The Inner Struggle

Sins & Fomenting Spirits – part 1

This has turned into a rather long post, perhaps too long for comfort, so I just decided to split it into two parts with the division being in the middle of the lists. So this becomes part one and the next post is now part two probably to be posted tomorrow or the next day.

I started this post in order to just to get all this stuff into one place where I can think about this and work with it. I am creating this post and the next one,  to hold my new list. The “new” thing for me here is the realization of the actions of evil spirits on the real material world, rather than simply their existence in the spiritual plane.

This is a list of “fomenting spirits” together with quotes from source documents and articles, drawn from my recent reading of works  by and about exorcists, about the (probably) billions of evil spirits referred to in this popular Catholic prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel:

Holy Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do you, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Destroyer, Heavy Seas, Please! GAWD! HELP US!

My father taught me that prayer, or at least tried to when I was a youngster, although, after leaving the Catholic Church of the late 60’s in my all knowing teenage arrogance,  the prayer which I prayed most in my military service in my late teens and 20’s was:

GAWD! PLEASE! Help us survive this and I swear I will be good for the rest of my life. I will never have another drink and I will go to church and I will never again lust after women! Please! GAWD! HELP US!

prayed with deep sincerity as we found ourselves, again and again, in situations and conditions which seemed at times to leave no hope of survival no matter how professional we might be. It’s funny how we all promise to be good when death is eminent, God gets real when situational things over which one has absolutely no control, are getting worse and you might actually be stepping through the last door in a moment.

Anyway, on with the subject of “Fomenting Spirits”, I never really held this sharp a focus on the action of evil spirits in this world as opposed to their mere existence. Important things to remember when reading entries on these lists is to bear in mind that since so many demons and evil spirits identify with the vice or attitude they seek to foment, they answer to these names.

As a result some of the entries in these lists will correspond to those vices, disorders and attitudes which these spirits and demons foment. However, other entries can be such that they correspond with a purely natural problem or disorder, or even in some cases not a disorder in itself  but something which may become disordered by the involvement of demons and spirits.

Some of the list entries (below or in part two) indicate nothing harmful in itself but may describe the victim’s interior struggles in that fashion, such as “marionette/puppet” may describe how a person might feel interiorly in their struggles. For example, were a demon or spirit to succeed in inducing a contemplative religious to compulsively bite his nails it would be a great victory to distract that would-be man of prayer from that which he and the world need most.

So, while reading through the lists, here and in part two, one should not presume that a natural activity which in itself is not disordered is somehow by nature driven by diabolic influence. These “fomenting demons” or “fomenting spirits” are evil spirits whose primary task in our material reality is to incite or cause troublesome acts; to encourage; to instigate and to otherwise get humans to misbehave in more or less serious ways, they indeed are … all the evil spirits who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls”. Where do all these spirits come from?

Pascal's Wager

Pascal’s Wager for modern progressives … The “I am going to heaven because I am nice” crowd

I consider my incredulity regarding the popular modern notion of “everybody goes to heaven because God is merciful and doesn’t send souls to hell”. And then I look at the observed actuality of the majority view always getting things wrong about pretty much everything that there is a majority opinion about, from politics, to science, to social structures, to economics.

In all these fields of human endeavor, it is pretty much a given that if most folks agree on something then it is probably wrong or mistaken. Probably the Pareto principal applies here as in every other thing, that is 80% of the people are wrong 80% of the time. Remember that Pareto formulated the 80/20 rule for wealth distribution and curiously it seems to apply to many other fields of observation.

Anyway, with that likelyhood in mind, I inevitably find myself thinking about the alternative view, the 20% view, which incidentally seems also to be Christ’s words  when answering questions on things like this in scripture, namely that God truly doesn’t send anyone to hell.

It’s all about the wide road and the narrow gate and realizing too late that the door is now closed, and few go to heaven. OOOPS!

And scripture tells us in many places, that God truly doesn’t send anyone to hell, God is indeed merciful, and he gives everyone the gifts and grace to get to heaven. The trouble is, that we reject those gifts. In fact souls actually choose hell because they cannot stop loving themselves. Souls in the depths of their self love cannot, humbly, and with sincere contrition, acknowledge their sins, beg God’s pardon for their sins.

