Know Thy Enemy

It is my thesis that the devil’s spiritual warfare on our flocks will intensify as the years proceed and that all Christians, but especially priests, will have not choice but to engage more deeply in the spiritual battle for souls.  There is no time like the present to begin the training.

This was written by Father Thomas Euteneuer in the introduction of his new book, Exorcism and the Church Militant (xxxiii-xxxiv).  I am reading it now.  One does not need to be an exorcist to know he is completely on the mark.

I have mentioned before that Catholic militancy is in the first place about the interior life and that our real adversaries are not men who are “enemies of the Church,” but principalities and powers.  This can also be taken a step further.  Even in the external order where Catholic Action comes into play, the greatest opposition will come from the dark powers, whether through temptation or something more extraordinary like oppression and obsession.

But I believe there is also a middle between the two.  As regular readers of this blog will know, I am not a big fan of conspiracy theories.  One reason for this is because I have found that in order for  something that appears to be the result of a “grand scheme” to occur it is not necessary for the rich and influential to secretly meet in the middle of the night in a hidden black-curtained dungeon, or, for that matter, in a corporate board room.  It is sufficient that men open themselves up to the powers of the netherworld by playing fast and loose with their spiritual life.  My own experience tells me that men can effectively collaborate in nefarious schemes without even knowing that they are doing it.

I never understood why Fr. Hardon was so adamant about those living in mortal sin being instruments of the devil.  I would still qualify this sentence by emphasizing that this most often happens without the sinners knowledge, because most people sin through weakness and not malice, but I think I understand what he meant.

For many this will just be seen as dishonest scaremongering. [I am correcting this post so as to indicate by the following link a specific comment  to a post on another blog (June 21, 2010, 4:14:16 PM EDT). Sean P. Dailey is the author of the comment in question, not Mark Shea.  Please see this comment, below.] But sometimes we are given prophetic graces.  In an age when so few priests, and more importantly bishops, are willing to be exorcists, the few who are find themselves crying in the wilderness when they speak to men about the dangers to which our age exposes itself.

18 thoughts on “Know Thy Enemy

  1. This is a very good post.

    There is a fine line between sensationalism and sending out a battle cry. We have to pray that the latter is the case of such books and such calls by clergy.

    I think your most important line in this post is:

    “I have mentioned before that Catholic militancy is in the first place about the interior life and that our real adversaries are not men who are “enemies of the Church,” but principalities and powers.”

    The battle begins within.

  2. Dear Father Angelo,

    This is really a great post. It conjures up all sorts of questions.

    1. Do you feel that our present times have far more mortal sin? Or, has the greatest opposition not ALWAYS come from the dark powers? Do you really feel that today’s issues are far worse than in the past? I’m not being sarcastic, I’m genuinely curious because I go back and forth with this. Sometimes I think that we have ALWAYS had equally ‘evil’ struggles and other times I wonder if today truly is worse and more insidious.

    2. You said that Fr. Hardon talks of those living in mortal sin being instruments of the devil. You said you never understood this before but that you do now. Can you explain?

    3. I agree that Catholic priests will be called to ‘engage more deeply in the spiritual battle for souls’, though again, should they not always do this? And, how will this occur?? I’m still not convinced that the average priest cares to do this. How will we get them there? And, what do you think (specifically) the average layperson should be doing to help in this work? I do believe that we need to work on the interior life with fervor … that we need to pray unceasingly … that we need to live holy lives as best as we know how, etc. But does this really change other people’s hearts do you think or do we need to do more? I feel there are enough of us with hearts set ablaze who are willing to do what is needed, but many times I feel we’re all stabbing in the dark and heading in opposite directions. We’re not a united front.

    Penny for your thoughts!

    God’s continued blessings on you all.

