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We are now seeing the shameful face of Satan in ways he has not so boldly shown before. There is little pretense. Any doubt about his supernatural nature -- and his targeting of Catholicism -- need go no further, of late, than the front page.

In Delaware, a church named for the Archangel Michael is so desecrated (with tabernacle stolen, and Hosts strewn about) that it has to be re-consecrated -- as does another in that state.

In England, a 13th-century church is vandalized.

In Medjuorge, a famous statue at the site of the first alleged apparitions is busted and defaced. In Massachusetts, a priest is robbed at a shrine dedicated to Fatima.

In Upstate New York, fire erupts at another Fatima shrine (in Mary's chapel).

In Texas, the Virgin of Guadalupe and the Virgin of Fatima have been defaced in two shrines along the trail leading up to Mount Cristo Rey.

In Italy, intruders attack monks right inside a monastery (putting one in a coma, in an attack that recalled Clockwork Orange).

Most egregiously, in India, one nun is raped and another burned to death, as other Christians are likewise murdered. That was last week.

In Illinois, a statue of Christ is damaged in the third case of religious vandalism this summer in a Chicago suburb.

In Canada, two were arrested for satanic graffiti on a St. Joseph church.

Back in Italy, the Pope himself has to express disgust over an "artist's" depiction of a silly-looking frog hanging -- in clear ridicule of Jesus -- from a cross.

At the Vatican, an official warns of growing "Christianophobia."

In New York -- as if by force of mysterious wind -- a precious painting of the Archangel Michael crashes to the floor.

These are just in recent days. There is a clear step-up in spiritual warfare, which we will pay attention to during this the month of the great Archangel.

The frequency is unusual -- and a persecution is afoot. It is a persecution that is different than many expected because it is chiefly occurring, at the moment, in the spiritual spheres. On the mundane level, there are the museums with lewd blasphemous art and recent prosecutions of churches for violating nuisance ordinances (by ringing their bells).

What do we see in our society as a whole? Go no further than Louisiana -- where the governor, Bobby Jindal, is a convert to Catholicism who once was involved in the deliverance of a fellow college student from an evil spirit -- and now finds himself in a larger spiritual conflict (see: New Orleans).

We are all in this war. It is especially acute in our own homes, which we must purify, and if there is one handbook on spiritual warfare we recommend at this time, it is Onward Catholic Soldier, by John LaBriola, who reminds us of the protection our Church grants us. Every Catholic family should have it. We urge you to consider it.

More on it later. For now, these words of advice:

"Water, salt, and oil are biblical symbols which variously bring to mind new life, cleansing, preserving, healing and so forth," writes LaBriola, who hosts a Catholic radio show heard over EWTN. "Jesus used simple elements of creation such as these to perform His miracles and to sanctify His people. It was and is the blessing given to the item by Christ and, subsequently, His Church that allows these common elements to be vehicles of grace.

"These items can be used as defensive weapons, as a preventive or deterrent, or they can be used as offensive weapons, as a response to attack. Liberal use of Holy Water and blessed salt in and around your home, work place, and any gathering place is advisable."

We might add: also around your local shrine, monastery, or church.

[resources: Onward Catholic Soldier and Catholic Warrior]

[Cincinnati retreat, Michael Brown, September 20: spiritual protection]

[see also: More on priest they tried to burn to death, Horrid monastery attack, Prayer urgency: robbers kill priest, Jewish rosaries, Memo to Cardinal Mahony: blog reveals strange workers at cathedral, Woman prosecutes museum for blasphemy, and Priest robbed at shrine]

[Call American ambassador in India to complain about Christian persecution: 202-939-7000]

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