I have an acquaintance who is a demoniac – that is, he is possessed by devils. At times, he experiences relative calm, while at other times, the devils make their presence known in a very tangible way. Now, while it is the case that some who think themselves possessed are, in fact, suffering from a mental illness, this is certainly not always the case and there are many souls who suffer deeply because of this particular affliction of demonic possession. And it is for this reason that every Catholic diocese has an assigned exorcist.
The reality of Satan and his demons has never been in any doubt as far as the Church is concerned. From the days of Genesis, the Serpent has been present, using his malign influence upon mankind in one way or another – sometimes directly, through demonic possession, but more often by persuading us to bend our wills away from God and toward ourselves; that is, by enticing us to choose self in a million different little and not so little ways. This was the approach the Prince of this World took with the Lord, tempting Him whilst He was in the desert. His attempts failed, of course.
It’s interesting that in the Book of Genesis, the Lord curses the Serpent and gives him a warning – that one day, ‘the Woman’ will crush his head.
The Devil has a very good memory – he is, after all, an exceptionally intelligent Angelic spirit – but sometimes he oversteps himself. He did so in the year 1858 during one of the appearances of the Blessed Virgin at Lourdes. Saint Bernadette later recounted that whilst the beautiful Lady was speaking to her, demonic voices came from the direction of the River Gave, shouting and moaning. Bernadette said that at that moment, the Mother of God cast Her eyes in their direction and gave a very stern look and immediately the voices and howls ceased.
This is a salutary reminder that no matter how good a memory the Devil has, the memory of the Lord is infintely superior; so very long ago, He promised that the Woman would play a key role in vanquishing the Infernal Enemy once and for all. God has not forgotten His promise. That day will come.
And in our own days, when evil seems to be gathering strength at every turn and coming out of the shadows, it is perhaps good for us to be reminded of this – the Demon’s power can never exceed what is permitted him by the Lord. And his days are numbered.