He is our Peace (Eph 2:14) and our Salvation (Lk 2:30, 3:6)
and in his Name (Acts 4:12) is our Victory (1Thes 5:9)
by Fr. Rufus Pereira
A young lady, looking more like a girl or teenager, accompanied by her mother-in-law carrying her four months old baby, had come to the healing service that was normally being conducted on Sundays at the Diocesan Pastoral Centre, opposite the Basilica and Sanctuary of our Lady of the Mount, in Bandra, Mumbai, requesting to be prayed over for her headache from which she was suffering for some years. As a rule I would have asked her some questions to find out the cause of her headache before actually praying over her. When however there is a big crowd or a long queue waiting, one may have to bypass even one's rules and start praying, regrettably without sufficient discernment or adequate preparation. I therefore just laid my hands in prayer over her head - presuming it was just a usual common headache. But no sooner I had touched her head ever so lightly, than she was hurled to the ground with a great force. The three strapping young men on the team and myself had to pin her down and hold her firmly as the evil one (?) manifested itself with unexpected ferocity and with incredible hatred in the eyes.
And then as I prayed for her not so much for deliverance but for discernment, 'it' began to disclose unwittingly, without being specifically asked, but I believe under the power of the Holy Spirit, a much needed information. It told me that when the young woman was a student in high school, she would come to see 'him' everyday during the lunch break - in search of peace, and - 'he' entered into her. Hundreds of youth come from Europe and America to India and the East in search of peace, entering certain so-called ashrams and encountering certain weird personalities with questionable offers of peace. But what peace? - And at what price? "I give you a peace that the world cannot give", Jesus promised his disciples, surprisingly on the eve of his sacrificial death. He continued assuring them, "It is my own peace that I give to you … And it is in me that you will find peace" (Jn 14:27;16 33). And as St. Paul would later declare, "Jesus gives us a peace that surpasses human understanding, he is in fact himself our peace" (Phil 4:7; Eph 2:14).
When the lady did come back to consciousness - she was totally unaware of what had happened to her - I asked her a few pertinent questions, which corroborated the bragging of the evil one. Her mother had died when she was 12 years or so and, being the only child, she felt very lonely. She never mixed or played with the other girl students during the lunch break at the Convent High School. She would instead go every day to the little wayside shrine close to her school, and sit still in front of a so-called religious teacher or spiritual leader because, as she told me, she felt such peace in his presence. He would talk to her and give her 'something' to eat or to drink, as she looked fixedly at him right through that 'darshan' or 'dialogue'. It was then that some weird or evil force began to enter into her.
For when we pay to creatures, however 'holy' they may seem to be, the honor which should belong only to the Creator, and when we ascribe to men, however authoritative they may seem to be, the power which only God possesses, we are breaking the very 'first commandment' of the Law, thus opening ourselves to evil and enemy forces. And, secondly, the entry point of such 'invaders' or 'insurgents' is often an emotional void or wound caused by some personal bereavement or disturbance. We were thus able to ascertain the external cause (an evil influence) and the internal opening (a psychological trauma) of what seemed to be at first only a physical sickness - her headache. Such a preliminary discernment is often very much needed for effective prayer. I then invited the young lady to attend the Inner Healing Retreat that I would be giving the following weekend at the Jesuit Retreat House, where she would receive spiritual guidance and strength in an atmosphere of contemplative prayer and fellowship.
After the introductory talk in the evening of the first day, I led the 100 participants in an hour's adoration and intercession before the Blessed Sacrament at night. At the end of the vigil, I invited those who wanted a short preparatory prayer to help them make a good retreat, to come forward and kneel in a line before the Monstrance placed on the altar. To my discomfiture the first person to come up to the sanctuary was that lady, and gradually the line was filled up. I went down the line praying very briefly over each person with the laying on of hands. When I came to that lady kneeling at the centre of the line, I did not lay my hands over her but skipped her and went to the next person. For I was fearful that if I laid my hands on her head, she would manifest all those same ferocious symptoms and cause fear among the participants. I had now finished praying over all - except for that lady. She was still there, alone - kneeling right in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I found it hard to decide what to do, but I surrendered the situation to the Lord, went ahead and laid my hands over her, but ever so slightly, hardly touching even her hair - and nothing happened. I placed my hands more firmly on her head - and there was no manifestation. I pressed my hands even more forcefully - and everything was peaceful.
