Browsing Pastor's Corner

Boo is True!

Oct 31, 2018

In Sunday’s first reading the Jewish people are excited and filled with hope that God will deliver them from the hands of their enemies and restore them to the freedom and joy of being a nation once again dedicated and loyal to the one true God.

In Sunday’s Gospel, that communal hope is made manifest in the person of Bartimeus who is placing his full confidence in Jesus Christ whose all-powerful love and mercy will deliver him from the scourge of his blindness, so that he may then experience the greatest joy of being a devoted follower of the great healing Messiah Jesus Christ.

Deliverance. It must be one of the primary focus’ of our lives.  So important is this concept, that in the most important prayer that Jesus Christ Himself taught us the Our Father it is perhaps the most significant petition…deliver us from evil.  And as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are all embroiled in this fight against evil and the hope that we may be delivered from its terrible influence.

Whether its blindness, natural disasters, illness, negativity, dying and death, anything that impairs the quality of our personal life or life in general is the result of sin…where evil gets its power.

To petition God to be delivered from evil, is to ask Him not only to restore us to physical, emotional and/or spiritual health, but also to empower us to be a remedy against the evil in the world and not one who perpetuates its influence and power in hopes of ruining lives and damning souls, beginning with our own. We are enlisted soldiers in the Army of Christ who with Christ are on a search and rescue mission to save souls, beginning with our own.

To appreciate this practice of deliverance and our role as deliverers…the movie the Exorcism of Emily Rose is highly instructive.

The movie was based on a true story of a young German woman named Anneliese Michel who was possessed for many years and died in 1976 at the age of 23 probably of the possession itself. Her heart-wrenching story is instructive, not so much about the nature of evil, but about how good can be brought out of so much evil, especially when offered for the spiritual benefit of others.

Anneliese was the innocent target of a witch's curse when she was a child. She lived a so-called "normal" life until her sixteenth birthday when, without warning, she began to experience the oppression of her senses through hearing voices and seeing grotesque faces.

By her twentieth birthday she was almost fully taken over by the demonic spirits which threw her into catatonic states and caused extremely violent aversions to religious objects as well as other occult phenomena such as speaking in varied languages. During the series of exorcisms performed on her over the period of nearly a year, it was discovered that she was possessed by six very powerful demons, one of whom was named Hitler and the strongest of which was named Judas.

Anneliese's heroism throughout this whole ordeal is truly hard to believe. She not only attempted to complete all her school assignments until she was utterly unable to do so, but she was completely accepting of her trials because she knew that there was a deeper meaning in them.

Ultimately she died, according to her spiritual director, as a victim soul out of love for her people. He called her experience an "expiatory possession," that is, a suffering for the sins of others.

It is evident that God permitted her death in this dramatic way, just as He permitted the death of His only-begotten Son, for the eternal benefit of others and as a witness to the reality of evil in a faithless age.

In fact, during an apparition in which the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her during the height of her horrible ordeal, she was given the option of being freed from her possession or to continue to be possessed until her death in order to witness to the world that there is a supernatural world, that evil exists and invades the world but that the presence of God is stronger.

She incredibly chose possession until death to be that heroic witness.

The message here is that redemption is possible and that good will overcome evil. A victim soul is a concept most clearly seen in Catholic theology, described as a soul or person "chosen by God to suffer more than most people during life, and who generously accepts the suffering in union with the Savior and after the example of Christ's own Passion and Death."

This is referred to in Scripture where Saint Paul says Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking* in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.  This is the same idea of “offer it up to God” whenever we suffer something...doing so not only for ourselves but for the benefit of others that God accepts like a generous donation that He re-invests in the spiritual bank account of one who is desperately in need of God’s healing graces.

The devil is much smarter than us and the primary way in which the devil influences the world is by convincing us that he does not exist, "so that we are not on our guard".

The devil does this by appealing to beliefs such as secularism, which asserts itself either in thinking and behaviours which are free from religion, or that human activities and decisions should be based on evidence and fact alone, free from religious beliefs, which include beliefs in the existence of spiritual beings.

"In the world of secularism, the devil is at work … without showing his face terrorism, war, widespread influence of pornography, family dysfunction, abortion, genocide, drugs, religious indifference, interest in new age movements and the occult.

It is a primary dimension of our faith because the redemptive work of Jesus Christ does not make sense without the reality of the devil. Throughout his ministry Jesus was always casting out demons because there are numerous ways in which the evil spirits attack us.

The first and most common form is by demonic opposition, which is "to be attacked from all sides" by ordinary temptations. The opposition takes place for no reason, and it can even be physical opposition such as visible torments and sicknesses.

The second manifestation of the devil's influence is through demonic obsession, which is when an illness - be it spiritual (relating to one's faith), emotional (relating to one's mind or emotions), or physical (relating to one's health and body) - becomes an almost unbearable weakness and burden.

This is most apparent in addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, negativity and so on. The third form, which is the rarest of all, is by demonic possession. This is when the human body and its faculties are taken over by the evil spirit.

Deliverance can be a long and tedious process because it involves counseling, inner healing (or healing of memories), and psychotherapy. Only when these methods fail is the actual deliverance carried out.

When either exorcism or deliverance has been carried out, follow-up sessions are necessary and it becomes important for the individual to lead a righteous life, to strengthen his or her spiritual life with frequent reception of the sacraments, and to have a community to rely on for support, especially active and invested in the life of the Church, which is the life and power of Christ and Heaven.

The sad reality is that people are spending boat-loads of money on anything and everything they hope will bring them more peace of mind and extensive healing. So that when an invitation to return to Church is recommended the resistance is fierce or belief in the supernatural so absent as to meet with a roll of the eyes. And so, Catholic Churches and Confessionals remain quite empty...hospitals, prisons, institutions over-flowing. 

We have been entrusted with the absolute greatest power in all of Heaven and Earth, the Holy Eucharist. As I reminded someone recently diagnosed with cancer inquiring about the next healing Mass, every Mass is a healing Mass. 

The reality is, just like going to the gym on a consistent basis improves our health, attending Mass each week will instantly improve the quality of our lives...and with the exception of the offertory, its free...because the grace of God restores us to the genuine freedom of being children of God.

Sins are an opening for the devil to enter our lives and manipulate us". "You have to be alert...worship and Prayer keeps us alert. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil...He has by delivering to us the power of the Holy Eucharist.

 

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