Question

Good morning father Angelo,

My name is … and I am … years old. I would need to receive an answer from you regarding a doubt that has been tormenting me for several years.

It is said that the devil cannot read our thoughts and our mind in general. I read some questions and answers on this site.

But I ask myself: why can’t he read them? Let me explain: since I know this fact I live in constant fear since some priest said to speak little not to let the devil know certain things.

Since that moment I am afraid to talk to people and to God about my plans, desires, aspirations etc… because I am afraid that the devil can interfere with them and make everything go wrong. It is a fear that has blocked me a lot and I would like to get rid of it. In fact, I keep things inside and I cannot express myself with God except in thought, but I would like to speak freely with my voice, share, ask without fear that everything I say with my voice will be heard by the devil.

Please give me an answer.

Thank you very much for everything.

Priest’s answer

Dearest,

  1. Yes, the devil can neither enter nor read directly into our spirit.

This is the exclusive prerogative of God who sustains us in our being, both soul and body.

Moreover, He can already personally dwell in us through  His sanctifying grace.

Finally, he will penetrate into us with His essence when we are in heaven, thus making us all one with Him, without each one losing his individuality.

2. For St. Thomas every spirit is like a sanctuary.

The subject is the sanctuary and God is the one who inhabits it.

3. To say that one subject can be inhabited by another would be the same thing as embarrassing his individuality and making him lose it.

Therefore a spirit can dwell in a body, in a reality that is inferior to him, but not in another spirit that is equal or superior to him.

In this sense our soul dwells in our body.

And in this sense – although in a different way – the devil can take possession of a body. Somehow he “chains reason by working on imagination and sensitive inclinations. But everything that man does in such a state is not attributable to him as a sin” (St. Thomas, Somma Theologica, I-II, 80, 3).

4. How can demons know the secrets of hearts and future things?

“In three ways – says St. Thomas – demons can know truths.

First, through their natural acumen; for although they are obscured by the deprivation of grace, they are nevertheless enlightened by the light of their intellectual nature.

– Second, they know through the communications of the holy angels, with whom they have in common not the conformity of will, but the similarity in their intellectual nature, through which they can receive what is manifested by other angels.

– Thirdly, they can know through long experience, not in the sense that they derive their cognition from the senses, but because, as we have said above when dealing with angelic cognition, when in the concrete and singular reality something happens that possesses a similarity with the intelligible species infused by nature in demons, they come to know as present certain things that they had not known when they were still future” (St. Thomas, Somma Teologica, I, 64, ad 5).

5. As you can see, demons do not come around us to hear what we say or do because they do not have the senses to see or hear.

That great author of spiritual theology such as the Dominican Father André Meynard wrote: “Therefore, demons can speculate about our intimate thoughts and future and contingent events, but they cannot know anything with certainty, except for a special revelation of God, who ordinarily uses the ministry of the Angels for this.

Thus one must explain various facts in which it seems that the devil knows the secret thoughts of men, as sometimes happens in exorcisms” (A. Meynard, Piccola somma di teologia ascetica e mistica, II, 97, n. 102).

6. And in his favor he quotes a page of another great master in the theology of the Order of St. Dominic, Father Sébastien Michaelis: “Didymus, preceptor of St. Jerome, speaking of the Holy Spirit, said:” he wants to prove that he is God because he penetrates hearts…”

Now the devil cannot penetrate into our intimate depths…

Saint Jerome, a disciple of Didymus, illustrated this point very well, saying:

Those who believe that bad thoughts come from the devil and not from our bad will are worthy of reprehension, because certainly the devil may be the prompter and mediator of bad thoughts, but not the author; it is an evil in our regard, it’s true, but it does not penetrate the inside of our heart, limiting itself only to conjecture from the habit and from the gestures that it sees in our way of doing…

The devil therefore deceives people when he makes them believe that he knows the hearts of men.

He may well make some conjectures, but man, endowed with free will, can oppose and abandon such fantasies, and so the devil finds himself a liar.

In this regard, St. Augustine composed a book entitled: De scientia (vel divinationem) Daemonum, where he developed this subject extensively, concluding that they cannot know future things more than they know the depths

(q. XXVII, ad Antioc. ducem) says: Both the good and the bad angels cannot know two things: the intimate of hearts and future things” (Discours des esprits, cp. 5).

7. We should not be surprised by Athanasius’ statement because even the Angels, being pure spirits, do not see directly into our senses, but they know us in God.

8. The affirmation of St. Athanasius that they cannot know future things more than they know the depths of thoughts is important. So just as they do not know the one, so they do not know the other.

Therefore, one must not believe in how much the demons say in exorcisms because it is only conjecture. Sometimes they guess, but mostly they are wrong. That is why they are called liars.

9. One could be amazed to know that Angels communicate knowledge to demons, as St. Thomas says in the above mentioned text.

 St. Thomas himself gives the explanation: “The holy angels reveal many things to the demons about the divine mysteries, because divine justice demands that demons perform certain works, either as punishment for the wicked, or as proof for the good” (Theological Summation, I, 109, 4, ad 1).

10. As for you: do not be afraid, go ahead calmly.

The Lord, who inspires you with good desires and plans, protects you from the evil one.

He cares about your life just as He cares about building His Kingdom through the talents He has given you.

11. Do not fear, go forward untroubled because you have with you the sanctifying grace of God, which is like a hedge that protects you from the incursions of the devil for whom He cannot do anything to you. He himself said it to God in the book of Job: “Are you not the one who has put a hedge around him and his house and everything that is his? You have blessed the work of his hands and his possessions spread over the earth” (Jb 1:10).

You have with you Our Lady (in particular with the Holy Rosary), whom the devil feels to be his most bitter enemy because when she intervenes she crushes his head.

You have your Guardian Angel.

You have the sign of the cross, which made with devotion drives away the demons.

You have the sign of the cross with the blessed water that not only drives the demons away, but keeps them away and prevents them from returning.

This is the doctrine of St. Thomas.

Saint Teresa of Avila also recognizes it when she had good Dominican theologians at her side when she says that “nothing has such great power as that of the blessed water to drive out demons and prevent them from returning to it” (Life, ch. 21).

I wish you all good, I remember you to the Lord and I bless you.

Father Angelo.

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