Parenting with Grace: Raising Holy Families - Part 2
JMJ+ I'm back this week for Part 2 of my review of two brand new book releases from Sophia Press. As I mentioned in last week's post, September 26 was National Family Day, a day where we called to mind the people who make our lives meaningful. There are so many attacks on the family all around us and raising children in today's climate is difficult to say the least.
I had originally planned to write about both of these books in one blog post but after reading both, I decided that each merited their own separate review. While both books involve the family, they are quite different. Dr. Ray's book (Raising Upright Children in an Upside Down World) discusses many of the more practical, concrete and hands on issues of family life and offers some really wonderful approaches to parenting in today's culture. It was by far the “lighter” and easier to read (emotionally-speaking) of the two books. This next book I want to share with you does discuss some of the same issues as Raising Upright Children but it gets far deeper into the the spiritual aspects of family life and parenting.
A Family Guide to Spiritual Warfare
Strategies for Deliverance and Healing
By Kathleen Beckman
Kathleen Beckman and I have been connected on social media for awhile and so, when I heard awhile back that she was writing a book for families, I was very excited to get my hands on it. To sum up my impression of what I read, this book is powerful and I was not disappointed. You're going to want this one to add to your arsenal!
I'll be honest with you, though: this wasn't an easy book to read (spiritually and emotionally speaking). In my opinion, this is a book you should take your time to read and reflect on because it's addressing some very deep issues that we might not think of too often, let alone want to take into consideration. The focus of this book is the healing of the domestic church (AKA the family) and helping the family avoid and get through attacks of a spiritual nature. Kathleen brings up some excellent points about getting back to the basics of creating holy families. She suggests simple yet effective practices to combat evil in the home and fight the good fight.
A Family Guide to Spiritual Warfare goes deep and is both informative and hopeful. The topic of spiritual warfare can be a tough one, one that is sometimes shrouded in mystery, but Kathleen does a fantastic job of laying it all out there for readers. She discusses everything from the lies of the devil to diabolical attacks, to the “portals” that allow evil in, the different levels of possession, deliverance, and so much more. Some of the information might be frightening to consider about because we might not have ever thought of it before or simply because we realize that we are up against so much evil in our world. However, there is always hope and we should always pursue faith over fear! There are always the weapons that the Church gives us including the sacraments, the Rosary, sacramentals and, of course, we have the Blessed Mother. There is always the weapon of our own Baptismal vows! Yes, we have more authority over the evil one than we sometimes realize.
In our culture, there are so many distractions caused by the world and the flesh. The devil sets his snares and lies in wait even in the most unlikely of places. We (often unknowingly) open the doors to evil and then are left wondering what went wrong in our lives. Ignorance is a big part of why diabolical attacks occur and when I say “diabolical attacks” I am not referring to full-on possession which is somewhat rare. The attacks of the devil are often discrete, to the point that we may not recognize them right off the bat, and they often involve the family. The family is vulnerable to the attacks of the devil but a family can be kept safe when God is allowed into their lives.
Sometimes you may be the only person in a family who is uniting themselves to God but you are called to keep going, to persevere in Christ, and put everything into His hands. Evil spirits only seek to drive loved ones apart. Years ago, in the midst of a family conflict, a priest very close to me once said, “The devil is a clever psychiatrist...but he's not a very good one.” He can see the external circumstances in which we find ourselves and often uses even the worst tragedies to try to tear families apart or create inward confusion and turmoil. The devil is a master manipulator. As my priest friend always says though, “Don't give him too much credit...and the Blessed Mother said that, 'In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph.'”
“If we stray from our vocation to the family, we often unknowingly end up in the grip of the enemy of our soul.”
“The ideal family is a team of spiritual warriors who strengthen one another in virtuous love.”
