When Demons Ask For Prayers (again)

SO! Here we are again with another Satanic group trying to hold a black Mass in the Oklahoma City Civic Center on September 21, 2014. What do I have to say about this? Same thing I said back in May:

Just heard news of the supposed Satanic Black Mass coming up on May 12, 2014 (it was eventually cancelled) on the campus of America’s ”finest” university: Harvard. You can read more about it here and here, but for the most part, some student group wants to reenact the Satanic ritual for curiosity and ”educational purposes” as if it was nothing serious, but…

A black mass is a sacrilegious ceremony that invokes Satan and mocks the Catholic Mass. Connected to witchcraft and demonic worship, it involves the desecration of the Eucharist, often by stealing a consecrated host from a Catholic Church and using it in a profane sexual ritual.

[It sees you, but you don't see it.]

[It sees you, but you don’t see it.]

So even if this student club doesn’t use an actual consecrated host, and even if none of them believe in what they’re doing, the danger remains that the devil doesn’t care if you believe or not. In fact, he would much rather go undetected while he ravages lives, like the alien man-hunter called PREDATOR. And even if everyone in the club is atheist, that doesn’t change a thing. In fact, that helps the devil hide even more! But ironically, what might end up happening is that Harvard becomes infested with demons, and then must resort to having a Catholic priest exorcising the place. But would the school do such a thing as to endorse the Church and ask her aid? That would be the bigger surprise, actually.

Anyway, don’t merely read about this and shake your head in defeat! That’s exactly what Satan wants us to do!

[O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.]

[O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.]

Instead, learn to turn evil on its head! Whenever something like this comes up, I interpret it as a call for prayers… much much prayer! Whenever I see a Satanic symbol, a demonic act, a temptation to sin, etc., I go right to praying for the persons involved (and all their beloveds, too). That’s right, I see these provocations of spiritual warfare as promptings to launch a barrage of blessings and prayers. I ask my priests, my brother seminarians, my siblings in Christ, and all the angels and saints to join me.

Usually, I turn to my favorite prayer from the Miraculous Medal:

And then I add on a prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel:

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

— Pope Leo XIII

[Samurai Saint Michael the Archangel, by Daniel Mitsui]

So! Turn that worm’s schemes into the its worst nightmare — pray for mercy, forgiveness, love and conversion! It’s the absolute last thing the devil wants you to do, so make it the first thing you do! Because doing what the devil doesn’t want you to do is actually the best thing to do!

And feel free to use your own favorite prayers! But remember…

MissalMissile

Happy Chinese New Year!

Humankind is expressed in many different cultures.

The Faith of the Catholic Church is also expressed in many different cultures, different forms, different rites. And since the Lunar New Year (aka: Chinese New Year, Tết, and Spring Festival) is today, I thought to share a few photos (from a photographer by the name of Tommy Chiu) of a beautifully expressed Taiwanese-Chinese Catholic Church, in the fullness of religious freedom (click the photos to zoom in!):

[The view from the street! Notice how warm it looks... lush plants, subtropical... definitely not amidst polar vortex.]

[The view from the street! Notice how warm it all looks… lush plants, subtropical… definitely not amidst polar vortex.]

[Look! There's a mural! You can tell by the clouds this ain't Medieval or European or American or anything like that. Betcha neva seen Jesus look like that before!]

[Look! There’s a mural! You can tell by the clouds this ain’t Medieval or European or American or anything like that. Betcha neva seen Jesus look like that before!]

[But we all know the real razzle-dazzle of a reverently raised Catholic church is inside! I mean, Benedict XVI did say that stained windows look dark and dreary outside, but from within... BAM!]

[But we all know the real razzle-dazzle of a reverently raised Catholic church is inside! I mean, Benedict XVI did say that stained windows look dark and dreary outside, but from within… BAM!]

[The ceiling! There ain't an inch untouched by brush in this church! That's what I'm talkin bout! The beauty of God moves us to create beauty!]

[The ceiling! There ain’t an inch untouched by brush in this church! That’s what I’m talkin bout! The beauty of God moves us to create beauty!]

