This book is a gem, for the brilliant way it achieves its purpose and for the multifaceted approach the author takes to protecting ourselves and our families from demonic disturbance. Its guidance is clear, timeless—and very timely.
Books on demonic activity can be creepy to read, but not this one. Although the author, Kathleen Beckman, makes clear that the battle is real and unavoidable, she keeps front and center the power of Jesus Christ, who has already won the battle. She reminds us: “When we’re a baptized person in a state of grace, devils fear us!” She quotes Pope Francis: “The devil is a loser. Don’t forget it!” And yet, he is always prowling around, which makes intentional daily combat necessary.
Beckman intends to “offer encouragement for families who experience spiritual warfare from the world, the flesh, and the devil. My hope is to help evangelize families about unmasking diabolical disguises. This work emphasizes how the Catholic Church provides for persons who need healing, deliverance, and exorcism. I strive to encourage families to prevent problems by practicing the proven means of protection in the Church’s arsenal of spiritual weapons.”
And what does a family look like when it’s victorious in spiritual battle? Beckman describes it as “a team of spiritual warriors who strengthen one another in virtuous love.” That may sound daunting or even impossible. But even if we are the only ones in the family practicing the faith, Beckman writes, “God can work wonders through you, prayer warrior!” She explains in simple terms the do-able steps anyone can take to heal division and cultivate love among family members, and why it’s worth it: “Family life demands total self-giving that is rewarded by the discovery of a joy not to be found elsewhere.”
Learning the hard way
Beckman learned how necessary these tools are after the murder of a close relative resulted in an infestation of anger, fear, and confusion in her family. It took 20 years of “suffering and spiritual warfare” to get the family back to spiritual health. She has seen it as a professional, too, being the administrator of the exorcist teams in the Diocese of Orange and as one who goes out with the priests for exorcism sessions. She provides ample illustrations of victorious spiritual battles from her experience assisting exorcists and from the stories they have shared with her.
The maternal tone of the book is as if the Blessed Mother were speaking to us, urging with a motherly heart to press on in a battle that her Divine Son won on Calvary two millennia ago. And that is Beckman’s point: the children of the Church have nothing to fear because they fight with the power of the Victor. But fight we must.
She quotes St. John Paul II: “The path to holiness involves the acceptance of spiritual combat. This is a demanding reality which is not always given due attention today.” This combat is for our freedom—the freedom to love, especially those in our family, without being distracted by a spirit of resentment, anger, or fear. The devil hates the family, Beckman argues, just as Jesus, who grew up in a family, loves and protects the family through his Church—through us.
This left me asking with a new urgency, but what can I do? The following chapters comprehensively answer that question.
Before “doing” anything, we need to discern the movements of our own heart—to become sensitive to ways in which we allow the world, the flesh, and the devil to drown out the love of God in our own souls. Only by a habit of identifying what causes disturbance in ourselves and rooting out sin in our own lives will we have power in Christ to recognize and pray against evil spirits disturbing family harmony. And only a habit of invoking the Holy Spirit can lead us to a good discernment. Discernment doesn’t have to be a long process. When there’s no time to discern, Beckman simply prays: “Holy Spirit, what’s going on? Help us!”
She reminds us that “evil spirits are keenly aware of God’s omnipotence. They know they are limited according to the divine will, but they do not want you to realize this.” A habit of discernment enables us to focus on God’s “unending divine assistance” when we’re bullied by the devil’s lies that can bring about discouragement and division.
Weapon of prayer
When we discern a disordered spirit in our home, it can cause a confusing paralysis. We may ask ourselves, what could I have done differently to avoid this and how do I fix it? Confusion is not of God, so Beckman recommends immediately praying an act of faith in Christ. This clarifies our trust that God is in charge. It saves us from becoming part of the problem and makes us valiant warriors in the “final battle” described by Sr. Lucia of Fatima: “Don’t be afraid…because whoever works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought against and opposed…because this is the decisive issue….Nevertheless, Our Lady has already crushed his head.”
How to avoid and repel demonic disturbance
“The diabolic aim is to separate us from God,” Beckman writes. “The enemy has no access to your will, unless you hand over the key, although he does not want you to know this.” Therefore, sin is a major gateway for the demonic. Because “all sin…is based in distrust of God.”
So what to do? Because “deliverance occurs through reconciliation with God,” a “good sacramental Confession, praying daily deliverance prayers, fasting, and leading a sacramental life” are “effective, proven remedies.” Daily deliverance prayers and asking your parish priest to make periodic blessings upon you and your home are powerful means of protection. For cases of extraordinary spiritual warfare, Beckman advises making an appointment with your parish priest.
She reminds us that “even in the midst of dire spiritual combat, by God’s grace, you can be lifted above the battle to grasp the greater purpose of God’s providence, which is aimed at the salvation of souls. Remember that you are anointed to be a soldier for Christ. Renounce evil and cling to God, and He will not forsake you.”
Other ways of entry and of protection
After listing five common entryways for demons, which knowledge can help a great deal in our discernment, Beckman lays out the three foundational strategies of spiritual warfare used by Jesus: quoting scripture (many examples are provided), using one’s spiritual authority (she includes what we can and can’t do as lay people), and remaining in a state of grace (the way to fully allow Christ to work through us).
The God-given power we have over demons as baptized people in a state of grace will be an eye-opener for many. With her extensive experience, Beckman is able to reassure us of our power in Christ: “When the Eternal Father looks at you, He sees the image of His Son Jesus Christ woven into the fabric of your baptized being. When you pray against evil spirits, demons recognize Christ in you. The devil recognizes that you belong to Jesus.”
How the enemy works
Two chapters deal with specific ways the devil attacks us and how he disguises himself to do so. St. Teresa of Avila realized that although she was constantly attacked, she remained unafraid because she was not like the “cowardly souls who surrender their weapons.” We surrender our “weapon” of blessing when we dwell on resentful thoughts or trade insult for insult. Blessing those who injure us is one way to keep the door to demonic activity nailed shut. Another weapon always at our disposal is the truth. Facing the truth about ourselves, the movements of our heart, and God’s love for each person fends off the father of lies. Beckman covers in detail many other ways to recognize and protect against our enemy’s attempts to draw us away from God by deception.
Three chapters are devoted to the ways we can tap into God’s protection, including how to make our home a sanctuary of the Heart of Jesus—a Eucharistic home in which each member feels valued, loved, and prayed for. For homes that have been invaded by a disturbance, Beckman provides strategies for deliverance from the attack. The last chapter includes practical advice on how to work with Mary, our Guardian Angel, and St. Michael to protect ourselves and our homes.
The book ends with 40 pages of prayers for family healing and deliverance, such as “A Grandparent’s Deliverance Prayer” and “A Father’s Binding Prayer for His Family” and case studies of deliverance that illustrate how effective the foregoing guidance can be.
I came away with a renewed urgency to pray for my own soul and the souls who need God so badly and a deeper understanding of ways to do that. It is consoling to be reminded that the everyday weapons the Church provides are more than sufficient to win the battle against evil.
“If I could accompany you on the journey,” writes Beckman, “I’d whisper: Do not give up! Stand firm….Your marriage and family are worth it. You are braver than you imagine when you abide in Christ. Lean on the Blessed Mother, who is fierce in battle. Tap into the Church’s arsenal. Be a brave solider, because God is with you.”
St. Paul wrote in Romans that where sin increases, grace overflows all the more. Beckman’s guidance is an important component of the grace overflowing to us in these evil times. I highly recommend it as a practical manual to help us close our souls and our homes to evil and live family life in the freedom and joy of the children of God.
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