Catholic Spirituality, Catholics Do What?, Evangelization, JPII

Conversation with an exorcist {pt. 1}

January 18, 2016

If you read me even sporadically, you know that I touch on touchier subjects more often than not. It’s not, contrary to what a friend guessed a few weeks ago, that I enjoy conflict. I don’t mind it, but I definitely don’t seek it out intentionally.

Bet you wouldn’t guess that, reading some of what I write here, huh? But it’s true. I’m fairly mild mannered in person. I mean sure, I have a bit of a temper and a bit of a thirst for justice, but I’m not a street fighter or anything. And I don’t generally chat up strangers irl about the stuff I talk about here, not unless we’re connecting on a serious level and I’ve “won the right to be heard,” so to speak.

All that being said, it’s true that I do get into some crazy conversations with people in the comments section from time to time. And it’s mostly fine. I filter out the really insane stuff for my benefit and for yours, but from time to time some crazy slips through.

It’s because we’re talking about real stuff though, and real hearts, and real lives. And people have real reactions to that. Which is good – it’s how we were designed. 

But. There are moments when it definitely isn’t pleasant to be moderating comments or fielding emails, and I’ve asked myself more than once why I’m here, why I’m doing this, what the point is. And I say this without an ounce of pretension or bravado, but it’s for Him.

And guess what? He has an enemy.

We have a mutual enemy, as it turns out. And I’ve been doing a little research in the area of spiritual warfare and trying to put some best practices in place, because there is mad resistance to anyone, in whatever capacity they are serving, who is trying to do His will.

So the exorcist. Yes, I had the chance to speak via phone with an actual, practicing exorcist, and he’s about as down to earth and normal as you could imagine, except for the battling demons part of the equation. But we didn’t talk specifically about that. What we did discuss, however, was how best one ought to proceed when exposing oneself to the unknown and to the unfamiliar, particularly on the internet.

He made a very good point when he explained that the internet is a boundary-less place, and that whatever we put out online is accessible to a vast and perhaps unintended audience.

He asked me bluntly “what do you do to prepare before you write, what is your method?” and I very stupidly replied something along the lines of “making sure no kids are currently digging through the trash/playing in the toilet” but what he meant was, what was I doing to spiritually prepare? 

And truthfully? Not much.

I mean, I was praying on my own about other stuff most days, but it hadn’t actually occurred to me to ask God what I should be saying, or whether I should be saying it, or to protect me and our family in the writing of it, or to direct it to the intended audience.

Basically I’d been operating as an independent contractor. Which is no bueno, because I am a finite weakling here with limited resources, and I need to be tapping into my Boss’ line of credit before I embark on the big jobs, you know?

Anyway, thanks to father’s very sane and decidedly un-dramatic advice, I’ve been trying to pray more over the things I say and the words I put out into the word, asking that the Lord takes them where He wants them, and begging His protection for my children, our marriage, and our family.

Because you know what? We have a real enemy in Satan. He is a liar and a deceiver, and while it’s oh-so-popular to pretend he doesn’t exist and that he’s an allegory or a fairy tale, he’s not.

He’s a real being, and he hates us.

He hates me and he hates you, and more than anything He hates our God. 

So, some practical steps for those of us who live any part of our lives online, which is roughly most of humanity at this point:

– limit your social media usage to what is necessary and life-giving for your state in life. This will look different for everyone, but we all know when we’ve gotten that nauseated how-long-have-I-been-scrolling??? feeling. Stop before you hit that point. It’s a distraction from your real life, and from the work He has for you.

– pray over your pictures/blog posts/tweets before you launch them into the world. Pray that they’ll be directed to the audience God intends for them, and that they’ll be serving His will. Pray especially about sharing images or videos of your kids, that they won’t fall into the wrong hands or be used for evil purposes. Pray about whether to share them, period. I have some regretsies about how visible our kids have been online, but that’s part of growing up as a millennial parent, amiright?

– maintain a personal prayer life. You can’t give what you don’t have.

– Don’t expose yourself – either knowingly or even unintentionally, to anything of the occult. Poison is still poison, even when it’s mixed into orange juice. And even if you didn’t mix it yourself.

