Fighting demons while you sleep

File:Orthodox Bulgarian icon of St. George fighting the dragon.jpg

Orthodox Bulgarian icon of St. George fighting the dragon (photo credit: Wikipedia).

I used to have spiritual warfare dreams. For what seemed like hours, I would dream that a demon was trying to attack me. To repel him, I had to say, “In the name of Jesus, be gone!” Then he would leave–and be back a few minutes later. Over and over I did battle with demons. I would awake exhausted.

Spiritual warfare in daily life

I don’t usually have such dreams any more. But some days I feel like they’ve become my waking reality. Life as a homeschool mom can be trying. I must overcome constant temptations. One moment, three kids ask me for help at once. The next, “J” spills juice on the floor I just mopped. Then two others get in a fight, and one talks back when I discipline him. All during math class.

Now none of these situations is major. But when you barely have time to breathe between one and the next, you get exhausted. You discipline in anger instead of love. You yell at the toddler for acting like a toddler. You argue with your older son.

Or maybe you don’t. But I often do.

St. John Vianney and the devil

Have you heard the story about St. John Vianney? The devil used to harass him so much it became routine. One night when he was trying to sleep, his bed was bouncing around like crazy. He peeked under the bed and saw the devil. His response? “Oh, it’s just you again.” Then the saint went to sleep.

Should we fear the devil? Should we fear temptation? We can’t conquer demons on our own. They are fallen angels, much more powerful than mere humans. But we have the Holy Trinity living in our hearts. Christ conquered the devil on the cross. The devil hates it when we remind him of this. We have the power to rebuke him in Jesus’ name.

Fighting demons by humility

In homeschool, we have been reading a swath of passages in the Golden Children’s Bible that speak about our power over the devil. In the midst of them, the disciples argue about who is the greatest. Then Jesus takes a little child and says that we must become like children in order to be great. Why is this passage placed where it is?

Because humility conquers the devil.

Pride turned Lucifer into Satan. Pride was the original sin. The devil can neither stand nor understand humility. He can’t do anything with it.

I feel disrespected when my hard work is undone, as though I’m a slave instead of a mother. This is pride. I yell at my kids, because I think a display of “power” will make them behave. I should be humbly using the authority God gave me. I argue, because I feel attacked and become irrational. If I were humble, I would triumph over my temptations.

Humility brings peace

I must open my heart to grace in these moments, acknowledging that I don’t have the strength on my own to do God’s will. I must offer Him my weakness and accept His strength in return.

The Holy Spirit works silently in my heart. He doesn’t make a show. But He can slay all my dragons while I remain at peace.

You might even say that He fights my demons while I sleep.

Connie Rossini

Share with us: How do you fight temptation?

 

Comments

  1. says

    I pray, pray, pray a Hail Mary or Our Father. I repeat it if I have to. I also find that praying the LOTH in the morning before I do anything else creates a touchstone, or wellspring of strength for me to retreat to in those weaker times throughout the day. I notice that a phrase from Morning Prayer will bubble up to the surface, most times it’s just a word from the psalm that I need at that very moment. Great post! I have been dreaming odd things too of late. The closer we feel to God the more fallen angels and Satan harass us.

  2. Karen says

    What is the LOTH?
    I can relate to what you wrote about pride and could us some more concrete examples of how to combat it during my homeschooling days and cleaning days.

    • says

      Sorry for the acronym, Karen. I should have written it out, because it took me a minute to figure it out from Cristina’s comment too. It’s the Liturgy of the Hours. In case you aren’t familiar with it (or if others who read this comment aren’t–I’m trying to learn a lesson here), it’s the daily liturgy of the Church, prayed at specific times throughout the day (and night, if your in a religious community). For each hour there are psalms and canticles to pray with antiphons, intercessions, and a few other prayers. Like the Mass, when you pray the LOTH, you are praying in common with Catholics throughout the world.

      I have to go teach my kids now, but I’ll try to think of some more concrete examples. Maybe it will be a separate post.

      In the meantime, the rest of my readers should feel free to chime in if they have any concrete helps for Karen.

  3. says

    “Fighting demons with humility….humility brings peace” is a necessary lesson for all of us. How do I fight temptation? With much imperfection but with the consolation of constant prayer and begging for humility. Thanks, Connie.

  4. mary says

    The helps revealed to me over an intense year of spiritual assult were:
    1) Praying the Divine Office before bed and in the am. Otherwise known as the Liturgy of the Hours available as an app on Apple Devices.
    2) Once a month blessing the house(all doors and windows inside and out) & each interior room and catholic image with blessed incense.(burning)

  5. mary says

    3) Keeping Blessed Holy Water and salts in the house. Walking the perimeter of the property laying down(sprinkling) blessed salt, then doing the same around the outer perimeter of the house(foundation). Sprinkling blessed salts at the baseboards in the interior of each room.
    4) At the 4corners of the property and the 4 corners of the foundation burying

    4) Burying a blesed miraculous medal andand st benedict

  6. mary says

    5) Daily blessing the house with holy water as necessary. Latin blessing on anything.aka water/salt/oil/incense is preferred. Latin when fighting the otherside is more powerful.
    6) Having the kids wear a miraculous medal and scapulor both blessed correctly will help. Have them bless themselves when fightong. Also bless everything you purchase. I knew a family that blessed themselves before leaving the house and upon returning. Kept things peaceful. Font was by the door for easy reach. This is over years of resolve to not give in.

