The Catholic Warrior
, by Robert Abel, is a book about spiritual warfare and how to take authority over one’s own spiritual life. Robert Abel writes about his own experiences with spiritual warfare- how he discovered the fact that all Christians are constantly tempted, opressed, or even posessed by demons, how the demons have a right to do this, and how most people who suffer from demonic oppression actually have themselves to blame. Many of these truths are backed up with Scriptural references, but there are few references to Catholic authorities. Abel writes in a style which makes the story he tells seem exciting, and a little spooky. However, this book has many problems on a theological level.
As someone who grew up in an evangelical Protestant church, I’ve seen charismaticism before. Abel is obviously a "Charismatic Catholic". Now, there is nothing wrong with being ‘charismatic’ and seeking the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but many charismatics are confused as to what the Church teaches about matters of the Spirit. For instance, Abel often speaks of his friend "Athena" (odd name for a Catholic) and how she introduced him to spiritual warfare. He asks her things like, "which prayer were you praying just now?" when he feels a particularly powerful struggle going on within himself. Many charismatics, who often see demons behind every rock, seem to think of prayer as almost some sort of magic spell- this prayer works best for this purpose, etc. But the fact is, God knows what you need before you pray, and, while there is a wealth of prayer in the Church, and some are surely more appropriate at different times, they are not incantations that in themselves have a specific ‘power’ for a specific purpose. However, Abel seems to treat prayer in exactly this manner. Also, he seems to be, for lack of a better word, dishonest. For instance, in explaining how he discovered that he was oppressed by demonic forces, he relates a story of how he "opened the door" to these forces by reading a dirty magazine when he was twelve. This, he asserts, brought a demon of "lust" and "sexual cravings" into his life. However, he also claims in the same paragraph that he never looked at pornography again. Sorry, but if you are being tormented by a demon with lustful sexual cravings, I highly doubt you will go decades without looking at pornography. That statement honestly just leads me to doubt the veracity of all Abel’s statements.
Another thing that bothers me is Abel’s emphasis on the individual. While he admits that only the priest, with permission of the bishop, can perform exorcisms, he encourages all Catholics to engage in spiritual warfare against any demonic presence in their own lives, under their own power. He admits that Confession, and a valid one, is necessary to free onesself from demonic influence, but he neglects to mention that the other Sacraments exist for this same reason, and that Catholics are a part of a larger community and Communion, and should never have to "go it alone", as it were. My advise is, if you are ever experiencing demonic oppression (a very real phenomenon), SEE A PRIEST IMMEDIATELY! Do not rely on someone named Athena or your own faith to resist this oppression. God has given us powerful allies in the Saints and Angels, bishops and priests, and we should immediately and instinctively turn to the Church in any matter of faith and spirituality. Who is to say that, by trying to take matters into your own hands, you are not doing exactly what the demon wants? Perhaps you are placing your faith in your own fallible self rather than in Christ and His Church?
So, by all means read this book to get an idea of what some Catholics think about faith and spirituality. But don’t take its advice. There are many resons a Catholic might suffer from temptations or sinful desires, and demonic oppression is one of them. There are many reasons one might be oppressed. One may just be very easy to tempt, because their faith is very small. Go to Mass more and receive the sacraments if this is the problem. On the other hand, one might be a saint. One may be so holy, and have such a good future plan, that the evil one tries very hard to sway one from the right path. This seems to be what Abel thinks of himself, as is obvious in the very first paragraph of the book, where he describes being in St. Peter’s Square and seeing a host of angels with Jesus at the head, all cheering for him, because he "entered the battle." I know many Protestants who claim similar visions, of Holy men and women, creatures, and Christ Himself seeming to praise the individual. Those people suffer from many problems, and nobody should listen to them in manners of faith. Real saints feel humble and small in the presence of Holy things. Abel is no saint, that just comes through in this book. However, sice there are no specific contradictions of Canon Law or Church tradition, that I can tell, I will say this mostly adheres to Church teachings.
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