She testified to me afterwards that, firstly, as she knelt in adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament, the visible sign of the presence, love and power of Jesus, she just looked at him in contemplation with love - (Rev 22:4 - I still remember her with her eyes fixed on the host without batting an eyelid) - and she felt something or someone deep within her leaving her, almost jumping out of her. It was obviously the evil spirit. And, secondly, as, with hesitation at first and then with confidence, I laid my hands over her, in the name of the Church, she felt something or someone else instead entering her. It was obviously the Holy Spirit. Even before the retreat had really begun, this young lady was instantly and completely delivered. It made me realise, in a fresh way, that healing and deliverance take place both vertically - in the presence of and with full faith in Jesus and in Him alone (Is 63:9), and horizontally, through the authority of the Church and by the power of the charisms of the Spirit being exercised in the ministry of priests and people (Mt 18:19,20).
Now that the much needed deliverance had taken place, it did not mean that the case was therefore over. The lady needed to remain till the end of the program and to continue with the retreat in order to be helped to close all the doors, especially the emotional ones, that had opened herself in the first place to satanic forces, and to open instead the doors of her soul to her Saviour and Redeemer and to the Holy Spirit. For as Jesus himself had warned us, when the evil spirit is compelled to leave a person, he will not take defeat easily or remain idle but, with the help of other more vicious evil spirits, will repossess the person (Lk 11:24-26). And therefore it was equally important and necessary that she should go through the whole process of inner healing too as after care.
The first and most important step in that process was to help her to discover the root cause of her emotional crisis and the consequent demonic incursion - and that root cause was the death of her mother. One's greatest psychological disturbance is often the loss of someone who has loved us very much and whom we have loved very much too. But that is not all. It is often the circumstances surrounding a personal tragedy that make it more painful and agonizing then the bare event itself.
Firstly, when did her mother die? When the girl was very young, in her early teens, a time when a girl most needs a mother. Secondly, how did her mother die? Not in a natural way, nor even after a long and painful disease, but violently - she was murdered, which makes it still more painful. Thirdly, by whom was she murdered? By her own alcoholic father in a drunken rage. Fourthly, where? In some distant land? No, in her very presence! Fifthly, what was the consequence? He was now jailed and she the only child of her parents was now left doubly orphaned and alone without mother and without father. Is that all? Not yet! Sixthly, she loved both her parents and she needed them both, but the most painful thing was that she was often, then and now, forced to choose between them, a most heartrending decision for any child to make.
That retreat helped her not only to discover all this, the root cause of her emotional chaos and the entry point of the demonic force, but to deal with it, by accepting all these wounds with praise to God as part of his plan in her life, by forgiving her parents and others for the hurts they had caused her, and by renouncing her opening herself to the evil one instead of to the Holy One. She left the retreat house with a cheerful smile on her face reflecting the exuberant joy in her heart for the salvation and peace the Lord had given her according to his promise. Then only could one say that her healing and deliverance was now complete and total with the new and abundant life that was now hers in Jesus' Name.
By the way, you may wonder what is the name of that young lady and to which parish she belongs. Her name is significantly, 'Salvation' and that of her parish is 'Our Lady of Salvation'. It is no mere coincidence that the first of January, 2006, the New Year, is both biblically the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus and liturgically the feast of Mary, the Mother of God. For it was to her that the Good News was given that the name to be given to her son would be Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins, and it was only when she said yes that Jesus was conceived in her womb by the power of the Spirit and given to us as our Saviour and our Salvation - for that is what the word Jesus means - inaugurating a new Age or Era of peace, love and joy. Our New Year wish for the readers of Holy Spirit Interactive is that we ever
Keep Looking at JESUS our HEAD in the Eucharist,
Supported by his BODY the CHURCH in our midst.
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