What follows is a transcription of an audio recording (which I can no longer find) of me telling my story to an RCIA class at FUS. This was one of my first times ever speaking in front of a group, so my words have a colloquial sound to them. You'll find a lot of like's and um's, and words like that. Apparently I use the word "just" a lot too. Wierd. Anyway, this story was spoken before it was written, and when I spoke it I was very nervous. I pray that our Lord will still find some use for it.
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Around the time when we were getting the whole RCIA team up and running, we were starting to establish who was going to be on the core team, starting to organize things, who was going to do what, what we were gonna teach, and who was gonna teach. I think if you were to ask any one of us we would tell u that we started to feel some spiritual battles taking place in our lives. I think we all really felt that we were about to embark on something that was really special and that the devil didn’t like that very much. I experienced some spiritual battles myself. Well, only one of them was a battle I suppose, but just some really spiritual things happened to me.
The first one was just being asked to be on the team. That may sound really trivial, but to me I just thought that was so awesome and providential because I always wanted to do something like this. But, Scott really didn’t know me from anybody and I just took a chance and asked him if I could be a part of it and he actually said yes. And I just thought, “Wow, God must really want me here for some reason.” I was just really blown away by that. The second thing: I remember I was praying in mass. Usually whenever we receive communion and go back to our pew, we spend that time just kneeling in prayer, contemplating on what we have just done, and I just remember falling deep, deep into prayer to where I forgot that I was kneeling. I just totally forgot, I couldn’t even feel my back hurting or my knees hurting or really anything physical. I just fell into deep prayer and I just remember feeling so comfortable and when the priest finally said, “Let us pray,” man, his words just shot through my mind and just totally woke me up and I was like, “Man, what just happened?” The third thing was a bout with the devil.
I remember one day, it had been a really long day, I was really tired. I was also feeling really down, just down about sin in my life and my ability to overcome that. I was feeling really down about it. So, when I finally got back to my bedroom it was like 11:00 at night and I was like, “Man, what a day. I’m just gonna check my email really quick and then I’m just gonna go to bed.” I mean, I had homework to do but I really needed to just sleep. So, I go to check my email and as soon as I get on the computer, an instant message pops up and this friend of mine is like, “Dude, I need your help, you really need to talk to this girl, I think she’s possessed by the devil.” And I was like, “Are you serious?” I mean, I just wanna go to bed right now! A part of me just didn’t even want to mess with it at all. So, I was like, “I dunno man, I don’t know if I can talk to her right now.” And he was like, “You have to, you’re a counselor, you have all these skills, you know so much about God. You have to talk to her right now.” I was like, “Man, I dunno.” But, he just kept pushin me: “You have to talk to her.” And I was like, “Alright dude, let me just pray for a second at least.”
So, I was sitting there and I’m like, “Man, can I really do this?” I don’t even feel like I’m the right person for the job here. I mean, where’s Fr. Scanlan when you need him? Why can’t I just call one of the friars? They’re much better at this than I am. I’m struggling with sin in my life right now, ya know? I’m supposed to be able to engage the devil? It was just really overwhelming. But, I was thinking about it and praying about it and this thought just came to me: “You’re right Nick, there probably are a whole lot of people who would be better at this than you. But, right now, in this situation, you’re the man. You have to do it.”
So, I typed to my friend and I said, “Alright, give me her screen name and I’ll chat with her.” So I got her screen name and I said, “Hey...what’s goin on?” I mean, how do you start a conversation with somebody who has the devil really strong in her life, almost to the point to where they’re possessed? But, I just started the conversation, and we got into it right away. There wasn’t a whole lot of, “So, how’s your day?” She just got right in to blaspheming the Lord, unbelievably blaspheming the Lord. One thing that shocked me so much: when she was typing and she would be talking about the devil, she would use upper-case letters for “he” and “him.” Ya know how, when we, to show our reverence for God, we’ll capitalize words that are in reference to Him. She would capitalize those in reference to the devil. But then, when she would talk about God, she would use a lower-case “g,” and “Jesus” with a lower-case “j”. But it was just so amazing what happened next.
