A few years ago, I went to a Steubenville youth conference here in Tucson, Arizona. It was a great event, always is, but something happened that night that I have never forgotten. It was something of great evil, but something that was a huge witness to the good.
It was a demonic attack.
Now, there have always been evil presences wherever there is great good. I have not yet been to a Steubenville conference without hearing the gibbering, hyena-like laughter from nowhere that always signals that the enemy is prowling around. It used to scare me, but since coming to Franciscan, I’ve learned a lot about the demonic and I’m less terrified. I had heard the laughter during Mass that morning, coming from somewhere above us. I had prayed and tried to ignore it, and it left as soon as communion began. But that night, at adoration, it began again, softly, almost whispered. It sounded excited. A palpable feeling of unease was in the room. I couldn’t get into the music or the worship, I was far too alert and on edge. Then, shattering the stillness of the Eucharistic procession, someone started screaming.
I didn’t know who, I was too far away. My father, who was working security, was on the scene quickly, and saw a young person writhing and screaming. As the monstrance passed by, the youth jumped for it, clawing at the floor, growling at the Eucharist. The security team could barely hold the person back from lunging at the priest. The team carried the youth outside, where, mysteriously, a priest trained in deliverance was waiting, claiming to have felt that he was being called there for some reason. The person was eventually alright.
Now, I hear you. OOOh, Tani, you’re telling ghost stories to scare us! You’re trying to get us interested in the demonic, isn’t that dangerous? Obviously, yes, you’re right. Being overly interested in demons and hunting them out is a terrible idea, and a great way to get yourself possessed. But that is exactly why we need to talk about these things. Too many people are “hunting” demons using unblessed crosses and ziplock bags of unblessed salt, inspired by TV shows like Supernatural and movies like The Rite. Too many people think it’s a silly game to consult tarot, visit fortune tellers, call psychic mediums, or use ouija boards. Too many people visit “haunted” locations and try to rile up spirits into showing themselves, using at best purgatorial souls and at worst demons to give themselves a rush. Maybe one of these things happened to that young person. But these are not symptoms of overinterest in demons and the spiritual world. They’re symptoms of the opposite, symptoms of a society that has lost its understanding and fear of the spiritual world as anything more than a gateway to an adrenaline fix. These are not issues of belief, but of unbelief. And it’s these actions that can lead to the most potent attachments.
A famous saying goes “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist,” and it’s completely right. Maybe you’re reading this and scoffing, because demons were things invented by our unscientific ancestors to explain away mental illness and natural phenomena. In some cases, that’s correct, but not in others. There’s no way to explain away a young person, in the peak of health, screaming at and trying to hurt a piece of bread. There’s no way to explain away how someone looks, feels, or smells different when they’ve been in contact with demons. There’s no way to explain away how demons themselves sound and look and feel. It makes no sense, logically. They simply are what they are– existing things of emptiness, darkness, and intense hatred. They hunt us, and, like any hunter, they prefer that their prey does not know that they are there. Society’s unbelief helps them a great deal in that regard. Does that scare you? It should.
But not so much that you don’t see why I’m talking about them. How much do you want to bet that the people around that young person had never seen or experienced diabolical attacks? How many did not believe in them? And how many do you think believed after they saw what happened, not only in demons, but also in the power of the Eucharist that this person was so doggedly trying to destroy? How many came to see the spiritual reality not only of evil, but of good? In this instance, God used even demons to prove His glory. If one side exists, then the other must also exist. If evil is the absence of good, as per St. Augustine, then good must exist, as well.
We have lost something vital to our understanding of the spiritual world when we ignore the existence of demons. We’ve lost our knowledge of the fact that the spiritual world can affect us, for good or ill. We’ve lost sight of the spiritual world that is so close to our own that the creatures there can see, hear, and touch us. Think about it– if demons can hear us, so can angels! If demons can drag us away from heaven with temptation, saints can pull us closer with grace! If Hell is hunting us, Heaven is searching for us! If Satan is watching, so is God, and God and the good are always more powerful that all the evil in existence. The witness of the demonic is that God exists, that the Church can help us, that heaven is really attainable for man.
Be afraid of demons, if you must, but be more afraid of not knowing that they’re hunting you. Be afraid of their tricks that may cause you to lose God. Fight by keeping your eyes focused on God alone, working on virtue, and involving your patron saints and guardian angels in your life every single day.
For spiritual warfare tips, I suggest that you watch my video on the subject from a few months ago.
Love to all!