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Friday, September 04, 2009

Spiritual Battle

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.

Prison

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?
*

20 comments:

Mary333 said...

I believe you. I, too have had spiritual battles during the night and so have two of my family members. One ended up with scratches all over his chest. My sister wants me to post about these battles but I have yet to do so. I believe God allows this for a reason. You are the first person[that I know of] who has posted about this. I have started going through your older posts,but have not come across these articles yet. Perhaps you could direct me? I just started reading other blogs a few months ago and have missed a lot.

Adoro said...

Mary ~ The post I refer to here I didn't link because I have taken it down for various reasons, and don't intend to republish it, at least not in its current form. At some date in the future I may edit or rewrite it, but for now it's hanging out in "draft" status.

Karinann said...

Adoro,
Thank you for this post. Thank you also for bringing the story of Fr. MacCrae to our attention. I first read his story some months ago when you posted about the Priests in Crisis website. I have for a long time felt called to spiritual motherhood for priests-reading Fr. MacCrae's story was the final factor that made me act on this calling and have adopted a priest through Opus Santorum Angelorum. You are not crazy; I too know the devils attacks-minor ones, but it's him alright!
I haven't mustered the courage to watch the Emily Rose film yet, but will try to soon.
Thanks for this excellent post and the reminder of the spiritual battle we are engaged in. Sorry to go on for so long.
God Bless!

Adoro said...

Karinann ~ You didn't go on long at alll, although you're always welcome to. :-) One minor correction: Fr. MacRae, not "crae". I'll go check my spellings in this post. Every time I write his name I double check to be sure I'm writing it correctly!

Karinann said...

Sorry my typo on Fr. MacRae's name. Love the hat tip mantilla twitch photo :)

Kathreja said...

Adoro;

I believe you. I too have gotten the looks of "you are nuts" even from priests who "Believe" evil is real.

Melody K said...

I'm praying for Fr. MacRae; also for any priests falsely accused of sexual crimes.
I'm also praying for another blogger whose daughter was molested by a family member. Unfortunately it is only her word against his; which may not be enough for the courts to provide justice, or even protection.
Sexual crimes are so difficult, both for victims who can't obtain justice; and for people who are falsely accused, who themselves become victims of the system.
Of course in both instances evil is strongly at work. Yes, I do believe what you are saying about the spiritual battle!

Veronica said...

I believe you, too, Adoro. I grew up in the occult, and, when I converted to Catholicism while in university it astonished me to see how few people really believed in things like evil. How our catechists taught a sort of fluffy and hollow New Age theology that I would have laughed at before, and my own sponsor thought I was just being silly for not wanting to play around with Tarot cards.

It was one of the reasons, a very silly reason, behind my decision to leave Catholicism some two years ago and go back to, well, the occult.

I returned to the Sacraments this past summer, and it has not been easy. So, yes, I believe you, and will be praying for you.

Adoro said...

Veronica ~ Thanks for your prayers, always need them, but I'm LONG out of that stuff now, but for the random spiritual battles we all face and experience. When you've experienced evil by your own invitation, it's easier to recognize.

Seems to me that YOU are more in need of prayers! What a story you must have! So glad you returned to the Faith and the Sacraments, and I am SO SO SORRY that your RCIA wasn't actually Catholic!

Fr. Gordon J. MacRae said...

Dear Julie, your post was read to me by telephone today. I was very moved by it. I am especially moved by the astuteness of your sensitivity to evil, and your analysis of it. Evil is indeed personified in our world and it indeed influences us. I have stared evil in the face in prison and I too have awoken in the night with an overwhelming sense that not just me, but my soul, has been pursued. There is also much good that comes from the surrender of the evil we have faced. The power of Christ does in fact command evil and triumps over it. I invite you and your readers to read "Pornchai's Story" under COMMENTARY at TheseStoneWalls. I have been given the singular grace of seeing redemption triumph over evil and it is a light that, once looked at, always leaves its imprint. Thank you so much for your sense of justice and your response to grace. With blessings from prison, Fr. Gordon MacRae.

Regina said...

Oh, bravo, Julie- bravo. A well-written post and a true wake-up call to all of us.
And thank you for the call to pray for all our priests falsely accused- Fr. MacRae is indeed in many of our hearts already.
God bless you.

