with Christ and the Holy Spirit) who can really help her with those layers, sins of others and wounds you called out. Lord – be merciful and let her know the real love of Christ! Christ does not will us on his cross and he wants us to help people off theirs.
    I do not know what the other person said that you commented on since the comment was removed. I do not know what any priests have said to her – but I know it would take a special priest to handle the depth and breadth of her issues well. I guess you are not Catholic, you repeatedly
    clump them all together in a pretty negative way. As a Catholic, I find it difficult to clump ‘most Catholics’ into any category at all. All sin, is a lack of love. There is plenty to go around in and out of the Church I’m afraid. Come Holy Spirit, fill us with more love and compassion for each other!

  • Katherine

    MTeresa,
    I actually am Catholic and have been going to daily Mass for 7 years along with my daughters. The Lord has led us into the lives of many people like Steph and it is heartbreaking that where they should be able to find the help they need, our Catholic Church, they very often find the “toughen up and carry on” response from the priests and those they reach out to.
    The Lord, in the process of leading us to these people, has also brought this family through great trials, darkness, and sufferings. A purification that was painful, yet necessary. There are many books and homilies written and spoken about suffering but it is something that has to be experienced in order to reach out to others. Many people simply have no idea what it is like and it is hurtful to offer flip advice to those in deep suffering.
    To Steph: We offered you up at Mass tonight praying the Lord will send the help you desperately seek. The fact that you persevere in your suffering and questioning is a very good sign! Many in your shoes would have walked away from Jesus by now. Keep persevering. If not for the Blessed Mother, I know this family would not have made it. God Bless. .

  • noelfitz

    This article has week tagged ‘best of the week’. It certainly has struck many of us forcefully, eliciting sincere and deep-felt comments. The variety of replies shows how Catholics differ, while retaining fundamental beliefs.

    My heart goes out to those who suffer and Steph’s difficulties have moved me. I hope things will improve substantially.

    I wish all of us well. Life can be so tough and advice is not always constructive.

  • MarytheDefender

    I would suggest reading the book, “The Healing of Families” by Father Yozefu Ssemakula. If there are evil spirits involved it is possible that they are attached through family bondages. Try to do the paraliturgy it suggests. God Bless! You are in my prayers!

  • inGod I trust

    I too undergo that suffering. But God in his mercy has delivered me. How? first I attended in Christian Healing Ministry classes. They have in Jacksonville. Just like you went to the doctor they need to understand your family background. Then attended the seminar of Father Yosefu Ssemakula. In fact I am also giving the seminar because I am trained by Father and God has been so good to me.T

  • Paul

    You are so right DaughterofLourdes, this notion that mentally ill are vulnerable and or possessed by demons sounds like the reasoning used in Salem village in 1692 with people accusing innocent persons of witchcraft simply because what they didn’t understand they blamed on the devil.

  • Guest

    Contrast that with a time when I was lonely. I was heavily pregnant and we were living in a new city where I knew no-one. I prayed, “Lord, I really need a friend, someone like me.” A few minutes later, I heard a meowing, opened it and in ran a rather desperate and very heavily pregnant little cat. Without a by or leave, she sprang into a cupboard and gave birth. Not quite what I had in mind, but she brought a smile to my face and became a little “friend.” And of course the loneliness passed. I made real friends as time went on, but even now, over forty years later, I remember how God answered my prayer in a way that would immediately cheer me up.

  • Guest

    That should have read “opened the door.”

  • Dave

    Probably because you have to ask through God.

  • Dave

    It’s not an either/or scenario. There is definitely such a thing as mental illness. There is also definitely such a thing as demonic possession. Some diagnosed as having mental illness may in fact be possessed, since possession is not a category that psychiatry can perceive.

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