When bad things happen to me, I usually attribute them to unfortunate circumstances that every person encounters. But then last year happened to me and my family, and I began to consider whether we were under a spiritual attack from demonic forces. This is the story of what we faced and how we responded.
A few years ago, I herniated two discs in my lower back. Despite trying every remedy except surgery, my back pain got worse and worse, until last year when it began to jeopardize my ability to provide for my family.
My spine doctor recommended surgery and prognosticated that it had a high chance of success in my case. I got ready for it, but the day before the surgery, my insurance company denied the procedure. My spine doctor did a doctor-to-doctor conference appeal immediately, and the insurance company doctor overrode his decision.
So I just had to slog on. I continued turning to our Lord for help and healing, but it did not happen.
Shortly after, my four-year-old daughter Josephine got a bump on her face. We expected it to go away, but several days later we noticed it had actually grown in size. We took her to the E.R., expecting some normal childhood bump or bruise had happened. The doctor took blood and sent it away for some preliminary tests, and we waited.
Three hours later, we were still waiting. I caught the doctor looking at us through the door a few times, but they said they didn’t have any results yet. Then, a different doctor came in, looking grave. He told us that the bump was a tumor and that our daughter had cancer. We were utterly shocked.
A few days later the main tests came back: Josephine had leukemia. And it was of a very high risk subtype.
On the way home from the hospital with my son, we were stopped at a light. I glanced in the rear view mirror at a car coming up behind us going awfully fast. I willed him to stop. He didn’t. His car plowed into ours and caused major damage. Fortunately, my son and I did not receive any serious injury.
We faced other challenges, too, enough to where we began to feel like we couldn’t catch a break. The words of St. Teresa of Avila seemed apropos to us: “If this is the way you treat your friends, Lord, no wonder you have so few!”
The possibility of demonic oppression
My wife proposed to me that we needed to consider whether we might be under demonic oppression of some kind.
This idea had not crossed my mind, but then I recalled reading an excellent book by Fr. Mike Driscoll that spoke about this called Demons, Deliverance, Discernment: Separating Fact from Fiction about the Spirit World.
In this book Fr. Driscoll explains demonic possession but also the lesser known types of demonic attack. Between temptation and possession there is a broad middle ground that he labels obsession and oppression. He explains that these beliefs are not Catholic dogma but are acceptable opinions for Catholics to hold.
In the Old Testament, we would say that Job was not possessed but oppressed by demons—his entire family was killed and he was afflicted with infirmities. Similarly, in the New Testament, we see a woman afflicted by a spirit of infirmity (Luke 13). She did not display the signs of possession—great strength or knowledge that she would not normally have-but Satan had “bound” her in some way.
What could we do? I had vaguely heard that our diocese had a deliverance ministry but knew nothing about it. We began to seek out the Church’s spiritual protection against demonic oppression.
We were battling demons
I knew what not to do: it is not the role of the laity to enter hand-to-hand combat against demons. Demons are far craftier than we are, and besides, we can’t even see them to know when they are lurking about.
Instead, three priests came into our lives and blessed us with anointing of the sick for myself with my back and for my daughter. One also gave a special blessing over her for strength to fight leukemia. We had many friends praying for us and Holy Masses said.
We also learned about an Association of the Faithful called Auxillium Christianorum that was founded specifically to pray for priests who battle against demonic forces and to pray for the protection of laity against demons.
This Church-approved association has a simple set of daily prayers that one prays which includes the rosary. Up until this time, though I’d been Catholic for many years, I had not ever committed to praying a daily rosary. I started, and then my wife joined me each evening.
The result was dramatic. Within three months, I was able to get my back surgery approved, and the surgery was a complete success, relieving me of the pain I had been enduring for over three years. My daughter’s leukemia also had gone into remission, and she began to grow stronger in her fight against it through her ongoing treatment. The other adversities we had been experiencing also eased or were completely resolved.
My faith was renewed
I believe that our Lord responded to these increased efforts to turn to him for deliverance for supernatural forces of evil. While an outsider might say it was all coincidence, we as Catholics don’t believe in coincidence. Nothing happens in this life that our Lord does not allow and ultimately will for our good.
For my part, my faith has grown stronger through these trials, as well as through the healing that we have received from God. We now believe that demonic oppression is very real and can happen to even faithful Catholics living in God’s grace. Far from causing us alarm, it inspires filial trust in our Lord, who is stronger than Satan and who desires our salvation. What do I suggest? I suggest you put your trust in our Lord through praying the rosary—and don’t wait until the oppressions comes to get started!