The subject of Spiritual Warfare isn’t discussed a lot among Catholics — especially in the West. Most lay Catholics fall into one of two very broad categories:
- Those who are fine with just being Catholics and working to be holier every day, and
- Those who are obsessed with Catholic theology and tradition.
Very few Catholics think about how psychology, science, politics, angelology, and other religions affect how we as Catholics live out our Catholicism.
For instance, simply knowing that it is normal to feel awkward in a restaurant when making the sign of the cross to say Grace before Meal will make it easier for you to say your prayer. Simply knowing how your mind works in this situation gives you an advantage over the Catholic who doesn’t know this.
I’ve seen Catholics come up with several reasons why it’s not necessary to make the sign of the cross before saying your prayers at a restaurant simply because they’re afraid they might be looked at weirdly or make someone else feel uncomfortable. But the reality is that they are simply denying their faith and Christ in one of the places where it matters the most: in the presence of others.
And that small psychological disadvantage that makes you compromise even a little is a type of Spiritual Warfare.
So, here are 5 things you need to know so that you’re always prepared.
1. Demons are real
Yes, they are. Angels are real, demons are real, and they have real spiritual powers that they can use to affect us.
In 99.99% of cases, demons don’t have power over a person’s physical body. There are instances where people can get possessed, but those are extremely rare. So rare that most people will live their entire lives without seeing or experiencing any case of full-blown demonic possession.
But demonic possession is real. It isn’t just trauma, depression, or any other psychological problem. Even though demonic possession often presents many psychological symptoms, the root cause is still the real presence of a demonic entity.
2. The battle is usually psychological
Having said that, demonic activity is usually psychological in the form of temptations. They can put images in your mind, suggest bad ideas, or even play out an entire scenario that leads to you “making up your mind” to proceed with a particular sinful action.
When you notice this, the best thing to do is to immediately make the sign of the cross over yourself and ask the Blood of Jesus to cover you. It’s as simple as saying, “Blood of Jesus, cover me.”
That gives you instant spiritual power, stops the diabolic attack in its tracks, and allows you to make your next 2 moves.
The first of these is to move away from the occasion of sin. This may mean taking your laptop out of your dark room so you don’t watch porn, or walking away from the extremely rotten conversation that just began in your circle of friends.
Avoiding the near occasions of sin cannot be overemphasized!
3. Prayer is at the heart of Spiritual Warfare
Your next move is to find a short time to pray. I recommend praying three Ave Marias, as invoking the assistance of the Mother of Christ is traditionally a very powerful prayer against demonic attacks.
Ave, María, grátia plena,
Benedicta tu in muliéribus,
et benedíctus fructus ventris
Sancta María, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.
Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now
and at the hour of our death.
This always works if prayed devotedly and sincerely.
Another good prayer is the Vade Retro Satana from the Benedictine Medal.
Crux sacra sit mihi lux
Non draco sit mihi dux
Vade retro satana
Nunquam suade mihi vana
Sunt mala quae libas
Ipse venena bibas
May the Holy Cross be my light
May the dragon never be my guide
Never tempt me with your vanities
What you offer me is evil
Drink the poison yourself
Relying only on quick on-the-spot prayers won’t do much for your spiritual life. If you continue like that, you will soon become so weak that it will become impossible to ward off the attacks of the evil one.
Instead, you must learn to build a lifestyle of prayer, studying the word of God, and doing good works. These are like building up a fortress around your soul. Eventually, most of the sins and temptations that seem difficult to handle now will become easy to overcome.
4. Take territory
When an army finds itself among hostile forces, one of the things it tries to do is secure a perimeter in which it can build its base.
This same principle is applicable in Spiritual Warfare.
Scripture tells us that our battle is actually against demons, and the thing they are after is the human soul. When a person lives a life of sin, he is under the control of the evil one. When you live passively among these people and interact with them, you start being influenced by them.
The proper approach is to go into the offense and reclaim territories for the Kingdom of God using the sword of the spirit!
If there are 10 people around you and 7 of them are strong practicing Catholics, there is a very low chance of you getting negatively influenced. The devil will try, you can bet on that, but you will see it coming from a mile away.
Converting sinners is a spiritual work of mercy — one that every Catholic can do with the help of the Holy Spirit. It is also a Spiritual Warfare strategy. More importantly, it is a gift to Christ our Master, whose thirst for the salvation of souls is quenched daily by our ministry to the lost and lukewarm.
5. Get reinforcement
Two warriors are better than one. 10 are better than 2! The more Catholics you can team up with to fight this battle with you, the better.
You can join Catholic associations like the Legion of Mary, or Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. You can also find other people who have consecrated themselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary using the pattern laid out by St. Louis Marie De Montfort. Sometimes, you may need to look online to find people who will give you that extra motivation.
I should add a caveat here: If you’re the only truly practicing Catholic in your area, you must work on your evangelism skills. God didn’t put you there to just look at the neighbors and say, “O, I’m better than them. May God save their souls.” He put you there so that through you they may come to know Him and the power of His saving grace and love.
- Acknowledge that demons exist and that not everything is just “mental health issues.”
- Most demonic activity is in the mind, in the form of temptations.
- Become more prayerful, study the Bible, and do good works — especially almsgiving.
- Evangelize people and work with the Holy Spirit to bring about true conversion in their lives.
- Find other Catholics and win this war!