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Fighting the Demonic with the Holy Hour

Fighting the Demonic with the Holy Hour

“We are living in a busy, excited world. A world that is gauged to interruption. We get news on the hour. Life is fissioned. Ever since we fissioned the atom, our lives have become split…We have no attention span.” (Fulton J. Sheen, On The Demonic, 183).

These words were uttered by the prophetic and Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen some fifty years ago, before cell phones and the internet. If we had no attention span then, how are we doing today? Studies have shown that goldfish have longer attention spans than today’s adults.

Sheen’s remedy was the daily Holy Hour: “This, my good brothers and sisters, is the reason for making a continuous Holy Hour. It is the only way we can pray today because it takes that long to divest ourselves of the world” (On The Demonic, 183).

He compares us to the disciples on the road to Emmaus: “Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. Discussion, discussion, discussion. When we lack an interior life, we engage in a lot of talk. Poor, talkative Christianity…When we lose the spiritual vision, we get into politics” (On The Demonic, 184). We get into the news, the things of this world. We get stuck in the realm that belongs to the Prince of this World, and we no longer raise our eyes to Jesus.

On the road to Emmaus, after spending considerable time with Jesus, the disciples’ eyes are opened, and then they were reluctant to let Him go: “Remain with us” (Luke 24:29).

This is prayer. We come into the Holy Hour with the cares of the world weighing on us. Scatter brained, our minds fissioned like the atom. But “as we remain with Him, the earth begins to fade away. We are more conscious of the presence of Christ. At the end of an hour, very often we are reluctant to leave. ‘Remain with us, dear Lord. The day is far spent’” (On The Demonic, 185).

During a priest retreat he led in the early 1970s, Archbishop Sheen commented: “If someone has taken poison and the antidote is brought to him, it does not make a difference if the antidote is thrown out of the window or whether he simply neglects to take it. The poison is operating and it will have its effect” (On The Demonic, 179). The devil doesn’t get everyone to do horrendously evil things. For many, so long as he can get them to just keep a certain distance, to merely neglect to commune with Jesus, that is enough.

From the devil’s perspective, does it really matter if we are twenty feet away from Jesus or a mile away, so long as we are away from Jesus? Sure, the Evil One would rather have us twenty miles away from the Good Lord, but so long as we are away from Him, the end result is the same. Archbishop Sheen said that the main temptation of those in the Church for the next 200 years would to be worldly, just get stuck in the world (On The Demonic, 4). We need to combat this temptation; we need to take up again the daily Holy Hour and draw close to Jesus.

We need to be conscious in our relationship with Jesus. That is, we have to work on it—there’s no ‘cruise control’ in a relationship. To avoid neglect, earlier in his life Sheen would ask a Holy Hour a day from priests. But by the early 1970’s, seeing the rise of demonic forces and the busyness of life that made is so easy to merely forget to commune with the Lord, Archbishop Sheen was demanding a daily Holy Hour from priests, and at least 15 minutes of daily adoration from laity.

Is our age so different from Sheen’s? Are we less busy? Are we less worldly? Are we less tempted to neglect? If we needed the daily Holy Hour fifty years ago, we really need it now.

Sheen was always fascinated with the maid’s line to St. Peter: “You have been with Christ” (Matt 26:69). Even when St. Peter is at his worst, people see him and notice the presence of Jesus. What a compliment!

In an era when so many were falling away, Sheen stated: “I have never known a priest, a brother, or a sister who left the Church who made a daily Holy Hour. And there will never be one because they live so close to Him, and He will not let them go” (On The Demonic, 197).

Let’s stick with Jesus. Let’s make the daily Holy Hour.

God Love You!

Editor’s Note: The author’s compilation and edit of Venerable Sheen’s work, On the Demonic, is available from the St. Paul Center

Photo by Fred Palumbo on Wikimedia Commons.

Seeking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary through prayer