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Douglas, Alaska, United States
I have lived in Alaska since 1978, having come to Juneau as a Jesuit Volunteer. I fell in love with Alaska and now live on Douglas Island with my husband and two dogs.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Spiritual Warfare

I had a breakthrough the other day in our counseling session (yes, Charles and I go to counseling to get relationship "tuneups" when we need them).

My particular problem stems from being sexually abused as a child, which has affected our relationship.  So, we decided that we needed to get some advice, which has really helped a lot.

I sometimes wonder if I would have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression if I hadn't been abused, because there is definitely a family tendency, but that brings up the whole nature/nurture question.  I think the answer is that I have these illnesses both because of my DNA and because of the trauma that I experienced.

So, while we talked to our counselor, I realized that when I have intrusive thoughts or flashbacks to the abuse, I basically tell myself: "STOP!".  I have the ability to either distract myself with mindfulness techniques or to be overcome and powerless.  I have noticed that I am becoming better at putting the thoughts and flashbacks aside.

I told our counselor that it is kind of like holding up a mental crucifix and telling the demons to begone.  She was fascinated by this idea and we discussed spiritual warfare, and the saints who have been assailed both spiritually and physically by the devil.  We talked about how, when holy men and women were especially holy, the devil gave them even more trials to endure.  She said that as I am becoming stronger, the flashbacks and thoughts are becoming more intrusive and that my power to overcome them is increasing.  She had no doubt that soon, my fear, self doubt, anxiety and depression will decrease, as my power to resist them increases.

St. Therese, St. Bernadette, St. Anthony of the Desert, and more recently, St. Teresa of Calcutta all waged spiritual warfare.  I don't put myself in their company by any stretch of the imagination, but I know that the evil one thrives on depression and anxiety, and on all the physical and spiritual ills that afflict us.  Every time an individual suffers experiences despair and hopelessness, every time someone is hurting and fearful, the forces of evil rejoice.

So, I say: "Begone, Satan!"  Nothing so dramatic as demons being driven into a herd of pigs who fling themselves over a cliff, or a scene from "The Exorcist", but just a daily reminder to stay strong, and to be mindful of the grace of God and His power to overcome all evil.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!




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