I have a close friend who has been struggling with mental illness for years. The past few years, it has become increasingly apparent that she has been struggling with more than just mental illness. New age beliefs and practices, coupled with some telltale signs and behaviors, have indicated that there was also some demonic activity happening in her life. The illness and the spiritual influences have led her behavior to be very erratic, volatile, and unpredictable. She has had extreme paranoia and it is impossible to pin down what words, actions, or even looks might set her mind off in that direction. When she does get set off, she will go into tirades of shaming and accusing people, often those closest to her, for doing things they haven't done but she has convinced herself they have.. always with the intention of wishing her ill. It has left all of her friends and family members walking on eggshells. During these times of paranoia, she can isolate herself and her son, keeping them away from anyone who loves her and could listen or be with her or offer some help. The past couple of weeks, she has been in one of those stages of isolation, and the evil present in her behavior and words has become more palpable and apparent to the point where her dad, who doesn't generally speak on spiritual terms, has begun to call what's happening in and throguh her "demons." A few days ago, I fully came to terms with two things: 1. She is under the influence of evil, and 2. I can do absolutely nothing. All I have is prayer. Though I pray for her often, I've also spent a lot of energy in my life wondering "what to do" about her situation. However, this time was different. I fully surrendered and said. "I don't know what to do. Jesus and Mary, only you do." And I meant it. I had a peace about the situation that I haven't ever had after I surrendered it completely. I entrust her to Jesus through Mary daily, and have prayed many Rosaries for her. A week ago, we were planning to meet up so that she could sign some important documents for a different situation that had been sitting for a while. Our last interaction before this was extremely negative, as she was set off the moment that I arrived and things went south quickly. I hadn't talked to her since that interaction, believing that all I could do was give it time; words weren't goin to help as they hadn't in times past. So, when we were planning to meet a week ago, I was nervous leading up to it, not sure how the interaction was going to go. As I began to pray a Rosary before her arrival, I had one pressing thought that entered my heart: "Jesus and Mary, you have heard every prayer for her deliverance and conversion and I know they will not go unanswered. You care. You hear. I believe it. Even if it doesn't happen today it will happen." Then, another friend of mine sent me the lyrics to a song called "Jireh," the last line of which said, "You've never been closer than you are right now." Additionally, I felt re-convicted that this was a spiritual issue. That demons were at work in this situation. I wasn't afraid, I just felt convicted that it was true. She arrived mid-Rosary -- I was in the fourth Luminous Mystery - the Transfiguration of Jesus. I didn't say much to her except business-related things, focusing on the documents that needed signing, just trying to keep the peace and not say the wrong thing. After the business was finished, she looked at me and said, "Can you forgive me?" It had been quite a while since she had asked for forgiveness for any episodes of lashing out, so I was taken aback. I said, "Yes," and, tearing up, she said "Thank you" and headed for the door. I felt that I needed to invite her to share more if she wanted so I said, "We can talk more about it if you want to." After that, she turned around and broke down, explaining that she had an experience that morning where she stumbled upon a deliverance prayer and, as she prayed it, she felt "spirits from the world" leaving her that she now knew and acknowledged as such. She said that she remembered, in that moment, the difference between the voice of Christ and the voice of those spirits. She said the voice of the spirits had led her to believe the worst about people and situations and who kept her trapped in addictive behavior (she also smokes pot regularly throughout the day). She had also that same day made a decision to throw out a lot of "objects", like crystals and other things she didn't describe from her house at the prompting of the Spirit of Christ. She said that she repented, and this for her was a moment of conversion that would continue on. It would be hard, she said, but she was ready to start down a new path. She wanted to start again. She knew that Christ was the one saving her. I cried with her and told her I believed everything she was saying, and that I only want her happiness and wholeness. She said "Please keep praying for me and thank you for the prayers you have already been praying." We hugged and she left. After thanking Christ for His intervention in her life and finishing my Rosary in tears, I drew out a Scripture verse from my collection of verses that are written on separate cards. It was Psalm 34:18: "The Lord is nigh unto them who are of broken heart, and saveth such as be of contrite spirit." The prayer on the back of the card said simply, "Father, thank you for your presence." I looked up to my left and saw the picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Looking at Mary, it was as if she was saying to me, "Are you surprised? Don't you know I'm this good?"
The next day, my friend made a decision all her own to admit herself to a 20 day intensive rehab program on the other side of the country. It was hard to determine if this was real, if she was really making this decision, until the plane tickets were bought and we had everything squared away for taking care of her son and the logistics of getting there. The Lord cleared every path for her in a day. What could have been a problem wasn't. Her dad had concerns about the original plan for getting there, but then the plan got re-arranged not by him but from the therapists running the program to suit what he was hoping for. I took her to the airport on Monday, prayed with her, and saw her off. On the way there, I got the unabridged story of everything leading up and more details of Christ's intervention. One thing struck me more than the rest, though it was all miraculous. My friend is not Catholic in any way. She doesn't trust anything that she would consider too "institutional." So, Rosaries, Mary, Sacraments, anything too "Catholic," She doesn't take part in. Her mom, when her mom was alive, would talk to her about Mary often and encourage her to pray the Rosary, which, for her, only seemed to push her further away. This deliverance prayer that she stumbled upon was not Catholic, yet, the beginning words she recited, which were "Father in Heaven, Mother in Heaven, and Christ the Son." She said she felt is was custom suited to her because it wasn't "Mary" in the traditional Catholic way, but the "Mother", which she felt more ready and willing to accept since her mom "pushed" Mary in a way that she wasn't willing to accept. Mary somehow snuck her way in there and made her intercession known in such a unique way. Who knew there was a non-Catholic (explicitly Catholic that is) deliverance prayer that would reference Our Lady! Well, now we know it exists!I'm in awe of the power of prayer, Mary's intercession, and Christ's incredible power and mercy. Please keep praying for my friend and her complete healing and continued conversion. -Jess