And while they are at it, they cannot accept that literally everything in our lives is a gift from God, because we really cannot do it ourselves. Humility and gratitude have gone missing. This necessary “attitude of humble gratitude” just doesn’t line up very well with the prevailing modern opinion that “of course I am a nice person, a good person, I don’t sin, and I am practically perfect in every way … what I have taken to calling “Poppins Syndrome”. Lets visit a paraphrase of some ideas by Ulrich L. Lehner, in his book “God Is Not Nice: Rejecting Pop Culture Theology …” thus:

Ask yourself: “If you died tonight, why should God let you enter heaven?” The most frequent answer I, Joe, personally have heard to this question, namely: “if you believe in heaven, do you think you are going there?” are simply variations of “I have done good things, and I haven’t killed anybody or committed adultery or theft. I am a good person.

It seems that most folks I have talked to seem to have some warm and fuzzy idea of some place after death that equates to “heaven” and they feel somehow that it is their right to go there. But that is definitely not what the Church really teaches. What the Catholic Church teaches is that no one actually deserves heaven.

So lets do a little walk through that logic, the logic of “I am going to heaven because I am nice and a good person…”, a little thought experiment  (German: Gedankenexperiment, GedankenExperiment, or Gedankenerfahrung,) considering this heaven hypothesis, for the purpose of thinking through its logical consequences.

Well, I am 66 years old now. Let’s say I live another 14 years, to eighty years. Of these eighty years, I will have been able to use reason and be morally responsible for perhaps between sixty to seventy of them. Within this 60 year time span I sacrifice a bit, put it all on the line for others for a while, I get married, have a kid, maybe some grand-kids, maybe I help a few people along the way, give a bit to charity every year, and retire happily and live out the remainder of my short life doing good deeds and singing in church.

The question then becomes: “For the relatively few good actions in a very short life, should I earn an infinity of bliss and happiness?” That sounds a lot like fraud, like an impossible Ponzi scheme!” To remind us, a Ponzi scheme (/ˈpɒnzi/; also a Ponzi game) is a form of fraud which lures investors and pays profits to earlier investors by using funds obtained from more recent investors.

The Church rejected that view in the fourth century by declaring Pelagianism a heresy. Pelagius was a pious monk who lived in the fourth century and believed in free will but also stressed that it is our good works that save us. For St. Augustine, Pelagius’s view did not make sense. If we can merit our own salvation, then Christ died in vain, Augustine reasoned.

So, Pelagianism was opposed by Augustine, bishop of Hippo, who asserted that human beings could not attain righteousness by their own efforts and were totally dependent upon the grace of God. Pelagianism was condemned by two councils of African bishops in 416, and again at Carthage in 418, Pelagius and his disciple Celestius were finally excommunicated in 418; Pelagius’ later fate is unknown.

The controversy, however, was not over. Pelagianism proved to be a right pernicious heresy.  Julian of Eclanum continued to assert the Pelagian view and engaged Augustine in literary polemic until the latter’s death in 430. Julian himself was finally condemned, with the rest of the Pelagian party, at the Council of Ephesus in 431. Another heresy, known as Semi-Pelagianism (q.v.), flourished in southern Gaul until it was finally condemned at the second Council of Orange in 529.

So the teaching of the Catholic Church is that nobody can work herself or himself into heaven. If we are saved, it is only by the grace of Jesus Christ, and our works are only meritorious because of Christ’s merits. Only if we “bet” on Christ and his grace, as the philosopher Pascal said, (see Pascal’s Wager graphic above) will we win eternal life. So why do so many of our contemporaries have a problem with this basic, universal Christian doctrine?

Calvin & HobbsWhy is it that almost all Catholics, and almost all Christians these days, are secretly (whether they realize it or not) Pelagian? I think one of the main reasons lies in the development of modern transactional thinking in the last three hundred years, the notion of receiving wages and a “just compensation package” for fulfilling our side of the transaction, combined with the current culture of self love, namely we actually deserve whatever we want as a “right”. We don’t feel gratitude for something which is our right.

By throwing out gratitude, we also got rid of humility. And the departure of these virtues has changed our image of God. Now we seem to, sort of, think of God as a fuzzy, nice guy, sort of insurance policy which pays out bliss and happiness for eternity. We have paid our premiums by living a “good” life and the payout comes when we die. It is our “right ” as part of the transaction.

If we are no longer fundamentally grateful and humble, God is no longer in the picture because “we can do it our own way.” I am not saying that we should not be proud of our achievements, but rather that we should realize where they originate. Everything is “Gift”. If we fall into the trap of believing that we are “lords of our lives,” we will also go down the road of deceiving ourselves that we can make it to heaven without God.

paraphrased from: Ulrich L. Lehner, “God Is Not Nice: Rejecting Pop Culture Theology and Discovering the God Worth Living For” (pp. 29-31). Ave Maria Press.

