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Only Jesus can save us from the grasp of the devil (Dwelling on the Word of God, Sunday 1st February 2015)

Posted on January 30, 2015 at 11:56 AM Comments comments (0)
 
Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 1:21-28):

‘Jesus and his followers went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.
In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.’

 
It’s not difficult to imagine evil in our world. It’s all around us; wars, murder, violence, destruction.  Evil has enveloped our world and it can be experienced at almost every turn.  Yet,while it is easy to see evil and to experience it, do we really appreciate who is behind it?
 
While a willing human mind is perhaps necessary to carry out evil, it is the devil that is the source of evil; and he uses his power to force others to carry out his evil deeds in many different ways.  In today’s Gospel passage he uses possession as a means to wreak havoc and to attack God.  In today’s world possession by unclean spirits is still a reality and exorcisms occur throughout the world.  But the devil makes his presence felt in numerous other ways.  He destroys our love of life from the moment of conception until natural death by willing abortions and assisted suicide.  He chips away at the family by breaking it up and removing those critical elements of fatherhood and motherhood for every child.  He encourages gossip, cynicism, complaining and negativity among people.
 
The devil also comes to us in the most simple and innocent situations.  He encourages our laziness as we prepare for Mass on a Sunday; making us feel like the weekly trip to church is a chore rather than a joy.  He visits us in the evening just before we go to sleep and gently invites us to read another few pages of the latest thriller at the expense of our prayers.  He is not always forceful.  Indeed, his ways are often subtle and gentle; wooing us with a seeming beauty and elegance designed to capture our hearts and designed to thrill and excite.
 
The devil’s intention is ultimately to come between us and God.  He is a fallen angel because he wanted to be God.  And given he cannot possibly be God he now wants to bring as much destruction to God’s creation as he possibly can and the best way to do this is to turn God’s own children against Him. 
 
However, he will never win as Christ has won the victory on the Cross.  Good has triumphed over evil and God can never be defeated.  But our hearts can still be won over by the devil and he is doing his very best to ensure that this happens to as many people as possible. As we prepare for our Lenten journey this year perhaps it would beuseful to try to discern the ways the devil tries to get at us.  If we can identify his evil habits then we can turn to Jesus and ask him to defend us so that our hearts are never won over by the devil and his destructive ways. We belong to God and to God alone. It is He who has given us life and it is to Him that we shall return at the end of time to be judged.  Make sure that judgement has a happy ending.  Don’t let the devil have his way.  He wants you to fail so that you will be damned for all eternity.  Remember, you have Jesus on your side!  He is the only one who can save you from the devil’s evil clutches. 
 
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and ignore the subtle temptations of the evil one.  Keep your heart fixed on Jesus and make sure that your destiny is Heaven, to be reunited with your Father who loves you more than you can ever imagine.

Pope Asks Exorcists to Manifest Church's Love for Those Persecuted by Devil

Posted on October 31, 2014 at 8:46 AM Comments comments (0)
Pope Francis has continued his recent theme of talking about the devil and has 
asked exorcists to manifest the love of the Church for those “suffering due to the work of the Evil One.”
 
 
 
 

Dwelling on the Word of God: Help the little faith I have! (Monday 24th February 2014)

Posted on February 24, 2014 at 2:34 AM Comments comments (1)
From today's Gospel (Mark 9:14-29):
 
'But if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.’ ‘If you can?’ retorted Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for anyone who has faith.’ Immediately the father of the boy cried out, ‘I do have faith. Help the little faith I have!’
 
 
This short passage from today's Gospel is describing the dialogue between Jesus and a man who is begging Jesus to heal his possessed son.
 
How do you imagine Jesus when he says 'if you can'?  Does he raise his voice and shout at the man for his lack of faith?  Or does he speak more gently, almost laughing at the thought of this man's subtle and sub-conscious doubting of his ability to heal?  We don't know for certain but it is more likely to be the latter.
 
But what follows is a bold statement that 'Everything is possible with faith.'  And we must believe this.  The reason I suggest we must believe it is because Jesus is telling us that this is the case.  Remember, faith can move mountains.  We just haven't moved any mountains with it because we lack it so much!  The Saints moved mountains with their healing powers, great strength and wisdom drawn from intense faith and prayer.
 
We must strive to be like saints.  We must never dismiss the call to sainthood because 'we aren't good enough' or I'll never achieve that.'  Do not worry as to whether or not you achieve it because that is for God, and God alone, to decide.  You must work at your call to sainthood and persevere in your faith.  And if you struggle, ask Jesus to help you.  Remember the man in the Gospel passage: "I do have faith. Help the little faith I have!"      

The Devil is at his most dangerous where he cannot be seen

Posted on February 21, 2014 at 8:49 AM Comments comments (1)
Image of St Michael standing on Satan
 
This is an interesting quote from a book on exorcism that I am currently reading...
 
"Sometimes he (the devil) shows himself, strangely, but also in cases of possession.  But he's much more dangerous where he doesn't let himself be seen, where he can't be done away with through exorcism."
Father Pedro Barrajon (December 2005)
 
 

Dwelling on the Word of God: Exorcism (Tuesday 14th January 2014)

Posted on January 14, 2014 at 2:52 AM Comments comments (2)
 
Today's Gospel (Mark 1:21-28):
 
'Jesus and his followers went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.
In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.'
 
 
Jesus, in this passage, performs what we would now call an exorcism; a rite in the Church that still exists to this day.  Some people even suggest the Pope performed an exorcism in St Peter's Square recently, though we cannot confirm that this is the case as there has been no definitive response from the Vatican.  For more on this particular story, click here.
 
There is, of course, biblical foundation for the belief that the devil prowls the earth looking to wreak havoc.
 
In Revelations 12:7-9 we are told:
'And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon.  The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.  The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world - he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown out with him.'
 
The Catechism of the Catholic Church also states:
'When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism. Jesus performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power and office of exorcizing. In a simple form, exorcism is performed at the celebration of Baptism. The solemn exorcism, called "a major exorcism," can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.'
 
The Church is in no doubt about the need for exorcists within its ranks, to perform exorcisms and continue the fight against the 'Evil One'.  A daily fight we are all involved in and all have our part to play in.  Indeed, the Church has increased the number of priests trained in exorcisms in recent years, particularly in Spain, Italy and Poland.
 
Catholic Answers apologist and presenter Patrick Coffin had a very interesting interview with Father Gary Thomas, a trained exorcist, in late 2012.  It is extremely insightful and well worth a read.  To see an excerpt from the interview, click here.
 
The fight against the 'Evil One' goes on and we must pray for anyone requiring the right of exorcism and for all priests who perform the rite. 
 
Remember also the great prayer of St Michael, a prayer that should be part of the staple diet of our daily lives:
 
St Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle .
Be our defence against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
o Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
 
St Michael the Archangel

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