Exorcism ~ Casting out Demons ~ & Mary Magdalene
Whilst I was on silent retreat with the Foyer de Charity in West Sussex at Micklepage it was Mary Magdalen’s’ Feast day, and it was also the birthday of my spiritual father St Philip Neri. Boy did I pray for them ~ not that they needed it ~ I need their prayers. Always. Our priest for the week was Fr Thomas Dubois. I loved Fr Dubois ~ He was a very spiritual man ~ his material ~ inspiration ~ quotes and observations ~ quenched a thirst in me and inspired me further still ~ and I recognised a radiance in him that I know is of the same ilk in my own being, because it was familiar.
He felt the same Spirit in the same way that I do, I just know it. Just by the way his eyes were directed off to the Heavens when he was talking, thinking, sharing and recalling ~ in the same way that I recall by looking into that other space. That glance the one that is held reminiscently away at a thoughtful angle just beyond, is easily recognisable from one knowing perceptive person to the next. T’is unmistakable. That man saw/felt/experienced/was made radiant by the kingdom in the same way that I am ~ I just know it.
Which made it especially difficult when I was left so unmistakably disappointed when he did the Mary Magdalene Feast Day homily, which I was so looking forward to. He said Mary Magdalene had gone to the tomb with her own agenda after Jesus’ death, planning on doing nice things for him. He then batted the ball backwards with the same old story as to why the beloved disciple is so special ~ because ‘he’ recognised first and believed.
Each and every day on the retreat I had booked (at the same time) a half hour interview with the priest, as this fulfilled my Ignatian Retreat criteria. And during today’s 1/2 an hour I couldn’t help but share with Fr Tom how terribly disappointed I was with his homily. Mary Magdalene didn’t have her own agenda. She had just stood by, hour upon- hour upon-hour and watched her Beloved as He was tortured, murdered and slowly painfully crucified when all other disciples had fled and abandoned Him in His greatest need.
She was hurting ~ broken ~ horrified ~ exhausted ~ and had been tortured and crucified herself in the process, by watching her Beloveds life drain away as he was slowly murdered ~ by refusing to leave him when others did. This is not a woman thinking of her own superficial agenda. This is a woman ~ strong ~ selfless ~ broken ~ devestated ~ devoted ~ in pain ~ exhausted ~ Hurting ~ in Love. And at the tomb this was a woman wanting desperately to spend any last precious moments with her Beloved Lord before he is to be buried forever. A woman absolutely Grief-stricken. It annoys me that everyone quietly forgets her solid presence at the foot of the cross.
A homily with a whole lot more respect would have been befitting. I pointed out to Fr Tom all the 4 gospel accounts of that scene ~ I highlighted all the differences and all the similarities and contradictions. The beloved disciple is only mentioned in one account ~ a later addition apparently, and in contradiction to all other gospel accounts. I know Mary is the beloved. She had 7 demons cast out. The number 7 in the bible is for the fulness of Gods perfected works ~ 7 = Holy.
I told Fr Tom ~ when I die I will appear to the person I Love the most if I can in whatever way I can ~ just to show them that I Am alive and well. Who would he show himself to? I truly believe that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene first because He Loved her the most. Earlier on in the Bible it says in the creation stories that after the Fall, wives will now call their husbands Master. When Jesus appears outside the tomb and says “Mary” she says “Rabonni” which means Master. I Love Mary Magdalene and Christs relationship It has so very much to teach us ~ if only the planks and splinters were extracted ~ that we might be open to seeing where our own prejudices blind us.
Fr Tom also spoke on this retreat about Exorcism and the fact that each diocese has a trained exorcist within, that a diocese could call on at any time should the need arise ~ He talked about the church’s healing and the laying-on-of-hands, as opposed to the negative spiritual influence of the New-Age “healing” culture ~ He also spoke of the dangers of sin and demonic possession connected with both ordinary and extraordinary evils. He went on to talk about people who supposedly award themselves with the power for healing without the Church’s authority, and of the dangerous power of Tarot Cards and readings and Ouija boards etc.
