Lately I've been doing a lot of research on exorcism. It's for a book I'm proposing called the Exorsistah. That's a funny title, isn't it? And Emme Vaughn is a funny character, but let me tell you, demon possession is sooooo not funny.
Tonight I watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a movie that stunned me in more ways than one. First of all, I expected it to be stupid, and it wasn't. I didn't think it would have any redemptive qualities, and was surprised that it did indeed. All this, and the research I'm doing, has me feeling a bit unsettled and in a weird place--a Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz lions and tigers and bears Oh my! kind of place.
But God is here. I don't care what kind of awful thing lurks in the darkness, God never goes away.
I can never escape from your spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night-- but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to you.
I don't know about you, but I take great comfort in this passage. I'm glad that the great God of all is my guide, and light, strength and support. I'm very glad that darkness and light are both alike to him. Nothing in the shadows, is more fearful than God. And God loves me.
I must admit, though, even with the assurances of scripture, this is all a bit scary. And it seems to be something of a shadow time for me right now anyway. We are all, in this Lenten season, beneath the shadow of the cross looming high and terrible before us. In not many days we will all stand on that Hill, on that awful Friday, looking up at his broken body, and saying as the ground shakes beneath us, surely this must be the Son of God. Things are scary in the shadows, even the bad Friday we know that God will make good. So, I look up, see his wounds, and ask this Jesus, willing to die for me, for His protection.
Soul of Christ, sanctify me,
Body of Christ, save me,
Blood of Christ, refresh me,
Water from the side of Christ, wash me,
Passion of Christ, strengthen me,
O good Jesus, hear me,
Within your wounds, hide me,
Let me never be separated from you,
From the powers of darkness, defend me,
In the hour of my death, call me,
And bid me come to You,
That with your saints I may praise you
Forever and ever. Amen.
That just takes the sting out of everything.
I read this story in the compline last night in the Divine Hours. It said:
"The brethren asked Abba Agathon: "Amongst all our different activities, father, which is the virtue that requires the greatest effort? He answered: "Forgive me, but I think there is no labor greater than praying to God. For every time a man whats to pray, his enemies the demons try to prevent him; for they know that nothing obstructs them so much as prayer to God. In everything else that a man undertakes, if he preserveres, he will attain rest, but in order to pray a man must struggle to his last breath."
So, we'll just keep on praying, you and me.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.