My take on scripture is that, absent humility, contrition and atonement, and absent a state of grace, the default destination is Hell for the majority of humanity throughout time. I don’t believe this in a “Jansenist” sort of way but rather that this outcome just seems to be the logical outcome of the evidence observed throughout history and in the world around me. And this leads to the next thought, namely, if these souls, these spirits don’t end up in purgatory or heaven, then where exactly do they go?

The only answer left, allowing for a “spiritual” world view, is hell. But hell is really the absence of God, and Revelations 12:4 tells us: “And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son“. So presumably, along with a third of the angels, the fallen angels or demons, these spirits who reject God end up wandering throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. So, numbering them in the billions doesn’t seem such a stretch.

So if it is accepted as true that only a “few” souls get to heaven, and the rest all become wandering evil spirits here on earth, we are subject to the ultimate form of “peer pressure” that of all these evil spirits encouraging us to believe lies and to behave badly, and to indulge ourselves in our desires and attachments and self centered behaviour, and all the while we tell ourselves that we are good people.

Because ultimately, all these spirits want us to stay in the “evil” club, the “No God” club, or group, or clique, the ultimate “cool clique” for all eternity. In a way it is a lot like Socialism and its direction to deliver all people to a lowest common denominator of misery, we are all “equal” in our misery.

I first read about these sorts of spirits, “Fomenting Spirits”, while reading about the Desert Fathers, Saints, and other Christian mystics, for example the Torment of St. Anthony. The following lists are found in Appendix 1 of “Deliverance Prayers for use by the laity” by Fr. Chad A Ripperger PhD . The following are lists used by exorcists to determine the sin, vice or (fomenting) spirit involved.  So, finally, here are the lists! These are:


The Torment of Saint Anthony, Michelangelo

The Torment of Saint Anthony, Michelangelo

Lying Spirits: Pretension, Unreality, Denial, Delusion/Labyrinth, Convoluted Thinking, Cheating, Neglect of Responsibilities, Irreverence, Circumvention, Folly, Concealment, Blindness of Spirit, Evasiveness, Deceit, Mask, Game Playing, Deception, Illusion, Diversion, Error, Drama, Marionette-Puppet, False, Farce, Hallucination; Smoke & Mirrors, Harlequin Mask, Imitation, Pantomime, Counterfeit, Role Reversal, Fraud, Detraction, Incredulity, Coy, Cunning, Undermining, Aping, Dichotomy, Juggling, Duplicity, Facade, Dual, Showmanship, Theatrics, Show, Acting, Trickery, Magic, Mockery, Appearances, Fantasy, Heresy, Legion, Subversive, Irony, Mimicry

Unclean Spirits: Unclean & Offensive Conditions, Compulsiveness to Clean, Involuntary Vices (Obsessive Compulsive), Compulsion, “I have to”, Distortion of Truth, Busybody, Nosey, Curiosity, Violation of Confidentiality, Rumors, Critical Judgment, Perverted Judgment, Perverted Thinking, Scandal, Spirits that cause Accidents

Theft: Stealing, Greed, Avarice, Materialism, Possessiveness, Hoarding, Covetousness, Collecting, Exclusiveness, Making Excuses for Sin & Infidelities to God; Neglect-Omission; Inability to Pray Because of Worldly Cares; Inability to Give or Share, Stingy; Inability to Give Praise & Thanksgiving to God or to People

Mental Illness: Dyslexia-Learning Disabilities, A.D.D., A.D.H.D., Schizophrenia, Multi-personality, Bi-Polar – Manic Depressive, Mania, Insanity, Depression, Borderline, Neurosis, Psychosis, Paralysis, Post-Traumatic-Stress Syndrome, Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Disconnected Spirit, Disjointed Spirit, Fractured Personality, Split Personality, “Undo”, Opposites, Retardation, Tension, Chronic Fatigue, Eating Disorder, Memory Loss, Distorted Thinking, Distorted Hearing, Mental Torments, Confusion, Procrastination, Compromise, Indecision, Doubts, Anorexia, Bulimia, Stuttering, Death Wish, Physical Ailments: GI Problems: Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity, TMJ – Grinding Teeth, Spoliosis, Night Sweats, Night Tremors, Palsy, Paralysis, Parasites, Crippling Disease, Enuresis, Bleeding, Vomiting, Coccyx Bone Crack, Sinus & Respiratory Problems, Birth Defects, Migraine Headaches, Back Problems, Vision Problems, Hearing Problems, Speech Problems, Metabolic Problems, Gland & Hormone Problems, Tumors, Cancer, Arthritis (unforgiveness), Smell, Taste, Throat & Vocal Cords, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Liver, Lungs, Exhaustion, Weakness, Life’s Breath, Pneumonia, Tuberculosis, Insomnia, Hay Fever, Deaf & Dumb, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Allergies, Asthma, Lyme Disease

