By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published October 29, 2020
I will never forget the first time I went to see a scary movie. I was nine, and my mother let me tag along with my older sister to see “Frankenstein,” which would be considered tame by today’s standards.
The movie, however, was utterly terrifying to me–and that lumbering monster thumped through my dreams for years.
I was already a firm believer that monsters existed under the bed and reared their heads when the lights went out. To avoid being pulled into a monster’s lair, my sister and I never dangled our hands off the side of the bed. Even as an adult, I still keep up this practice “just in case.”
The cache of movie monsters grew each year, and eventually included werewolves and vampires and hideous alien beasts that exploded on screen. “Dracula” made my blood run cold, although I was comforted by the fact that he was powerless when confronted by a crucifix, since I wore one around my neck.
These days, I avoid horror movies, but there are invisible monsters that prey on me.
One is the Monster of Catastrophes, who mutters a litany of potential disasters that might befall me. He could easily be wearing a T-shirt emblazoned on the front with “What If.”
What if you get sick? What if a storm knocks your house down? What if your friends leave town and you’re totally alone?
The crucifix helps me answer the monster. I tell it that I know Christ won’t abandon me, even if I get terribly ill or my house falls apart. And even if my friends move away, that isn’t as bad as what Christ went through, when his friends fled before the crucifixion.
Praying “Not my will, but thy will be done” chases the Monster of Catastrophes away, because fear loses its power when we bow to God’s will.
The second monster received his doctorate in the art of arrogance. He tempts people to have the final word, correct friends and add their two cents to discussions.
Alas, this Monster of Pride is a familiar fellow in my life, because too often words leap out of my mouth, unbidden. For example, the other day a neighbor was wearing a face mask and I shared my unasked-for opinion about wearing masks outdoors.
Other times, I’ve found myself setting people straight on Facebook on topics ranging from termites to theology, even though no one sought my input.
In his “Manual for Spiritual Warfare,” Paul Thigpen includes a story about the devil trying to tempt a monk into the sin of pride by disguising himself as angel and announcing, “I am the angel Gabriel and I have been sent to you!”
The monk’s humble reply sent the Devil packing: “You must have been sent to someone else. I’m not worthy that an angel should be sent to me.”
We say at every Mass: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.” And yet the Monster of Pride awaits us when we leave church—and will pounce when we least expect it.
There is an old belief that vampires and other evil beings cannot enter our home unless we invite them inside. Since the monsters that tempt us are emissaries from the Devil, we have a sure defense.
As St. Francis de Sales says, “Let the enemy rage at the gate, let him knock, let him push, let him cry…he cannot enter save by the door of our consent.” For me, this means that when the Monsters of Catastrophe and Pride strike, we can defeat them by praying.
One prayer especially comes to mind: “St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.”
Let’s pray that God will cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits—and monsters—that prowl throughout our lives. And, yes, that includes the ones hiding under the bed.
Image of St. Michael the Archangel by Jef Murray (www.jefmurray.com). Lorraine’s email address is email@example.com.