I Myself Will Shepherd Them
I Myself Will Shepherd Them
© 1987 by John M. Mallon
"For thus says the Lord God : I myself will look after and tend my sheep. As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep. I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark. The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal... shepherding them rightly."
Ezekiel 34: 11-12, 16
When I was eighteen I fell in with a group of people who were practicing some kind of Satanic activity. It is difficult to say or classify exactly what it was they were up to, except that they were running a large scale east coast drug operation. The drugs, apart from supplying their income, appeared to me to be the front for what they were really doing. They seemed to be doing some sort of occult experimentation, or mind control, using the drugs to mask the effects. But it was difficult to ascertain the precise nature of their activity, because the urgent concern of the moment, once having glimpsed it, was to get away from it.
It was the beginning of September 1970, and I was at a party at the headquarters for these activities, which was known as "the farm". Our host had placed a cardboard kitty litter box containing a mountain of his finest private stock finely sifted marijuana on the table and told us to dig in. I had been sitting across from the man in charge of the "chemical division" of the operation- that is, the psychedelic drugs- both chemical and organic. He was reportedly raised by Indians in New Mexico who based their religion on the use of hallucinogenic plants. I walked by and saw him working on a paper covered with mathematical looking, hieroglyphic-like symbols. I asked him what he was doing and he said, "I'm trying to figure out a way to get from the first dimension to the fifth without going through the second, third, and forth." "That's cool," I replied, and went around to resume my seat directly across the table from him.
Off to the left, there were three men lolling about on a sofa saying things like, "Oh, this stuff is great! We could cut it with baking soda, nobody would know the difference!" I was becoming disillusioned by the sleaziness I was starting to see around me at that time. After all, didn't all of this begin with lots of talk of "peace" and "love"? Just as I was thinking this, the man across the table from me looked up and said to them, "That's brotherhood!" and then cast a strange knowing look to me as if to say, "I'm reading your mind."
It was a few moments later that it happened. It was as if something hit me like a ton of bricks in the side of the head; it was invisible, like a gust of wind, and it screamed at me in a loud taunting silent spiritual voice, "You're wrecked!" It had personality, and the image in my mind was of a little mischievous puff of wind as depicted in Casper the Friendly Ghost comics. I was, at eighteen, quite a veteran of various states of intoxication, and prided myself on my ability to maintain self-control, stay on my feet, remain conscious, and to keep my head and humor about me, in spite of the most bizarre and outrageous psychic, hallucinatory, or dangerous conditions I found myself in. I was experienced enough to know when my body was affected or my mind was affected, But I knew that this was no drug. Something different was at work here. I knew, somehow, that my soul was being tampered with.
All this was happening in an instant. When that voice hit me, things- insights- started flashing on me-- not in thoughts, but in flashes. Words flashed on me: "Wrecked!" Wasted!" "Ruined!" "Stoned!" "Destroyed! These are all terms of destruction." I could hear, sort of in the distance, the three men on the couch, exclaiming things like, "Oh, wow! I am so wasted! I am wrecked! This stuff is fantastic! " My flashes continued: "We are all destroying ourselves. Why is it so fantastic to be destroying ourselves?" "All I've wanted to do all summer is to get as stoned as I possibly could, now I've arrived. Am I happy? NO! I'm miserable."
When that voice first hit me it was as if a clamp had grabbed me, and now I felt as though a steel mesh net had fallen over me. I had been fighting with all my strength to maintain control because it felt as if someone was trying to suck my soul right out of me. I was holding onto my chair, white-knuckled for fear that I might lose myself completely. I had noticed, through this swimming mesh I was caught in, that the man seated across from me had been observing me and taking notes, and staring into my eyes. It seemed as though the force trying to rob me from myself was coming from him.
My flashes continued: "All I really wanted while taking all these drugs was some love. What am I doing in this place? Who are these people? They're not my friends. People love me, people care about me, people are praying for me. How did I get here?" As I looked about me through this mesh, all the people looked excruciatingly ugly, grotesquely cartoonish and one dimensional. I had noticed, before, during, and after this experience that there were some people there who looked like zombies-- like walking dead-- as if their souls and wills had been sucked out of them and were now under the control of these people. In any case, the environment itself seemed to drip with a kind of slime, and I said to myself, "This is Hell. I'm here. This is what it looks like." and I immediately felt as though I were in the bottom of a barrel of snakes. I knew I didn't want to be there.
