Truth be told, I don't "need" Hollywood dramatizations of the real thing to know that the devil exists and poses a grave danger to us. However, I'm not so sure about others. Maybe it is exactly the Hollywood version that cause otherwise logical people to dismiss his existence, as though it's along the same kind of child's play as other horrors. The difference, however, is that the horror of the devil is very real. If we take seriously the salvation of our souls, we would see that and do whatever we could to combat it.
I was sickened yesterday by some of the trailers that came on during commercial breaks. There was nothing lewd in the movie itself, yet twice I felt accosted by images of people in various stages of undress etc. To me that is one of the worst things about the Boob Tube, that you don't know what's going to come at you or the innocent children in your house next. No wonder there are people who don't allow one in their homes. My husband assured me this is nothing and he's seen worse on network television. Last week, my dear old father was telling me how he rarely watches anything but old Westerns because he's never sure when something of a sexual nature is going to come at him. I know how he feels. Sometimes just doing a Google search of a religious topic will bring up images I can only describe as pornographic. How this must please the devil, to invade our thoughts that have originated in innocent intention with smut.
Coincidence or not, Father Z has something posted at his place about how much the devil hates us, a theme he repeats because frankly, it does bear repeating. We are made in the image and likeness of God. The devil hates God and because he can do nothing to Him, he aims for the next best thing: God's children.
This hatred may not always be manifested in Hollywood-style suspense and drama but it is a hatred unlike any other, just as the way we are loved by God is unlike any other kind of love. During exorcisms, the priest is often subject to humiliating attacks from the demons. This isn't because the fallen angels can read minds. It is because they stalk us in life and know our every move. Thus, things are sometimes revealed at a critical point in an exorcism so that the priest can be knocked off track.
I have known of the kind of evil harassment that can happen at times that should be sacred to us. I don't think I have shared this previously but some years ago I sought the help of a priest because of what happened to me every day for a period of time during Lent at Mass during the consecration. I would mentally hear a barrage of the filthiest language you can imagine, leading me to actually shake my head no on several occasions. I started to think I should not approach the altar for Holy Communion so after several weeks of this, I went to the confessional on a day when a priest I greatly trusted had no one else in line and I told him what was happening to me. He assured me this was not happening through any fault of my own and that he would pray for me. He also reminded me that my strongest defenses against these attacks were the sacraments and fervent prayer. This was the time the priest assured me that "thieves do not attempt to break in where there is nothing to steal." By the end of the following week, the attacks subsided.
There was one final assault, however, that I hope never to experience again.
This was some years ago, when I still an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion who assisted, when asked, at Mass. It was Easter Sunday. I received Holy Communion and then waited for Father to hand me the ciborium. When I took the vessel containing the Body of Christ into my hands I again heard the worst filth - language I have scarcely heard, let alone ever uttered. I wondered if anyone else could hear it. I have to tell you that I considered telling the priest I couldn't go on but somehow I did. I asked God not to let me accidentally repeat what I was hearing while I distributed His Body and with His help, I succeeded.
I know readers of this blog are also well aware that the more devout and filled with Christ's peace we are, the more likely an attack is to come in the form of an unkind word, an unprovoked argument, an assault on our faith and a questioning of ourselves.
I am offering the Thirty Days' Novena to St. Joseph for intentions for which I have been asked to pray and I have added the Litany of St. Joseph to my prayers. One of his titles is Terror of Demons. Along with the Rosary, the Chaplet to St. Michael and this daily Litany, combined with frequent reception of the sacraments, I feel I have an arsenal that is no match for whatever evil I encounter. I also know the attacks will not cease coming, in one way or another.
BTW, what follows at the conclusion of this post is the climactic scene from the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose. While it is frightening, what I find makes it so is the hatred that comes across for us and especially for God. Just in case anyone needed a reminder.
Lord Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, have mercy on us poor sinners.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, pray for us.
St Michael, the Archangel, protect us.