In this overly politically correct society, the mention of the devil will raise eyebrows. Most people, religious or not, agree that evil does exist, but they are wary of putting a name or shape to this negative force. However, evidence of the devil’s presence in the world is all around us and inside us, for that matter.
My perception of the world includes a devil who, like a persistent worker bee, constantly tries to wheedle its way into the minds of human beings. This devil I picture does not appear in the shape expected on Halloween, donning a red cape and metallic horns. Instead, this evil force takes a less-threatening shape, morphing into the form of human thoughts, and this is how it obtains the ability to influence our actions. I believe that a devil who works in the realm of human thought is the force behind what causes people to harm others and themselves. This idea is what drew me to the book Resisting the Devil: A Catholic Perspective on Deliverance by Neal Lozano. Being Catholic, I was interested in finding out Catholic doctrine on the subject of evil.
Of course every American knows the image of the priest performing an exorcism in movies. The media makes the idea of exorcisms look like a superstitious ritual. A few years ago, Pope John Paul II wrote on the subject of exorcism and I found myself dismissing the idea, thinking: Really? Come on now, that’s silly.
In Resisting the Devil, author Neal Lozano modernizes the idea of evil. He suggests that Deliverance Ministry, (which includes the sacrament of Reconciliation), and in extreme cases, exorcism, can free people from the emotional bondage of evils like addictions, or destructive thoughts of all types.
The author points out that Jesus, in the New Testament, “cast out demons by his own authority.” Therefore, through a prayer in the form of a request for help from Jesus, people have the ability to overcome destructive thoughts.
I found it frightening to discover that the modern Catholic church does uphold the idea that a person can be fully possessed by a demon. However, when I read accounts of unfathomable violence in the newspaper every day I can see this darkness causing very tangible damage in the world.
Lozano writes that “a baptized Christian can not be completely possessed unless she purposefully forsakes that gift (of baptism).”
“In the face of demonic harassment or internal battle, the Christian can take her stand based upon the truth of the Gospel. By grace, she has become a temple of the Holy Spirit. God dwells within, in a very real sense, her life is no longer her own; she now belongs to God … In the face of attack, there is a place within her where she can call upon the Lord and in His name proclaim: ‘He who is in you (me) is greater that he who is in the world.' ” (31)
Phew! That Was Close!
“If we are not filled with the Kingdom (of God) something else will fill us.” Lozano writes.
I agree wholeheartedly. Honestly, Resisting the Devil has become one of the most interesting, and relevant reads on my shelf.