Searching for and Maintaining Peace, by Fr. Jacques Philippe, a splendid and small but potent treatise on how we gain that inner peace we so often hear about and then keep feelings of spiritual tranquility in these times when the opposite swirls around us and our households have turmoil. This book greatly helps in that pursuit, inspiring as well as providing practical tips! Recommended... click here



Earth, we all know, is a battlefield. Jesus said He specifically came to conduct spiritual warfare! We know, too, from Scripture, that dark forces can hover over "territories." Temptations to anger, lust, murder, theft, drugs, and other faults are sometimes associated with very specific areas (as can be accidents).

The Book of Daniel mentions how an apparently high-level entity referred to as the "prince of Persia" stood up an angel who Daniel had invoked.  Ephesians (6:12) talks about how we wrestle not so much "against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."

That's Saint Paul talking.

In a recent article for the New Oxford Review, a Catholic Peace Corps worker spoke about how in his "reductive materialism" and "naiveté" he didn't believe in "superstitions" like demons until encountering dark and virtually palpable forces that seemed attached to specific locales in the African outback of Malawi.

“Is it me seeking to excuse myself, father; am I just imagining that it is more difficult here?” the Peace Corps worker asked the mission’s guardian one evening at supper, after bouts with strange emotions, temptations, thoughts.

“No, there is a presence here,” replied the priest. “Here in Lusangazi, there is evil. I feel it, and I know it to be true.”

As another Catholic writer (and Vatican expert) has written, "in the North (northern hemisphere), even believing Christians are sometimes reluctant to talk too openly about the spiritual world. Claims of miraculous healings…or of demonic possession are sometimes greeted with skepticism, likely to be taken as indications of mental imbalance or emotional immaturity.'"

Is it really immaturity or spiritual experience?

In addition to certain places where wickedness reigns (strip clubs, crime zones, gambling parlors; drawn to certain areas like a magnet), are there really, one might ask, vicinities or even small regions -- especially in the boondocks -- where bizarre and perhaps dark or deceptive spiritual phenomena occur?

Reports the website for The Boston Globe: "For years, ghost hunters and paranormal experts alike have flocked to the Bridgewater Triangle, a 200 square-mile area in Eastern Massachusetts that many believe to be the breeding ground for the unexplainable. From Bigfoot and UFO sightings to ghosts and strange voices, the area from Abington south to Freetown, west to Seekonk, and north back to Abington, features a number of sites said to possess an energy unlike any other area in the state.

"At the center of the triangle is Hockomock Swamp, the largest swampland in New England, and one that is rich in animal, plant, and geologic diversity. The dense surroundings mean that it's a very difficult place to navigate, which leads some to believe that certain creatures could lurk in the swamp undetected. The Wampanoag tribe gave the spot the name Hockomock, which means 'place where spirits dwell,' and Colonial settlers called it 'Devil's Swamp.' Some of the strange sightings reported here include various flying creatures and ghosts."

It all sounds ridiculous -- or might it be better put, "deceptive"? Curious it is how many places around the world (and across North America) are also "hotspots" for the bizarre -- and also often include, as does the "Bridgewater Triangle," cult activities such as animal sacrifice. These are not places where spiritually wise people venture (except perhaps to toss some Holy Water and blessed salt). Spirits, one can speculate, do linger -- and take any form.

Notes another site: "Profile Rock in the Fall River-Freetown State Forest, the largest in the state, and a location that has been tied to some grisly murders, body discoveries, and rumors of satanic activity. Some paranormal experts argue that there is a strong, negative energy that encompasses the forest and is the reason for strange happenings there. Others believe that the forest is simply so accessible, just off Route 24 in Assonet, and so vast, that people in surrounding towns utilize it to cover up their crimes."

Dark draws dark.

And there are plenty of other such areas, from northern New Jersey to Lake Champlain to the infamous alleged "Bermuda (or 'Devil's') Triangle." Similar claims have been made about an area in neighboring Vermont called the Bennington Triangle.

"Common to most of these areas is a mix of reported phenomena that includes reports of UFOs, mysterious animals and hominids, ghosts and poltergeists, and animal mutilations," notes the website.

When they aren't a product of imagination, exaggeration, or hoax, the tie-in of many strange but seemingly disparate phenomena may be explained, for all we know, as a simple spiritual masquerade.

Spirits create images and mirages in a way that intrigues (and thus entices).

During the famous apparition at LaSalette, the Blessed Mother (in a part of her message that did not receive formal Church approval) warned the seer that evil spirits would fashion "lying wonders" (including in the air and also by way of psychic wonders).

It wasn't so long ago that even august scientists and writers (including Arthur Conan Doyle) were preoccupied with photographs of supposed fairies.

 According to one tale, the Native Americans had cursed the "Massachusetts Triangle" centuries ago because of the poor treatment they received from the Colonial settlers.

"There have been several reported sightings of a bigfoot-like creature in the triangle, usually near the Hockomock swamp. Joseph DeAndrade claimed to see a half man and half ape creature entering the woods near the swamp in 1978. Local resident John Baker also reported seeing a large hairy beast in a river in the swamp while canoeing."

In the 1970s there was such an outbreak that police investigated for two full days (but found no evidence -- as there never seems to be definitive physical evidence).

It sounds like silly stuff, but sometimes silly things have a spiritual foundation -- are silly because we don't understand them (or perhaps better put: can't discern them).

According to Adomnán, writing about a century after the events he described, the Irish monk Saint Columba was staying in the land of the Picts with his companions when, we are informed, by an on-line encyclopedia, "he came across the locals burying a man by the River Ness [see 'Loch']. They explained that the man had been swimming the river when he was attacked by a 'water beast' that had mauled him and dragged him under. They tried to rescue him in a boat, but were able only to drag up his corpse. Hearing this, Columba stunned the Picts by sending his follower Luigne Moccu Min to swim across the river. The beast came after him, but Columba made the Sign of the Cross and commanded: 'Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once.' The beast immediately halted as if it had been 'pulled back with ropes' and fled in terror, and both Columba's men and the pagan Picts praised God for the [alleged] miracle."

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