Now there’s a lot going on up here, but let me tell you about one thing: the golden dragons. In Chinese culture, a dragon is not some wicked serpent of fire-breathing tendencies. Instead, Chinese dragons are benevolent, wise, generous, and celestial, yet also powerful and terrifying. In a word: angelic! I believe that us Chinese would have represented the angels in Heaven as dragon-like, not human-like (as the Western cultures have beautifully done, however).

[Here we are, gazing up as we move through the nave.]

[Here we are, gazing up with childlike wonder as we move through the nave.]

Notice the Christian symbols in all the circular frames on the ceiling? Also, the icons of the Stations of the Cross lining the wall, just below the windows?

[Red columns support the ceiling here, probably columns of wood since Traditional Chinese architecture for sacred spaces tended toward precious woods (like teak) rather than precious stones.]

[Red columns support the ceiling here, probably columns of wood since Traditional Chinese architecture for sacred spaces tended toward precious woods (like teak) rather than precious stones.]

[Looking up at the sanctuary, we see a Chinese depiction of the Holy Trinity: God the Father in the center, God the Son (left), and God the Holy Spirit (right).]

[Looking up at the sanctuary, we see a Chinese depiction of the Holy Trinity: God the Father in the center, God the Son (left), and God the Holy Spirit (right).]

The Son (Jesus Christ) is holding a lamb, the Holy Spirit has a dove, and I actually can’t tell what the Father is holding in this icon. We also can see images of the Communion of Saints all surrounding the Trinity (One God of Three Persons) in a cloud of witnesses. I even think I see Adam and Eve, on the right, dressed in fig leaves.

[Peering up, we notice the doves descending, a sign of the Holy Spirit's descent upon Christ at His Baptism, and at our baptism.]

[Peering up, we notice the doves descending, a sign of the Holy Spirit’s descent upon Christ at His Baptism, and at our baptism.]

[The fresco here, right above and behind a very Chinese tabernacle, illustrates the Last Supper.]

[The fresco here, right above and behind a very Chinese tabernacle, illustrates the Last Supper. Can you tell Jesus and His Apostles are using chopsticks?]

[Then of course, we tun around and see what's behind us: a mural of God in Creation-mode, among other stories and saints.]

[Then of course, we tun around and see what’s behind us: a mural of God in Creation-mode, among other stories and saints.]

You can see the Seven Days of Creation account here, one “day” represented in each circle. The 8th and 9th Stations of the Cross are also visible: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem (left) and Jesus falls the third time (right). Along the bottom, we see various saints.

[A close up of the mural's left. Notice the Genesis story in the circles.]

[A close up of the mural’s left. Notice the Genesis story in the circles.]

[And here's a close up of the mural's right. See the dinosaurs? See Adam and Eve?]

[And here’s a close up of the mural’s right. See the dinosaurs? See Adam and Eve?]

[And before you leave, make sure to stop by the shrine of our Lady: Mary the Mother of God. Baby Jesus is in there, too!]

[And before you leave, make sure to stop by the shrine of our Lady: Mary the Mother of God. Baby Jesus is in there, too!]

Chinese Miraculous MedalOh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Meeting Maria

QueenMotherIt was during my discernment year. I promised God if He helped me get my English degree, that I would set aside one whole year to see what my vocation was.

So at the end of the discernment year, in May 2011, I went on an eight-day Silent Retreat. I remember the morning of May 15th: thunderstorming. I woke up and was immediately tempted: “Evan, you don’t have to go to this retreat. You’re holy enough. You make your holy hours regularly, you pray often, you do so much good… just stay home and keep doing those things. You don’t need to go into this storm…”

But I sat up in bed and remembered, “But I told so many people I would be going… I told the priest, my parents, my siblings and friends… I’ll just go. For them.”

So I set out and drove two hours through downpour. It would end up raining for five out of the eight days.

When I arrived, the staff gave me orientation: the retreat house was in the woods, away from the main road, surrounded by trees, gardens and a pond. Inside the house, the bedrooms were each dedicated to a saint. One was for St. Anthony, another for St. Therese de Lisieux, one for St. Joseph. and the last one for St. Mary. I was given St. Joseph’s room and altogether, there were enough bedrooms for six other retreatants. That’s when the lady told me: “But you’re the only one who signed up for this week. You’ll have the whole house to yourself!”