One of my favorite images of spiritual combat is telling satan where he belongs – in hell – and saying it with a well-placed Hail Mary or even a whole Rosary. We also make frequent use of holy water, blessed salt, the miraculous medal, and the St. Michael prayer. My kids like to yell “poop on the devil,” which, while less eloquent, is probably pretty effective too.

St. John Paul II told us:

“May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle we are told about in the Letter to the Ephesians: ‘Draw strength from the Lord and from His mighty power’ (Ephesians 6:10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle, recalling before our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (Revelation 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had a very vivid recollection of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced a special prayer to St. Michael throughout the Church. Although this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.”

And the St. Michael prayer:

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and the snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou oh prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.st michael

 

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27 Comments

  • Reply Becky January 19, 2016 at 5:34 am

    I was just talking to a friend last night about what a difference requesting prayers of protection makes. The thing we were both struck by is that they *do* help a great deal but we so often forget to ask for them. I suggested that this may be satan’s greatest strategy- to encourage us to simply forget about, discount, or be too distracted to remember our most effective protections.

    • Reply KATHLEEN January 19, 2016 at 11:19 am

      ALWAYS REQUEST OUR PROTECTION PRAYERS. WE ARE LIVING IN VERY DIFFERENT TIMES. BLESSINGS TO US ALL. ❤

  • Reply Liz January 19, 2016 at 7:26 am

    The Saint Benedict Medal is a really powerful sacramental on which Catholics have relied for centuries on warding off the devil. No one in my family leaves the house without carrying one on his person.

  • Reply Meghan January 19, 2016 at 7:40 am

    Thank you for sharing this! It was exactly what I needed to read right now.

  • Reply Lindsay January 19, 2016 at 8:11 am

    The social media-and-kid-pictures thing has been on my mind… We are expecting our first and although neither me nor my husband use Facebook, my mother and father-in-law are VERY active on FB. I don’t love the idea of my child having an online presence from their childhood that they never consented to, especially with pictures I didn’t take or approve… Does anyone have boundaries with their parents or in-laws when it comes to posting pictures? Is this a fight worth having with them?

    • Reply Liz January 19, 2016 at 3:02 pm

      I understand how you feel. My husband and I don’t use Facebook, either, but it drives me nuts when one of my siblings either posts pictures of my son on their Facebook accounts, or discusses details of my or my son’s life which we really don’t want divulged (Now, because of this, some of the busybodies from the old neighborhood I grew up in know things about my and my son’s medical history! I’m talking about some real specifics, and when I’ve run into these people, they’ve made some further inquiries that were really intrusive and not at all in a spirit of concern or compassion).
      The thing is, it isn’t entirely fair to ask your in-laws NEVER to post pictures or anecdotes about your child, as grandparents are often excited and proud of their grandbabies and want to share photos with friends. You can’t totally blame them, because if they didn’t post pictures on social media, they’d be afraid of giving the impression to friends and extended family that they just don’t care about their new grandchild. Best advice I can give is to tell them what you told us– that you feel uncomfortable with pictures and other information floating around the Internet, which, in years to come, your child may wish wasn’t out there for public consumption– and just ask them to keep the posts to a minimum. My parents and most of my siblings have really learned to respect this type of request recently, so things have improved.

    • Reply Leigh Anne January 20, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      Hi! The short answer is YES! This is a fight that’s worth it. My husband and I use Facebook, and so do most of my family, but we made it VERY clear to all the family while I was still pregnant with our first that the baby would NOT be on fb! I send pictures via email and text messages, but we don’t post any info or pics of our kids online. It’s just too accessible. If I post pictures of my sweet babies, then my mom “Likes” a picture, now that is visible to all her friends. If a friend if hers hits “Like”, now it’s visible to that friend’s friends too! That’s potentially hundreds or thousands of people who can now see that picture, and the more people see it, the more chance of it getting into the hands of a criminal, a sex offender, a pedophile…. It’s just not safe! Don’t be afraid of this conflict with the parents/in-laws! Assure them that they will get lots of pictures, just be very firm about not allowing them to be posted online. And CONGRATULATIONS on the new baby!! 🙂

