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Sunday, February 13, 2022

Sunday Meditation: Of Angels and Demons

Anyone as old as I am will remember the cartoons with Disney characters who have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other both whispering in his ears. I thought of that today during catechism class after Mass. We had a visiting Benedictine monk sharing about life in the monastery. At one point he discussed the thoughts and ideas and "voices" we hear inside our heads. He commented that we often think we're just talking to ourselves, but that isn't necessarily true. The Holy Spirit inspires those intent on doing God's will with holy thoughts. The demons, who are just as intent on our destruction as our guardian angels are on our salvation, love to tempt us. 

We are in times when demonic activity is on the rise. This weekend, as I wrote yesterday, the Seguaro Hotel in Scottsdale, AZ is hosting SatanCon, the largest meeting of satanists ever. What's particularly concerning is that the devil is so confident of his welcome these days that he no longer hides himself. Rather, his activity is blatant. More and more new age crystal shops are opening. We have one here in Woodstock. There are several in nearby Front Royal. These shops not only sell crystals that supposedly have "energy" but spell books and other occult paraphernalia. 

Why should we be surprised when one of the most popular book and movie series celebrates magic and spell casting while portraying those who lack those powers with the disparaging name "Muggles."

All of us need to fill our homes with blessed objects and sacramentals. A holy water font at the front door, St. Benedict protecting every entrance, blessed statues and icons. Everyone married in the Catholic church wears a blessed object, the wedding ring. Add a blessed medal or crucifix. How many stories there are of people saved from death because a medal, a scapular, or a prayer book blocked a bullet or a knife. Here's one such story of a soldier saved because of his scapular:

The Scapular that Saved Two Lives

My battalion was a member of the Irene Brigade. We were just about to advance. After we passed Eindhofen, our trucks and tanks went through Uden. In the evening we encamped on an old farm near Nijmegen. Behind the house there was an old wooden pump surrounded by bricks. This offered a fine opportunity for a soldier to wash away the sweat and dust of hours of fighting. You can well imagine that we made good use of this opportunity. I was one of the group and so I tossed my jacket on the ground and hung my Scapular on the pump while I washed. 

Horrifying News

An hour later we received orders to proceed about a mile and a half further and to occupy a trench there. We were looking forward to being able to get a peaceful night’s sleep in that trench.

I was about to lie down and was unbuttoning my collar when to my horror I realized that I no longer had my Scapular. It had been a gift from my mother. I had had it with me all during the war and now that we were approaching the lion’s den was I to be deprived of it?

To go fetch it was unthinkable, so I tried not to think about it any more and to go to sleep. I pitched and tossed from my left side to my right, but I couldn’t get to sleep.

All around me, my buddies were sleeping like logs even though from time to time shells fell dangerously close. Finally I was overcome by the desire to get my Scapular back and I crept out among my sleeping companions. It wasn’t so easy to get past the sentry but I managed to do it and ran back the way we had come. It was pitch dark, but nevertheless I had good luck and in a short time I was back on the farm and at the pump. My hands glided searchingly all over the pump but the Scapular was gone. I was just about to strike a match when there was the sound of a dreadful explosion. What was I to do? Was that the sign of an enemy attack? As fast as I could I ran back to our trench. Maybe I could do something for my buddies there. 

A Very Close Call

Near the trench I saw the engineers busily at work hurriedly removing piles of dirt and barbed wire. At the very spot where my companions had been sleeping there yawned a gigantic shell-hole. Before they had vacated this trench the enemy had placed a time-bomb in it and it had exploded during my absence. Nobody survived the explosion. If I had not set out to fetch my Scapular, I would have been buried under that rubble too.

‘Thought You Were There!

On the following morning I went to the field kitchen and met a buddy there. He looked at me with astonishment. ‘I thought you were in that trench!

‘And I thought you were buried there!

My friend continued, ‘I was lying in the trench, but before I went to sleep I went looking for you. But I couldn’t find you. The corporal saw me hunting around and asked me what I wanted. When I told him what I was doing there he said, ‘Be sensible! Instead, go to that inn nearby and get me a bottle of water.’ And while I was on this errand, the explosion occurred.

Handed Me My Scapular

‘Well, I escaped it by a hair’s breadth too, I replied. ‘But why on earth were you looking for me so late at night? ‘To give you this, he replied and handed me my Scapular which he had taken from the old pump.

Read more stories here.

Blessed objects are powerful. They identify to whom we belong. When we wear or carry them or keep them in our homes it's like a public proclamation that we belong to God and are protected by him. And be sure to say the St. Michael prayer often and prayers to St. Joseph, the terror of demons. We have nothing to fear from the evil one when we immerse ourselves in the Lord. Ask Jesus often to draw you into His Sacred Heart. There's no safer place for any one of us to be. 

My Jesus, I trust in You.

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