I was always the one who was quick to reject the idea of the devil. I always laughed at any mention of him. It just seemed ridiculous to me that there was some evil being roaming around messing with people.
Then came Easter 2007. It had been a very hard couple of months for me. My heart had been broken. I felt betrayed by a close friend.
I spent that Easter at school. I always did because that was the only way I could guarantee that I could get to Easter vigil Mass. Before Mass, got some movies and junk food. After Mass, I took my stuff and went to the Newman Center to watch my movies. I was the only person there.
I started watching my movie (Little Miss Sunshine, I liked the movie but I've never been able to watch it again ever since). I barely stayed awake through the whole thing. When the movie was over, I turned everything off and I decided to spend the night on the couch because I knew I couldn't stay awake long enough to go back to my dorm.
That's when it started. It was as if a force outside of myself wanted me to kill myself. I've suffered from depression before, I've had suicidal idealization before, this was different. I could see myself go to the kitchen and take out the largest and sharpest knife. I could see it gleam. I could almost feel it piercing the skin of my forearm. I could see myself laying in a puddle of blood on the kitchen floor. I could see the look of horror on the face of the person who would discover me Monday morning.
All of this was so vivid in my mind, I barricaded myself in the room. I didn't trust myself to leave the room. I just knew if I left the room, I was going to do it. The safety light outside the window started to flicker. I went back to the couch and tried to block it all out. I prayed the rosary. I prayed to my guardian angel and to my friend Al Wannepain who had died a couple summers before.
Prior to this event, every once in a while, I could feel Al's presence at the Newman Center. He was an elderly gentlemen who was very active in the center and he had adopted me as a granddaughter. He had a tracheotomy and I sometimes heard him breathing still when I was there by myself. This night, I certainly heard him breathing. I could hear and almost see him seated on his walker at the foot of the couch. My guardian angel I could see and feel laying with it's head on my lap. It looked very androgynous like they tend to look in paintings. I eventually fell asleep.
In the morning, I awoke grateful to be alive. Otherwise, everything was back to normal. I took down the barrier, worried that someone would come, see it and think I was crazy. I left the Newman Center and went back to my dorm.
This experience convinced me of the existence of the devil. These thoughts did not come from me. They had to come from some evil force outside of me. Also, it taught me a few things about him that I would like to share with you.
1) The devil always kicks us while we're down. I don't think he would have attacked or gotten very far if I hadn't already been very depressed. The situation with my ex-boyfriend and my other friend had me on my knees and the devil saw that as an opportunity.
3) While I believe that he exists, I still do not believe that he is responsible for everything we pin on him. Don't give me that "devil made me do it" crap. The devil didn't make you do anything. We need to take responsibility for our own sinfulness. Humanity is responsible for the vast majority of the evil in the world.
I'm sharing this story with you today because of the stories about Pope Francis talking about the devil.
Yes, the devil is real. Don't use him to write off your own sinfulness and failures. But don't completely let down your guard either. Always remember: he might be more powerful than you, but he has absolutely nothing on God.
Chris Tomlin: My Glorious