Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

7/3/2014 (4 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We must not forget that we have an adversary in the Devil. Thank God we have a courageous Pope who continues to remind us of that fact. Now, let's take it to heart and engage in spiritual warfare.

In his introduction to The Screwtape Letters,  a brilliant work exposing the unseen spiritual warfare taking place around all of us which uses a series of letters between two demons -  the older Screwtape, an instructor and the younger student Wormwood - the great apologist CS Lewis wrote - There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.

We are living in a new missionary age. Pope Francis is reminding us for good reason that the devil is real. He is and he is our enemy. The Evil One hates Jesus Christ and hates all who bear His name and continue His redemptive mission by living their lives in the heart of the Church for the sake of the world.

We are living in a new missionary age. Pope Francis is reminding us for good reason that the devil is real. He is and he is our enemy. The Evil One hates Jesus Christ and hates all who bear His name and continue His redemptive mission by living their lives in the heart of the Church for the sake of the world.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/3/2014 (4 months ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: spiritual warfare, deliverance, exorcism, devil, satan, St John Paul II, Pope Francis, deliverance, exorcism, Pope Francis, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - The Gospel for today's (Matt. 8:28-34) Mass presents us with a story of Jesus driving out the demons which plagued two men in the territory of the Gadarenes. These men were so depleted by the effects of evil that they chose to live in the tombs.

This account is only one of many similar accounts in the Gospels. Yet, how often do we hear homilies on the reality of evil and how to confront it, in our own lives and the lives of those around us?

Fortunately, that is all changing. 

Last year, on a crisp Friday morning in October,  at the Chapel of St Martha, Francis, the Bishop of Rome and successor of the Apostle Peter, did what every priest throughout the world does daily, he presided at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

There, during the Liturgy of the Word, his task was the task of every priest or deacon called on to preach, to break open the word proclaimed by the lectors and the cleric assigned to read the Gospel.

That Gospel that day was taken from St. Luke:

"When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said: "By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons." Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven. But he knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons. If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore they will be your judges.

"But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

"When an unclean spirit goes out of someone, it roams through arid regions searching for rest
but, finding none, it says, 'I shall return to my home from which I came.' But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that man is worse than the first."
(Luke 11:15-26)

This was one of the many Gospel texts which clearly reveal the undeniable claim that the devil is not only real - but that the devil is our enemy because he is the enemy of Jesus Christ - and we belong to Him. 

So, what did Pope Francis preach about on that Friday morning? He preached on that Gospel text, not around it. He made it clear that the devil is real and that Jesus Christ truly confronted him.

He also made it clear that all who bear the name Christian in this hour face demonic opposition as well. Then, he reminded us that we have been equipped for the battle and we must be prepared to engage in it!

This man who took the name Francis when he was chosen to assume the Chair of Peter, did what his namesake, the little poor man of Assisi, did quite regularly - he called all who listened to his words to take the task of spiritual warfare seriously and to learn how to engage in it effectively.

To the chagrin of some who think all this talk of the devil is silly or outdated, but to the great dismay of the demons of hell itself, Pope Francis spoke of the devil.

He called those at daily Mass, and all who read his sermon, to take the Bible passages that mention the devil seriously. He spoke directly about the fact that spiritual warfare is part of the Christian life and mission.

We all need to hear his message and respond!

In his introduction to The Screwtape Letters,  a brilliant work exposing the unseen spiritual warfare taking place around all of us which uses a series of letters between two demons -  the older Screwtape, an instructor and the younger student Wormwood - the great apologist CS Lewis wrote: 

"There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight."


We are engaged in a spiritual war for the souls of men and women in this urgent hour. We face very real personal opposition from the devil in our own lives - and all around us. We must always remember that the struggle we face, even though it works itself out on so many different fronts, is,  at root, a spiritual one. 

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus:

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood; but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Eph. 6:12,13)

He also wrote these words to the Christians in Corinth: "For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. (2 Cor. 10:4,5)

The successor of Peter, Francis, was speaking to you and me. Let's consider more of what he had to say. It is pretty blunt:

'"There are some priests who, when they read this Gospel passage, this and others say: 'But, Jesus healed a person with a mental illness'. They do not read this, no? It is true that at that time, they could confuse epilepsy with demonic possession; but it is also true that there was the devil!

