SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Demon Attacks

March 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Demonology, Fr. Bartunek, Spiritual Warfare, Temptation

Demon Attacks

Spiritual Warfare and Demonology

I was wondering if a demon that is attacking a family you have never met can attack said person mentally and physically? I have been having dreams of this horrible monster coming after me and my family for years. And yesterday I was watching this story about some family being hurt by this demon. From what they describe of it, it sounds like it could be the same one or something similar to it.

I am afraid I don’t clearly understand the question, so I will only respond with general observations. But I hope they help at least a little bit.

First of all, as regards demons and dreams, I will point you toward an earlier post, here: https://www.spiritualdirection.com/2016/12/01/understanding-dreams.

Infestation, Obsession, Oppression, Possession

Now, as regards the possibility of demons attacking people physically and mentally: yes indeed, both such attacks are possible.

When demons act directly on places, causing strange noises of physical destruction, it is called “infestation.”

When demons exert concentrated external influence that causes physical harm or discomfort to a person (pushing or shoving, for example, or even strange illnesses), it is commonly called “oppression.”

When demons exert external influence that affects a person’s mental state, causing some kind of mental disturbance, this is traditionally called “obsession.” Obsession can take the form of extraordinarily persistent or intense temptations, or it can even provoke or intensity natural pathologies or tendencies (phobias, depression, etc.).

When a demon concentrates its activity from within the human body, so that a person’s body is not subject to their own free will bur rather is moved by the demon as if it were its master, this is called possession.

The Real Danger: Plain Old Temptation

Those are all extraordinary ways that demons try to cause human suffering and distance us from God. The much more common way – the everyday way – is simply through temptations. Neither infestation, oppression, obsession, nor possession can actually cause a person to sin. Sin has to be a free choice of the individual person. And so, temptation is actually much more dangerous, spiritually speaking, than those extraordinary demonic manifestations. By stirring up temptation, the devil invites us to freely choose sinful actions. These actually damage our soul and our relationship with God. That’s the devil’s real goal.

If you are sincerely interested in understanding demonic activity more completely, I can recommend a couple books: The Rite, by Matt Baglio, and An Exorcist Tells His Story, by Fr Gabriel Amorth.

God Can Handle It

Whenever we are dealing with the demonic, I think it’s very important to keep in mind a basic truth that the Catechism explains like this (CCC #395):

“The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries – of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature- to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but ‘we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.'” (Romans 8:28)

I hope these thoughts are somewhat helpful. God bless you!


Editor's Note: To see a comprehensive listing of posts (and their links) dealing with spiritual warfare and demonology on our site, please click HERE.

Art for this post on Demon Attacks: Partial restoration of The Temptation of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, Tuscan School, early 16th century, PD-US author's life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at RCSpirituality.org, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at SpiritualDirection.com.

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