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 may be something hidden in your life that's causing a major effect and you don't even realize it.

It's why we should constantly invoke the Holy Spirit for internal cleansing. Make it your winter project!

We've carried articles about the book by Father Dwight Longenecker, an Oxford graduate who is now a priest in South Carolina and who asserts that we can use the Rosary to go inward and flush out damage from the past (by meditating on our lives as we meditate on the stages of life of Jesus).

Grudges. Unconfessed sins. The touch of evil. As Father Longenecker asked (in Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing), "Do you suffer from some weakness or failure that you can't seem to get the victory over? Do you fall into physical sin of which you are ashamed and embarrassed? You mean well, and you want to live in the full power and glory of Christ's Resurrection, but do you drift back into old habits, old negative ways of seeing yourself and others, old negative emotions and attitudes?"

If so, there could be hidden damage weighing on you -- holding you in bondage.

We also carried an article about a psychiatrist named Kenneth McAll who wrote books focusing on concealed forces that can cause mental, emotion, and actual physical illnesses. Are you so afflicted? Are you in need of some form of deliverance from things in your past, things that are hidden?

Life is a test at every turn, and there are startling ways that Satan can touch us.

Throughout this journey on earth -- but especially in youth -- exposure to risqué movies, video games, television programs, or pornography itself can cause lasting hidden damage. In our time, even cartoons have been tinged with the occult. Such exposure can not only influence our desires and distort our conceptions but also open us to damage by spirits that lurk for just that purpose.

The result can be loneliness, failure in relationships, and bad "luck" of all sorts.

Have you been damaged in ways you never really thought about by what your eyes have seen and ears have heard? What have you brushed up against?

Have books in your past -- not only about sex, but also violence, the occult, or drugs -- left a rent in your spirit?

When we're exposed to evil in music, we can be bound to that music. When we are exposed to the evil in a movie, we can be bound to the movie -- or at least dinged in a way we don't see. When we do drugs, demons can enter. In the Bible it speaks not about occasional affliction but of "many" demons. Jesus cast them out everywhere He went (see today's Mass reading).

There is a rule in God's Kingdom and it is that sinful behavior can lead to serious physical results. Take abortion. It has been linked, ironically, to breast cancer -- the very capability to feed that infant which will not now come into existence.

That's a blatant example. Most are not. Satan often operates in what seems most innocent. Evil has touched almost everything. Everything seems upside-down. Evil has been made to seem good. You can't get away from the occult. Articles have recently focused on the history of the doll "Barbie" -- which, it turns out, was fashioned in the 1950s after a popular adult German cartoon that featured a German prostitute doll name Bild Lilli and was considered by its creator as a sexual instrument.

Has that affected generations of women (and men)? Are seeds planted? How many movies and songs have oriented us in a direction that causes us spiritual issues -- perhaps of the permanent kind? How many have been affected by Playboy or Cosmopolitan?

Go through all the songs of your youth and let the Holy Spirit inform you. Think again about some of the lyrics. Think of a movie and cast out any dark residue in the Name of Jesus.

Free and heal me, oh Lord. Think of songs. Free and heal me, oh Lord. Think of relationships. Free and heal...

If you abused drugs or alcohol or sex, seek deliverance from what happened through those portals. Go over every possible exposure -- not with paranoia, but with the Rosary.

"Did you do anything that has never been confessed that you are ashamed of?" asked Father Longenecker. "Did you experiment with sin or indulge in destructive behaviors that you have never brought to Confession? All these things may still cloud your vision, impede your sense of vocation, and cause hurt, stress, illness, and a kind of spiritual handicap in your life."

Actual physical ailments.

The good news is that through Christ -- and especially Communion (or the Rosary, as Father Longenecker points out) -- we can go back through our lives, ask the Holy Spirit to roam over what we were exposed to, and let Him lead us to prayers of deliverance -- title by title, lyric by lyric, movie by movie, the ones that were negative.

"Ask God to bring them to mind, and then take them to Confession to experience real healing and forgiveness," says Father Longenecker. "Imagine and experience the waters of your own baptism, as the grace of God washes through your life and cleanses the early adult years, and gives you a renewed sense of vocation and purpose in life."

Go through every single movie or photo or program you should not have watched, rebuke it, and cast it away until it has no sensual hold -- until you feel release from it .

Then repair the injury.

The freedom you feel will surprise (and exhilarate) you.

The deliverance may change the course of your emotions!

Depression will usually leave.

Depression or obsession or oppression. You'll be surprised. A good project this is, in this quiet time.

Who says that spring cleaning can't start in the dead of winter?

[resources: Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing, A Guide to Healing the Family Tree, and Freed and Healed Through Fasting]

[see also: The hidden root of 'Barbie', More 'secrets' of 'Barbie', Scots investigate marketing by Playboy to children, and More evidence on link between oral contraceptives and breast cancer]

[Houston retreat: Michael Brown on spiritual warfare and healing]

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