Torment of St. Anthony, Martin Schongauer, 1470

Torment of St. Anthony, Martin Schongauer, 1470

False Religions & Philosophies: Jehovah Witness, Christian Cults, Christian Science, Scientology, Eastern Religion, Zen, Buddhism, Ancestor Worship, Taoism, Islam, Karate-Martial Arts, Yoga, Mind Science, Paganism, Pantheism, Druid, Celtic, Bahai, Heathen Worship, Lodges-Masonic, Renew 2000, Future Church, Protestantism, Schism, Mormonism, Rainbow Girls, Rosicrucians, Moonies, Unity Churches, Secret Societies, New Age Religions, Social Agencies, Freemasonry, Indian Religions, Socialism/Communism, New Age, Quakers, Shakers, Native American Spirituality, Indian Powwow, Shamanism, Hinduism, Atheism, Agnosticism, Heresy, Anti-Clericism, Mafia, Nationalism-Nazism

Abandonment of Religious Practices: Minimalization of Sin, Spiritual Pride, Abandonment of Vows, Abandonment of Vocation, Anti-Christ Spirit, Religious Errors, Apostasy, Doubters of True Faith, Jansenism/Puritanism, Spiritual Gluttony, Spiritual Wrath aimed at God, Spiritual Envy of the Gifts of others

Those against the Spiritual Life: Spiritual Sloth – Sadness of the Things of God, Sacrilege, Sins against Vows, Scrupulosity, Fear of Vocation, Abandonment of Promises, Feminism, Liberalism, Hatred of the Catholic Church, Fascism, Racism, Marxism, Blasphemy, Apostasy, Contempt for God, Sacrilege of Priestly Sacred Character, Occult

Superstitious practices: Satanism, Divination (Methods of Seeking Guidance & Knowledge from the Demonic), Familiar Spirits, Witchcraft-Wizardry, Wicca, New Age Practices, Out of Body Experiences, Santeria, Voodoo, Celtic, Druid, Evil Eye, Bohomo, TM (Transcendental Meditation), Mantras, Crystals, Reiki, Eneagrams, Magic, Evil Levitation, Handwriting Analysis (the predicting of the future, the reading of the past of a person’s life by the analysis and so forth), Seance, Ouija Boards, Yoga, Black Masses, Devil Worship, Palm Reading, Tea-Leaf Reading, Tarot Cards, Horoscopes, ESP, Silva Mind Control, Hypnotism, Centering Prayer, Martial Arts, Any powers Apart from God, Acupuncture, Homeopathic Remedies with Ritual, Channeling, Contacting the Dead or Disembodied Spirits Through: seances, dreams, Divining with Tree Root, Curses of the Occult Against The Priesthood, Celebration of Halloween – Costumes of the Demonic, Wearing of: Devil’s Horn, Rabbit’s Foot, Pentagram, Tattoos, Mood Ring, Biofeedback, Dungeons & Dragons, Rock & Roll/Jazz, Bloody Mary, Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board, Eastern Star, Job’s Daughters, Good Luck Charms, Lucky Coins, Magic Eight Ball, Numerology, Spiritism, Astrology, Pyramids, Parental Spirits


Pope Francis

Pope Francis

That’s plenty long enough, isn’t it?. I find just reading through these lists to be chilling. Pretending that demons and evil spirits do not exist, that they are simply superstition or imagination is not actually very helpful. And of course if we do believe, that doesn’t give us a free pass for bad behavior, as Flip Wilson used to say “The Devil Made Me Do It!”, just doesn’t cut it. We are responsible for our behaviour, our acts and our thoughts.

Pope Francis recently referred to Pope Paul  VI, who, in 1975, covered this well in his speech on Christian Faith and Demonology: placed emphasis on the fact that, “evil is not simply a force in the background but rather truly present, a living being who is spiritual, perverse and who renders perverse. He is a horrifying reality, a mysterious force who spreads fear. Anyone who refuses to recognize his existence is distancing themselves from the framework of Biblical and Church teaching.

Not much to cheer about in this and the next post … part two… a lot to think about, and pray about.