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EPISODE #261
EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT: A FAMILY GUIDE TO SPIRITUAL WARFARE (PT. 1) WITH GUEST KATHLEEN BECKMAN

Welcome on in.. to another episode of Empowered by the Spirit with host, Deacon Steve Greco (of Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry).

Today’s guest is author/speaker Kathleen Beckman. On this episode, we’re going to touch on an area we don’t really hear a lot about in our churches and communities.. but it’s high time we bring it out and expose it to the light.. Our topic is spiritual warfare.

Our guest today has immense knowledge on this topic. In fact, Deacon Steve and Kathleen covered so much ground in the studio that this session became a 2-part series!

Be sure to tune in and SHARE this podcast!

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 11/15/20

SHARING ‘FAKE NEWS’ MAKES ONE AN ACCOMPLICE IN EVIL, POPE SAYS

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — People have a responsibility to check the source of what they share on social media to ensure it is not “fake news” designed to further prejudices or increase fear, Pope Francis said.

Fake news grabs people’s attention “by appealing to stereotypes and common social prejudices, and exploiting instantaneous emotions like anxiety, contempt, anger and frustration,” Pope Francis wrote in his message for World Communications Day 2018.

The message is a reflection on the theme, “‘The truth will set you free.’ Fake news and journalism for peace.” World Communications Day will be celebrated May 13 at the Vatican and in most dioceses. The papal message was released at the Vatican Jan. 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists.

Fake news is so effective, he said, because it mimics real news but uses “non-existent or distorted data” to deceive and manipulate.

The first to employ the fake-news tactic was the serpent in the Garden of Eden who convinced Eve she would not die by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, he said. The Bible story shows that “there is no such thing as harmless disinformation; on the contrary, trusting in falsehood can have dire consequences.”

Pope Francis praised educators who teach young people how to read and question the news and the information they see presented on social media. He encouraged efforts to develop regulations to counter fake news and he praised tech and media companies for trying to improve ways to verify “the personal identities concealed behind millions of digital profiles.”

But, he insisted, individuals always will have the final responsibility for discerning what is real news and what is helpful to share on social media.

“We need to unmask what could be called the ‘snake tactics’ used by those who disguise themselves in order to strike at any time and place” like the serpent in the Garden of Eden did.

The snake’s power grows as people limit their sources of information to one outlet, especially if that outlet is a social media platform whose algorithms are based on providing users with more information like they have just read, the pope said.

“Disinformation thus thrives on the absence of healthy confrontation with other sources of information that could effectively challenge prejudices and generate constructive dialogue,” he wrote.

People who repost or retweet such false information, the pope said, become “unwilling accomplices in spreading biased and baseless ideas.”

One way to know if something should be checked and not be shared, he said, is if it “discredits others, presenting them as enemies, to the point of demonizing them and fomenting conflict.”

In the modern world, with the rapid and viral spread of news and information — both real and fake — lives and souls are at stake, he said, because the “father of lies” is the devil.

True discernment, the pope said, means examining information and keeping what promotes communion and goodness, while rejecting whatever “tends to isolate, divide, and oppose.”

“We can recognize the truth of statements from their fruits: whether they provoke quarrels, foment division, encourage resignation; or, on the other hand, they promote informed and mature reflection leading to constructive dialogue and fruitful results,” Pope Francis wrote.

Journalists, he said, have a special responsibility in the modern world amid the media “feeding frenzies and the mad rush for a scoop.”

Pope Francis asked media professions to promote “a journalism of peace,” which does not mean ignoring problems or being saccharine. It means “a journalism that is truthful and opposed to falsehoods, rhetorical slogans and sensational headlines.”

A journalism of peace is at the service of all people, “especially those — and they are the majority in our world — who have no voice,” he said. It is “a journalism committed to pointing out alternatives to the escalation of shouting matches and verbal violence.”

Pope Francis ended his message with his own adaptation of the “Prayer of St. Francis” for both those who report the news and those who read or watch it.

“Where there is shouting, let us practice listening,” the prayer said. “Where there is ambiguity, let us bring clarity.”

“Where there is prejudice, let us awaken trust,” it continued. “Where there is hostility, let us bring respect; where there is falsehood, let us bring truth.”

HALLOWEEN PRESENTS OPPORTUNITY TO DISCUSS ‘EVIL’

Early Christians believed that at certain times of the year, like All Hallows Eve, humans could more easily see ghosts and demons through the veil separating Earth from heaven, hell and purgatory.