  3. Thanks Father for giving me an eye opener. I hope to hear more from your reflection of Fr. Euteneuer’s new book.

  4. I just finished this book and I must admit that it has given me MUCH to think about on many levels…..although it is primarily directed towards priests, the laity can gain much insight into the malice of the devil by reading it. Although I think I sleep with one eye open now, I am definitely more aware of the ease at which we can open ourselves up to being attacked; I also am more aware of the fact that this subject is not preached on as often as it should (if at all), which hopefully will change as a result of this book. Despite that the wordly modern mind may not believe in things such as the devil and hell, books like this make it apparent that they are very very real and may become a reality for many if they do not wake up.

  5. Perhaps the book(s) would be a good present for each of us to give our Parish priests! And Father, maybe the answer to my 2nd question above has to do with what was found in this book .. .on how insidious Satan is.

  6. I do think the spiritual warfare has intensified and continues to do accelerate – I always think of Sr. Lucia’s remark about the wave of diabolical illusion that has swept the world. We are easily deceived and swept up in it.

  7. I’d like to read this, but has anyone read “The Rite?” I thought it was good. I didn’t care for “The Vatican’s Exorcists.”

  8. Dear Father!

    Thanks for this post. I’d like to request that in the future, could you comment more on Fr. Chautard’s “Soul of the Apostolate”, specifically on how the laity can put this book into practice. I’m on my second reading of this book, which I find fascinating and inspiring. But I’m a bit discouraged in trying to implement a regimen of mental prayer. Could you elaborate more on mental prayer, what it is and how laymen can enter into this? Thank you!

    I am convinced that if we have no interior life, we have no life!

  9. Is today’s battle different than the past? Ecclesiastes says there is nothing new under the sun. I always distrust any claim that our era is the worst or best of all eras.
    Yet any battle ebbs and flows, so what Fr. Euteneuer says about the battle intensifying in the foreseeable future may nonetheless be true. I think there are many positive signs in our world today. Yet there are also signs the forces of darkness are mounting major assaults. For example, I am convinced that one of the things Fr. Euteneuer is most right about is the spiritual nature of abortion. That battle is on, and the only way it could fail to escalate is if we conceed the field to the enemy.
    Thanks, Fr. Angelo, for reminding us of the need to properly prepare and train for this battle.

  10. Yes! I have seen this spiritual battle intensify hugely in the last five years or so — in my own life, and in the lives of those around me. I can think of three persons without trying who were faithful Catholics who have left the Catholic Faith recently. It is deeply disheartening. We are indeed being sifted like wheat. Holy Mary, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our deaths, Amen.

  11. Why do you think I think it “dishonest”? I said no such thing. I don’t even think “scaremongering” is the right word either. I do think that books on exorcism tend toward sensationalism. But that’s due to the nature of the subject matter, not because I think there’s something wrong with the author, and certainly not because I think him dishonest.

  12. Mark,

    My apologies. I am not sure how to link to specific comments on your blog. It was not you specifically, but Sean P. Dailey. I will correct the post.

    With respect to books and the occult: there can be extremes on both sides. Satan wins either way. Still, I don’t think the concerns of experienced exorcists are in of themselves sensational. I take it, you don’t either.

  13. So, Father, out of curiosity … what is your take on the HP series? It seems that most of the comments from Mark Shea’s blog were centered around Fr. E’s comments on the HP books. I let my daughters read them, though they grew bored with them and never finished the series I don’t believe. My older son had no interest in them at all. I have personally flip-flopped with my views on these books but mostly side with those of Mark Shea.

  14. Jen,

    I am currently working on something. I have been familiar with the books for many years, and yes, I have read them. I have chosen for various reasons to maintain silence on the matter, but I have to now make my position known which is decidedly negative.

    I have not always thought this way, and for a number of reasons I believe what I have to say will be a meaningful contribution to the debate.

    I certainly let you know when I publish.

  15. Let us remember to keep priests in our prayers, as they are being attacked unmercifully by the enemy of God. Fasting is a powerful means of obtaining many graces for our beloved priests who are in this for the good fight. God Be with you Men of Courage. Ave Maria!

  16. The written commentary in this article suggests that this is wolf in sheeps clothing but the photo in actuality is a lamb being attacked by the wolf. So true. The lamb is being attacked by a wolf.

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