When she would start to make the claims of the devil, claims that the devil tries to make for your happiness and for your future, and that the devil is the only one that cares...Scripture, the Word, it was just coming right out of my fingers, every verse that talks about the great deceiver, the serpent who’s head is crushed by the woman, who tries to go after the offspring of the woman--all the verses that talk about how he’s the liar, he’s the one who sold to mankind the greatest lie in the very beginning--all the verses that would combat the devil and all his claims, they just came to me like inspiration. And there was nothing that she could say or do that could refute the Word. I knew that! And it emboldened me so much, and I just knew that as long as I stay with the Word, as long as I stick with the inspired Scripture and what we know from God Himself about the devil and how he cannot overcome Jesus Christ and he cannot overcome His mother--all of those words came to me like weapons in my repertoire. My sword against the devil was the word of God. It was just an amazing experience.
I didn’t even have to think about what I was going to say. I mean, you think about talking with somebody who is possessed by the devil, that’s one of the scariest things you can ever do! Beforehand I was so worried, “What am I gonna say to her?” But, Scripture was my weapon and my words to this girl. Eventually she was like, “Stop it!” She would beg me to stop it. I asked her, “Can I send you a prayer?” because I had a spiritual warfare prayer that you’re supposed to pray in times of demonic influence. And she was like, “No! do not send me the prayer. He’ll make me suffer even more, he’ll attack me if you send this prayer.” Eventually she just quit responding to me. I would try to say things to her and it would be a long time of silence. And I was like, “Are you there?” and she wouldn’t say anything back to me.
Then I just became really worried. I really felt that the devil now was just really attacking her in that moment, to where she just couldn’t even engage me in conversation anymore. So, I said the prayer. It’s an awesome prayer. I wish I had it memorized so that I could say it to you. One thing I remember about the prayer that is just so awesome: it was invoking the name of Jesus Christ. There’s no more powerful weapon against the devil. “In the name of Jesus Christ.” Every knee bows at that name. Even in Scripture, when people, possessed by demons, when Jesus would come to them, even though they are from the devil they still acknowledge his lordship over them. I knew that this was the perfect prayer to send to her. “In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus.” I sent it to her, and then I felt like there was nothing else for me to do. I had done everything that I could do.
So, I’m sitting there, and I’m thinking about it. Then...I don’t know...how do I describe it...it was just a feeling that it was not gonna be enough for the devil to attack her. He is going to want to attack me too, because I really gave him some intense, wounding blows with the word of God and with the name of Jesus Christ. I felt fear for my safety and I felt a strong urge to do something soon and right away to protect myself from the devil. I knew that my roommate had a little vial or little container of holy water, so I rushed and got it. The whole time I’m praying prayers, I’m saying the Hail Mary prayer just over and over again. I had this small crucifix and the whole time I was talking to her--when it was finished, as I go down to get the holy water--basically that whole night from the moment I started the conversation was consumed by the Hail Mary prayer and just caressing the crucifix. “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” I just knew that he would be my Rock and my Savior.
So, I get the holy water, I’m still saying Hail Mary’s, and I’m putting just little bits on my finger and I’m making the sign of the Cross on every entry point that the devil could try to make in my life, into my room, into my space. So, I put the holy water on the top of the door panel and along the side, and a huge cross on my window. I know, maybe it sounds silly, but I really felt like it was necessary to do the Cross on my monitor, on my computer, on my television, above my bed. I sprinkled it across my bed and on the headboard of my bed, just everywhere because I know that holy water, holy things, the devil cannot stand holy things. So I was just trying to protect myself as much as I could with the holy water.
Then I just layed in bed. I was still fearful, I’m not gonna lie. Even after everything that I did, I was still afraid. So, I just kept it up: caressing the crucifix, saying the Hail Mary prayer over and over again. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of they womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” Over and over again, the most repetitions I’ve ever made of the Hail Mary prayer. Eventually I fell asleep.
When I woke up the next day, my eyes were closed. And then, I just opened my eyes and the bright light was filling my room. Sunshine was coming through the window and filling my whole room. I was just laying there, and I was like, “Thank you Jesus! Thank you so much! You are so powerful and so amazingly awesome. Your name is so great. Thank you so much for your holy Mother, she’s the one, her heel crushed the head of the serpent.” I just thank God so much for the strength that He was able to give me, his power, his Word, it was jut an amazing, amazing event in my life. I’ll just never forget that time, never forget the strength that he gave me to overcome the devil and overcome temptation.
After that, I’m just so much more emboldened, and filled with more hope that the sin in my life that used to make me feel so down-trodden, it is something that I can truly, truly overcome as long as I fully depend on Jesus Christ. It’s like the readings for today. You can be a tree in the most barren of lands, but if you have your hope in Jesus Christ, he will water you and from that will grow amazing fruit.