So it would seem that the Halloween season of carving pumpkins and collecting treats is an opportune time to discuss demons and the devil with our children. Such discussions – even with the youngest children – are important, says Father Troy Schneider, parochial vicar of Holy Family Cathedral in Orange. Father Troy believes that from a young age we all must acknowledge the reality of evil and its pervasiveness in our world.

“Even when children are 2 years old, we can talk to them about things that seemingly look good, but are really quite evil,” Father Troy says. “That’s how the devil will tempt us. The devil knows how to mess with our minds, knows the deepest, darkest parts of our soul. If we can be convinced that darkness is light – that evil actions are, in fact, good ones – we need to be very careful.”

Proving his point, St. Paul warns in 2 Corinthians 11:14 that “…Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”

Father Troy believes that parents and teachers often don’t give kids the credit they deserve for comprehending good and evil and the consequences of both. “They do know what’s right and wrong, but we can help them understand the ramifications of their actions,” he notes. “We can tell them that if we choose to do something for selfish reasons we don’t choose love and Christ, and in those cases we choose lies and hatred and things that will divide us.”

Discussions about the devil can be as simple as pointing out to children that they must share their toys and act towards their siblings with fairness even the popular fidget toys, because then our actions are unselfish and driven by love. On the other hand, when children misbehave, we can ask, ‘Does that upset you when you make Mom and Dad mad?’ Children realize the consequences of their actions and understand that they feel angry and fearful because, of course, they love their parents.

Father Troy wrote his master’s thesis on St. Augustine and demonology, and recalls opening his paper with a quote attributed to St. Gregory of Nyssa: “The greatest trick the devil ever played is to convince us that he doesn’t exist.”

While our culture views demons as vicious, demonic beings who haunt our nightmares and angels as fluffy white cherubs flying in the clouds, Father Troy notes, the reality is subtler – and more evil. “Our teaching is the use of reason. St. Augustine showed us that the devil corrupts our reason by convincing us that evil is actually good.”

When we talk to kids about Satan, the conversation need not be along the lines of a boogey man out to get us if we’re bad, Father Troy explains. “When children reach the age of reason, they can understand the difference between good and bad angels. Both believe in God and recognize Jesus, but the devil doesn’t have love. For us especially looking to the challenges of life, evil is the lack of love.”

EXPLAINING EVIL

Deliver us from evil” is the last line of the Lord’s Prayer, one of the first prayers we teach our children. But what do we tell children about evil? Do little ones really understand what evil is? When a child asks, how do we answer the question, “Why did God let this happen?”

We probably do not give much thought to it, unless something bad happens and then we struggle for the words to explain how this could be and reassure them that things will get better. Consider the following answers for young children based on Catholic teaching:

Why did God let my loved one die?

God knows that there are sad things that happen in this world. He promised to be with us every second of our life to help us get through the bad times. Sometimes these things are like strong medicine to teach us that life is precious, or that we should take care of our health, or never take anyone for granted. Think about how sad Mary was when Jesus died on the cross. God did not take away the Blessed Virgin Mary’s suffering, and she never complained. She saw Jesus after the resurrection and likely waved good-bye to him when he ascended to heaven. She surely missed him very much, but she joyfully lived a long life helping the apostles spread Jesus’ message.

Why does God let bad people do such terrible things?

God is more powerful than all the bad things that can happen. God created each of us to be just like him, which includes the ability to choose how we act. We can choose to do what God wants or we can ignore God and do things that disappoint God. God sent his own son Jesus to show us how to live and gave us the Bible, the Catechism and many other tools to help teach us to make good choices. Unfortunately, some people do not listen to God and make bad choices that hurt themselves or other people. But good people have more power than bad people do.

I feel so sad about what happened, what could I do to be happy again?

Good people can defeat evil – by turning it around and doing good despite all the bad things that happen. When sickness or accidents cause pain, this is your opportunity to turn that hurt into good by how you respond. If you respond by falling into despair or letting bad things distance you from God, then you let the evil get stronger, but if you fight evil with a kind and loving heart, you destroy a bit of its power. Every time you help without being asked, talk to someone who needs cheering up, say a quiet prayer or do some other kindness, you destroy a small piece of evil.

Even if you make mistakes and do something wrong, God loves you and will forgive you if you ask him. In heaven, evil will be gone and you will be surrounded only by good and God’s eternal love.

As you and your family face tragedy, loss, pain or sickness, this might be a great time to pick up C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” series and read to your child. If you have not already read them, you will immediately see the beautiful allegories based on Catholic teaching, and if you read them as a child, you will be delighted to rediscover them, and perhaps find a bit of peace for your soul as well.