By Michael H. Brown
It’s all around the newswires. It’s in the headlines. “Exorcism performed on Mother Teresa.” It sounds like something out of the movies — and has to have created shock. How could a woman seen already to be a saint and a sure thing for canonization have been possessed by the devil?
The answer is that Mother Teresa was not possessed, and that the media was playing fast and loose by tossing around the term “exorcism.” Yes, the archbishop who released the information also used the term, but he was referring to a general prayer. He was referring to a lifting of evil. What they did with Mother Teresa was chase away a demon that was trying to assault her (as happens so often) in her final days. The same has afflicted many saints. Mother Teresa’s namesake, Therese of Lisieux, had terrible doubts toward her own end, and there were times when Padre Pio was physically attacked, even bruised, by devils.
And so everyone would be wiser to use the term “deliverance,” and that’s something everyone needs. Let’s recall that Jesus Himself needed the ministering of an angel when Satan tempted Him on the desert. Life is one constant series of encounters with evil, and that’s why Christ put it right there in the Lord’s Prayer: “deliver us from evil.” Actually, in its strictest translation, the prayer ends with the words “deliver us from the evil one.”
So it is that Christ knew we all need constant deliverance and so it is that Mother Teresa was no different. If you were the devil and saw her in a weakened state, you would also have pounced — and that’s what happened to this dear, precious nun: she was not possessed. She was attacked. And it is a time when we are all being attacked. We’re constantly hearing from people complaining about how the evil one has infiltrated their homes, caused division, or led to psychological problems and sickness. We’re seeing incredible things: nastiness at places that are supposed to be holy, harshness among those who are supposed to be on the same side, tremendous jealousies, competitions, and an absolute explosion of pride. Suddenly, everyone is important. Suddenly, everyone is a big deal. And that’s an invitation to demons: where there is pride, Satan (as prince of pride) has a legal territorial right.
As we will be exploring in coming days, this is a time of tremendous spiritual agitation. Every year, the intensity grows — and lately, every week. While many were sitting around waiting for fireworks in the year 2000 — waiting for overly apocalyptical events — the devil has been unleashing a largely undetected spiritual onslaught.
That too is a sign of our times: spiritual warfare. Last winter we carried an article that focused on the official exorcist in Rome, Father Gabriele Amorth, who says we are standing naked before the swarming enemy because dioceses no longer have exorcists, or treat such events as tremendously rare when in fact this is a war fought on a daily and indeed minute-to-minute basis. The stripping away of exorcism rites from Baptism and the elimination of the St. Michael’s prayer at the end of Catholic Mass, as well as the decline of deliverance and healing prayers, have greatly weakened our side at a time when the enemy rages. “Every diocese should have at least one exorcist at the cathedral,” urges Father Amorth, “and every large parish and sanctuary should have one as well.”
Let us add that every home should have an open Bible (preferably turned to Psalm 23 when not in use) and also blessed salt and holy water — which, these days, should be used on a daily basis.