Mary, Culture, Family, and Spiritual Warfare

Till the end of time, Satan will never give up tempting men, setting up obstacles to their salvation, and combating them; but he will do all this only within the limits allowed him by the Immaculata; this means, only in so far as this is necessary to enable us to reap the merits of our victory, which will be certain if we fight the battle under her standard, with her, through her, by her and in her. There is much evil in the world, but let us not forget that the Immaculata is more powerful yet, and that she will “crush the infernal serpent’s head.”

Letter of St. Maximilian Kolbe to Fr. Florian Koziura, March 2, 1931 quoted in Fr. H.M. Manteau-Bonamy, O.P., Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit: The Marian Teachings of St. Maximilian Kolbe

Mary is the protector of the family and the culture of life. The universal Church is imbued with Mary’s motherly character. Her motherliness is God’s provision and blessing for the domestic church as well. When the family (or culture) is attacked, you and I do not fight alone: we are accompanied by the best of soldiers—Jesus Christ, the Blessed Mother, the choirs of angels, and the saints. The challenge is to allow them into our battles, obey their strategies, and follow their lead. In combat, they guide us to know when to move defensively or offensively.

A challenge for modern families is the concept of living together with Mary and the Holy Spirit. This implies a trajectory away from a godless culture –we’re marching counterculturally. We’re challenging the deconstruction of transcendence, happiness, and morality. How? By building morally upright, happy, and spiritually thriving families. We rebuild our wavering marriages, and we never give up praying and fasting for our wayward children. Our families engage in the culture wars to build a culture of life and advance the divine concept of marriage and family. We saturate our minds and hearts with the beauty and truth of Catholicism. We strive to be converted daily to become ideal disciples. We renounce Satan and his empty promises. We rebuke sin. We never give up. We see the evil around us, but we see the great good that exists also. “We are not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by doing good” (Rom. 12:21). 

The Virgin Mary helps to liberate us from evil spirits in the following ways: 

  1. Mary is the vessel — the mediatrix — of God’s grace. God anointed her for spiritual warfare as the most powerful threat to Satan because of her extraordinary union with Jesus.
  2. Because God chose the Virgin Mary to be the New Eve against demons, the name of Mary has a similar impact to the name of Jesus. This is seen during exorcisms. Demons are terrified of the Virgin Mary who always champions a person’s liberation from evil.
  3. Mary’s holy, maternal presence is extraordinarily painful to demons. They know the efficacy of Marian intervention. The Incarnation — the undoing of the devil — was fulfilled in Mary. 
  4. Mary’s virtues and union with the Holy Spirit make her a fierce destroyer of diabolical plots and tactics. Her life-giving love and defense of God’s family are infuriating to prideful demons. 

At a spiritual warfare conference, Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., gave a presentation contrasting the logic of Satan with the logic of the Virgin Mary. Reflecting on this comparison, we learn the proper disposition toward God’s will. Note the fruitfulness of Mary’s logic versus the dire outcome of Lucifer’s logic, which led Eve astray. 

The Logic of Lucifer and Eve in Eden

  1. Ego-comparative
  2. Indifference toward God
  3. Dissatisfaction with what she has
  4. Ingratitude
  5. Disobedience, rebellion
  6. Pride
  7. Self-worship
  8. Being a god over others through domination

The Logic of the New Eve, the Virgin Mary, toward Redemption

  1. Contributive, transcendent 
  2. Interested in God’s will 
  3. Satisfaction with what she has
  4. Gratitude, praise
  5. Obedience of faith, surrender
  6. Humility 
  7. Worship of God
  8. Leading others to God

In the family, Mary’s rationality can be taught; we can train ourselves to imitate her fiat of love and service. When we choose to sin, we’re operating by the logic of Eve and the devil. With Mary’s help, we won’t go astray! And if we fall, Our Mother leads to her Son Jesus working in the priest who hears our Confession. 

With the Virgin Mary and the Angels in Spiritual Combat

It is breathtaking to witness the humble fierceness of the Blessed Mother in spiritual combat. She is the unfailing Lady of Victory, defender of souls, conqueror of demons. For spiritual combat in the family, the help of Mother Mary is necessary, effective, and humbling. That our triune God has given to you and me such a flawless, powerful Mother of Grace reflects the extravagance of divine love for poor creatures. 

The Blessed Mother is perfectly attuned to the spiritual and temporal needs of families. Our gentle and fierce Mother, moved by the weight of divine love, blesses the domestic church with an abundance of grace. Always aware of the exalted role of the family, and knowing the manifold ways that Satan attacks it, Mother Mary watches over us. The Immaculate Heart is compelled to act in holy boldness on our behalf. Adorned with heaven’s endowment, the Virgin Mary is the most powerful warrior in the Lord’s entire army. Never doubt that God has anointed Our Holy Mother for spiritual combat and victory.  

To respond as did the Virgin Mary to God’s divine plan for our lives can stretch us beyond our comfort zones. We’ve discovered that God’s path is usually the harder, more uncomfortable, self-emptying one. God’s standard is the Cross, after all. During exorcisms, when the priest commands a demon to look at the crucifix in his hand, it’s torturous for the demon to obey. The devil is made to stare at the very instrument of his death and damnation. Evil pride is crushed. 

We will embrace our family crosses more bravely and more gratefully if we realize that Jesus Christ is sharing a portion of the chalice of love that He drank. When we look back at the storms of our life, we see that carrying our crosses actually fortifies us. “Let no one be tired! Take your armor against your adversaries in the cause of the Cross itself. Set up the faith of the Cross as a trophy against the deniers. … Don’t be ashamed to confess the Cross. Angels glory in it. … The Cross is a crown, not a dishonor.” 

During the Good Friday liturgy, the Church leads us through the Veneration of the Cross. Then, we tenderly kiss the Cross out of reverence. In family life, we reverence the Cross in our daily service to loved ones in whom Christ dwells. The devil is threatened by this and retaliates against it because the Cross is the instrument of his eternal defeat. He wants you to reject the Cross altogether. Therefore, set your eyes and heart on the Crucifix so that you internalize the instrument of Christ’s victory for you. This begins in the transformation of your heart –a heart consecrated to Jesus through Mary; a heart pierced like theirs, and a heart that is victorious over self, sin, and demons. 

This article is an excerpt from Kathleen Beckman’s new book, A Family Guide to Spiritual Warfare: Strategies for Deliverance and Healing. It is available from your local bookstore or online through Sophia Institute Press.

We also recommend Kathleen Beckman’s previous articles, “Spiritual Warfare Lessons from St. Padre Pio” and “Spiritual Combat is Not of Equals.”

By

Kathleen Beckman, L.H.S. is the President and Co-founder of the Foundation of Prayer for Priests (www.foundationforpriests.org), an international apostolate of prayer and catechesis for the holiness of priests. Kathleen has served the Church for twenty-five years as a Catholic evangelist, author, Ignatian certified retreat director and spiritual director, radio host, and writer. In her diocese she serves as the lay coordinator of exorcism and deliverance ministry having completed courses on liberation from evil at Mundelein Seminary and in Rome. She sits on the advisory board of Magnificat, A Ministry to Catholic Women, and the Pope Leo XIII Institute. Often featured on Catholic media — EWTN Radio and TV, Radio Maria, and the Catholic Channel—she enthusiastically proclaims the joy of the gospel. Sophia Institute Press published her books: Praying for Priests: An Urgent Call for the Salvation of Souls; God’s Healing Mercy: Finding Your Path to Forgiveness, Peace and Joy; and When Women Pray: Eleven Catholic Women on the Power of Prayer.

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