And we do not have the right to simplify the matter, as if to say: 'All of these (people) were not possessed; they were mentally ill'. No! The presence of the devil is on the first page of the Bible, and the Bible ends as well with the presence of the devil, with the victory of God over the devil.
"

This invitation to not downplay, minimize or confuse the FACT of the existence of the devil is refreshing! Pope Francis challenged all of us to not be nave when we are faced with the temptation to "to diminish the power of the Lord."

He proclaimed, "There is always the temptation to want to diminish the figure of Jesus, as if he were "a healer at most" and so as not to take him "so seriously".

Sadly, that temptation has made its way into too many homilies. Even worse, it has made its way into our daily lives as Christians. We often behave like the materialist to which CS Lewis referred. 

As is his custom, the Holy Father broke up his homily, as he breaks most of his instructions, into three parts. He gave us three ways in which we all can fight the evil one as he manifests his perfidious plans in our own lives and in our own age.

We must recognize the truth of his existence. We must recognize our allies in the battle. We must recognize the ongoing nature of the struggle so that we are ready when it comes to do battle.

Here are more of his words:

"Do not confuse the truth. Jesus fights the devil: first criterion.

Second criterion: he who is not with Jesus is against Jesus. There are no attitudes in the middle.

Third criterion: vigilance over our hearts because the devil is astute. He is never cast out forever. It will only be so on the last day."

"Vigilance, because his strategy is this: 'You became Christian. Advance in your faith. I will leave you. I will leave you tranquil. But then when you are used to not being so watchful and you feel secure, I will come back'. The Gospel today begins with the devil being cast out and ends with the devil coming back! St. Peter would say: 'It is like a fierce lion that circles us'. It is like that."

'But, Father, you a little ancient. You are frightening us with these things' No, not me! It is the Gospel! And these are not lies: it is the Word of the Lord! Let us ask the Lord for the grace to take these things seriously. He came to fight for our salvation. He won against the devil! Please, let us not do business with the devil! He seeks to return home, to take possession of us. Do not relativize; be vigilant! And always with Jesus!"


The passage Francis referred to in his homily, comparing the devil to a roaring lion, is found in the first letter which the Apostle Peter wrote to the early Church. The Christians had already been dispersed due to a violent and hostile persecution against them. That persecution was led by some in that culture who did not like their message or their manner of life. Here is a snippet from the letter:

"Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you. (1 Peter 5:8-10)

The struggle in which we are engaged in today concerns a clash of worldviews and competing definitions of human freedom and flourishing. It concerns the very nature of marriage, the structure of our relationships with one another, and the definition and obligations of love itself!

Christians (at least orthodox, faithful ones) are now routinely presented as unenlightened, as somehow forcing our view on others. Our positions on the dignity of every human life, marriage, family, authentic freedom and the nature of truth as being objective, is what actually frees people from the bondage of disordered appetites and the emptiness they always bring about in people's lives. These truths are objectively true for all men and women.

However, in this age of relativism, there are a growing number of folks who do not like us even making such a claim. Yet, the truth is still true. We were made for relationship. We were structured for authentic love and human flourishing within marriage and a society founded upon family. We were created by God, in His Image, and we will never find authentic happiness or human flourishing until we embrace His loving plan.

We are living in a new missionary age. Pope Francis is reminding us for good reason that the devil is real. He is and he is our enemy. The Evil One hates Jesus Christ and hates all who bear His name and continue His redemptive mission by living their lives in the heart of the Church for the sake of the world.

The Christian Way of Life transformed Christianity from being a small sect into becoming the major dominating faith of the age. It transformed the world of the First Millennium and the Second. It can and it will do the same in the Third Millennium.

We must not forget that we have an adversary in the devil. Thank God we have a courageous Pope who continues to remind us of that fact. Now, let's take it to heart and engage in spiritual warfare. 

