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.
Very few of us will ever have to be concerned about demonic infestation, vexation, obsession, and possession. Heads spinning, pea soup flying, bodies levitating, and someone crawling up a wall like a spider certainly gets lots of attention. The truth is that while much has been said about the extraordinary activity of the devil, very little has been said about the ordinary activity of the devil. “The devil is far less to be feared in so-called manifestations than in the underground influence he exerts in souls that are not sufficiently instructed or well-tempered.” In other words, we need to be more aware of how the devil attacks all of us in the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives in a very quiet and subtle way.
The devil’s ultimate goal is to fracture our prayer life, faith life, moral life, sacramental life, and our relationships with one another in such a way that we are pulled further and further away from God. And the further we are removed from God, the more we lose our sense of identity. When we are connected with God, we know what it means to be human. When we are disconnected from God, the image of the human person becomes distorted. The devil uses his ordinary activity to disconnect us from God whereby we become more isolated, turned in on ourselves, and more susceptible to believing the lies that the devil is presenting. In his ordinary demonic activity, the devil wants his lies to become the truth in the mind of the human person. He did this with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and he continues this same plan of attack today. All of us need to better understand how the devil tries to ruin us by pulling us away from God in the ordinary circumstances of our lives.
The human person seeks intimacy with God. This is best reflected in the writings of St. Augustine: “Great are You, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Your power, and of Your wisdom there is no end. And man, being part of Your creation, desires to praise You—man, who bears about with him his mortality, the witness of his sin, even the witness that You ‘resist the proud,’—yet man, this part of Your creation, desires to praise You. You move us to delight in praising You; for You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
The devil wants to destroy this intimacy with God by intruding into our daily lives in very harmful ways. He wants to get us to sin because “every sin strengthens Satan’s hold on this world” and gets us off the path that is leading to the tree of life. Fr. Louis J. Cameli has written a book that has deeply influenced my understanding of the ordinary activity of the devil. He was one of my teachers when I attended the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois. He says that the devil uses a four-stage plan of attack on us. It begins with deception, that leads to division, that leads to diversion, and ends in discouragement.
The devil wants to take Jesus’ gift of hope away from us. His main weapon is acedia. Evagrius says that acedia is the “relaxation of the soul,” or “a lack of spiritual energy.” Just consider the great number of people who have grown up in Christian homes who have now left the Church saying that God does not exist or is no longer relevant. These newly professed atheists reject anything that has to do with God, especially the Church, and only embrace science. The Church is viewed as out of step with the modern world, whereas science can provide us with all the answers we need. The danger is that “a society affected by acedia ends up affirming that the sciences must be able to explain everything, prove everything; moreover, it thinks it is legitimate—or even necessary, to implement and experience all that science is capable of achieving.” Acedia causes us to act without limits and this is demonstrated in the likes of cloning, abortion, and euthanasia. This deification of the human person has caused us to act without limits. Just because humanity is capable of something does not mean it is permissible in the eyes of God.
When people have journeyed through the stages of the ordinary activity of the devil and arrive at acedia and the discouragement, emptiness, exhaustion, dejection, restlessness, and monotony that comes with it, I believe we have arrived at a crossroads. We can resign ourselves to the fact that we are walking the pathway of the devil or we can choose the pathway of Jesus Christ. The devil promises death. Jesus Christ promises life. In John’s Gospel, he tells us, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (10:10). When faced with acedia, we must recommit ourselves to Jesus Christ. He says to all of us, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). I believe when we rediscover Jesus’ rightful place in our lives, that is the call of the New Evangelization of which St. John Paul II spoke.
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.