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It's remarkable how many religions and denominations take swipes at the Catholic Church -- from Muslims in the Middle East and Hindus in India to large cult-like "Christian" religions that go door to door and Evangelicals and those who state themselves as "born again" in the United States (never mind the non-religious).

When a religion is under constant such attack, and yet remains the most visible religious force on earth (and has -- for 2,000 years, as the world's oldest institution), and never retaliates in kind (having only good words for others, and reaching out, ecumenically), you know you are dealing with authenticity.

You also know you are dealing with real things when this Church -- with the special help of the Virgin Mary and the Archangel Michael (whom we celebrate with the other angels Saturday) -- is named as the most powerful and only fully effective weapon against the devil by an ex-satanist.

And so it is that a woman named Deborah Lipsky from Maine who spent years in actual satanic rituals and other forms of the occult grants us sharp insight into the power of the Church, which she witnessed first-hand as she sought escape from a world of incredible, ferocious darkness.

"After I left Satanism I joined a religious cult and spent the next eighteen years denouncing the Catholic faith and proclaiming that the Blessed Mother was nothing more than a demon in disguise," she writes in a new book. "It wasn't until 2011 when Our Lady made herself known to me in a very personal way that I saw her love and compassion. Even for me, someone who had made it a point to ridicule her in the name of Christianity. She delivered me from my personal demons and the hope she gave back to me is to be shared with all who read this book."

When she was a practicing Satanist, says Lipsky:

"I used to take pleasure bringing born-again Christians to their knees if they tried either 'exorcising' my demons or speaking to me of Jesus' love. Protestants of all denominations were also 'sport' as they quickly buckled under my power when they tried to convert me. However even back then I feared the Catholic priest as I knew, as did my demons, that I was no match for the power that came through him from God."

Lipsky, who speaks at churches and also gives presentations on autism (she has a master's degree in education), warns that born-againers who declare themselves immune from evil are deceiving themselves -- and that Mary, so often disparaged by denominations that seek to put down Catholicism (and thereby bolster their enrollment), has indeed been granted extraordinary powers against the evil one.

"In 2009 I started to have these unshakeable feelings to return to the Catholic Church," writes the former occultist, who was born Catholic but left after a horrible, abusive upbringing. "The more I tried to ignore these urges, the more intense this longing became. I didn't know what to do as I didn't believe in the Blessed Mother, so these feelings weren't rational. To make matters more confusing, the demonic torment that had lain dormant for many years resurfaced. The more I entertained the thought of rediscovering Catholicism, the worse the nightly torments became. The torment no doubt was a result of fear on the part of demons. My prior interests in various denominations posed no threat to them so they basically left me alone. The Catholic Church, however, was another story. Demons know the power of Christ that the Church has inherited. In a last ditch effort they employed the same tactics as before in an attempt to derail my fledgling desire to return home to the Church."

At several points, says Lipsky in A Message of Hope (Confessions of an Ex-Satanist), she was deeply disappointed by the reaction of priests who were not familiar with evil or who didn't believe in the devil -- or in the case of one, rejected her because he didn't believe the Satanist had converted. But the Church is the Church (founded not by men but by Jesus) and the Power behind it prevailed. "It took time and lots of patience," says Lipsky, "but the closer I drew to the Blessed Mother in heartfelt prayers for deliverance, the more the demonic attacks lessened. This sparked a reverence deep within my heart for her title, 'Queen of Heaven.'"

How do demons afflict us? Through negative thoughts, says Lipsky. Through lying. Through anger. Through horror movies. Even a small leak in a boat can eventually sink it, she points out. "Demons 'feed' (figuratively) on negative thoughts which in turn excite them," she says. "Once you produce a negative thought, it has a frequency level that easily connects with a demon because like attracts like. This gives the demon access to your thoughts where he will plant similar thoughts so as to stay in your space. Isn't it amazing how one negative thought 'triggers' another and then another? Demons have an insatiable 'hunger' for negativity."

They also are attracted by "unresolved hurts" that fester over time like ugly wounds and "become like perfume that attracts demons." They love fear and anxiety because it gives them energy, and they hover around youngsters because teens are hormonally charged and prone to demonic lyrics that further rouse energy by evoking anger, defiance, lust, and rebellion.

Also: "The quickest way a demon gains entrance is through occult involvement of any type," she writes. "It doesn't matter whether you practice black magic or just go to the latest three-d horror movie; both are an open invitation to demons that they don't refuse."

This from an educated woman who -- while still very new to real Catholicism -- has the insight of one who conjured various entities and on occasion even saw them physically manifest.

"Love is a powerful emotion, especially pure Godly love, which when demons are exposed to it, causes them to flee writhing in pain," notes Lipsky. "Love torments a demon! Love reminds us that we are children of God and no slaves of the devil."

[resources: A Message of Hope (Confessions of an Ex-Satanist]

[spiritual warfare retreats, Michael Brown: September 29: Chicago, October 13: Northern New Jersey-New York; and November 3, Minneapolis]

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[From the mailbag: Our Lady gave five wonderful promises to those who pray for those "who
have not come to know the love of the Heavenly Father." The promises are:

1. "I will strengthen you."
2. "I will fill you with my graces."
3. "With my love, I will protect you from the evil spirit."
4. "I will be with you."
5. "With my presence, I will console you in difficult moments."

In response to Our Lady's request, please say this prayer and forward it
to as many people as possible who might want to receive these extraordinary
gifts from Our Lady.

"In the Name of Jesus, who said that anything we ask in His Name will be
given to those who believe, I ask that those who have not come to know the
love of the Heavenly Father will be blessed with the knowledge that they are
loved by Him beyond all human reasoning and understanding. Please grant
them the gift to feel His love as it enfolds them to such an extent that they
will be unable to resist or deny it. May the knowledge of the Heavenly
Father's infinite love stir within their hearts the desire to return that love
to Him, and to reflect it to all others. May their lives be a pure
reflection of His resplendent love. I ask this in the name of the Father, and
the Son, and the Holy Spirit, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Amen"

Please print this little prayer, distribute it, and pray it from the
heart at your prayer meetings. Thank you for responding to this call.]

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