At this point, the swirling loss-of-control feeling was intensifying and the man across the table seemed to be stepping up his efforts. I was still gripping the arms of my chair. I was holding on, in the most absolute literal sense of the word, for my immortal soul. My will was fixed: "NO!", but my strength could not hold out much longer. I was fighting, I was sweating, and I was scared. Just when my strength was giving out, a glowing white and gold person came into me and said, "That's enough, John, you've seen enough. You don't belong here." and He spiritually grabbed me by the collar, so to speak, and snatched me out of danger.
I went limp in my chair. I was free. I knew I was safe. I looked up and saw my opponent slam down his pencil in disgust. He had lost. I crawled off to find someplace to sleep. I knew I was safe.
In the days that followed I was to ponder and seek answers to just what it was that happened to me. I knew I had encountered real evil and that something-- Someone-- had rescued me. I was standing in a bookstore in my suburban hometown looking through books on witchcraft to see if they could offer any insights on what had happened to me or how to protect myself, or how to put a stop to such evil. I came across all sorts of symbols and talismans, garlic, pentangles, etc. However, as I was to remember from all my old Dracula movies, the number one symbol, the Last Word when it came to stopping evil was The Crucifix. Then it hit me like joyful thunder- "So that's who that was! " Standing in that bookstore I reflected on the Crucifix: "If just this symbol is so powerful, what about the man hanging on it? " I thought, "There's more to Him than meets the eye."
The only place I had ever seen the Crucifix was in, or in connection with, The Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic Church somehow stood out as something very ancient and real through the mists of archetypical Gothic horror and folk tales, that made perfect sense in the context of the living folklore in which I was existing. Somehow I knew, deep down, that the ancient Wisdom of Catholicism understood all I was experiencing.
I had grown up around priests all my life and never heard them discuss Jesus in any but an official context. Part of the job. Yet here He was in all His height, length, and breadth in the heart of my need, that certainly no priest I ever met would understand- at least so I thought. In my experience of priests at the time, to query them on the supernatural was to get chuckled at, or at least brushed off. It was not something they would discuss. It was all somehow buried in the sacraments. So, from this experience, the Church seemed to be the last place to turn for answers. Besides, they only talked about Jesus, I met Him, and what I had heard about Him couldn't come close to His Reality.
I recall, in the weeks that followed, feeling so bizarre and empty praying, "Anything would be better than this, even a broken heart, at least then I would know I was alive; that I existed." Then one day I stopped in my tracks in that town square and prayed, "God, all I ever wanted from all that drug scene was some love. Right now, I don't care if I live or die, so if you're so smart, You take over. You take over my life, because I'm worn out and I just don't care anymore." I turned, walked up the street, and met the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen, and within a few weeks fell deeply in love with her. She was sixteen, the daughter of devout Protestant parents. My influence helped to steer her somewhat away from the scene I had just escaped; but eventually her desire for excitement, parties, etc., was to clash with my need for peace, quiet (after what I'd been through) and her attentive love. In about nine months time she left me, and I was to remember my prayer about a broken heart.
But, I had met Jesus Christ, now what? I had no desire to be involved with any church, I had met the Lord, but never any other person who could remotely relate to what I'd been through. So, I said to Him, "Lord you have led me places and shown me things not many other people have seen, and you must have done it for a reason; so if there are any of your people who need to hear my story, feel free to send them to me. Use me in any way you want." And He did; in spite of the fact that I was going my own way- often into sin that I rationalized away. He would usually send them at a time when I most needed to be reminded of where I came from. In my rare visits to churches, I never felt at home in a Protestant church; even when I enjoyed the preaching. I abhorred being buttonholed during what they called "fellowship". But the Catholic congregations seemed dead and oblivious to what was going on. The real issue was pride. Mine. Besides, there were certain life-style adjustments I wasn't prepared to make. Like acknowledging I was in sin. I was to go on like this for years; knowing I had met Jesus, but getting into trouble.
