Rev. Fr. Kevin OselumhenseAnetor
“I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightening. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions and over all the powers of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you” (Lk. 9:18-19).
I remember being sent to a small rural village as a Seminarian, some ten years ago. I had only been there about five days before I noticed the fear. It was so palpable; it could have been weighed on a scale. The people had fish in their waters but were too afraid to eat them. They had so many traditional rules and regulations of oppression, that only a few could ever speak their minds. They had this masquerade that came out only at certain times during the year to oppress the people. At such times, women were never to be seen in public places, not even in the markets. This masquerade was so powerful it could place a curse on anyone, and it would come to pass. I was taken aback. I am a lover of tradition and culture. And I sincerely believe that people should never be coerced into accepting the faith. But I was shocked that a people’s beliefs could become such a dominant tool of oppression, while the people themselves simply languished silently. I made up my mind there and then to do the best I could by God’s grace. Thank God, today, the story is no longer the same in that village.
So when we see God’s children running from pillar to post, we try to understand where they are coming from. Having lived among persons who have had to deal with many forms of diabolical afflictions and oppressions in their lifetime, I have come to realise, first hand, that we cannot simply wish there were no demonic forces at play. We cannot keep telling them that witches and wizards do not exist. We cannot say there are no spell binders, or generational curses, or demonic yokes and covenants. We cannot turn a blind eye to demonic infestations, oppressions, afflictions and possessions. St Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 6:12 that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers; wickedness in high places.” However, with much patience and understanding, we need to constantly remind ourselves to take courage, and be not afraid!
The late former Chief Vatican Exorcist, Fr. Gabriel Amorth repeatedly said that a thousand exorcisms cannot equal one sacramental confession. In the key scripture highlighted above, what is certain is the fact that God has indeed given us power to trample underfoot serpents and scorpions, and all the pranks of the enemy. But we need to develop the faith attitude. We need to constantly remind ourselves that nothing is impossible to God. Yes, there is a devil. Yes, there are agents of darkness and wickedness at play. Yes, evil in the form of hatred, wickedness and violence exists, but to the one who develops and exercises the faith attitude, mountains will continue to bow. The power is not in certain men and women of God; the power is in us. It is therefore not enough to attend crusades and prayer vigils in different churches. It is not enough to speak in tongues and see visions. It is much more important to walk in righteousness. The psalmist reminds us that the man with clean hands and pure heart will climb the mountain of the Lord. We must therefore examine our hearts, turn from our evil ways, repay evil with good, frequent the sacraments of confession and communion, and relax; for the Lord shall then fight for us, while we hold our peace (Ex. 14:14).