One thing I learned at this conference was that demons have much more influence on our lives than we realize, just as angels have much more influence on us than we realize. Merely because they are invisible most of the time does not mean they don’t exist—one could just as well say that electricity has no effect on our lives because you don’t normally see it. We see the effects of angelic and demonic activity, but we don’t realize what is causing these phenomenon. Take common addictions, for example. If you are not addicted to pornography or alcohol or some kind of substance, you know someone who is. Much of this addiction is caused by demonic influence, and much of the strength to repel addictions is given us through angelic protection. The Church gives us prayers and sacramentals that prevent negative supernatural influences and invite positive influences, but unfortunately most Catholics are not even aware of them. Another obvious example is family strife and marital misunderstandings. Much of this is due to human frailty, but much is also due to demonic oppression. The Church gives us surefire ways to avoid family discord and heal family discord, but most of us don’t know about or use them.
In a few weeks I will begin priestly ministry at a parish in the City of San Francisco, along with my dear brother priest Fr. Patrick Driscoll. This beautiful city has been a war zone between the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, and the angelic and the demonic for many years. I know that much good and much bad awaits us at this parish and in this city. In San Francisco we will renew old friendships, forge new ones, but also suffer misunderstandings, disappointments, and failures. I anticipate not a few sleepless nights! And I know there will be demonic attacks against our persons and our priesthood. Perhaps I should be afraid, but I am not. (Perhaps I should heed Yoda, who said to Luke Skywalker’s bold statement that he was not afraid: “You will be… you will be”).
I was riding a bike yesterday afternoon on the Des Plains River Trail northwest of Chicago. I stopped the bike in a field to look and listen. Yellow and purple flowers waved among tall green grasses in a slight breeze. White clouds framed a vast vault of blue, framed by lofty trees. Crickets chirped and birds sang by the gently flowing river. People rode by on bikes and waved out cheerily. A temperate glowing sun blessed the whole scene.
This earth is a sacrament of God’s presence. There is never a moment when He is not with us: in every blade of grass, in every human relationship. Even should the demon attack us in the middle of the night, God is still with us. “There’s no reason to be afraid of the devil,” our exorcist told us during the conference. “The devil is already hurting you as much as he can. God allows him to afflict us only as much as His wisdom allows, for our good.” God rules Satan and all the demons, and they too serve him. There is nothing of which we need be afraid, even if we must steel ourselves for the suffering inevitable in this life. I hope I may continue to look forward to suffer for the sake of His holy Name; may He be blessed and praised forever.