Nine years later, in the Summer of 1979, I reached a dead end. The young woman I had loved-whom I shall call Angie- reappeared in my life. She had turned to me as a friend because her marriage was falling apart, but I soon discovered that I still was in love with her, and in fact had never really gotten over her. For her part she was putting up a heroic struggle with her faith and emotions. It is a very difficult thing when the very thing you want and need most-- human warmth, affection, consolation, understanding, and love; or simply even laughter and distraction with the person it comes most naturally with-- is off limits, as she was to me. The cross of my life had always been paralyzing anxiety with roots in my very early childhood that could be triggered by a rejection or a break in a relationship with a woman. The reappearance of this woman, whom I had wanted more than any other, and never really gotten over, now in a sense within reach, and yet in another quite real sense beyond my reach, was an absolute torment. It was horrific and gruesome pain, inordinate to the cause, and crippling me.
I had come to realize with the help of a psychologist, that this anxiety and depression also had to do with separation from God, the effects of sin. I had been stubbornly refusing the frightening call I was feeling to go to confession. I was rebelling because of some painful experiences I had as a small child in parochial school; I still felt I didn't need the Church.
I confessed to Angie my need for God, and she told me that God would be gentle with me. After she said this to me, I hung up the phone, lay down on my bed and howled in tears and pain to God. "God, I love her! I want her! But I can't have her! You sent her to me in the first place, nine years ago! I never wanted her to break up with me, to go away, to marry someone else, Now here she is ! What am I supposed to do with these feelings? What am I supposed to do with this desire? With this lust? I don't want anybody else! How can I stop wanting her? Desiring her? How can I stop loving her? “—That's where He stopped me—on "How can I stop loving her?" Suddenly, It was as though God the Father was gently shushing me with a big finger and saying to me, "I don't want you to. I want you to love her more ."
"Oh. Yes, Lord, that would be easier." I had to smile. He had given me a way out. It was impossible for me to stop loving her, but instead of trying to love her less and going insane in the process, I could learn to love her more. His way.
Suddenly I knew what I had to do. I was called , summoned, to go down to the little Catholic Church downtown. When I walked in my knees buckled from the atmosphere of Mercy in the room. I barely made my way to a pew and collapsed in front of The Blessed Sacrament, and wept, and wept, and wept. I had met the Lord nine years earlier, and now on this hot summer day, Jesus The Bridegroom brought me home to meet His Mother. And The Family. I turned and looked around at the ceiling of the empty little church and it somehow seemed to be filled with persons. I couldn't see them with my eyes but they were there . I then felt myself being loved and embraced by these personalities . They all seemed to be saying, " John, we don't care about your sins! we love you! You're HOME! WELCOME HOME! WELCOME HOME!" until I was crying and laughing at the same time.
I knew then what I had -and by now wanted- to do. I had to humble myself and go to confession. I staggered up the walk to the rectory and rang the bell. The poor housekeeper hardly knew what to make of me- bleary eyed, tear-stained, wobbly-voiced, and swaying on her doorstep. I choked out, "Can I see a priest?" She sent me around to the back door. The priest was a gentle, little old fashioned kind of pastor. He didn't bat an eye at a thing I told him, and I told him everything ; the farm with its witchcraft, satanism, --whatever-- and my various later exploits- everything. I was surprised by his lack of reaction to the goings-on at the farm and when I pressed him he simply shrugged and said, "It's just idolatry, breaking the first commandment- worshipping false gods." He gave me absolution-What a gift!- and I headed back down to the chapel where it seemed that all Heaven was still breaking loose. I realized what must be happening; Scripture says that when a sinner repents there is great jubilation in Heaven-- and He was allowing me to experience the celebration!
Needless to say, this experience placed within me a deep and profound love for the Church, not to mention an enthusiastic fascination. I also realized that many of my angers and resentments that I held towards the Church were simply the results of encounters with the weak and fallible people that made it up, sinners like myself, and had little to do with what the Church actually holds to be true, teaches, and is . At any rate this experience marked my passionate return to the Sacraments, and a faithfulness to simple prayer that God was to honor. I made a commitment to say, every night, on my knees, before bed, one Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be no matter what, whether I was tired, drunk, whatever. I did plenty of other praying but this was a point of discipline.
A confessor had told me to break off my relationship with my Angie completely because of the devastating effect it was having on me. Unexpressed love, I was to find, was like unexpressed grief; it can take its toll. I found I had only one outlet for my love for her and that was prayer. There was a terrible void in my life that was shaped like her. So pray for her I did. This is what was meant when I was told in to love her more, but still she was to haunt my thoughts and desires.
The third stage of my conversion started rumbling four years later in the early part of 1982. I believe the Lord took that time since I returned to the Sacraments to prepare me for what he had in store for me. Toward the end of 1981 I met by phone a young woman who was a friend of Angie's. About two months passed and I tried to look her up. After quite a runaround I reached her at a psychiatric hospital. She had tried to take her life. It was triggered by some incident involving Angie. From the hospital she said, "Stay away from her! Stay away from that whole group! There's evil there, look what happened to me!" I came away from that phone call thinking, "People don't try to kill themselves because they're crazy, sometimes it's because they know something and can't handle what they know." I sensed there was something to what she was saying, that she wasn't just raving.
I experienced something—a call—something in the air. The only thing I can compare it to is the opening of the novel, The Exorcist when the old priest, excavating in the Middle East suddenly stops, and senses something in the air; and he Knows he is going to see his old nemesis again. I had been helping out in a parish teaching C.C.D. and asked some devout men in the program if they knew anyone who could tell me about evil spirits. I knew I had encountered Satan before, and that I was experiencing some kind of call to spiritual warfare and intercession and I wanted all the help and information I could get. My experience up to that time trying to get any answers from a priest about the devil was a waste of time. They would either change the subject or excuse themselves. Anyway, these men referred me to a deacon in the parish who told me, "I know evil spirits hate two things: Holy Water and the Rosary." He also gave me some literature in which I found the Prayer to St. Michael which I was to add to my three nightly prayers.
I began to intercede intensely, convinced as I was that Angie was involved in some demonic snare. Indeed I was impelled to do so, and the more I prayed the more I began to suffer. I started to experience especially intense anxiety and panic attacks. It became so that the only place I experienced any relief at all was in front of the Blessed Sacrament. One day I went into the same church where I had the impression of meeting the angels and saints years before; I was in a desperate state, and my prayer was basically, "What is going on?" I was pouring out to Jesus at great length and speed and not without a little annoyance, about the intense fear, panic, and anxiety I was going through. Suddenly, It seemed that I heard a woman's voice saying, " John, you have done well, your prayers have been heard, your friends are safe. Now go out of here and live a normal life."
"A normal life? You mean it?" Over the years, among other things, the anxiety, had kept me from holding a job. I was approaching thirty and living with my mother, and broke. Any kind of normal life was always held teasingly beyond my grasp.
The dialogue continued, "A normal life, that's great, but what about this pain? "
"John, God has something in store for you beyond your wildest imaginings, but you must be patient."
"Patient? Yes, I believe you, God has something for me beyond my wildest imaginings, but I can't function, I can't work, what about this panic ?"
"I know about the pain, I know about the panic, but you must be patient. I will give you something for the panic. Every time it strikes just say these words: 'Be of good courage, and wait upon the Lord!' and I personally will come and give you a boost of good cheer!" I tried it immediately and started to laugh because it worked. " Now go out of here and live a normal life."
When I got up to leave and walked down the aisle, I said to myself, "I just had a conversation with the Blessed Mother. If I tried to tell anyone about it would they believe me? Did that really just happen?" Just as I reached the back of the church after thinking this, something led me to the leaflet rack. and I placed my hand on something in there and pulled it out. It said "Prayer to the Virgin, remedy against the 'Spirits of Darkness' and the forces of hate and fear". All I could do was laugh; it was all true. I was to add that prayer to my nightly prayers as well.
The spiritual barrage against me remained intense, in the forms of profound skin-tingling anxiety, bleak depression, and violent temptations to the point that I felt quite literally like the rope in a tug of war between demons and angels.
During temptations I had the impression of being urged to sin with soothing notions of God's forgiveness, while, on the other hand, an opposing sensation that brought peace would warn and caution me. These urgings had a quality of personality behind them. If I fell to the temptation, I had the experience of being taunted and accused. But the peace giving force would quickly be there assuring me of God's great love for me and turning my thoughts to Heavenly things. As it intensified, the times I gave in (which were often) to the almost constant temptations, I believe it was the Holy Angels who would be there with their consolation and encouragement, fending off the attacking demons before they could accuse me with their taunts of "Aha! Aha!" I experienced the words of Psalm 35: 15-28. It may sound incredible, but at the time there was no person on earth who knew, or could have known, what I was going through and the support had to come from somewhere. I wrote a poem at the time called, "Sometimes Your Only Friends are the Angels ". Years later, a Jesuit theologian told me that according to many spiritual writers this is often the activity of angels and demons during particularly intense temptations occuring at crucial moments in our lives.
On Good Friday I went to Church hoping to go to confession before the service. I had a difficult Lent. I didn't keep to any of my resolutions. I was in a front pew off to the side during the service sitting with people I didn't know. When they started to process down the aisle, I turned to look and at the moment I caught sight of the large cross being carried, I broke down. I wept profusely- discreetly but profoundly. Only one prayer kept going through me over and over, " Oh, Jesus, I know, I know! " I was deeply and personally and intimately involved with His Passion-- and knew that He was with mine.
I saw Angie on Easter Sunday night and came away happy from the meeting, feeling at peace with her. The next day, inexplicably, I woke up in agony . I knew I simply could not fight anymore. It was a complete and total spiritual collapse. Time to surrender everything , and completely let myself go into The Father's hands. The recurring message was that it was time to drop everything, and go out and be alone in the desert with the Lord. I kept getting this image of a vast desert completely away (and safe) from everyone and everything. I was just standing there alone with Jesus. And what peace there was in that.
God had certainly set the stage. I was mercifully fired from the part-time job I was holding, I hadn't wanted to quit, but the boss saw I was suffering and felt it was best for me and the business if he let me go. He was right; and I was relieved. I had also just finished an unusually long stint of work as a musician and had more money in the bank than I had ever had in my life; which I was able to live on for the rest of the spring and summer.
I had read that when we are physically weak, we need more food and that when we are spiritually weak we need more spiritual food and should seek out the Eucharist more often. I began to seek out weekday Masses in the evenings. The only ones I could find were charismatic Masses. The first time I walked in to one particular room, I had a strange experience. I had never seen any of those people before in my life, but somehow I seemed to recognize them. I had been to one or two small prayer meetings before that hadn't fazed me much, but this time after Mass, a man got up and said, "This morning the Lord said to me..." I was stunned: " There are others? You mean I'm not the only one? There are others like me who speak with God? I always believed it was real, but I didn't know there was anybody else! I'm HOME!"
I was ravenous. I got every piece of literature I could find on their book table and devoured it. I continued to go each week. I was incredibly excited. One day, sitting in my back yard going over this material I blurted out, "Lord, I have to know more about this! I need to know more about this!" I believe I heard the answer from the Holy Spirit: "I'll lead you to a teacher...Tonight!" That night I was at the Mass, and the priest gave a homily that spoke precisely to what I was experiencing. I thought,"I'd love to talk to this man, but he's very popular, I probably won't be able to get near him." Sure enough, he was surrounded by people, but I did manage to ask him a question about his homily and its application to me. He was struck by what I said, looked directly at me and said, " We'll talk."
Moments later, when I turned, there was no one around him. He crooked his finger for me to follow him. He led me up several flights of stairs, sat down and looked at me. I felt that same prompting I had felt in the afternoon moving me to tell this man my story. I did so. When I finished, he took my hands and said, " I want you to be my friend, I've been looking for a friend like you and I want you to be my friend." I didn't know what to say, I was amazed, here I was walking in off the street, very broken and new to all of this and here was this very popular priest, obviously a leader to these people telling me he wants to be my friend. He then laid hands on me, prayed, and said he wanted to make an appointment with me, that we should talk some more. We made an appointment for the following Saturday night.
It was a warm spring night, May 8, 1982, the eve of Mother's Day, and on a feast of St. Michael, the Archangel, no longer celebrated on the liturgical calendar. We were on the grounds of a convent retreat house walking on a hill overlooking the sea. He said,"Tell me about yourself." I told him that I had been working with a psychologist who had been seeing me free of charge for the past seven years, and the major point we'd arrived at was that I suffered from an extreme fear of being abandoned by a woman. a breakup with a girlfriend could plunge me into a six-month nightmare. In fact, I was still suffering over the loss of my first love twelve years before.
He said, "Tell me about your mother's condition when you were in the womb." I told him that my mother had lost a child, a nine year old girl, in a car accident two years before I was born and that my father wouldn't allow her to talk about it. "So," the priest said,"The very environment you were formed in was all of that grief, anger, loss, anxiety and pain that she was carrying around in her body that she was forced to repress." He suggested we sit in the car where he began to administer to me what is called "healing of memories". A prayer for Christ, the Healer, who stands outside of time, but present to all time, in eternity, to go to the particular moment of trauma to absorb and heal the shocks.
As he was praying, he suddenly said in a firm voice, " I command you to give me your name!" The next thing I knew, a gnarled, ugly voice coming out of my mouth exclaimed, " Violence!" I was startled but very intrigued, The priest continued, "Violence, I take authority over you in the Name of Jesus Christ, I bind you, and cast you to the feet of Christ. I command you to leave this child of God!" He repeated the process with the name "Hatred" coming forth. I thought, "Oh my God, this man's doing an exorcism on me!" He then said, "John, I'm going to give you the Sacrament of the Sick, because you're sick ." I wept tears of mercy and relief as I realized that the humiliation, pain, and terror I had been undergoing for so long was not my fault. They were tears of vindication, because here was all the authority of the Church confirming what I inwardly had known all along, that I had been dealing with actual demonic forces: a sense, which , when I tried to question others about it, would be discarded and unrelieved. Yet, here it was at last, complete with voices, manifestations, the sacraments of the Church, Christ tangibly present, and a priest who understood. Freedom.
He led me in a renunciation of these spirits, as he continued to call them out and expel them. This prayer is canonically called the rite of private exorcism, or, in popular language, deliverance prayer. I had heard of demonic possession which calls for solemn, or public exorcism, which may only be performed by a priest with the permission of the bishop, but I was suffering from demonic oppression , where certain areas of your life may be under the control of evil spirits, manifesting themselves in such things as addictions, compulsive and chronic sin, anxiety or depression. The door is opened to these spirits in various ways such as long standing unrepented sin, innocently incurred emotional hurts and wounds, and most especially, involvement in the occult. In my case it had been all of the above.
The most difficult spirit to loose was the spirit of Lust, who had held me in an absolute prison of the sin of physical self-indulgence. Father explained that the spirit had attached itself to some deep psychological hurts and childhood fears of abandonment (which in no small way contributed to the anxiety in my relationships with women). I told Father about a massive magazine collection that I had, and that I didn't know if I had the strength to part with it. He said, "I'm not worried about the magazines. It's just that this spirit has been torturing you all your life telling you you'll never be happy in a relationship with a real woman and that you need him and this habit to have any satisfaction whatsoever- but he's a liar." After the deliverance, the compulsion disappeared; and when, after some months, temptations occasionally returned, they were were rooted in simple human nature and urges, not in demonic compulsion. The magazines eventually went.
We were to continue for several hours, and far from being frightening or macabre, it was glorious. The Power of God applied to me personally, setting me free. We did not finish that night, and Father said a prayer over me binding all remaining spirits, and we drove back to the church, where I requested the Eucharist. Father gave me the Eucharist, prayed over me and I was rested in the Spirit. I felt a deep trembling deep within me and The names Satan and Lucifer came out of me. Father, now exhausted, commanded him to leave. Father then took me into the rectory, blessed a gallon of Holy Water and instructed me to keep it with me. We made an appointment to meet the following week.
In the intervening week, I was drawn frequently and for long periods to the Blessed Sacrament and Mass. There I experienced the intimate closeness and personal love of Jesus for me in the most marvelous and moving ways. During these times further deliverance took place, and many of the deepest wounds of my heart, wounds that resulted in insecurity, low self-esteem, horrors, guilts and fears were ministered to by the affirming, tender, and, at times, even humorous Love of Jesus, In Him is the fullness of Divinity, yet, with that, I also experienced Him as the most fully human person one could ever hope to meet.