  7. mary says

    I apologize for multiple posts & incorrect spelling. My phone was acting up trying to share the above information. God Bless You all.
    ALSO check out Opus Sanctorium Angelorium (the work of the Holy Angels) Praying to someones guardian angel aka rosary/or having Holy Mass celebrated/offering Holy Communion for a Holy Hour daily should offer relief for deeply inbeded issues. The Holy Angels want to help us but we must ask.

    • says

      Mary, thanks for all the tips. It sounds like you have had a challenging year! I hope things have become more peaceful for you. As for guardian angels, I’ve started praying to the guardian angels of all our family members as part of my daily morning offering. Yes, we must ask for help!

  8. Michelle says

    Starting my day in the quiet with prayer is a must do for me. Also, avoiding sugar as much as possible has made a marked improvement in my mood as well as my emotional stability and stamina. All these of course help in battle.

    Lastly, I learned from what my parents did well. From their mistakes and weaknesses, I learned forgiveness. I like to say that God is like a good Italian cook. He doesn’t waste anything.

    • says

      Great saying about the Italian cook, Michelle! You’re so right that even our temptations (and giving in to them) can lead us closer to God. I don’t have a problem with sugar, but I do need my sleep in order to resist temptation.

  9. says

    Connie, this is a great post. I too have spiritual warfare dreams and respond in anger at the same frustrations you’ve encountered. When I go to the weekday Latin Mass (our priest says the the Exorcism prayer at the end of every Mass), I’m in a better state to counter the temptation. Holy water and exorcised salt helps.

    • says

      Anabelle, it’s good to know I’m not the only one. You are blessed to be able to go to Mass every day. We haven’t gotten that far yet. Perhaps next year we’ll start trying. The latest daily Mass here is at 7:30 am. I’m not a morning person!

  10. natalie bennett says

    Connie, such a timely post on temptations!I just read an article on st. Ignatius fighting temptations. I believe the temptation for him was seeking wisdom when he was needing to memorize something. He realized this was from an evil spirit. I found this fascinating and through the Holy Spirit have been catching my self being tempted to do some other task instead of what I should be doing , simple motherly duties. If that makes sense. I applaud the other reader responses, which is helping me with just being more aware of my pride. Thanks Connie for your honesty with disciplining your children. I am also guilty of messing up and yelling!!

    • says

      Oh, Natalie, I am sooo guilty of that! My imagination is stronger than any of my senses, so I am constantly thinking about something other than what I am doing. As for honesty, sometimes I think the name of my blog is a joke! But we are striving to live a contemplative life, even though our house is very noisy and seldom suitable for recollection. Thanks for your insight.

  11. Joanne says

    Connie, I am on OCDS and also a homeschooler. It isn’t easy juggling my obligations, but I have learned that the Lord has provided me with a route of discipline, a straight (although not “easy”) path up “the mountain!” Definitely, putting my Morning Prayer before my day makes for a more peaceful and productive home school. My children are learning from this, and maybe one day will do the same.
    Regarding Karen’s question about combatting pride during the day, look to the writings of St. Therese. She has so many gems on humility. One of my favourites is when she wrote that a certain humiliation/insult made her think of King David’s words, “Truly the Lord has instructed him to say those things to me.” She saw God working through everything. St. Teresa of Avila said, “All things are a grace.” ALL things!!! So, yes, when we embrace the negatives as opportunities for grace, we grow in humility. I could go on forever… :)

    • says

      Joanne, thanks for your thoughtful reply. I recently did a post on making a morning offering, that I think fits nicely with what you say. I used to do Morning Prayer every day as OCDS, but I have found it a bit hard to maintain now that I am no longer under promises and my days are busier than ever with more kids, writing, etc. But I have made a commitment to make a daily morning offering, which only takes a minute or 2, and I do it before I get out of bed.

      Regarding St. Therese, I learned recently through researching the book I’m working on that her sister Celine was the offending novice who criticized her. That would make it all the more humbling IMHO. I’m working on a post for tomorrow on having an open heart. I think that fits in too.

      I think many of the other comments also may help Karen, whether or not they were intended specifically for her.

      I agree this is a subject one could go on forever about.

  12. Ed says

    Thank you for this post, I was very encouraged to read it. Many times I have had spiritual warfare dreams, but this is the first time I’ve read someone else has has them too. Makes me feel I’m not the only one. Something I learned through these dreams is that as a Christian I don’t need to be scared of demons, because Jesus’s Name is greater.

    In waking life, I find that making the sign of the cross helps me a lot, something I actually learnt from reading an Orthodox website.

    • says

      Ed, thanks for commenting. One of the blessings of blogging is I learn how many others are experiencing the same trials and joys as I am. The sign of the Cross is indeed a powerful prayer. Keep fighting!

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