Father Fortea, can demons unite and concentrate their efforts to influence society?
The greatest power of the demons lies in tempting us to sin. Since they communicate among themselves, demons certainly work together and concentrate their efforts to influence human society. They do this by collectively devising strategies and by putting them into action in a specific place. While they desire to tempt everyone to sin, they know very well that certain individuals have the ability to influence society as a whole because of their wealth, fame, or power. The communications media are a particularly powerful influence on today’s society. As such, the demons especially target these elites.
In politics, demons are never neutral – they always analyze the situation and focus their energies on those political officials and candidates who will (wittingly or unwittingly) favor their goals. Undoubtedly, in the German election of 1932, the demons understood perfectly that their goals would be better served by tempting the German people to vote for a rather unknown, fringe candidate named Adolph Hitler. Does this mean that Hitler’s rise to power can be attributed solely to demonic forces? No, human choice was involved; but demons were undoubtedly involved, too. Similarly, the Church Fathers, in their writings about Christian persecution by the state, often point out that such persecution is rooted in the instigation of demons on rulers and the population as a whole.
We must always remember that the devil is the Father of Lies, and he seeks to make evil appear good and good appear evil. At the heart of much evil is the rejection of human dignity; the demons want us to forget that we have been created in the image and likeness of God.
There is the famous vision of Pope Leo XIII in which he saw the infernal spirits concentrated on Rome. This vision was the origin of the Prayer to St. Michael, which the Holy Father sent to the world’s bishops in 1886 and asked the entire Church to recite. The work of the angels and the prayers of Christians can impede the plans of darkness. This is why prayer and sacrifice are so important; they are a bulwark against the powers of hell in this world and a source of abundant blessings.
Though we must do battle in this invisible struggle with spiritual powers, we should always remember that in the exercise of our free will we are the authors of our own destiny. The demons can only influence us to the extent that we let them. In the end, we do what we choose and are ultimately responsible for these choices. Not even the concerted effort of millions of demons can force us to do something we really don’t want to do. When tempted, prayer is our greatest weapon, a weapon as powerful as the greatest army or wealth. The demons know the power of prayer and fear it.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about spiritual warfare and demonology, Catholic Spiritual Direction recommends Fr. Fortea’s excellent book Interview With An Exorcist – An Insider’s Look at the Devil, Demonic Possession, and the Path to Deliverance.
Art on this post “Can Demons Unite to Influence Society?”: Dettaglio Diavoli (Devil Detail), Andrea di Bonaiuto da Firenze (also known as Andrea da Firenze) (1343-1379), 14th century, photographed by Sailko, 26 December 2006, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less; detail of Padre José Antonio Fortea 2017, photographed by Elgatoconbotaselgatoconbotas, 5 May 2017 own work, CCA-SA 4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons. Cover of “Interview with an Exorcist” used with permission, all rights reserved.