If we believe in the Light, we have to believe too in the Dark. St. Ignatius taught about discerning Spirits in his Spiritual Exercises. I personally do not like to think much about this, but from time to time I am confronted with the question of demons in our world. For many of us believers, the topic creates an uneasiness, myself included. Today’s Gospel from Luke 11 causes one to not want to think about the topic.
Jesus has just cast out a demon and people are testing him. He eventually explains to those gathered about what happens when a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle. The man is safe until someone stronger comes along, attacks and overpowers him. He continues by saying that when an unclean spirit goes out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place. When it finds none, it decides to return to the house where it came from, but returning finds it in order so needs to bring seven other spirits more evil than itself to crash into the place and take up residency, creating more havoc than it had before.
That is one scary reading. In the healing prayer work that I used to do, the teams would, on rare occasion need to cast out demons. The person receiving prayer was often a victim of sexual abuse. I remember one time, a woman quite a few years older than me, seemed to have a demon attached to her. I turned to a Mennonite woman on the team and asked her to pray. Ironically, she called upon St. Michael and invoking his name, successfully cast out the evil spirit that had been tormenting the woman. The good Catholic did not think to pray to St. Michael but her quick response did the trick! We were taught to bind and silence spirits and send them to the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ to be dealt with as he saw fit.
I wonder if people who deal with entities or cast out spirits in other names realize that they may release the spirit back into the world where it can prey on other people. I am not an expert on this topic by any means but I have encountered demons in other people and have been plagued by them when I try to help others. This odd gift of mine always unsettles me. I spoke to a priest once about it and he gave me ways of coping better when I do find myself in the presence of dark spirits.
If you believe in the Power of the Light, you know Love Wins. The fight is not always easy, nor does it mean there are no casualties. Remembering to call upon the name of Jesus and to cast out the darkness in the name of Jesus Christ are key to kicking out of the house even the strongest of demons. They cannot stand to be in the Light.
How do you deal with Scripture that seems scary and unsettling?
Have you had any encounters with strong demons?
God of Light,
banish the Dark
keep at bay
the hounds that nip at our feet
trying to destroy us.
Sweep this house clean
of all that does not belong.
Shine the windows.
Let the Light fill each room
with joy and deep peace.