“This universe is at war,” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.
During an interview with Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the diocese of Springfield, Illinois for an upcoming article with the National Catholic Register about exorcism in the US, he referred to Christian author C.S. Lewis as calling the Earth enemy-occupied territory. Thus, he said, we must access Divine protection so we do not fall to the enemy,
Bishop Paprocki pointed out that too many people think they only need to be concerned with the devil through possession and otherwise don’t need to worry. “Possession is the extraordinary work of the devil,” he said. “His ordinary work is temptation and we deal with temptation every day. We all need to be concerned with this.”
Actual demonic possession is very rare, Bishop Paprocki explained. In the 6-½ years that he has been bishop, he has not seen anyone possessed with a devil taking over the body, although he has seen people afflicted with demonic harassment to different extents.
The best way to protect ourselves from evil, he said, is through the sacraments because they were instituted by Jesus Christ and fill us with the grace to protect us and bring us closer to God. Sacramentals are also good, Bishop Paprocki said. They were given to the Church through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. “When we bless ourselves with holy water it helps protect us against evil. Crucifixes, the rosary, and prayer, are sacramentals too,” he said. “They are all ways to help us to be holy.”
Bishop Paprocki encourages people to go to Holy Communion and Confession frequently if they want to use the greatest power against evil. The sacraments are more powerful than an exorcism, he said, which is a blessing, so it is a sacramental as opposed to a sacrament.”
“C.S. Lewis used that analogy of the world as occupied territory to mean that God has given the devil a certain amount of latitude in this world,” Bishop Paprocki said. “In the end, Christ has conquered and wins out, but during our lifetime on Earth living in occupied territory, we need to be aware of evil influences all around us.”
Since we live in a secular culture, which means “worldly,” he explained, the evil one is a strong influence. “That is why living the spiritual life through the sacraments is so important to stay close with Jesus Christ and maintain our relationship with God,” he said. “If we are not doing that while walking in enemy territory, we have no protection and that is very dangerous.”
Bishop Paprocki said it is good to say prayers to reject the devil and reinforce faith in God such as the “Our Father” and the Apostle’s and Nicene “Creed.” We can also have a priest bless our house and use prayers of minor exorcisms, he said. A minor exorcism does not need permission form the bishop to perform, unlike a major exorcism. The difference is that in a major exorcism, the priest speaks directly to the devil. In a minor exorcism and in our prayers, we call on God to protect us.
The Church uses prayers of minor exorcism frequently, such as at every Baptism to reject and renouncing Satan. “You can also do a minor exorcism in a situation where there is an evil influence for instance demonic activity in the house.” Bishop Paprocki said. “It is simply praying to God to overcome evil influences.”
In the book Unbound: A Practical Guide to Deliverance by Neal Lozano he addressed the battle plan of the devil in this world. “Though Satan’s divisive plan––keeping us from the fullness of our destiny as sons and daughters of God in Christ––is different for each of us, depending on our unique situations and personalities, his plan for us is all based on lies,” Lozano wrote. Instead, he said that it is Christ who assures us the truth, “…the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32).
Many lives have been built on a foundation of lies,” Lozano said, but staying close to God, helps protect us from the lies while living in occupied territory. “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world, On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds,” (2 Corinthians 10:4).
Lorenzo explained that if there is an evil stronghold in our life, it block us from knowing the truth about God, his love and ourselves. It will deceive us into seeing the wrong people as our enemies. “Our real enemies are the powers of this dark world,” he wrote.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” (Ephesians 6:12).
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