Friday, September 04, 2009
I just finished watching "The Exorcism of Emily Rose".
This movie wasn't what I expected. I've had my own history involving the occult, involving evil. I have written of my own outright faceoff with Satan himself, although I've kept many of these battles to myself.
I have often though that if I revealed them, others would think me crazy. I did once tell me story to a Theology on Tap group, and had the distinct sense that the priest present thought I was nuts. Around that same time, I told that story to a priest at my parish, and his response was, "I believe that YOU believe it was real..."
I couldn't convince him that the reality of evil wasn't fiction or my subjective experience, but REAL, although what I experienced was beyond the norm, only because I willingly and willfully placed myself in that spot.
That conversation with that priest however, has made me more reluctant to speak to others of what I lived. The story is met with incredulity, and here I am, unscathed...who am I to speak of such evil, yet not have the scars to prove it?
Scars aren't always physical. And I wonder from time to time...are they really scars, or does the invitation that took place then go on now as oppression?
I sometimes wake up at night, terrified, my hair on end, having no memory of a dream, only a recognition of the need to flee or to fight an enemy I usually can't see..but at times....I have seen.
My imagination can't conjure such images, and I've never seen them in movies, for neither can the worst of the horror writers describe what was come at me in the darkness and solitude of night. Nor can anyone prove or disprove some of the marks they have left upon me.
Do not take this to mean that I believe myself possessed...I don't. I am certain that I am NOT possessed, although I do believe it possible that I am oppressed by the Enemy...through my own invitation.
That is a different matter. We all open that door, and to different results. Only God knows why and when and what.
This movie, though, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, did not make me mostly see my own experience, but something larger. I already believe in this evil; I wasn't shocked by her life, suffering, and death. I wasn't shocked by her choice. I wasn't shocked by Father's choice. For once you see...you can't unsee. You have to make a decision, and when it goes that far, that decision leaves no room to waver.
The world saw it as a decision for death. In reality, it was a decision for life and eternity.
I watched the scenes in prison where the Attorney, Ms. Bruner met with Fr. Moore as he laid in his prison cell, hands behind his head. He was already resigned to his fate and in so doing, was very direct with his potential attorney.
It brought to my mind an image of Fr. MacRae, lying in his own cell, clad in orange instead of clerics, revealing his own mistrust and disdain of the very same legal system.
I looked at the cement stone walls of his cell, comparing them with those of Emily Rose in her dorm, and the walls I remember when I fought my own first recognizable battle with Satan.
In Emily Rose, I saw Fr. MacRae himself, and every priest he represents, those crucified without proper trial, those attacked by the enemy without jury, imprisoned...but no justice.
Suffering for Christ means there will never be any retribution, for those who accept that cross take that retribution to themselves and live it in every bloody step, every choking breath, every faltering heartbeat.
It hit me then: Fr. MacRae is not imprisoned because of any political climate, but because of the sprititual one. We as the Catholic Church in America, are under serious spiritual attack, and our attitude of secularism has massively undermined our defense.
Because of the 1% (less, actually) of offending priests, 100% are judged as being untrustworthy. Because the secular and even "Catholic" press spends so much time attacking the priesthood, very few "Catholics" know who to believe in this world of increasing incredulity. Because so few actually faithful Catholics are praying, the attack is that much greater, and because so many Catholic are killing their unborn children through contraception and abortion...there are fewer souls to pray.
We ARE the remnant. Look around you. How many who attend your parish are actually INVOLVED in some way, and by that, I don't mean "doing stuff."
I mean...interiorly. How many people around you who CLAIM to be Catholic are even living the basic tenants? Do they attend Mass every Sunday, or do they consider it to be "optional"? How long has it been since they've been to Confession? YEARS? Do they receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion once or twice per year meeting that tenant...but failing to actually consider whether they SHOULD given that it's been YEARS since their last Confession and by the way they live their lives they make it very clear that they should NOT be receiving?
How many professed Catholics actually live what they say the believe, how many can actually articulate the faith they claim to follow and uphold?
Not many, I'm afraid. Poll an average parish. The average person claiming to be Catholic in an anti-Catholic culture such as ours could NEVER be convicted of the crime of meeting even the minimal tenants of our belief, and they would CERTAINLY never step up and be willing to DIE for those beliefs.
Are You Willing to Die for Your Faith?
Most of us (my readers), most of you, would say YES! but your actions would betray you. Mine do every day. I'm asked to make a choice and I do so for comfort and convenience, not for obedience and faithfulness.
If any of us say otherwise, we are lying.
We need Grace in order to make our intentions real. On our own, we are nothing but betrayers.
It Becomes Obvious
...then, that there are those who are truly giving of themselves, whether they ever wanted to be so or not. I look at Emily Rose, and I look at Fr. MacRae, and I see the same prison walls, I see the cinderblock dorm walls, and I realize the battle is the same although it takes place in different venues.
Our country is under attack, our Church is under attack, and most of us claiming the title of "Catholic" are asleep at the switch. We don't care, we don't notice, and most of us don't have even the remotest idea of what is going on in the Church today.
How can we pray for and defend Fr. MacRae if we don't even know we are called to be Holy?
How can we know that Fr. MacRae and those like him are not alone in their false imprisonment if we don't even realize our OWN imprisonment to sin?
How can we be credible witnesses to the power of the Enemy if we can't be bothered to even TRY to live in a state of Grace?
Our Battle is Spiritual before it is Civil; and in our current culture it is lost before it can even be tried before a jury.
Much has to be done. We need to wake up, enter the battle, recognize the Enemy and know that our greatest warriors, our priests, have been hobbled and with our outright permission and support.
The 3:00 Hour
In the Exorcism of Emily Rose, Father Moore speaks of the 3:00 hour as being the "witching" hour, the hour that mocks Our Lord who died on the Cross, and the power of prayer of the faithful in honor of His life and death, the Hour of Mercy in that same hour.
I was made aware of my own failings in prayer as I often wake up at that time. Even I, who have sat across from the Adversary, have chosen to fall asleep rather than to pray!
As Catholics, our battle is not political, but spiritual, but too many have forgotten the spiritual side. We have been lost to popular culture, we have become ashamed of our beliefs, and in so doing, have left them open to superstition and ridicule.
We have no one to blame but ourselves.
The victims, the current manifestation of Christ in His Passion, can be found in our own neighborhood prisons; Priests wrongfully accused and convicted on heresay alone, abandoned by their own brothers, by their own Fathers, the Bishops.
Let us help those who are rotting away in the American prison system know that they are not unforgotten carcasses of a fallen Catholic world, but truly the spark that ignites the real life of the Faithful.
As Catholics, we know the value of sacrifice, and we know that sacrifice means something beyond what we can see. Let us in turn see the reality of those who suffer for us in ways that we cannot. Let us help those who suffer for Truth know that they are not alone in their suffering, so that they will both have the strength to persevere and to CHOOSE to offer their suffering in union with Our Lord who offered all...for we who deserve less than nothing.
The Battle we face is not political, but spiritual, and it's happening where most of the world is unwilling to see...are WE willing to look? Are we willing to partake? If we partake of the Sacrament, we agree to spend ourselves beyond the surface, seeking the darkness where the real redemptive suffering takes place.
Emily Rose knew this, and Fr. MacRae awaits solidarity for he lives it now.....
Are you willing to enter this battle or will you turn away and reject the face of Our Lord imprisoned?