Saturday, July 30, 2016

Catholic Hermit: How to Recognize the Devil

Two others have emailed.  One is in the midst of practicing spiritual combat.  She mentioned an ordeal that will erupt yet today, for she has put her foot down on the devil.  It involves another person who has been demanding that she do something that is not good for him nor for her.  The other has been in spiritual combat with the devil using someone close to her, for years.  She is mostly aware of it, but often it is easy for us to see the person rather than the devil using the person.  

When we see the person erupting or causing division, upset, unrest, chaos, confusion, and any other negatives so cunning and corrupting--it is easy for our emotions and thoughts to react to the person.  Doing this only causes us to become more upset and to be baited by the devil, and fall for it. Also, we then have issues with the person or persons involved.

Recognizing the devil is very important.  By this, I do not mean recognizing the tricks, so to speak, or even the levels or rings of the soul that the devil in infiltrating in whatever given assault.  I mean that we must recognize in spiritual combat that involves another person or group, that it is the devil who uses people.  The person or persons are not the devil.  They are merely allowing themselves to be "pawns" of the devil--that is, when such a situation erupts or is on-going, whatever the case may be.

So how do we recognize if another is being used as a pawn by the devil, or also, more importantly (I think) do we recognize if we ourselves are being used as a pawn by the devil?  Surely, no one with clarity of mind and love of God--would want to be used as the devil's pawn.

Here are just a few of the recognition points for us to consider in spiritual combat.  These points will help us discern if the person or persons are being used as a pawn of the devil (or if we are a pawn!).  Then we can do as the one woman so aptly reported, "I realize it is not S. being so nasty and evil.  It is the devil using him to act like that!"  Yes, very good if we always keep that perspective, for it is truth.  We separate the devil from the person, even if the person may not realize he or she is a devil's pawn.

Note the demeanor.  Is it peaceful, loving, stable, respectful, sincere, without guile?

View the facial expressions and especially the eyes.  Is there anger, negative affect,  eye-focus possible, squinting, false smile?

When you offer an act of kindness or reach out with love, is there a rebuff or negative reaction?

Consider the "fruit" of the person.  Are they exemplifying virtues, or are they exhibiting vices?  Is there sensibility and kindness or is the person unhinged, easily riled, erupting and going on tangents?

Examine if the person is communicating facts and truths, or lies, distortions, fabrications, exaggerations. 

Are there signs of obsessive behavior, fixation on set notions, disturbance if challenged?

Discern how the person reacts if you signal or mention anything of God.

Note how the person reacts if you present facts or even your viewpoint in normal conversations.

Examine the effect the person or persons has on you during and after being around them, talking with them, seeing them (can be in videos, television, in person or at a distance).  

Consider your inner senses prior to or after encountering the person or reading a letter or article by the person, or in thinking of them.  Does it all bring a reflection of peace--the peace of the Holy Spirit?

Well, I am sure we all get the gist.  It is good to consider and review these aspects and to put to practice the discernment process when dealing with others or when dealing with ourselves!  If there is not peace, if we become restless, or, of course, if any of the more obvious negative attributes present themselves, we will better able to address the person and situation.  It is then highly likely that the devil has the person by the "short hairs"--or ourselves!  

What to do?  If someone we cannot avoid, such as a family member or co-worker, we must be vigilant and resolute in spiritual combat.  Identify the devil's tricks.  Remind that the devil is using the person as a pawn; the battle is with the devil, not the pawn person.  (This takes out a lot of emotion and helps retain focus, without falling for the "bait" or the tricks.)  

Do not react, no matter how ridiculous or horrendous the attacks, the words, the behaviors, the rejections, the control mechanisms--they are just antics.  Remember to PRAY!  Call upon Christ and His Mother, your angel, St. Michael.  Chuckle at the antics, smile, make the sign of the cross, hold out the rosary in front of the devil who is using the person as a pawn.  

DO ANY OR ALL OF THESE INWARDLY; do not make spiritual actions in an outer or visible way.  That can cause quite an uproar that unless we are advanced in demonic interference or a priest trained as an exorcist, we will not be prepared for what might be the response.  Also, we can unwittingly add confusion, resentment, and upset in the person who does not realize he or she is being used as the devil's pawn.   They are duped.

