They’d saved for years to build their dream house and were finally moving in on a warm fall day. She was in love with their custom kitchen and he was looking forward to enjoying football season in his big “man cave” downstairs. As they settled down to spend their first night, though, something was wrong. That big screen television downstairs was on, blaring so loudly they could hear it two floors away. Shaking his head, he made his way to the basement to turn it off. Had he left it on, he though to himself. He couldn’t remember. But when he got downstairs, he discovered a much larger problem than he was expecting. Sure enough, the television was on with the volume set on high. The bigger problem? The TV wasn’t plugged in.
He saw the plug and the cord curled there on the shelf. He inspected it and looked at the back of the TV. He used the remote to turn down the volume and then, turned the set off. The sound stopped and the screen went black. He went back to bed without saying anything to his wife. He wasn’t sure what he’d have told her anyway. But it didn’t matter because just as he got into bed, they both heard the TV come on again downstairs. There’s a lot more to this story, but I won’t share it here. Let’s just say that the problem they had in their new house were eventually resolved with the help of a Catholic priest and continued prayers.
Stories about strange or “other-worldly” experiences fascinate us. One look at what’s popular on television reveals how much many of us like watching zombies, vampires, witches, time travel, and magic. Ghosts are a discussion we might have have another day. What the couple above experienced in their new home wasn’t a ghost but a poltergeist. This is a manifestation of a spirit that, while perhaps not truly evil, serves to annoy people and cause disturbances that can be seen or heard by us, like a TV set that works without being plugged in. There’s no definitive Catholic teaching on much of what might be considered by popular culture to be paranormal. But, let’s face it, the Church is in the business of the supernatural. Until just a few years ago, we called one of the persons of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy “Ghost.” Church history is full of extraordinary miracles and Saints with amazing, out-of-this-world gifts and abilities.
We have to remember that every spirit is subject to the power of God, Who created and sustains them. He gives us all that we need to confront and overcome any bothersome spirit, beginning with the Sacraments of His Church. Baptism, Confirmation and frequent Confession are the armor He provides us. The Holy Eucharist is Christ Himself, truly present. The prayers of the Church and the assistance of the angels and Saints also help us to dispel any bad spirits around us. Blessed crucifixes and holy water are powerful sacramentals against evil. And anyone who has seen a scary movie knows that when you really need the big guns, you call in a Catholic priest. They’re armed with prayers that work against all kinds of nasty spirits. And I can never understand why folks wait so long to contact a priest in these situations. A favorite Catholic prayer for protection from all manner of evil is this one:
St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world,
seeking the ruin of souls.
Remember that God’s love and protection will surround and uphold us whenever we ask for His assistance.