Most of us can sense when something is working against us as we persevere to grow in faith and strive to live the Gospel in communion with Christ. Sometimes, quite suddenly our peace of soul or joy in the Lord is oppressed by heaviness and negativity. Many people experience situations when strife arises, friendships abruptly break down, misunderstandings in families or groups cause division, odd accidents happen, strange twists occur and pathways are blocked. It is imprudent to always assume these are due to diabolical influences but often the devil is in mix. When a person becomes a threat to the demonic realm due to their love for God and/or some good work that builds up the Church, the devil reacts to the degree that God allows. Human messiness is due to our foibles and sin but there can be a diabolical influence. All men experience temptation and most also experience diabolical oppression at some level.
Christ allowed himself to be confronted by the devil to teach us how to resist him. It is sometimes necessary that we personally repeat the words of our Lord, “Be gone Satan”(Matt 4:10). Scripture should readily be on our lips in defense of our dignity and vocation. Sacramental baptism confers authority upon us as children of God so that in the name of Jesus Christ we effectively pray against demonic attacks.
Exorcist priests will look for natural causes and if there is no apparent natural cause—the reality may be that a spirit not of God is asserting oppression upon persons and situations. The devil harasses and tempts us to betray God, others and ourselves. What then? Whether such situations are due to human weakness, sin or diabolical influence, the solution is the same. We are to bind ourselves to Christ all the more sacramentally and with increased prayer, persevere by grace that is always sufficient.
Parents protect their children by praying for and with them, claiming them for Christ alone. Spouses can do the same for one another. To break free from ordinary demonic tactics we immediately reinforce our relationship with Christ through the sacraments and prayer. We can count on Mary, angels and saints who provide real spiritual defense on our behalf.
Ordinary Demonic Tactics can include the following. When there is natural cause for these, the devil often exacerbates it.
- Distance: from home, family, fragmentation, isolation, loneliness, love
- Deception: reality inverted, false promises, lies
- Division: divided self, family, home, work, country, church
- Diversion: delay, distract, relativism, exacerbating addictions or infirmities
- Discouragement: acedia (Greek meaning “I don’t care”), lethargy about self, others or about the interior life, tiredness, overwhelm
- Draining spirit: drains energy from you, extreme physical fatigue without cause, leads to waste of time, less energy, less prayer and devotion
- Doubt: subtle to intense doubts about self, others or God undermining faith, hope and love
During his Angelus address on Sunday, 17 February 2002, commenting on the readings of the first Sunday of Lent (the temptation of Christ in the desert), Pope John Paul II said, “The Messiah’s resolute attitude is an example and an invitation for us to follow him with courageous determination. The devil, the “prince of this world” (John 12,31), even today continues his deceitful action. Every man, over and above his own concupiscence and the bad example of others, is also tempted by the devil, and the more so when he is least aware of it. How many times he easily gives in to the false flattery of the flesh and the evil one, and then experiences bitter delusions. One must stay on guard to react quickly to the onslaught of temptation. The Church, expert teacher of humanity and holiness, shows us ancient and ever new instruments for the daily combat against evil suggestions: prayer, the sacraments, penance, careful attention to the Word of God, vigilance and fasting.”