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Many argue about whether the devil can read thoughts (we believe, as a spirit, he can), while others take exception to those who "see the devil under every rock."

There's a new book by Father Jose Francisco C. Syquia, director of the Archdiocese of Manila Office of Exorcism, in the Philippines (which still takes exorcisms seriously), and in it is a forward by the mother prioress at the Carmel of St. Therese Monastery, Sister Mary Bernard Tescam. Says Sister Tescam:

"As a cloistered nun of thirty-six years, formed to develop our sensitivity to the interior movements of the psyche, I can humbly say that more and more I am convinced of evil trying to influence practically every second of our mortal lives -- ranging from the extremely subtle like the whiff of a breeze, to the most blatant temptations. This is why Christ has warned us to be ever vigilant of that 'roaring lion constantly seeking prey to devour.'"

That is certainly at odds with those (often modernists) who scoff at the notion that evil is pervasive. Was it not Jesus Who at one point called Satan "the prince of this world"?

Father Syquia reports an exorcist in Rome as intimating that Pope Benedict would like to restore the Prayer of St. Michael at the end of Mass!

And so the battle rages and the view from here is that it rages as never before, at least in our time period. The battles in the twentieth century that were largely fought on the societal-cultural stage are now in all our homes and lives -- fought in our living rooms, our bedrooms, our kitchens, our dens.

Aside from disruptions that come from violent movies, pornography, negative music, and materialism, there has been a volcanic upsurge in manifestations such as anorexia, bulimia, and hoarding that speak of demonic obsession.

At times it gets beyond bizarre: in Bradenton, Florida (prayer need here) is a young woman whose inexplicable obsession is eating the foam rubber in furniture, specifically couches (at last count, she has eaten seven of them). The devil can not only read thoughts but manipulate them.

Notes a Bible commentator: "Ephesians 6:16 speaks of the flaming arrows sent by the wicked one (Satan). This may simply refer, however, to the varied external temptations and tests by which he seeks to control or influence our minds through what we see, read, and hear. Due to his great power and cunning, however, it could possibly go beyond this. We all wonder at times just where some of our thoughts come from and it may be that, if we are not as focused on the Lord and His truth as we should be, Satan through his demon hosts can somehow raise thoughts and questions in our minds. John 13:2 is a passage which may support this, though we arenít told just how the devil put it into Judasí heart to betray the Savior. This could simply refer to the culmination of the processes of external temptations that affected Judasí own thinking because of his failure to respond and truly believe in Christ. In John 13:27 we are told that Satan entered Judas, but this was after the statement of 13:2."

There are "UFOs": clearly, many "encounters" with "aliens" are encounters with deceptive spirits -- complete with materialization and dematerialization, haunting of family lines, and the smell of sulfur.

There are problems sleeping. There is the devil trying to exhaust us. There are nightmares. There are "night terrors" (when people, especially children, are traumatically frightened during the night). Says one definition: "Most parents have comforted their child after the occasional nightmare. But if your child has ever experienced what's known as a night terror (or sleep terror), his or her fear was likely inconsolable, no matter what you tried. A night terror is a sleep disruption that seems similar to a nightmare, but with a far more dramatic presentation."

There is the outbreak of "bipolar" disorders. This is often affliction by spirits who take control and radically alter a person's "personality." It used to be called infestation or in extreme cases possession. There is attention-deficit syndrome. The devil -- as warned by the Blessed Mother -- is "bedimming" our intelligence. Our society has lost its perspective. There is cancer: folks seem to be dropping like flies from this modern plague, which can be caused by the consequences of artificial substances in our food, air, and water (spurred by greedy manufacturers) and in other cases may be a more direct result of spirits themselves, for demons can cause any illness.

How prevalent is possession? Father Gabriele Nanni, a lecturer on deliverance and exorcism at Pontifical University, who also worked at a Vatican tribunal, told a crowd several years ago that if you were to gather 3,000 people, twenty of them would be demonically possessed.

Of course, no one can come up with figures. Possessed?  Infested, or in bondage? The evil one affects us all from time to time and sometimes steadily.

"It is by battles against hell and by resistance to temptations that we give God fruits of our love," said St. John Vianney.

There is great hope -- and Holy Week is the best week of the year to pray for deliverance (particularly Good Friday). Victory always comes with the Crucifix.

Father Syquia, in Exorcist: A Spiritual Journey (we hope to stock his books soon), includes prayers for protection:

"Lord Jesus, I ask You to protect my family [mention by name] from sickness, from all harm, and from accidents. If any of us has been subjected to any curses, hexes, or spells, I declare these curses, hexes, or spells null and void in the Name of Jesus Christ. If any evil spirits have been sent against us, I decommission you in the Name of Jesus Christ and I send you to Jesus to deal with as He will. Then, Lord, I ask You to send your holy angels to guard and protect all of us."


"Spirit of our God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Most Holy Trinity, Immaculate Virgin Mary, angels, archangels, and saints of Heaven, descend upon me. Please purify me, Lord, mold me, fill me with Yourself, use me. Banish all the forces of evil from me, destroy them, vanquish them, so that I can be healthy and do good deeds. Banish from me all spells, witchcraft, black magic, malefice, ties, maledictions, and the evil eye; diabolic infestations, oppressions, possessions; all that is evil and sinful, jealousy, perfidy, envy; physical, psychological, moral, spiritual, diabolical ailments. Burn all these evils in hell that they may never again touch me or any other creature in the entire world. I command and bid all the powers who molest me by the Power of God all-powerful, in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior, through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, to leave me forever and to be consigned into the everlasting hell where they will be bound by the archangels Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, Saint Raphael, our guardian angels, and where they will be crushed under the heel of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Amen."

[resources: spiritual warfare books, St. Benedict Crucifix, and Life Missions, Family Healings]

[also: New Jersey-Philadelphia retreat]

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