It is a blessing to contemplate Mary during Advent: her yes to the divine will at the Annunciation, her miraculous pregnancy, the silence of her heart, the peace of her mind, the humility of her spirit, the richness of her interior life, the courage of her waiting, her obedience of faith, servant attitude, youthful beauty, perfect innocence, and wealth of Heavenly wisdom.
In these precious, passing hours of the beautiful season of Advent, I am not alone; Mary is near. With her divine pregnancy, her immaculate heart swells with grateful love. The unborn Christ Child is nestled in her virginal womb. His heartbeat echoes in hers; a song of glorious joy resounds in Mother and Child. Their union is also for me, for all believers. Their bond of love creates a home for me, and for you.
My Advent reflection on Mary includes another facet and gift of hers. She is fierce in crushing the head of the Serpent, and in protecting God’s children from demons. Those who work in the Church’s ministry of healing, deliverance and exorcism have witnessed, on numerous occasions, that the Virgin Mary’s presence is made known during exorcisms. She is called upon by the priest exorcist, in the formal prayers of the major Rite, and in the holy rosary that is prayed among other prayers during the exorcism. There are manifestations of evil spirits that are ugly and strange during exorcisms. Also, there are powerful, peaceful, beautiful manifestations of the presence of Mary, angels and saints.
During Advent and Christmas seasons when we reverence Mary’s yes to God and her divine pregnancy, let us remember that the unprecedented, monumental grace of the Incarnation of the Word of God set in motion the defeat of Satan and a great spiritual battle.
For ongoing formation in the ministry of deliverance and exorcism, I attended the 12th Course on Exorcism and Prayers of Liberation at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University in Rome in May 2017. The Association of International Exorcists (AIE) coordinated the course and Fr. Francesco Bamonte, a member of the Institute of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and AIE president, lectured. Here, I share Fr. Bamonte’s testimonies regarding the Virgin Mary crushing the Serpent. I was moved to deeper certitude in Mary’s role in the fight against evil by Fr. Bamonte’s witness.
Testimony of Fr. Francesco Bamonte, I.C.M.S., an Italian exorcist:
A more recent affirmation of a demon that I heard during the days of the novena of the Immaculate Conception in 2010, while we were in the liturgical time of Advent, is the following:
The Woman of waiting, of hope, the Women dressed with the sun, most sweet Mother. The Woman! For love of His children, she was created before all times in the thought of God. And as a pure spirit, I cannot bear this. That putrid flesh! She is feared by us because she holds you in her arms with her humility, obedience, and merciful love. The purity of her body: it was not ever touched, not even by a thought. We did not succeed, not even with a thought. I did not undermine her even with a thought—not one, cursed! I was never able to touch her because That One always watched over her. There was always That One. It is not my fault. I was not able to touch her. I was afraid.
Fr. Bamonte comments, “Here, the demon does not intend to say that he never tempted Mary, but he affirms that the temptation never touched her (i.e., she never minimally consented to whatever form of temptation with which the Devil had in vain tempted her.)
Another time I head these phrases: “I will not tolerate that she be next to Him and over me. I was the most beautiful angel, beautiful, beautiful, and the greatest, great, great. I was Lucifer, the angel par excellence. What an affront! What an affront! To conceive without sin one of you! What an affront! The Immaculate One is the greatest insult of your God to us. To have one of you conceived without that sin that we created is an intolerable offense. We marked all with our sign. All, except her! He should not have done that to us! One of you without sin! And then He incarnates Himself in your disgusting body made of worms (here I think the demon was describing the decomposition of our bodies after death). Why did he do it? To ruin us? Why did He humiliate us so much?
Another time, I ordered a demon, “Adore Him. He is your God. He created you. Adore Him!” The demon protested, “He incarnated Himself in you, the most disgusting and humiliating thing He could do. The repugnance that we experienced when He entered into that flesh, only we know.”
One day, while I was undertaking an exorcism, I turned to the demon and said to him, “Look at the most beautiful face of Our Lady.” He responded, “I do not see it. It is dark. It is dark for me. I do not want and cannot look at it. It is my ruin. It is my ruin for always, for always. I hate her. I hate her. I hate her!” I cannot look at those eyes! I cannot look at them! They are not described. One does not describe that beauty! She is all holy. I, instead, all damned. She is all beautiful, and I am all that is ugly. She grew in the fullness of grace. I grew in the fullness of death.”
One day, a demon reacted angrily. He did not want to be subject to that which was being imposed upon him by an invisible presence (which we later understood was the Most Holy Virgin). The demon suddenly exclaimed, “She always prays for all of you. Every one of her prayers is a torture for us.”
During another exorcism, I ordered the demon to tell me what that light was, and the demon responded, “She is here, always her! She is the queen of my pain! She destroys me continually. She does nothing else but pray for you to her Son. And all her prayers are answered. No human should have this power. Why did He humiliate us that way? He put us under everybody. And to do it, He chose a woman. That One who is now here, the humble one.”
These few examples from an exorcist priest remind us that we have an enemy who quite literally hates us because we are marked with the sign of God on our forehead. Through baptism we are possessed by God; claimed for Christ. When a diabolically possessed person seeks liberation, the exorcist reclaims he or she for God since the person had given a claim (invitation) to Satan and rejected Christ. When we reject God, we reject our identity as a child of God. This makes us vulnerable to identify with darkness, rather than light; with falsehood, rather than truth.
We can ask Mary to help us to renounce any agreement we have with darkness or falsehood. What fascinates us? To what is our heart drawn? Satan seductively desires our attention away from the things of God.
We can ask the Holy Spirit to consecrate us in the truth of God’s love. Mary helps us to resist the false promises of Satan. She aids us in remaining connected to God. Mary takes us into her maternal heart that is a holy fortress, impenetrable by demons—but only with our permission.
Advent and Christmas season abound with grace, beauty, joy and peace. Spiritual warfare is also present—blatant or subtle temptations or manifestations of evil. Today’s culture shouts anti-Christian and demonic noise. Demonic messaging can be seeded into our homes through television and other media. Discern. The messaging of the world is not subliminal these days. Exorcists have recommended cleansing the home atmosphere by playing Gregorian Chant. It seems the devils are repulsed by it.
Enter the listening silence of Mary’s world to hear and commune with our loving, merciful Lord. Communion with Christ brings us to the place of victory against the flesh, the world and the devil. In truth, the devils not only fear Mary, but also saints in the making.
Prayer: Mother Mary, full of grace, fierce as an army in battle array, please protect me from evil. Kindly intercede for my interior transformation; that my fallen nature and weak virtue will be converted. Graciously lead me into your listening silence where the voice of the Beloved is heard that I may do whatever He tells me. Thank you, holy Mother, for loving me, and for leading me into the victory of Jesus Christ. Grant me the grace never to offend God, never to reject Him or myself, for I am marked with the sign of His cross and covered in His Precious Blood; to Him alone do I belong. Amen.