God the Father Almighty is All-good, All-knowing, and All-loving. He is infinitely more powerful than the devil, and if we stand with God in actual fact and not only in word, then the devil cannot even harm us, let alone defeat us. God created the angels, and all of creation, ourselves included, to know, love, and serve Him. Satan was the brightest angel, but he revolted against God; and so he was thrown out of heaven with his rebellious army. These former angels are now demons, and are waging a war against God here on earth. As St Peter warns us: “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of grace who called you to His eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.” 1 Peter 5:8-10.
But there is no need to be scared of the devil, for he is a bully, and like most bullies, when he faces determined resistance, he unmasks himself as a coward. Satan fears God, His Holy Mother, His angels, and His saints. It is important to remember that the devil cannot ever force anyone to sin, even a person whom he has possessed. He may tempt, he may persuade, and he may even take possession of a person’s body, but the devil cannot ever take possession of a person’s soul. Hence, it is said that the devil “may force his victim to do many things that are in themselves sinful, but cannot force him to approve of them.” (Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine, Michael Sheehan revised by Peter Joseph, p.322)
What Can I Do to Keep my Family and Home Safe from the Devil?
The question: “what can I do to keep my family and home safe from the devil?” is legitimate, and I shall answer it to the best of my ability, but I do not think that that question is the best place to start. I think the better question is “what can I do to keep my family and my home close to God?” If we think positively, along those lines, then we are thereby also answering the first question, because where God is present there can be nothing impure or unholy. We are also living with a positive attitude, and a justified confidence in God, and not with an excessive fear.
Yet, as we all know, there are degrees of knowledge and obedience to God. We may be making efforts on some occasions, but then on others, fall into sin. Even if I pray on my knees before a statue of the Lord, with tears in my eyes, but I then go out and sin, I am opening the door to the devil: in fact, the Evil One prefers destroying the baptised.
So, the best protection of all is holiness: striving to know, serve, and love God. That is, to know His commandments and to follow them. This requires learning the faith, and then keeping the commandments of God by being morally disciplined. This includes keeping the precepts of the Church, for the Church was founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ to continue His divine work on this earth, and to provide the sacraments to the faithful.
Under this heading of seeking holiness in our daily lives, I would include receiving the sacraments in a state of grace (especially the Eucharist and Confession), daily prayer (morning and evening, and the rosary), and acts of charity. We should not only strive to do what is good, and avoid what is evil, but to see where we have gone wrong and confess our sins without excusing and minimising what we have done. A person who confesses a sin with their mouth but then says that someone else caused them to sin has not accepted responsibility.
First of all, if you believe that there may be a demonic presence in your home or a place you rent, have a Catholic priest come in and bless it. It is rare, but there can in fact be evil spiritual presences around a certain property. However, a blessing is almost always sufficient to dispel that. This is not the same as an exorcism. Exorcism is a banishment of the devil from a person or place. Baptism is a form of exorcism, but there are other forms of exorcism where it is believed that a person is possessed by the devil. Only a bishop or a priest whom he authorises may perform an exorcism. It is reserved for those very rare cases where a blessing has not been enough, and illness whether of body or mind, and deception whether innocent or not, have been excluded.
Next, here are some practical ideas, as an aid to living a holy life, and encouraging the members of our family to live in holiness.
1. Have the family pray before and after each meal. Say the daily rosary as a family. The example of both parents is critical. Attend Sunday Mass as a family where possible. Each day use the St Michael prayer: “St Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.”
2. Have a font of holy water just inside the front door (see the illustration to this post). Every time you enter or leave your home, make the Sign of the Cross on your body and that of any children too small to do it for themselves. And when you do so, do not allow this simple act (which we call a ‘sacramental’, or ‘like a sacrament’) to be mechanical and without thought. Intend what you do, and lift your heart to God. Say a small prayer, even if only “Lord protect us,” and mean it. Obtain the holy water from a Catholic church.
Likewise, have holy statues and icons in or in front of the house. One can honour God whom they remind us of by sometimes lighting a candle before it and seeking the intercession of the saints. It is even good, if possible, to have a small shrine in the house.
3. Wear the scapular of Our Lady of St Carmel. Be enrolled in the scapular by a priest. Seek the intercession of St Joseph, the terror of demons.
Other sacramental approved by the Church include the Medal of St Benedict and the Miraculous Medal. The St Benedict medal can be purchased as an inset in hand crosses which can be placed in the home. It has, among others, these words on it: C. S. S. M. L. – N. D. S. M. D. which stand for the Latin words Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux, “May the Holy Cross be a Light to me,” and Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux, “May the dragon not be my leader.” Around the perimeter, it has V R S N S M V – S M Q L I V B: Vade Retro Satana, Nunquam Suade Mihi Vana—Sunt Mala Quae Libas, Ipse Venena Bibas, “Get behind me, Satan. Never urge upon me vanities. What you propose is evil. Drink your own poison.”) These short prayers are very good, and help us find the right attitude to evil. But do not be deceived into superstitiously imagining there is a special “super prayer” against the devil, as if the Lord would grant my prayers if I said THIS prayer but not if I said THAT one.
4. AVOID MAGIC AND THE OCCULT. This includes Ouija boards – they are not party games, they are portals to hell. People have been possessed after playing with Ouija boards. This includes tarot cards and readings, any form of witchcraft. Our age is so mad that some people are deluded into believing that there is some such thing as “white witchcraft,” or that “Wicca” is something good. Do not become involved with non-Christian religions. At best this opens the door to indifferentism (thinking that all religions are as good as one another as paths to God), and to loss of the faith. At worst, it can lead to idolatry, and idolatry is only another form of devil worship.
And avoid ALL sin. We once came across a person who had been visited by the devil. Diligent questioning could only identify one sin which had given Satan his chance: this person had used the Holy Name in vain. When we thought about it, this made sense –a person who abuses the Name of the Lord does the devil’s work. Fortunately, this person was liberated from demonic influence by confession, penance, and receiving the Eucharist.
May the Lord watch over us. Our Lady, pray for us. St Joseph terror of demons, protect us. St Michael the Archangel, defend us.
Fr Yuhanna, 22 July 2020, the Feast of St Mary Magdalene from whom Our Lord cast our seven demons (Luke 8:3)