One can not help but think that in their kindness maybe Fr Tom and the online entourage wanted to exorcise me of a few of their perceived forged demons ~ by healing, with the laying-on-of-hands, to which I have a great interest, as my Ignatian course is very much about the discernment of such spirits. When people including the church act with Love, this evokes a peaceful loving Spirit ~ When people including the church act with unlove, this evokes turbulent spirits. Where pastoral practice fails to minister by Love, pastoral practice needs changing ~ then there will be no need for healing wounds and hurts ~ because wounds and hurts wouldn’t have been so unnecessarily and cruelly inflicted in the first place.
For God is Love ~ and Spirit.
And in the mean-time Julien of Norwich says ~ ‘Our wounds can be turned into worship’.
I of course questioned what Fr Tom meant by “New-Age”. Using these broad cultural descriptions does nothing for me. I thought of how many young people would be lost else pushed away from the Church at the point that they heard a priest verbally putting down the secular New-Age movement, without realising that he meant “New-Age” in a completely different context and in a far stronger-strain to that of what they did. ~ I explained to him that it was thanks to the spiritual New-Age path that I am a Catholic. When you come from a secular world there is no spiritual outlet, and it was thanks to my New-Age attraction that I found something spiritual that stirred me and encouraged my seeking, and eventually was unfulfilling which led me to Christianity, and to the Catholic Church. We should be looking towards these things with a great appreciation that they are visibly revealing to us the secular people who are yearning for their spiritual needs to be fulfilled.
Without this cultural shift and secular spiritual pathway I would never have found my spiritual way home to the Catholic Church. Jesus came to befriend the pagans ~ and transform and develop their faith ~ that’s why the Christian festivals adopted and transformed the pagan ones. I asked him what he meant by the term New-Age, was it people who hang out at festivals, and were into the sun and the moon as I was in the late 1980’s and as I knew it to be? ~ he was vague but said No, that he meant people who practiced a spiritual power to which they were neither trained, nor had authority or responsibility or allegiance to the Church (my words).
I understand his concerns ~ but I pay no weight to these ‘fortune telling’ ways ~ or ‘healings’ or ‘evil dallyings’. Fairly recently a Catholic friend wanted to offer me the practice of prayerful healing ~ of unblocking chakra’s ~ before she had even invited me to this healing, she had already asked our priest what he thought ~ oh how people are so fixed on their own agenda, even in kindness, and go out of their way to share with other parties their ideas ~ and how then I can so see the invisible connections between one conversation and the next ~ and the next ~ and the next . . . . with such clarity! ~ like an invisible spiders web suddenly made visible by the morning dew ~ its illuminating.
So I allowed her to do this practice upon me ~ deeply praying over me after we had meditated, knowing that my response in prayer would heal her of the need to heal me. :O) Afterwards she said, as she prayed over me she felt this great purity through me. I told her it was the situation that needed healing ~ not me. My grief was for Gods purpose. There was an enormous sense of me not allowing or wanting someone other than God to be able to change anything ~ because it is through (others and self) witnessing suffering, that people have to acknowledge their own cause, effect and response ~ and of that where pastoral care falls exceedingly short of Love ~ and That is where the Holy Spirit works to change things. Even in the Church.
The next time I saw this dear friend she said she didn’t think she could offer me healing anymore as she felt she was out of her depth, and had lost her confidence in healing :O) The fact is God just didn’t required it. But still could use the situation for His Will alone.
New-Age practices are only powerful if we award them or believe in the power they need or desire. I don’t. If we believe they are not bestowed by God and that they are powerless then they are worthless. What we lose on earth is loosed in Heaven. What we retain on earth is retained in Heaven’. These practices I have no fear of ~ they carry no weight for me at all. But I do understand the Church’s concerns for others of a weaker constitution.
My Catholic friend however is a deeply Marian devoted woman whose prayer in itself is deeply comforting and peace filled, and her listening ministry is deeply holistic and very much God blessed.
In the name of the Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit ~ is the only protection we will ever need ~ against any evil.