“It’s as if I have no authority in my own home,” I said to my friend, only somewhat tongue-in-check, since we both witnessed my child do exactly the opposite of what I had asked. The combination of my easy-going nature combined with my strong-willed child has led me to regularly question how much to use my authority and how much to yield. While I know that children need limits and need to know who’s in charge, most of the time I don’t mind all that much if they spend five more minutes in the pool, eat an extra cookie, or skip a bath. Am I too much of a pushover, I wonder, but the alternative often seems to be ruining an evening simply to assert my authority on a somewhat arbitrary issue.
It was refreshing, then, to be reminded of the true authority I do have over my children, and one that requires no debates over bath time—that is, to drive out demons. In the introduction to Deliverance Prayers for Use by the Laity, Fr. Chad Ripperger is clear to define what authority lay persons have in terms of spiritual warfare:
The Church in her wisdom and experience has always known that authority is one of the primary requisites in order to drive a demon out . . . For this reason, if the laity always remain within the confines of the authority that God has given them by the natural law, such as commanding the demons to leave their own bodies or those over whom they have authority by natural law (such as their children . . . ), then they will experience little to no retaliation, as a general rule.
Now, to be clear, I am not suggesting my spirited child is plagued by evil influences. On the contrary, she is a delight. Nevertheless, my friends, we must know how to equip ourselves in such times as these are. Anyone who has spent time with young people today knows of the anxiety that troubles this generation. Confusion over identity, self-hatred, and suicide are increasing. To be sure, there are natural causes for these difficulties, and as such, natural treatments and remedies should be sought. But we would be ignoring a facet of our faith if we attribute all our difficulties to the material world. The enemy, too, knows these weaknesses and uses them for his purposes. He wants our young people to be hopeless and our homes to be places of upheaval and discord. Marriage and the family are under constant attack, not only by opposing social and political structures, but also by evil spirits who desire their failure.
Dear mothers, I do not write this to add more burdens to your already full plate, but to remind you of your God-given power and authority. You, as Christian mothers, have the power in your families to bind the evil spirits that attack them—spirits of division, deceit, disobedience, fear, anger, hatred. Our Lord has won the battle. We are on the side of the Victor, and he has given us authority to fight for ourselves and for our children. We must pray for the ability to discern, to have eyes to see the reality around us. We must speak words of blessing over our children, place them under the protective mantle of Our Blessed Lady, and anoint them with the Precious Blood of our Savior. In this year of St. Joseph, let us consecrate ourselves anew to Jesus’ earthly father, the terror of demons, and let the powers of darkness have no hold on our lives and those of our families. Mothers, mighty indeed is your call, and great is your power in Christ.