Spiritual Warfare and Demonology
I was wondering if a demon that is attacking a family you have never met can attack said person mentally and physically? I have been having dreams of this horrible monster coming after me and my family for years. And yesterday I was watching this story about some family being hurt by this demon. From what they describe of it, it sounds like it could be the same one or something similar to it.
I am afraid I don’t clearly understand the question, so I will only respond with general observations. But I hope they help at least a little bit.
First of all, as regards demons and dreams, I will point you toward an earlier post, here: https://spiritualdirection.com/2016/12/01/understanding-dreams.
Infestation, Obsession, Oppression, Possession
Now, as regards the possibility of demons attacking people physically and mentally: yes indeed, both such attacks are possible.
When demons act directly on places, causing strange noises of physical destruction, it is called “infestation.”
When demons exert concentrated external influence that causes physical harm or discomfort to a person (pushing or shoving, for example, or even strange illnesses), it is commonly called “oppression.”
When demons exert external influence that affects a person’s mental state, causing some kind of mental disturbance, this is traditionally called “obsession.” Obsession can take the form of extraordinarily persistent or intense temptations, or it can even provoke or intensity natural pathologies or tendencies (phobias, depression, etc.).
When a demon concentrates its activity from within the human body, so that a person’s body is not subject to their own free will bur rather is moved by the demon as if it were its master, this is called possession.
The Real Danger: Plain Old Temptation
Those are all extraordinary ways that demons try to cause human suffering and distance us from God. The much more common way – the everyday way – is simply through temptations. Neither infestation, oppression, obsession, nor possession can actually cause a person to sin. Sin has to be a free choice of the individual person. And so, temptation is actually much more dangerous, spiritually speaking, than those extraordinary demonic manifestations. By stirring up temptation, the devil invites us to freely choose sinful actions. These actually damage our soul and our relationship with God. That’s the devil’s real goal.
God Can Handle It
Whenever we are dealing with the demonic, I think it’s very important to keep in mind a basic truth that the Catechism explains like this (CCC #395):
“The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God’s reign. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries – of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature- to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but ‘we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.’” (Romans 8:28)
I hope these thoughts are somewhat helpful. God bless you!
Editor’s Note: To see a comprehensive listing of posts (and their links) dealing with spiritual warfare and demonology on our site, please click HERE.
Art for this post on Demon Attacks: Partial restoration of The Temptation of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, Tuscan School, early 16th century, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.