Wow. All to myself. And here’s the routine:

  • 8:00am: Wake up, wash up, exercise.
  • 9:00am: Meet with the spiritual director, Father Dennis Brown, a priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. He would guide me through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius for about 30-45 minutes, asking about my thoughts, concerns, hopes, etc. Very good priest he was, I will never forget him and will be indebted to him for a long time.
  • 10:00am: Mass. And it was just me and the priest. You can say that I really learned the responses of the Mass after that, and picked up some Latin too!
  • And after Mass, I was on my own. I wouldn’t see Fr. Dennis or anyone else until the next morning. It was up to me to keep up with the prayers and spiritual exercises.

But I constantly felt exhausted, constantly tempted to sleep away the entire retreat. The rainy weather made it worse. Every day was overcast, grey, and dark.

On my first whole day, I kept feeling paranoid. The silence made me start wondering about my thoughts… yes – I started thinking about my thoughts. I also had a strange experience: to help remind me of how much I need God, I would hold my breath while silently praying the Our Father. The prayer isn’t long, so this wasn’t difficult to do. The point: I rely on God for everything, including my next breath of air. If I finish this prayer and there’s no air, well… then God took it away.

So I started this prayer habit. I’ve never had breathing problems, and the first few times I did this was easy. But during the middle of the day on Tuesday – I blacked out. While kneeling before the tabernacle in prayer, I saw the ground rush up at me, over and over, but I never collapsed. It felt like my head was being jerked around, then I saw nothing. When I opened my eyes, I was perfectly fine and kneeling where I had been. Very strange…

Then came Wednesday, the 18th of May. I was wrapping up my morning spiritual exercises (and they ARE exercises… very tough and rigorous). The rain had finally let up outside, and I decided to go for a walk in the garden. I pulled out the Divine Mercy Chaplet and prayed. Around 4:00pm, I felt very tired again and decided to finish the prayer and take a nap. As I was going to my bedroom, I passed by the room dedicated to the Virgin Mary. I thought, “Well fine, I’ll pay the Queen a visit. Why not?”

When I entered her room, I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to. Our Lady’s picture on the wall, I first saw it during orientation on Sunday, but it was not the same anymore. It was much more beautiful. The picture did not physically change, but my response to it changed… I felt her presence: a warm embrace, very peaceful, tender and gentle. I heard her voice touch my heart:

“Evan, my child… I love you. Why are you so anxious? So worried? Am I not yours? I will take care of you. I am your mother.” (Like St. Juan Diego’s encounter with Our Lady of Guadalupe!)

FernandoSayanPoloGuada2

And my worries disappeared. I felt safe. I felt guided. I stood there gazing at Mary for fifteen minutes, and I didn’t want to leave the room. I wanted to stay with her. But I knew I couldn’t just stay in the room forever, so I took the picture off the wall, embraced it and carried her into the chapel. I rearranged the furniture so that I could kneel at Mary’s feet while praying to Jesus in the Tabernacle.

That’s when the retreat changed. It became easy, sweet, and so productive. I read Scripture, but Our Queen was reading it to me! She helped me see myself in the stories: especially the Wedding at Cana (Not only do whatever He tells you, but also when He tells you…). She helped me examine my deepest conscience, and she dug up the secrets I buried so long ago that I even forgot them. But she didn’t embarrass me! She was so tender. It was so easy to talk with her, so easy to love her, so easy to let her love me.

Lovable.

I found out later that the day this happened was also Pope John Paul II’s birthday. I realized he must’ve asked Our Lady to pay her poor child a visit.

But since then, my devotion to Mary began. Before I met her, I didn’t really know her, and really didn’t think about her (I went into this retreat without anything Marian on my mind!). I was sometimes even annoyed by how much attention she got from others. But now I know… now I get why she’s so beloved. She is so beautiful. Now I’m a believer too. And now I’m convinced that she’s real. How can you deny someone exists if you’ve met them? And if Mary is real and alive, then so are the other saints, and if they are real, then the Church is real. It is true! Then God is real. This is all for real.

And every time I share this experience, I know the Queen is listening, making sure I don’t skip any details I should share. There are some personal things I leave out, but if you want to know, just ask me. I’ll be glad to share it in a more private way.

“Oh Mary,

conceived without sin,

pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

050_Coronation_of_Mary_detailHappy Coronation-of-Mary-as-Queen-of-Heaven-&-Earth Day!