    • Reply Lauren January 21, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      I hear you! I use Facebook, and my husband and I both use other forms of social media but I have been very protective of our little one in utero throughout the pregnancy in such that I prefer only he or I to post things about it (and still, sparingly). I think a big part of it is that I have evolved from the show-me teenager who had everything on social media from the time it began when I was in high school, to the more mature adult that doesn’t feel the need to put every detail online anymore. I don’t think mine or my husband’s parents should be on social media because it’s just not generationally appropriate and I don’t want them to post anything about me or my child. I’m also sensitive to the heartache of those with infant loss or infertility and would prefer not to flaunt those types of things in others’ faces. I have reported photos of myself posted by in-laws to Facebook in an effort to combat those posts. I also ALWAYS untag myself in hopes of sending the message that it makes me uncomfortable and wish they would stop posting. We are very specific when we share photos to in laws that we do not want the photos online, and will probably only send pictures of the baby sparingly in order to combat that (even though they live in an entirely different time zone). …I know I’ve rambled but essentially I hear you and agree with your discomfort of others wanting to post about YOUR child!

  • Reply Cami January 19, 2016 at 8:37 am

    Good subject. A friend of mine wrote a wonderful book on spiritual warfare called Onward Catholic Soldier (John LaBriola). You can get it on Amazon. It really arms you to know how to fight back and protect your family from the enemy. We are a low social media family. No Facebook. My husband uses Twitter and LinkedIn professionally though. We also don’t have cable which I think shields us from a lot of temptation and distraction. Although there’s plenty going around still. I know a lot of parents who let their kids stare at iPads all day but it’s concerning. They have access to games, ads, and shows that aren’t being screened. Protection of ourselves and our children is underemphasized. It’s important to apply such practices in our lives and encourage to do the same.

    • Reply Liesa January 2, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      I have a copy of Onward Catholic Soldier. It is well worth reading.

  • Reply pauline January 19, 2016 at 9:35 am

    In our parish of Saints Peter & Paul in Ontario, Canada, we have been reciting the St. Michael the Archangel prayer after all masses, Sundays and week-days. We have been doing this for almost three years now.

    The St. Michael prayer is, I believe, a minor exorcism prayer. I recite it many times during the day.

  • Reply mary geraci January 19, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Just make the Sign of The Cross, a powerful ancient prayer that invokes the triune nature 0f
    God and is a protection for people of all faiths and all circumstances.

  • Reply Caitlin January 19, 2016 at 11:02 am

    And don’t forget about making the Sign of the Cross 🙂 In our house we call it “putting on your shield” against evil.

  • Reply Jen @ Into Your Will January 19, 2016 at 11:02 am

    Thank you for this, Jenny! While I don’t blog about high-conflict topics like you, I do bare my soul quite a bit (it’s what I feel called to do more often than I want) and this is certainly helpful. Your blog is one of my faves! Thank you!

  • Reply Katie January 19, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks for the reminders! What’s blessed salt? How do you use it?

  • Reply Maria January 19, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Our Blessed Mother has repeatedly asked us to pray the rosary, yet how often will we not give her twenty minutes? It doesn’t take any longer than that. Didn’t St. Padre Pio say it was the greatest weapon? And another priest I heard called it his choice weapon, as it had a fifty round clip. Twenty minutes. Why? Because Mary asked us!

  • Reply Francis Bobi January 19, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    Great stuff. Will love to see the saint Benedict medal. This is try to tell my friends about the posible spiritual dangers of the internet but they mostly just brush it off. This technological world we live in today has so many distractions. I pray for the world everyday cause am worried for my own generation and the ones after. God save us.