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More Living Faith

Pope says he's willing to speak to Islamic State - says nations are likewise guilty of 'terrorism' Watch

Image of After addressing the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, Pope Francis also told journalists that the threat of terrorism was not the only horror weighing on the world.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Asked about the possibilities of discussion with Islamic State, Pope Francis said, "I never count anything as lost. Never. Never close the door. It's difficult, you could say almost impossible, but the door is always open." The Pontiff went forward to say that ... continue reading


Take the Catholic Online Thanksgiving Challenge! Watch

Image of Reaching out to others is precisely the way to show that we are thankful for what we have.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a holiday filled with family and food, often spent on televised parades and football, and naps after lunch. Kids play in the yard or the streets as everybody generally has a good time. However, this is not the case for millions of ... continue reading


Unborn, terminally ill and elderly are treated as objects in Europe, Pope Francis says Watch

Image of If we uphold the dignity of the person we are acknowledging the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Despite talk of human rights, too many people are treated as objects in Europe: unborn, terminally ill, and the elderly," Pope Francis said. Speaking at the European Union Parliament in Strasbourg, the pontiff said that "We're too tempted to throwaway lives we ... continue reading


Church recognizes six new saints as Pope Francis canonizes in Sunday ceremony, speaking about how we too shall be judged Watch

Image of Indian well-wishers gather at the Vatican for the Canonization ceremony.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has canonized six new saints, two Indians and four Italians, praising their lives as "extraordinary" and reminding us all that we will be judged by how we treat others. VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis recognized six new saints on Sunday, ... continue reading


Pope says church must extend help to immigrants, 'so that all may be treated as children of God' Watch

Image of The world must now recognize the advantages of migration. Host countries get new workers to meet production needs,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking to the 300 participants in the Vatican-sponsored World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants, the Pope says that the Catholic Church "is a mother without limits and without borders." He says that the church must welcome and assist all of God's children, ... continue reading


Feast of Christ the King and Advent: What Does it Mean? Watch

Image of The Church really IS the Mystical Body of the Risen Christ. That Body is inseparably joined to the Head. Jesus Christ is alive, he has been raised, and he continues His redemptive mission now through the Church, of which we are members. As we choose to actually live our lives liturgically, not just go through the motions, we can move through life in the flow of the liturgical calendar. We can experience the deeper mystery and meaning of life, now made New in Jesus Christ, the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6,7) Jesus Christ is King! Jesus Christ is meant to become the Lord of our whole lives, and inform the very pattern of how we live them.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

On November 23rd we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It is one of many opportunities the Catholic Liturgical Church year offers to each of us consider the creature which is called time, receive it as a gift and begin to really live differently. Yet, for ... continue reading


Two bishops dine and dialogue with peace activists

Image of War doesn't decide who is right, just who is left.

By Tony Magliano

During the recent U.S. Catholic bishops fall assembly in Baltimore, two bishops decided to forego the military chaplains dinner sponsored by the U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains Office, and attended instead a simple supper and discussion on peacemaking. On the evening of ... continue reading


'God always forgives, but the earth does not,' Pope warns Watch

Image of The Pope urged the world's leaders to rein in their greed and help the hungry.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A doomsday scenario in which Mother Nature would exact her revenge is possible, even likely, Pope Francis warns. The pontiff was speaking out against the exploitation of natural resources for profit. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Pope urged the world's ... continue reading


Pope Francis' special message: Why Poverty? 'And while we speak of new rights, the hungry remain'

Image of When we give our loaves and fishes to Christ, there is no end to the Good that can come from it.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has asked the world to do more to help those who suffer from hunger and malnutrition. Despite gains made in infrastructure and outpourings of food, too many people with plenty have done too little to help. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - With ... continue reading


How do you raise a good, upstanding child? With daily prayers, weekly church attendance and the knowledge of God Watch

Image of Billy Graham, now 96, has reached out to millions with his joyous words of the truth of God and Jesus Christ.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Reverend Billy Graham, the world famous television evangelist and founder and chairman of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has said that the reason the world seems to be in such dire straits is that children are not being raised right. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 15:1-4
1 And I saw in heaven another sign, great and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 7-8, 9
1 [Psalm] Sing a new song to Yahweh, for he has ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:12-19
12 'But before all this happens, you will be seized ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 26th, 2014 Image

St. John Berchmans
November 26: Eldest son of a shoemaker, John was born at Diest, Brabant. He ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter