The Catholic Defender: My Mother Experienced Spiritual Warfare
My Mother, Mary Anne McKinney (far right in the picture wearing a hood), was raised in a fundamental Protestant church known as the Assemblies of God (AoG) in the early 1930's.
At that time the AoG was a very young
movement beginning in 1917 Siloam Springs Arkansas. It is the largest of the various Pentecostal churches in the United States centered in Springfield Missouri.
Being raised in this tradition, it is easy to understand why in her early years Mom was fearful of the Catholic Church. I encounter that all the time even today. But something was different about Mom as she had many experiences that she could not understand until she began investigating the Catholic Faith.
While working at Lake City, my Mother developed a friendship with a co-worker who happened to be Catholic. Mrs. Fitzpatrick was her name and she answered many questions that my Mother had been asking. So Mom decided to go to a local Catholic priest to pursue the Church further.
My Mother told me of an occasion that happened to her when I was in school (St. John La Lande Catholic School) in the middle 1960's.
Mom was home doing household chores which included doing the laundry located down in our basement.
After placing her load of dirty clothes in the washer, she went about cleaning the upstairs. After about an hour, she went down thinking she could put them into the dryer.
The lid to the washer was up and the clothes still needing washed. Mom was puzzled knowing she set the washer before leaving. Naturally, she simply thought she made a mistake and left the lid up so she once again set her washer into motion and returns to her housework upstairs.
Mom returns a second time only to find the lid to her washer again in the upright position and the clothes unwashed. Now this second time she knew something was up. Mom thought that her husband might be playing a joke on her, but there were no signs of him anywhere. Puzzled, Mom again removes the clothes and started the wash over again, this time, there can be no doubt she shut the lid down in the closed position.
Mom returns to go upstairs to continue her housework. After setting her washer up for a load three times, she was really troubled what was happening.
Dad was no where around and we were all in school. Mom went down once again into the basement, this time simply just to check and once again, she found the lid to the washer in the up position. She just looked at her wash sitting there nothing happening.
It was at this time Mom noticed a terrible presence, kind of like that feeling you have when someone is staring at you from the back. She felt this cold feeling overcoming her, it literally froze her as she realized she was not alone. Looking around, she saw no one, Mom made a break to the stairs when she noticed a strong smell of sulfur strong enough to want to make her throw up.
Next thing Mom knew, she was calling her friend, Mrs Fitzpatrick, her Catholic friend, asking her for prayer. The Rosary and the lighting a candle was the first response. Mom was convinced an evil spirit was in her basement.
As Mom was on the phone, the smell of sulfur was filling the whole house. Mom was advised to get out of the house and she did, she ran down to the church to talk with Father Moore trembling as she ran.
Father was in his office when Mom came in trembling, but Father tried to comfort Mom looking to talk to her, but it was clear that he had trouble believing she had an evil spirit in her basement.
Mom left the rectory not wanting to go back home, but she was hoping that this situation would resolve itself. Upon entering the house, Mom realized that Mrs. Fitzpatrick was still hanging on praying for her. Mom did not want to go downstairs until Dad come home. Mom lit a second candle when strange sounds began coming from the basement. Things like chairs being pushed around, stuff being thrown around, scary screams and the sounds of pounding.
Finally, Dad returned home for lunch and was surprised that his expected lunch was not prepared so obviously, he was asking what was going on? Mom proceeded to explain the problem with the washer, the smell and the noises coming from the basement. Dad began to laugh and Mom felt that nobody but her friend, Mrs Fitzpatrick believed her.
This time, Dad went down the stairs resetting the wash and came up satisfied the issue is resolved.
If there was a time of peace it was short lived, this time the washing machine stopped and the noises began once again.
I think it was the banging that terrified Dad the most causing him to flee the house almost stumbling out the door and onto the front lawn.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick then recalled a most powerful prayer she said over the phone: "St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen."
Mom was already a strong believer in the power of God over evil, but it was when she understood the power God gave the Church over demons (And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues... Mark 16:17) and the importance of sacramentals and holy objects.
Prayer is so important. The blessing of homes is so important to!
After several hours of this, after Dad's near free fall out the front door, everything went back to normal so by the time we came home from school, all was well.
Today, I give a lot of thanks to Mrs. Fitzpatrick who through her strong faith, helped my Mother in a very tough situation. When a priest, a husband can doubt you, sometimes that one friend who is on journey with you can make the difference.
I would be my Mother's Sponsor in Confirmation as she would finally be received into the Catholic Faith, something that I also have the special privilege of be my wife's Sponsor into the Catholic Faith.
Mom would tell us that because of that experience, she would still have a fear of basements.