A recent Dynamic Catholic reflection focused on a Gospel reading from Mark 9. The disciples are sent out to do ministry. Their final task is to exorcise a demon inside of a boy. They fail. They go back to Jesus and ask him why they were not able to succeed, despite the power Jesus has shared with them. Jesus tells them, “There are some demons that can only be cast out through prayer and fasting.” Matthew Kelly went on to point out that fasting is not about giving up chocolate but about looking at behaviors that keep us from being the best version of ourselves. In other words, we need to fast from and against demons. I’ve done work in the last few years in casting out demons, not only my own, but also protecting others from being harmed.
In popular culture, confrontation is the way to face challenges. This has been a growth area for me; I’ve been forced to develop these skills and have made progress. Confrontation is only one way to deal with difficult people or internal challenges. Prayer and fasting cultivate discipline and faith; I consider these strengths though I could continue to grow.
The last few weeks have been better because I was more disciplined and reflective. I made the time to pray more and do spiritual reading. I completed my Dynamic Catholic exercises daily. It has made a difference. In revisiting this passage from Mark 9, I can continue to deepen my reflection.
This also reminded me of a character from the TV series, The Exorcist. (Yes, I know I’m obsessed. This has been going on for most of my life. Deal!) There is a group of contemplative nuns including the Mother Superior who keep silent hours. These women also strive to exorcise demons but go about differently than the priests. Their silence strengthens them for their difficult tasks.
Silence is not simply being mute. As someone who was drawn to contemplative life in the past, I understand that silence is a time to commune with God in prayer, to commune with nature or yourself, and offering those hours for others. While we may perceive this practice as being non-communicative, it is work to pray for the world and for strength.When I was single, a nun came to our parish to sell arts and crafts for her convent and to share her experiences as a contemplative. They lived in rural Mexico. Their mission was to pray for the world. 24 hours a day, these women took shifts praying for those who had asked for intercession and praying for everyone. I was moved by their beautiful vocation.
Yes, you should tap into your #innermongoose and fight enemies. However, silence, prayer, and fasting can be battle strategies too. I’m a person of words. I may come across as introverted but I’m certainly writing and thinking about what I could say. When I refrain from speaking, that silence is powerful. I have committed to helping others as my life’s work. That work requires me to be both confrontational and reflective.