  • Reply Jean January 19, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    On the St. Michael prayer – I finish each rosary on the crucifix, just as I began with the Apostle’s Creed by praying the St. Michael prayer upon ending it , and at the conclusion of that prayer “together with Mary, all the angels, archangels and saints, in Jesus’ name we pray”. An old tradition that draws the communion of saints into our prayer for protection. We have an exorcist in our diocese, actually, who comes to fill in when our pastor is away. His homilies are riveting. I’m always astonished when I hear non-Catholics say they don’t believe in Satan, which is probably Satan’s #1 greatest trick, to convince people he doesn’t exist so he can wreak havoc, his #2 greatest deception that our sins don’t matter enough to take them to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and of course #3 that our sins can’t be forgiven. Don’t give him a toehold on your life – pray, go to Confession regularly, receive Holy Communion as often as possible.

  • Reply Patrick January 19, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    Our Blessed Mother also played a special role in warding off evil spirit, like, whenever I feel tempted to do something evil or bad, I would always recite a Hail Mary or the Memorare asking Mama Mary to help me in this spiritual battle, and She never fails.

    And I would always ask our exorcist in our Archdiocese to include prayers of exorcism whenever I ask him to bless my Rosary and other sacramentals.

  • Reply Jean January 20, 2016 at 10:26 am

    Jenny, you mention the use or holy water, blessed salt, but have you “chalked your door”? How many readers do that at the beginning of the New Year on the Feast of the Three Kings using chalk blessed by your parish priest?

    Chalking the door is a way to celebrate and literally mark the occasion of the Epiphany and God’s blessing of our lives and home. With time the chalk will fade. As it does we let the meaning of the symbols written sink into the depths of our heart and be manifest in our words and actions the Latin words, Christus mansionem benedictat, “May Christ bless the house.”

    A traditional way of doing this is to use chalk to write above the home’s entrance, 20 + C + M + B + 16. The letters C, M, B have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless the house.” The “+” signs represent the cross and 2016 is the year.
    Blessing the Chalk

    V. Our help is the name of the Lord:
    R. The maker of heaven and earth.
    V. The Lord shall watch over your going out and your coming in:
    R. From this time forth for evermore.

    Let us pray.
    Loving God, bless this chalk which you have created, that it may be helpful to your people; and grant that through the invocation of your most Holy Name that we who use it in faith to write upon the door of our home the names of your holy ones Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, may receive health of body and protection of soul for all who dwell in or visit our home; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Instructions for Blessing the Home

    Using the blessed chalk mark the lintel of your front door (or front porch step) as follows:

    20 + C + M + B + 16

    while saying:

    The three Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar followed the star of God’s Son who became human two thousand and fifteen years ago. May Christ bless our home and remain with us throughout the new year. Amen.

    Then offer the following prayer: Visit, O blessed Lord, this home with the gladness of your presence. Bless all who live or visit here

    Just another example of an age old practice being revived in some parishes because we can use all the protection we can get.

  • Reply Michael January 20, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Your comment ‘maintain a personal prayer life. You can’t give what you don’t have.’ reminded me of a story about St Thomas Aquinas. He was once asked where he got all his wisdom from. He replied, ‘On my knees.’

  • Reply Martha January 21, 2016 at 8:52 am

    It’s funny you should post this today. I was just reading a great excerpt from a book (now I’m intrigued about the book!) about Spiritual Combat. You and other readers might find it a great summary, on point for this discussion: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=8373

  • Reply Hannah January 24, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Amen to that.
    My mom would tell me to tell the devil “Go to hell” and pray.
    It worked 🙂

    • Reply Hannah January 24, 2016 at 4:58 pm

      I should modify, it was “In Jesus’ name, go to hell”

  • Reply Cajuntexasmom January 26, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Great insights here, Jenny. One of my favorite prayers is called the “Binding Prayer.” I don’t pray it nearly enough, but this post is a good reminder to get back in the habit:

    “In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, I command the demons who are to leave alone, and to be sent to the foot of the Cross to be judged there by Our Lord.”

    I have found this to be incredibly effective in many circumstances.

  • Reply Best of 2016 – Mama Needs Coffee December 31, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    […] 10. Conversation with an exorcist {part 1} […]

  • Reply AGK76 January 23, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Jen, let me tell you something you already know…the devil and his minions are real. Close personal experience here. You have my email…if you ever want to hear a story, of sin, separation, death, salvation, and redemption, just shout…..we are BTW right down the road in Colorado Springs…and God continue to bless you and yours….

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