Rachel Gray said...

I learned about Fr. MacRae from your posts, Adoro, and I will try to remember to pray for him. Thank you for this post; I certainly believe you!

I grew up Evangelical and we talked more about the possibilities of demonic possession and oppression than Catholics seem to. When I was in junior high a woman who had been a witch talked to our youth group about her experiences. I never forgot her talk and I bet the others there remember it too.

Veronica said...

Adoro, thank you. Yes, I am most certainly in read need of prayers, and am very grateful for those offered for me.

My story can be complicated at times, I guess, and it always leaves me in awe that I ended up a Catholic. I still wonder, sometimes, how it happened, and the best answer I can ever give is that it was a matter of prayer and providence. Still, it's not really a terribly interesting story, as far as things go - sin never is, I don't think.

Anyway, considering Rachel's comment... I don't really think that Evangelicals talk more about demonic possession and the like more than Catholics do. Well, they might. Certainly, one of the first steps in my own conversion was through the efforts of an evangelical ministry geared towards former witches, and I'm so very thankful for the time I spent involved with them. Still, the number of Christians out there accurately talking about Pagans and occultists tend to be in the minority.

Adoro said...

Veronica ~ I think that's why your story is needed, in some way. You speak about accuracy...I agree. I hear a lot of things about a lot of things, and even some applied to my own situation or history. I'd be willing to let you "guest blog" here if you'd like, even if you don't want to sign your name. (I can always delete this comment of mine, too.)

I'm interested in hearing what you have to say. The reality is that conversion stories aren't testimonies of sin, but of how God brought us OUT of sin, and CONTINUES to do so. And the reality of the ongoing struggle, for none of us are sinners one moment and Saints in the next; conversion is throughout our lives.

So please, tell your story, whether online or in person, but TELL it. Be the ONE leper who came back to the feet of Our Lord to give thanks, knowing that one of the greatest ways to give thanks is to tell others where we have been and what Jesus has done for us.

The problem is that Catholics think that stories aren't evangelization...but they are. You and I know it...

How can we keep God's great work in us to ourselves, especially knowing that we have nothing to do with it at all?

Brother Juniper said...

Dear Adoro,

Thank you for your powerful post.

I believe and know that the devil is real because I have experienced his powers over me first hand. It is not a pleasant place to be. It is not wonderful to fight for your life and to believe that you have gone absolutely, freaking nuts.

Your post experienced me to write one about my own experience. I'm posting a link below if you or your readers would like to look at it.

God bless,

Br. Juniper

Brother Juniper said...

http://brotherjuniperonline.com/2009/09/06/the-devil-went-to-ca/

Sorry, but your readers may have to paste it.

Br. J.

Veronica said...

Adoro,

I don’t really mind sharing my story, or at least parts of it. After the things I’ve done to try and drive people away from the faith, it’s the least I can do. Some time ago, I actually blogged fairly regularly, but had to take a step back due to an unfortunate situation with an estranged family member. These days, however, having my name attached to the things I write isn't as much of a concern.

Actually, there are still a few versions of my story floating around online, though I’ve been slowly working on a revision which includes my ah, reversion. If you would like to read it when I’m finished, I would be more than happy to share it with you. Perhaps I can email you a copy? If you would like to share it with your readers, I would be honoured.

Adoro said...

Veronica ~ I'd be happy to read it if you would like to share it with me, and would also be happy to post it for you. Know that I won't post it without your permission and endorsement however! :-)

Veronica said...

Adoro,

Well, I finally finished writing the rest of my story out, although I'm still not really sastified with the prose (I never am).

I posted it myself, since it's terribly long, and that seemed like the simplest approach. So, if you still would like to read my long and strange story, it's right here:

http://psalm402.blogspot.com/

Though, I warn you, it really just is basically an account of how wildly stubborn and foolish I can be, and how infinitely patient God is..

Jeanne said...

I believe you. I have experienced many paranormal things. I too have met with skepticism. Know that I believe it was real. I share them, maybe not the same, but my own full plate of good and evil absolutely unexplainable happenings. If we believe angels exist and can help us daily (guardian angels) then we must also acknowledge that the opposite exists.