Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground. ~ Ephesians 6:10-13
There's an exciting new film in wide release here in the U.S. based on the real-life experiences of Father Gary Thomas, whose training as an exorcist in Rome prepared him for active ministry in his California diocese. The Rite, starring Anthony Hopkins, does something rare in the media—it gets a lot of the story right. My friend Tracey caught the movie over the weekend and emailed:
. . . It started out with a quote across the big screen from Pope John Paul II about the devil and Christ. . . . . On the negative side, the language was harsh at times, and Hollywood leads you to think that the devil can enter you if he wants, but that isn't true. He can only take possession of you if you invite him, or dabble in his world. Saint Pio said, "God has the devil chained up like a dog, he can only bite you if you try to pet him."
Tracey makes a great point about inviting the devil into our lives. Modern day exorcists have been trying to teach us about this for years; a devil cannot enter us when we are faithful to God's laws, when we practice our faith and confess our sins. But one can enter, with disastrous consequences, if we open the door by exposing ourselves or our children to the occult through movies, books, games, and superstitious practices.
Mary Ellen Barrett, a colleague of mine at AmazingCatechists.com has written well on this subject, and I share her latest column here for you to enjoy.
Ouija Boards: Portals of Evil
By Mary Ellen Barrett
While Christmas shopping at a big-name book store, I noted that the "Teen Vampire Romance" section offered "vampire kits"; in the "Wizardology" section there were tarot cards and "wizard kits," and on a "Family Game Table" were the Ouija boards. Nothing says "Happy birthday, Jesus!" like a bunch of occult gifts, right?
Of all of these troubling items, the Ouija boards were by far the most dangerous. While a "wizard kit" may encourage a child to explore the occult and familiarize them with the lingo, a Ouija board is a tool that can actually introduce your child to evil made manifest.
I do not exaggerate. I realize it sounds overly dramatic and panicky, but experts and exorcists have repeatedly warned about how damaging these occult "entertainments" can be. They can rob your children, quite easily, of their chance at eternal salvation.
The Ouija board is a flat board marked with letters, numbers, and occult symbols; it is used to communicate with spirits. It uses a small triangular piece of wood called a planchette to spell out a message communicated by the "spirit." The premise is that those seated around the board will receive messages that will connect them to people who have died, and enlighten them as to the afterlife. There is also the belief that the spirit you summon can help you with obtaining information.
It is complete idiocy, but an idiocy that the devil has taken advantage of. To call upon a spirit is to invite demons to prey upon you and there is no way anyone, particularly a teenager, is going to be able to control them.
All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others—even if this were for the sake of restoring their health—are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2117)
The Church takes these things very seriously. Many good Catholics will "play" with the board claiming that it is a harmless toy and that they don't believe in it, but disbelief in evil spirits does not mean that they don't exist. How many people do not believe in God, yet we know that He exists? These demons prey on people's ignorance and can use the board to easily possess them. Fr. Thomas Euteneurer, exorcist and author of Exorcism and the Church Militant, has said that perhaps 90 percent of the cases of possession he has encountered began with a Ouija board. This makes the pink board marketed to 6-year-old girls one of the most reckless things you could possibly have available to children.