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I want to talk today about the reality of Satan and also the reality of the authority of Christ and His church. So, the authority to exercise Satan from this world.

I am asking for your prayers when I attend my annual retreat next week. I’ll be gone from Monday to Monday, so pray for me during those days. 

My annual Retreat Master, I’m sure I’ve told you before, is Msgr. Esseff, and he is the Exorcist for the Diocese of Scranton. Over the years, I’ve learned much about exorcism from him and the reality of demonic. Today, I want to give you some teachings about how Satan can enter into our lives and also what we can do to protect ourselves by invoking the name of Jesus.

We know from scripture and tradition that Angelic beings exist. We do believe in the good Angels, the Archangels, our Guardian Angels. All of these angels that surround us for good. We also believe in the fallen angels and the angels that have rejected God. The scriptures would describe these demonic spirits under these names: Satan, the devil, Prince of this World, Father of Lies, the tempter, and other fallen angelic beings called evil spirits, demons, and unclean spirits and how these demonic spirits work towards the spiritual destruction of human beings. We have to know that. One of the devil’s greatest tricks, especially in our age, is to convince people that he does not exist.

God sent Christ into the world to cast out Satan. He is the Redeemer. It is important to remember that Satan and God are not on equal levels. God and Christ are much more powerful, infinitely more powerful than Satan. So, we have nothing to be afraid of.

Christ came to show us how to resist the powers of darkness. He resisted the temptations in the wilderness. He showed authority over demons. He freed those possessed by evil spirits and His death on the cross once and for all established the Kingdom of God and the source of our freedom and salvation.

We hear in the Gospel today at the beginning of Mark that one of the first things that Jesus does is exorcism. He casts out this demon. During His public ministry, He would do this numerous times, and they were cast out in His name. We’ll hear later in the Gospel of Mark that for those who believe, these signs will accompany them. For those who believe, these signs will accompany them. They will cast out demons. Those are the signs that us believers can expect with God. The church constantly prays in the name of Jesus to cast out demons.

I want to talk about three different ways of the enemy working on us. The first way is by temptation, and all of us know this for sure. The second way is by Oppression that the enemy can oppress us. The third is Possession, which is very rare, but it’s still something that does happen.

Temptation – All of us know that is a daily struggle sometimes for all of us. We are tempted by Satan all throughout day. The Catholic Church teaches about this battle between the world and the flesh. These temptations that we can have, these false allurements to sin.

We come to know this from the First Letter of St. John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life is not from the Father but from the world.”

It is important first to know that we are in a broken humanity. We have a broken nature and by that it means that we are susceptible to the enemy. Within that can come temptations where Satan can tempt us, lure us, bait us to try to satisfy these cravings, and turn us away from God.

St. Paul says, “So I find in this rule that for me where I want to do nothing but good, evil is close at my side. The closer that we draw to Christ sometimes, the more that Satan can try to tempt us.

There is this interior struggle that is real, and I want you to think about that. Satan attacks our weakest spot. Where are you most tempted? Where is that weak spot that Satan seems to attack so easily? St. Augustine says that there can be three different phases. First is the suggestion, second is the pleasure, and third is the consent.

First, if Satan suggests something to us, “Hey, you might want to do this.” Second is that we derive some pleasure from that. We’re tempted by the pleasure. Third is that we actually consent, and we choose to do it. Suggestion is not something that we can get rid of and there’s no sin in that happening. That is a temptation. It is only when we concede to doing something that it becomes sinful.

What I’ve learned from Monsignor and from the studies in exorcism, the most powerful form of exorcism that we have is Confession. So, the Sacrament of Confession is the most powerful form of exorcism. If you find yourself tormented, if you find yourself tempted, if you’ve given into Satan, Confession is the way that we call experience that freedom.

Oppression – Oppression is a deeper kind of level of this. Oppression is not when something happens inside us, that will be possession which I’ll talk about in a moment, but oppression is when Satan oppresses us from the outside. This can be a strong drive for us.

A lot of times these can be addictions for us. Things that are so compulsive that we keep doing it over and over again and we don’t know how to stop it. So that can be a deep sin in our lives that is a way that Satan oppresses us. I’m sure you know that this is a real battle for everyone. 