Quotes from A Family Guide to Spiritual Warfare
Kathleen Beckman talks about the foundational Catholic strategies for defending the domestic church in times of spiritual combat as well as ways to respond to temptation – how to “talk back” to the devil. She discusses anxiety and whether it's due to mental health or the devil (sometimes it's one or the other, sometimes it's both), the different levels of possession, and how to discern evil spirits. You may be wondering, what exactly does that mean? Kathleen sums it up, “A primary strategy for wisdom in spiritual combat is called discernment of spirits, by which we live and move with the Holy Spirit against the world, the flesh, and the devil.” We learn to distinguish between the voices of God and of Satan.
Kathleen offers a wealth of information about this but, what I appreciate more than anything, is the fact that she reminds readers of the many weapons we have to to use against these evil spirits. She explains what you're up against in today's world, but also gives you tools for avoiding and/or dealing with it. She talks about specific dangers to families today such as pornography, video games, reiki, yoga, and other concerns brought about by the “New Age” movement (hot topics with varying opinions even among Catholics), things often so easily accepted as healthy. Everything you need is in this book. It's like a spiritual combat manual for families.
What are some of the weapons she mentions? Prayer is key, calling upon Mary, the use of sacramentals, participating in frequent Mass and Confession, practicing courage in living out our vocations as families, and concentrating on cultivating our families spiritual lives rather than concentrating so much on outward appearances. We can protect our families by practicing the Holy Commandments and the Beatitudes, praying, fasting, and and using the many weapons we have at our disposal: the sacraments, scriptures, sacramental spousal authority, parental authority, prayer, God's armor, fasting, sacramentals, Catholic communities, Catholicism, forgiveness, communication, and virtue.
There is a lot of focus made on the Holy Family being the ultimate example of a healthy family life. In order to have a healthy, holy family the goal should be to keep God's love at the center. One of the strategies mentioned for combating demonic influences is “Building a Eucharistic Home.” These are things such as family meals, attending Holy Mass and Adoration, and consecrating our homes.
There's also quite a bit of helpful information about deliverance, something I have learned a lot about in the past year. Deliverance can be the casting out of demons, but it is also taking back our authority taken away due to woundedness or sin. I experienced the power of deliverance several months ago and it was both eye-opening and life-changing. There have been many wounds in my past that, over the course of therapy last summer, came to light and were in need complete healing. For me, deliverance was the key to healing those wounds. It has been one of the greatest spiritual gifts I have been blessed to receive.
I want to share a little bit about this because, if you are someone who has been wounded in any way, this just might be something you may find healing too. When we are wounded, we close our hearts to loving intimacy. Through deliverance, we break the bonds various demons may hold on us. It helps to expose any healing that needs to take place, acknowledges what needs to be healed, and denounces any demons that may be involved. It helps us to realize what the devil's snares are. I originally learned about deliverance from my therapist who recommended Neil Lozano's book Unbound - I highly recommend it! However, A Family Guide to Spiritual Warfare does give you a good idea of what deliverance is and what goes on in an unbound session.
I know a lot of people who skip over the appendixes in books, but please do not skip these over! Appendix A contains specific prayers for Family Healing and Deliverance and Appendix B discusses Family Deliverance Case Histories. Very interesting, very informative! Whereas Dr. Ray's book that I discussed in last week's blog post concentrates more on the “physical,” everyday aspects of raising children, Kathleen Beckman's book concentrates mostly on the spiritual side of things, and so these books together were an incredible and helpful combination. As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot packed into A Family Guide to Spiritual Warfare. For purposes of this review, I got through it in a few days but I have to admit that it was a bit overwhelming. I do intend to go back (for my own sake) and read it through a bit more slowly so I have more time to digest the information.
Stand firm and be at peace. Use the weapons you have been given. Stand firm in your faith, put on the Armor of God, and God will help you to pick up your daily crosses. Always remember that, no matter what trials a family may suffer (and we all face them from time to time), HOPE arises from faith in God. There is always HOPE when we have God on our side. God will always fight for your family. He will never abandon you!
To order your copy of A Family Guide to Spiritual Warfare by Kathleen Beckman, you can go HERE (non-commissioned link)
Disclaimer: this post is in no way sponsored by Sophia Press. I received a copy of the book in exchange for my honest feedback and am simply sharing my thoughts in this blog post.