How many demons are within you? – Luke 8:1-3
How many demons are within you? That may seem a strange question considering the belief that many of us think that there are those around us who could be possessed but we are not. Could I have a demon within me and not know it?
The first miracle in the Gospel of Mark (1:21-28) tells us that on the sabbath Jesus went to the synagogue and there was a man there in the congregation with an unclean spirit. Demons do not spare you because you are in the presence of the Most High God or in his temple. In the text of today’s Gospel, (Luke 8:1-3 ) we are told that Mary who is called Magdala had seven demons that Jesus cast out of her; not one but seven!
While we should not fear Satan nor should we be constantly looking for him in the ordinary happenings of our life, to deny his presence and his working is foolishness. We live in a world where popular satanic music, satanic street gangs, satanic games and even an increase in satanic worship are prevalent and blatantly spoken of.
In spite of this, many people do not take the occult seriously. They laugh off the notion of the power of evil as actually being a part of the “real” world in which we live. They entirely deny the possibility of demonic possession, either on the supposition, that there are no evil spirits in existence, or that they are powerless to influence us.
When given an opening, demons will therefore try to enter and possess. They can possess an object, such as a cursed occult artefact. They can also possess a place, especially if sinful or occult behaviour has occurred there. It is necessary to clarify that the devil is not able to take possession of the soul of a man (unless the person expressly consents to it), but only his body. The Evil One can tempt us, but he cannot touch us directly unless we open the door for him.
The blessing of our home is not just some sentimental act that we perform. While Catholic tradition has been watered down to suit the ‘climate of change’ and accommodate all, the older ritual for the blessing of homes calls upon the power of God to drive away satan and every evil force in the home. A house, an apartment, or another building can be “infested” with demons if someone invites them in, even unknowingly. Or sometimes it can be a person who has an “open door” to the demonic.
Furthermore, satan (that’s not his name but his title) is a deceiver; that’s what satan means. He will not stop deceiving us into believing whatever he wants us to believe. When the new ritual for exorcism was released, Cardinal Medina, then Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, stated very poignantly, “I would like to stress that the evil influence of the devil and his followers is usually exercised through deceit and confusion. Just as Jesus is the Truth, so the devil is the liar par excellence. He deceives human beings by making them believe that happiness is found in money, power or carnal desire. He deceives them into thinking that they do not need God and that grace and salvation are unnecessary. He even deceives them by diminishing the sense of sin or even suppressing it altogether, replacing God’s law as the criterion of morality with the habits or conventions of the majority.”
It would be foolish to assume that satan will stop his mission to destroy the ministry of Christ. Yet it is also important to know that satan is a defeated enemy; defeated on the cross by our Lord. Yet, this is a shameless enemy who having been defeated never gives up. The battle against satan is real and happening in real-time,
Fix therefore your eyes and your faith upon Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We are saved by Jesus Christ alone, through prayer, our adherence to the Word of God in the Bible, and through the sacraments, especially through the presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
In our prayer, we should not forget to involve Mary, the Mother of God, who has crushed the head of the ancient serpent (Gen. 3:15). Devotion to Mary is a powerful means of protection in our daily lives.
Who said a Catholic has to be good?
It has been a while since I have felt this call to holiness. Every attempt to move in that direction has left me found woefully failing. So, I began to settle with second best, telling myself that I am a good person and God will understand.
How often have we justified so many failings in our moral life by telling ourselves that we are good people who do good? We revel in the fact that second place is someplace and if we are to slip into heaven as Catholics then we can parade our ‘goodness certificate’ at the pearly gates. But that is a fatal mistake if not a hellish one.
A rich young ruler once addressed Jesus as a ‘good master.’ In his response, Jesus said, “No one is good but God himself.” But while only God is good, the Bible tells us in Leviticus 20:26 that ‘God is holy’ and not just good and that we are called to be ‘holy’ just as God is. Leviticus also tells us that we are commanded to be holy because God has ‘separated us from other people.’ God has separated us not so that we may run around with a chip on our shoulder but we have been separated so that we will ‘be his.’
The Greek word ‘hagios’ translated as holy, does not indicate that we are ‘sanctified’ but rather as Leviticus tells us, holiness means to be separated or to be different. So, a Catholic, by his or her very calling, must be holy, must be different and must be separated, in order to serve God. Christ has called those who want to be His disciples to be “in the world, but not of the world.”
So, let us address the malaise of many Catholics who give themselves ‘goodness certifications’ because the call to holiness is way too challenging for them. Goodness won’t get you into heaven because heaven is not merely some ‘good place’ but heaven is ‘holy’ and nothing unholy can be in the presence of Almighty God. So quit certifying yourself, quit consoling yourself. God wants us to be Holy, not just goody two shoes who contributed to building a Church.
The movement to holiness begins with addressing our sins. Remember that heaven has a dress code (even if our Churches are too afraid to enforce one) and those invited to the banquet must be dressed in the right robes of holiness. Addressing our sin begins at the confessional and this must be frequent even if some clergyman dissuades you from coming every week or tells you it’s okay not to confess your trivial sins. Every sin is a sin, no matter what any clergyman may say.
Holiness is not just an intention in your heart. It needs physical acts that may seem superficial at first but lead us eventually to a habit. Habits are formed and the habit of daily mass, daily rosary, morning and night prayers, confession, pious practices, pilgrimages, reading and imitating the lives of saints and the daily reading of the sacred scriptures; these and many more begin the life of holiness.
For those who argue that you live busy lives, guess what! These demands that holiness calls us to, these acts of piety and prayer will just make your life even more demanding. But that is the price that holiness demands; to drop everything in order to embrace the pearl of great price.
Some may argue that holiness is a matter of the heart and that is true but what is in the heart is always manifested in the action and if the actions do not reflect the heart, then this argument rings hollow.
I am making a case for holiness in thought, word and deed so that we may encourage each other to live for heaven. Being good may be good for some but not for God, for he has made it clear that he is Holy and his dwelling place is holy and if heaven is what we truly desire then there is no way in unless we live that call to holiness.
NB Your comments are most welcome. Please keep the discussion civil. Do share this article with others even if you think they will disagree. You just might be the agent that God is using to touch and transform a life.