By Fr. Vincent Lampert
Fr. Vincent P. Lampert is the Pastor of St. Michael and St. Peter Parishes in Brookville, Indiana. In 2005 he was appointed the Exorcist for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. He received his training in Rome and is a member of the International Association of Exorcists. He is the author of Exorcism: The Battle Against Satan and His Demons.
Christians should not live in fear of the devil. We are called to be God-fearing people and what this means is that we live in awe of God and all that he is doing in our lives because of his great love for each of us. Our strength comes from “the Lord’s Resurrection, in the triumph of life over death, of love over hatred, of truth over falsehood, of light over darkness.” Three hundred and sixty-five times throughout the Bible we are told in one form or another “Be Not Afraid.” Literally, once for every day of the year, God reminds us that evil is something that we should not fear. One example comes to us from the Second Book of Kings:
When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was round about the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Fear not, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Eli’sha prayed, and said, “O Lord, I beg you, open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Eli’sha. (6:15–17)
These verses remind us that although “it may seem like an uneven match—the human against the demon—but we have the assistance of divine grace and the angels.”2 We should always remember that the forces of good always outnumber the forces of evil. A great remark from St. Theresa of Avila, the sixteenth century Spanish mystic, says, “I don’t understand those fears that make us cry, the devil, the devil, when we can say God, God!”
Unclean spirits vary in strength, boldness, and malice. They can influence our thoughts by way of the imagination, and they can excite feelings in us, such as lust, anger, or despair. Using their Evening Knowledge, they can deduce what we might be thinking by watching us closely and noting the effects they are producing in us. They have their specialties, and in order to implant their particular vice, they look for the opportune time and place when we are weakest and let our guard down. Their power over us will either increase or decrease according to the level of resistance they meet in us. We make ourselves strong against the devil’s attacks when we choose the love of God over the fear the devil is trying to sow.
In the First Letter of John we read, “Perfect love casts out fear” (4:18). Love deepens our faith and “what lies at the heart of our faith is not demonology, but Jesus Christ.” Our focus must always be on him and him alone, not on what demons are trying to do to us. Demons have no power over us except that which we surrender to them. They can propose but they cannot impose. The best defense against the forces of evil is for each of us to live out our faith and to grow in our relationship and commitment to Jesus Christ. I want to share with you some very concrete examples of what all of us can do to focus on Christ and in doing so, defeat the devil:
Read and know the Bible. St. Jerome (AD 347–420) said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Therefore, to know Scripture is to know Christ and his power.
Practice Marian Devotion. The Blessed Mother is a powerful ally for anyone who is up against the forces of evil. The devil could not touch the Blessed Mother because she was full of grace. Fr. Gabriele Amorth recounts the story of a fellow exorcist who once asked the devil what are the qualities of the Most Holy Mother Mary that make you so angry and cause you so much pain? The devil responded that she is the purest of everyone, and he is the filthiest; she is the humblest, and he is the most rebellious; she is the most obedient, and he never obeys.5 The Blessed Mother also teaches us that every hour is the hour for Christ. In the story of the Marriage at Cana, Jesus says to his mother, “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). Her response is, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). These are the final words she speaks in the Bible. Once she tells us to listen to and obey Jesus, she has said all that needs to be said.
Frequent the Sacraments. The devil is fought positively and preventively by everything that nourishes and strengthens the Christian life, and therefore, above all, by recourse to the sacraments.6 As Catholics we need to go to confession and attend Holy Mass with the reception of Holy Communion. Our Catholic faith must not be purely cultural, by which we merely go through the motions. It must be a lived relationship with Jesus Christ exemplified through the sacramental life of the Church.
Pray and Fast. When the disciples asked Jesus why they were not able to cast out a particular demon, he responded, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29). In this same account in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus responds that they were not able to cast out the demon because of their little faith (17:19). When we pray, we connect ourselves more tightly to God and are protected from demonic influence. When we fast, we create a physical emptiness in ourselves and come to realize that only God can satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart.
Call upon your Guardian Angel and remember your Guardian Angel is more powerful than the devil himself. Scripture teaches us the importance of our angels. In Psalm 91  we read, “For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways” (v. 11).
At a time when many Christians no longer practice their faith, there has been an increase in the attention given to the devil and his devious ways. Because the devil seeks to destroy and separate us from God, all Catholics must be on guard. In Exorcism: The Battle Against Satan and His Demons, Fr. Vincent P. Lampert, a seasoned exorcist, presents authentic Catholic teaching on the devil and his plan against humanity.