The Imitation of Mary, by Abbe Alexander de Rouville. No sooner had the incomparable Imitation of Christ appeared than the faithful began to spontaneously wish for an imitation of Our Lady, and finally, in 1768, a monk pulled together a little powerhouse of meditation on the different mysteries and circumstances of her life, from the Immaculate Conception to her Assumption into Heaven! Click here



There certainly has been a rise in evil. We have seen it in the recent Binghamton massacre. We see it in daily reports on missing children. We see it in the raucous movies. Few realize that the recent shootings in Binghamton, New York, were among more than fifty similar murders in just a month. In California, authorities speculate that long-distance truck drivers are behind the murders of 500 people across the nation in recent years. A priest is stabbed in Florida (Vero Beach, coming out of Confession); a sacristan in Europe sports a swastika. We wake up to e-mails such as this:

"This morning I went out of my house to go run up to the drug store for a birthday card," wrote Christie Trent of Middletown, Maryland, about two weeks ago. "It was a beautiful sunny day out and I was thinking happy thoughts. Then I realized that the street is blocked off with crime-scene tape all over and my neighbor came running saying, 'Have you heard?'  I had not heard.

"Two doors down from us on the corner is a yellow house where a young couple and their three children lived. Apparently the husband flipped out and killed his wife and kids and then himself. The mother's parents are founding members of our Holy Family Catholic Community. The family was seen attending the services last Easter Sunday. What could have gone wrong? Why do parents kill their children... and their spouses?"

The same occurred with another family just days later. And then ditto up in Long Island. Ostensibly that was due to financial stress. But really it is the devil in it. A mother is accused of killing a daughter. A medical student is arrested as a serial killer.

Those are the blatant cases. But how about the times when the devil is subtle and refined?

The more refined, the more pervasive -- like a thin sheen of oil, reflecting on occasion.

We see this in financiers who cause thousands to suffer and we see it in entertainers who spread lust while the media confuses genders.

The evil one is not only behind terrorism, he is not only behind tragedies, he is not only behind abortion, though it is startling how many times images of fireballs from the World Trade Center or a plane crash (such as one that recently claimed the family of an abortion-clinic owner -- near a cemetery with a Grave of the Unborn in Montana) had demonic visages -- devilish facial silhouettes -- in them. The brand of the plane was "Pilatus." There is even a peculiar image in smoke from the papal censor (as if showing the smoke bringing the evil to light, and, perhaps, banishing it).

The upsurge is best symbolized in the highly noticeable increase in destruction of Catholic statues. In Montana it was a Lourdes figure -- decapitated. There was also a statue decapitation in California (Our Lady of Grace). In Australia, a suspicious fire destroyed an historic church. In Pennsylvania it was three half-century-old statues at Holy Cross Church in Springfield. In Biloxi, Mississippi, workers went to reinstall a majestic statue of the Archangel Michael this week -- a statue felled during Hurricane Katrina -- only to find that days before, vandals had broken off the sword!

Blatant indeed!

"Last night, my husband and I attended the Elton John/Billy Joel concert in Jacksonville," wrote one distraught viewer from northern Florida. "This is the first concert they performed together, kicking off what is scheduled to be a two-year tour. The singers played the first few songs together, and then each played an hour solo before rejoining for the finale.

"During the first twenty or twenty-five minutes of Elton Johnís solo hour, he played a song that I had never heard (definitely not one of his popular hits). As he played with his band, the bass grew so loud that my entire body shook. The lights 'strobed' red as the music became more frantic.

"Then images came across the enormous overhead screen: demonic skeletons, devils, horned goats. Next, an image appeared of a stained glass window with Our Lady at the center, surrounded by angels. The image then began to turn, counterclockwise, until Our Blessed Mother was upside down. Then came the images of fire as Elton sang, 'Burn it! Burn it! Burn it down!'"

Lately, it hides as "tolerance": We are forced to tolerate homosexual marriage (Elton himself is "married" to a man, thus perhaps his resentment). We are forced to accept transsexuals. Evil is made to seem good and good is made the seem evil. The devil turns everything backwards (see the word "live"). Remarkable it is that one can be seen as uncharitable for opposing a mother who wants to kill her unborn child.

Also refined is how evil operates in removing crosses from chapels, dissuading young heterosexual men from the priesthood, and distorting life priorities. The Prince of Darkness is just that: in the shadows. On the periphery. Under the radar. In money. At his behest, our society attempts to pooh-pooh his existence. One New Age "guru," Deepak Chopra, recently urged an end to the 'myth' of Satan. Who do you think inspired that?

Often, he provides volumes of truth but then a "little" twist that makes all the difference in the world. It is why we must be so cautious.

One woman frets that a boy with leukemia was affected by the darkness in occult computer games that invoked curses. "Parents may not believe their child can be cursed this way, but it is a definite possibility," she writes.

Can this be?

"The reason for writing this is that I believe there is a spiritual battle going on and people need to be made aware of what is happening," wrote Michael Britt of Oldsmar, Florida. "There is a battle between good and evil for each of us.  I for one know that the devil does exist: One night my wife and I were getting ready to retire for the night and we had said some prayers prior to turning the lights out. As I laid there reflecting on the prayers we just said (still awake!), I felt this very restless feeling around me which was followed by this sinister sounding laugh? And the Cross that I was wearing around my neck, I felt it being tugged or pulled on, and all I could do was just lay there in shock seeing this happen, as it had flown off the chain, hit the ceiling, and landed behind the dresser on the other side of the room! I found it there the next day. It was not caught or snagged on the blanket; I have no other explanation for what caused that to happen. My wife and I prayed for a long time after that, until I felt this peace come over us. And just fell asleep. It was one night  I will never forget!"

Is the blatancy -- and the pervasiveness, and the refinement -- indicating a crescendo?

Not just yet. It will reach a higher level yet. But we can know this: the end game was written when Jesus resurrected. It's true. We are simply playing it out.

In the end, God always wins.

[resources: spiritual warfare books]

[Detroit area retreat (Michael Brown): deliverance, healing, afterlife and Michael Brown retreat, Toronto: prophecy and our current times]

[see also: The breakdown of society, Gay politician jokes about killing Miss California, and Statue toppled during Katrina is back]

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