I gave a talk some years ago to a group of faithful on the need to be engaged in spiritual warfare today. After the talk, one of the attendees said to me, “Father, I am certain that I would not be able to sleep this night after listening to your talk on the demons and their activities in our lives.”
Her words reflect the sad attitude we have today regarding the reality of demons and their activities. We think that demons will just leave us in peace if we do not speak or think about them. The truth is that we can choose to ignore them, but they never ignore us for a single moment.
Let us hear from St. Peter about demons and our need to be vigilant always, “Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith.”(1Pet 5:8-9) It is thus naïve to think that we are safe simply because we do not want to hear or think about the devil and his demons.
On the contrary, demons are always busy, watching us with intense hatred, fully resolved and determined to bring us to share their destiny in hell. Because misery always seeks company, the intense misery of the demons makes them labor tirelessly to make us their companions in the fires of hell.
One way in which they labor for our eternal damnation is to communicate to us their mindset. We see elements of this mindset in Mk 1:21-28. The demon first acknowledges the majesty and holiness of Jesus, “I know who you are – the Holy One of God.” But this is only forced acknowledgment in words alone. The demon is not ready or willing to submit to Jesus in love. It is defiant and does not easily obey the words of Jesus, “The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.”
We too begin to exhibit the mindset of the demons when we only acknowledge Jesus by our words but resist Him in our actions. We struggle to freely submit to Jesus because we have believed the many lies that the demons have directly or indirectly planted in our minds and hearts through the world and fallen men and women.
Here are some of these lies.
- They tell us that there is something good and useful to us in our sinful choices. They make us focus on the fleeting benefits of our sins while ignoring the temporal and eternal consequences. They do this today by telling us to be more tolerant and less rigid in dealing with sin. They tell us that tolerating sin is actually being non-judgmental and the highest virtue we can practice today is to tolerate everything.
- They tell us that Jesus does not love us all the time. They lie to us that we have to either earn His love for us or prove ourselves loveable. They also convince us that Jesus has come to destroy us and not to communicate His life and holiness to us. They tell us that obtaining human love, material possessions, and achievements, will satisfy our hunger for love. They tempt us to go in search of endless pleasure and novelty.
- They tell us that God is a liar and that we cannot really trust in Him or in His words to us. This is the age-old lie that Satan used in the garden of Even, “God knows that the moment you eat it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods.”(Gen 3:5) We hear this lie today in the idea that we can no longer put our trust in God’s words to us or the power of His grace. By convincing us that God does not have our best interests at heart, they tell us that we cannot rely on His promises anymore. Thus, we must re-interpret and “update” the word of God to fit our current tastes and preferences.
- They tell us that our actions do not have consequences. We can do whatever we like, and God will understand. We see this lie in the idea that people of the same sex can enter into a civil union, engage in sexual acts as a couple, come to Church as a couple, and get a special non-liturgical blessing as individuals. How clever and innovative demons are!
- They tell us that praying fervently, repenting of our sins, doing the will of God with love, witnessing to Jesus, worshipping, and serving God are no longer fashionable and are actually useless things to do. They try to make us discouraged in our spiritual lives by pointing to the struggles and hardships that we face in life.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, if we believe just one of these demonic lies, we will lose our peace of mind and get confused and discouraged. Demons are always present, active, clever, persistent, and strong in plotting our eternal ruin. If these demons can manifest in a synagogue, a place of worship, prayer, and reflection on the word of God, there is no place on this earth safe enough to keep them away from us. If they can manifest in the presence of the Son of God, they can lie to us no matter how deep our relationship with Jesus.
Jesus rebuked the demons in the synagogue immediately because their lies were subtle and deadly. He did not want us to be exposed to their lies in any way. He did so to give us the example and power to also resist the demons in His name.
We can resist the demons only when we also know the truth about God’s word to us, love this truth, and act on it. When we do not know the truth and live it out with conviction, we lack faith and tend to depend only on our emotions, imagination, and public opinions. This is how demons can get us to even begin to imagine such things as hell being empty despite the many instances of a populated hell from divine revelation.
We can resist the demons when we have Jesus present in us through the Eucharist. The Real Presence of Jesus is our greatest weapon against these fallen angels. This is why Jesus said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.”(Jn 15:5) We are powerfully united with Him through the Eucharist. We are hopeless and helpless in this spiritual battle without a fervent Eucharistic devotion.
We can resist the demons when we regularly confess our sins in the sacrament of confession. The sins that we keep hidden will only become deeply rooted and spread. Unconfessed sins make us more susceptible to the ploys and mindset of demons. Regular confession also gives us light to recognize the many subtle ways in which demons bring us to share in their mindset.
We can resist demons when pray fervently and ask God for His graces all the time. We must not just pray for temporal needs. We must also pray for the grace to practice heroic virtue and to discern the hidden actions of the demons in our lives. Our perseverance in prayer is indispensable in this spiritual battle.
Lastly, we can resist the demons when we have a true and tender devotion to Mary, the Mother of divine grace. She who is forever “full of grace” passionately defends us from the enemy of our salvation who wants to destroy the grace of God in us. As the New Eve, she does not hesitate to fulfill the role that God promised in the garden of Eden, “I will put enmity between you and the woman.”(Gen 3:15)
Let us not be naïve when it comes to demons and their activities. Let us also not be afraid to speak about them and to reflect on them and how they try to project their mindsets on us.
By the grace of God offered in each Eucharist, let us begin to resist demons today and reject their mindset so that we can have true peace in this life and in the life to come.
Glory to Jesus! Honor to Mary!