When I met again with Father he finished the exorcism. It was wild and exhausting, yet glorious. The name "Legion... There Are So Many of Us" came forth. My memory fixed on a single night in 1970 and I saw that on this particularly eerie night while I had been under the influence of L.S.D., Legion had climbed all over me and entered my life. To the best of my discernment Legion was made up of a pack of about ten thousand spirits, all detestable. They all left at once in a kind of whirlwind as I saw myself on Calvary clinging to the Cross. I looked up at Jesus as he hung on the cross and I was startled to see Him crying. The tears were falling on me. I forgot myself momentarily and began to cry at the sight of Him crying, but He said, "I'm crying for you, for all the pain, all the humiliation that these spirits have caused you, that no one could understand." I wept at His goodness. I was clinging to His cross for my immortal soul. After the whirlwind stopped I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned and beheld my sweet Risen Lord! The storm was over; it was the first Easter morning. He said, "It's all right, it's over."
The deliverance experience was further affirmed by my psychologist, who later told me it amazed him that I told him actual proper names of demons that were revealed during the experience, names that I had no way of knowing, but that he had read about while working at a theological library as a young adult attending Harvard Divinity School.
I was to go from Glory to Glory. I became wholeheartedly involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and found tremendous healing in the Community, the Body of Christ on Earth. I went through a Life in the Spirit Seminar and was prayed over for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, received gifts of tongues, healing, and prophecy, among others.
I had the privilege of working as a volunteer at our Archdiocesan Office of Charismatic Renewal and becoming a ministry head in my prayer group on the intercessory prayer and healing ministry.
I continued to pray for Angie who was having her trials. She recommitted her life to Christ, then one day my burden, my obsession for her absolutely lifted. I prayed, asking the Lord why, and this is what came to me: "You weren't the jilted bridegroom, I was , and I shared my pain for her with you, because I needed someone to pray for her. Now that she's come back to me, You no longer have that separation anxiety over her because you are no longer separated from her, you are united in the Body of Christ." From then on she was just another woman, a sister in the Lord.
I passed my high school equivalency exam with flying colors, with the gentle help of my priest friend who prayed the deliverance experience with me, and at age 31 entered Boston College as an undergraduate lay student in theology, with a passionate love for the Orthodox Teachings of the Catholic Church—a love that I had learned the hard and glorious way from the Divine Master and His Paraclete. I even got a job at the university that covered my tuition. Every door was opened for me.
In the interest of "testing everything and holding fast to what is good", all the events recounted in this story, as well as my interpretations of them, have, at one time or another over the years, been presented before legitimate spiritual authority and Church officials, to the extent of laying them at the feet of my local regional bishop. He merely counseled me to seek out prudent spiritual direction which I assured him I had already been doing.
"You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the almighty, say to the Lord ,"My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I Trust." For he will rescue you from the snare of the fowler, from the destroying pestilence. With his pinions he will cover you, and under his wings you shall take refuge; his faithfulness is a buckler and a shield. You shall not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day; Not the pestilence that roams in darkness nor the devastating plague at noon. Though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right side, near you it shall not come. Rather with your eyes shall you behold and see the requital of the wicked, Because you have the Lord for your refuge; you have made the Most High your stronghold. No evil shall befall you, nor shall affliction come near your tent, For to his angels he has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways. Upon their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the asp and the viper; you shall trample down the lion and the dragon. Because he clings to me, I will deliver him; I will set him on high because he acknowledges my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I will deliver him and glorify him; with length of days I will gratify him and will show him my salvation."
"It is this same disciple who is witness to these things; it is he who wrote them down and his testimony we know is true. There are still many other things that Jesus did, yet if they were written about in detail, I doubt there would be room enough in the entire world to hold the books to record them." (John 21: 24-25)
Scituate, Mass. O2066
Biographical sketch for 2nd edition of Spiritual Journeys .
John M. Mallon is completing undergraduate studies in theology at Boston College and is interested in lay evangelization. He has published in The New Oxford Review and plans to continue writing. Mr. Mallon has worked as a professional musician, has theatre training, and is currently employed in the Boston College library system. John grew up on the South Shore of Boston, and now resides in Brighton, Mass. His family home is in Scituate, Mass.