If there is that thing in our lives that is really being oppressed by us, it can exhaust us spiritually, physically, emotionally, and we don’t have to live like that. God wants to cast that off. He wants to free us from this oppression. There is hope because God is going to challenge Satan. God is going to free us. That is the whole reason He came into this world to free us from Satan and to save us.

Some examples of what these obsessions can be are gambling, pornography, and substance abuse. Anything that is on a spiritual, even physical or psychological dimension. Anything that weighs us down. This can be depression, it could be low self-esteem, it could be a sense of unworthiness. Anything that debilitates us and keeps us from living good holy, joyful, wonderful lives is oppression.

Oppression can happen because of different things in our lives. There may have been a part of us that was weak or hurt, maybe even abused and that can just kind of hang over us. There could be just a wounded part of our human nature that needs to be healed. It can also be a part of us that we have given over in some sense in our lives and just given into.

So, oppression is something that we can be freed from. That is good news. If you are struggling with anything in your life that is a constant oppression from Satan, you can be freed from it.

Possession – Possession is where Satan to varying degrees, just as there can be varying degrees of oppression, Satan can take over fully the will of a person. Kind of what we know as selling one’s soul to devil.

The church still has authority. Jesus has authority on this earth and the church in a wonderful way has provided us with this authority in the Rite of Exorcism. So, that is something that we do have that has power over evil. Jesus did this in the Gospel. He gave this gift to His apostles because He wanted this to be available for us.

What are some of the things that may allow Satan to come in? Some of it could just be from our fallen nature. There is that phrase, “We’ve inherited the sins of our fathers.” Sometimes there is an addiction that goes on through the families. There’s illness that goes on through the families. Some of these things we can just be born into and struggle with them from the time that we’re very young.

Others that they talk about anything that is of the occult. Younger people for some reason get mesmerized by this. A young college student texted me recently, saying, “Hey, do you think it is ok if I use this?” It was a Ouija board for the Holy Spirit. I said to him, “No, I don’t think that is a good idea.”

So seances, Ouija boards, tarot cards, basically if you go to the bookstore and check out the New Age section, anything in there is stuff that you don’t want to be doing. It also could be any kind of sexual perversion, pornography, drug use or anything that opens us up to the power of darkness or weakens us. These can all be entry points for Satan.

I want us all to realize too that when this happens to us, turn to God, turn to Christ. Don’t be ashamed because even the greatest saints were oppressed by Satan. St. Padre Pio, Satan was a constant battle with him. 

St. John Viani, who lived in a little town called Ars, he’s the patron saint of priests and confessors. I was in his little town where his bedroom was and back in the old days, they used to have bedposts with curtains around them. Satan used to come and wave his curtains at night, and when he would ignore him, Satan would begin to move his bed across the room. Then, there were times he would move the whole bed back and forth across the room. If you think you have a bad night’s sleep, imagine that.

How do we combat this? As I mentioned, the first and foremost is penance. If there is any deep oppression in your life, you can be free and it happens in the Sacrament of Confession.

The second is that there are special prayers that a priest can pray over you. So, if you are ever struggling with anything like this, I can pray prayers over you.

Third and finally, I don’t think anybody is possessed here. We’d probably be witnessing that right now, but we also have the recourse to the Bishop and to Exorcists to perform that Rite of Exorcism.

Priests are given a special gift through the power and the laying of the hands. But you in your lay state, through your Baptism, through your belief in Jesus, and through the name of Jesus, you are also given the power to cast out demons. It’s most important you do this especially for your family, for those close to you, for your loved ones. Any time you see somebody in your family or somebody in your life that is going through something oppressive, pray for them.

Invoke the angels and invoke your guardian angel. Pray the Prayer of St. Michael. Encourage them to go to Confession and do whatever you can to surround yourself with sacramentals that we have.

A couple of things that can be exorcised is water. I can exorcise salt, and also oil can be exorcised and used, and all of these sacramentals can be used. There are also prayers of Deliverance that you can pray. So, if you are struggling with anything, let me know and I can walk you through that.

In all of this, it is important to know that He wants us to be free. We do not have to live lives of oppression. We don’t have to live lives of addiction. We don’t have to live lives where Satan constantly weighs on us so heavy. He wants us to experience the freedom of the Children of God.

I’d like to pray with you now at the end of this homily, the prayer to St. Michael that we may ask God right now to protect us and our parish, family, and loved ones.

Saint 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 throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.


May Almighty God bless you in the name of The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen