Apologia: The Fullness of Christian Truth

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

Spiritual Warfare

St. Anthony and Demons

James 4:7 "Be subject therefore to God,
but resist the devil, and he will fly from you."

Sacred Scripture makes very clear that there is a war on for souls, a battle between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness:

Ephesians 6:10-16

Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power. Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. 

Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace: In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one.

We put on that "armour of God" by first loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and loving our neighbors as ourselves -- i.e., following the "Two Great Commandments." Having a prayer life -- one with both formal and informal prayer, and, when possible, praying not just alone and with others, but praying for others and asking others to pray for you -- and following the six precepts of the Church are our mainstays, the six precepts being to go to Mass and refrain from servile work on Sundays and holy days; to go to Confession at least once a year (traditionally done during Lent); to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, during the Easter Season; to observe the days of fasting and abstinence; to help to provide for the needs of the Church according to one's abilities and station in life; and to obey the marriage laws of the Church. Those precepts are the bare minimum; it's absolutely encouraged to go to Confession at least monthly, if not weekly, and to receive Communion weekly, if not daily.

The Church has provided us with many other ways to repel, and to command to be driven out -- to "exorcize" -- evil spirit. Now, when most people hear the word, "exorcism," they think of the "Solemn" or "Major" Rite of exorcism that's used to liberate those who are possessed, a Rite that will be discussed on the next page of this sub-section on the preternatural world. But in addition to that Solemn Rite are the sorts of exorcisms Catholics use or are exposed to as a matter of course. Every Catholic baptized in the traditional rite has undergone exorcism (this is not true of the new Rite of Baptism!). Even before the person to be baptized enters into the church, the priest will blow on him three times, in the shape of the Cross, during the "Exsufflation". He will say these words:

Priest: Exi ab eo (ea), immunde spiritus, et da locum Spiritui Sancto Paraclito.

Priest: Go forth from him (her), unclean spirit, and give place to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.

After entering the church comes a formal exorcism:

Priest: Exorcizo te, immunde spiritus, in nomine Patris + et Filii + et Spiritus + Sancti, ut exeas, et recedas ab hoc famulo (hac famula) Dei N.: ipse enim tibi imperat, maledicte damnate, qui pedibus super mare ambulavit, et Petro mergenti dexteram porrexit. Ergo, maledicte diabole, recognosce sententiam tuam, et da honorem Deo vivo et vero, da honorem Iesu Christo Filio eius, et Spiritui Sancto, et recede ab hoc famulo (hac famula) Dei N, quia istum (-am) sibi Deus et Dominus noster Iesus Christus ad suam sanctam gratiam, et benedictionem, fontemque Baptismatis vocare dignatus est.

Priest: I exorcise thee, unclean spirit, in the name of the Father + and of the Son, + and of the Holy + Spirit, that thou goest out and depart from this servant of God, N. For He commands Thee, accursed one, Who walked upon the sea, and stretched out His right hand to Peter about to sink. Therefore, accursed devil, acknowledge thy sentence, and give honor to the living and true God: give honor to Jesus Christ His Son, and to the Holy Spirit; and depart from this servant of God, N. because God and our Lord Jesus Christ hath vouchsafed to call him (her) to His holy grace and benediction and to the font of Baptism.

The water, oil, and salt used by the priest in the solemn rite of Baptism in the traditional rite (not in the new rite) have also been exorcized, and these susbances are used in many ways by the Church and the faithful in blessing or exorcizing. Water and salt, especially, are used by the laity, along with numerous other sacramentals in order to drive out evil spirit. Just a few of these sacramentals and prayers are:

Prayer to St. Michael
Prayer to your Guardian Angel

St. Benedict Medal
The Miraculous Medal
St. Anthony's Brief
Palm Branches
Holy Water
Holy Oil
Blessed Salt
The Rosary
The Sign of the Cross
Calling on the Holy Name
Ejaculatory prayer

Other things you can do to arm yourself and protect your home are to engage in periodic fasting; having your home blessed once a year, especially on the Epiphany and when moving into a new home, and consecrating your home to the Sacred Heart, especially on the Feast of Christ the King.

In addition to charity, receiving the Sacraments, praying, and making use of sacramentals, it's also necessary to refrain from sin. Developing good habits and refraining from entering into situations that are occasions of sin are crucial. An "occasion of sin" is a situation in which you're likely to be tempted. What's an occasion of sin for one person might not be an occasion of sin for another. For ex., if you're prone to gluttony, avoiding that stop at the bakery might be a good idea, or if you're prone to lust, learning to keep a "custody of the eyes" and not allowing yourself to be alone with a person you're sexually attracted to are ways to keep from falling. Because what constitutes an occasion of sin is different for everyone, knowing yourself, knowing your weaknesses, being very cognizant of the situations in which you're likely to stumble, and then avoiding those situations are what's called for. A nightly Examination of Conscience during which you reflect on what the situations were like when you sinned throughout the day could go far in helping you to realize what are occasions of sin for you. Making the Morning Offering when you wake up the next morning would be a good way to start your day in order to stay on the right track as well.

Another thing that might help some people is having some sort of a support system, especially for sins involving addictions and bad habits. Having a "buddy" who has the same sort of problem or, better, who'd had the same sort of problem in the past but has conquered it, and asking that person to hold you accountable, to listen to and help you, to pray for you, etc. could be a great thing to have. As always, of course, repenting of your sins to a priest when you do stumble is imperative!

Of special importance, too, is keeping away from occultic practices that are forbidden by Scripture and the Church. Using Ouija boards to contact spirits, using tarot cards to foretell the future, using astrology to not just come up with natal charts to find possible planetary influences on one's personality and inclinations (a perfectly legitimate practice, to the surprise of many), but in any way that denies free will -- to wit, any form of divination, necromancy (the calling on of the spirits of the dead that goes beyond praying for them and asking their prayers for you), or magic (attempting to perform feats beyond the power of man but not through the power of God) -- are strictly forbidden.

Properly disposing of cursed objects is also important when relevant. Just as objects can be blessed, they can also be cursed. Such objects can be recognized by noticing what happens in their proximity, by finding correlations between their presence and demonic obsession, demonic oppression, strange sicknesses, nightmares, what looks like incessant "bad luck," etc. Of course, correlation isn't causation, so don't get silly about this, but cursed objects aren't simply merely correlated with bad things happening; they cause those bad things -- rather, the demons associated with them do. Exorcists have said that many times drug cartels and some vendors of other objects will sometimes curse their wares to increase the stronghold they have over those who purchase them. To properly get rid of a cursed object, follow these instructions: Disposing of Cursed Objects.

People can be cursed as well. Some types of Satanists, and practitioners of Voudun ("Voodoo"), Santeria, and some other forms of witchcraft place curses on those they consider their enemies. The ancient belief in the Evil Eye, known to Italians and Italian-Americans as the "malocchio," is one sort of curse, a curse that is given, intentionally or unintentionally, through the glance or stare of someone who wishes you harm or is envious of you (the person giving the Eye is known as a "jettatore"). To diagnose it, Italian believers drop three droplets of water into a bowl of olive oil in order to see if they form three distinct globules instead of joining together. If they do, you're cursed, they believe, and the cure, according to the superstitious, involves the wearing of cornicelli, the "Italian horns" often seen on necklaces, or the making of a gesture -- either the mano in fica (the fig) or the mano cornuta (the horned hand), shown in that order at right.1 The mano cornuta is the true origin of the much-maligned, misunderstood "rock on!" hand sign made at rock concerts, begun when Italian-American heavy metal front man, Ronnie James Dio -- who learned it from his Italian grandmother -- made it during a show. It isn't a means to hail Satan, as some Evangelical sects frustratingly seem to think, a belief which many silly Satanist-types seem to have picked up on, "flashing the horns" menacingly as they're wont to do -- most likely in order to frighten those Evangelicals. In fact, it's rather the opposite, meant not to summon, but to ward off evil. To truly ward off the Evil Eye, though, simply make the Sign of the Cross, call on Christ, etc. If you're a fellow Italian or Italian-American, wear a cornicello or make the hand signs out of ethnic tradition if you want, but couple them with Catholic prayer; don't depend on a cornicello or a hand gesture themselves to protect you. They will not, and such superstition is an invitation to the demonic.

To combat all such curses made on people, simply stay in a state of grace and stay "prayed up." Do the sorts of things outlined above and make a special devotion to the Archangel Michael, our warrior angel against the Evil One. Know the Prayer to St Michael by heart!

Whatever you do, do not resort to self-professed "white witches"; there is no such thing. There may well be plenty of self-proclaimed witches who have good intentions and are basically benevolent-hearted, but any form of true magic (as opposed to stage magic, or prestidigitation), by definition, derives its power from demons. The use of sacramentals might look like "magic" to outsiders -- our sprinkling of salt around our properties, our blessing ourselves with holy water, our use of St. Joseph statues to sell houses, etc., and many other Catholic phenomena might resemble it as well on the surface, such as our asking for roses from St. Therese of Lisieux.  But our sacramentals are blessed by God and derive their power from Him and from His Church, not from the demonic realm. While our sacramentals might look like "Christian magic" to the ignorant, they aren't and can't be given the very definition of "magic," which is the endeavoring to accomplish feats beyond man's natural capabilities, but without calling on the power of the One True God. To ward off Evil Spirit, we don't resort to Evil Spirit, mere objects that are unblessed or used without calling on Christ, or ritual that doesn't call on Christ or His Holy Angels! We resort to God, His Church, and the means He's given us to defeat the Evil One, including those means that involve ritual and objects that might look like "magic" to the uninformed. To the Italian streghe, the Mexican brujas, etc. -- just say no.

Now, there may well be people with such things referred to as "paranormal" powers -- e.g., extra-sensory perception, clairvoyance, etc. Some of these abilities may be gifts that are truly supernatural in origin -- i.e., from God. Or some of those powers might be natural and not scientifically explained as yet. Or they could derive from demons. If you ever consult with anyone with paranormal abilities who does not fully intellectually submit to Catholic teaching, who does not give gratitude to the God of Abraham and Isaac for her gifts, who does not call on the Holy Name of Christ Jesus, who "channels" spirits, who performs rituals without calling on the power of Christ, His Holy Angels, and the Church, then you are asking for trouble. Big trouble! We are told to test the spirits. I John 4:1-3 tells us:

Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits if they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. By this is the spirit of God known. Every spirit which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God: And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God: and this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world.

Note here how he refers to "false" prophets, which he's obviously contrasting with true prophets. The Holy Ghost does grant gifts. I Corinthians 12:4-10: 

And there are diversities of operations, but the same God, who worketh all in all. And the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man unto profit. To one indeed, by the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom: and to another, the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; To another, faith in the same spirit; to another, the grace of healing in one Spirit;  To another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, the discerning of spirits; to another, diverse kinds of tongues; to another, interpretation of speeches. But all these things one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as he will.

So those Christians who scoff at the very idea of such abilities are not believing what Sacred Scripture itself says. But those who consult with those who have such abilities but get them from nature (if such powers can be simply natural) and who don't submit to the Church, or who get them from demons are leaving themselves wide open to demonic assault. If such assaults go so far as possession, then Exorcism is needed...

Helpful Video

This video comes from Sensum Fidelium (link to their Youtube channel will open in a new browser window).

The prayers mentioned in the video above:

In the Name of Jesus, I bind you, spirit of [blank], and send you to the foot of the Cross to be judged by Our Lord.

In the Name of Jesus, I bind any spirit here that is not of the Holy Spirit, and send you to the foot of the Cross to be judged by Our Lord.

Precious Blood wash over me and protect me from the wickedness and snares of the devil.


1 Note that both the mano cornuto and the mano in fica -- the latter thought to resemble female genitals -- are highly insulting when directed at someone. The mano cornuto, when directed at a man, implies he's been cuckolded.

Move on to:

Obsession, Oppression, and Possession
Spiritual Warfare

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