Send the devil on his way.  We dismiss the devil through prayer and by not reacting ourselves with emotion, upset--any of the aspects that he spends his efforts and sum total of his existence in trying to bring about in us!

Now, if the pawn is ourselves, we need to take the same actions in discerning our own behaviors, thoughts, and interactions with others.  If we find ourselves becoming riled, angry, obsessed over some matter, fixated, irritated with others or situations to a  point of distraction, we are most likely a duped pawn of the devil.  And, we must treat our symptoms and take action upon ourselves as we would if someone other.

Then when victory, do the God-pivot.  All glory and honor and praise to God!

If the person or persons who are being used by the devil are not those we need to have interaction with, then clear out.  Do as Jesus says:  If we offer our peace [act of kindness, Christian love, attempt to communicate] to another, and they do not offer it back--go on to the next "place."  That "place" could be our inner room where we pray, deep within our souls.  

Pray for the person, but shake the dust of the devil's tricks from our bodies, minds, emotions, and spirits and move on.  Stay clear, as far as our circumstances allow.  If someone we do not need to be involved with, say a prayer for their well-being of soul, commend them to Jesus Christ, and don't step back into the line of fire.

Of course, we might think they are our "mission".  We are to help save them in some temporal interaction, or by writing a letter, or trying to get others to poke around for us.  Jesus saves.  Commend the person or persons to the Master, the Lord, the Teacher and Savior, the Living Word, the King of Kings.  If He wants us to step back in, to not move on to the next "place," it is not likely if we've already physically tried in some temporal way.  In faith, we pray.  And we fast in some way, too--not necessarily fasting from food, but fasting from letting ourselves get all wrapped up in our own grandiose thoughts that we can get the person to change.

People who are pawns of the devil often have become so used to that status, that they do not recognize it.  One of the greatest thrills of the devil is to get one of his pawns to think they are very religious and pious, and through false sense of holiness and false pride, they display the very points mentioned above.  These pawns are the devil's pride and joy; and they are usually the ones that we must pray for and commend to Jesus Christ.  

If they are family members, we must persevere in prayer but move on to the next "place" within our own souls.  Don't become part of their pawn-plight; do not be part of the cycle of behavior or talk.  If those we will not need to encounter, pray and shake that dust!  Don't go back to try to sweep it and swirl it.  Remember, Jesus saves.

If they are ourselves, oh my.  If we can admit it, that is a big step.  We really ought to do an examination of conscience often on this aspect.  Are their ways in our daily lives in which we may be a pawn of the devil?  Consider the vices.  Are there any that we are slipping into?  Consider the virtues.  Are we practicing each and every one in small or large ways?  

God will help us with this examination.  If we question if our inner ears are listening accurately to God, a spiritual director can help, as well.  It is true that if we are pawns of the devil, we will need His grace to see it, for the devil is a master at deception.  But, truly, any slip into any of the vices is a tip-off that we are being used by the evil one.

Jesus saves.  He saves us from being pawns of the devil if we have the sense to ask for help, if we have the sense to examine our daily lives and not let reality of any tiny bit of vice slip by unnoticed.  Pray for help, ask Jesus to get us out of the pawn-shop.  Count on Him.

This nothing consecrated Catholic hermit has several examples of how the devil uses people as pawns--just from today!  In one instance, I spoke of the spiritual life and God; the person got antsy and cut the conversation off.  Long story, but pride and control are issues--discomfort.  In another, I offered peace in the form of act of kindness; the reaction was classic pawn-of-the-devil right down the list.  In another example, the Lord showed me something I am spending time on that is a distraction, and even such as that--we can become a pawn of the evil one, for we were not focused as much on God as He wants.

I'm sure you readers can come up with various examples of those you knew or know, or situations you've been in, in which you realized then or do now, that the devil was using the person or persons as pawns.  Perhaps you, as I have, reacted and got our thoughts and emotions tangled in seeing the person as the evil, when it is the devil using the person as a pawn.  

The persons who hurt us the most sometimes, are to be pitied, actually, for they are often unwitting prisoners--which is what pawns are, in effect.  Prisoner of the devil is not what we want for ourselves, I do hope and pray!  We do have the power in Christ Jesus to cooperate with Him in avoiding becoming pawns of the devil.  It's a prison sentence to avoid.

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