Jesus present in the Eucharist—the greatest source of Divine Power on earth—is also the object of constant attacks by the Evil One. To cite some examples: a few years ago the Vicar General of the Diocese of Turin, Italy, Fr. Franco Peradotto, was obliged to raise the alarm over increasing instances of profanation of the Host in northern Italy.
Likewise, in the Paris area, French priests have had to be constantly vigilant against satanic sects stealing consecrated hosts from their churches. In Rwanda, before carrying out their massacres of the women and children who had sought refuge in the churches, armed bands aimed their first salvoes at the tabernacles containing the Blessed Sacrament. The Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Michel Sabah, recently expressed his grief over a similar act of profanation committed by an Israeli soldier in one of the city’s Catholic churches. The repertoire of every satanic rock band includes works expressing hatred and contempt for the mystery of the Eucharist (the most notorious of these groups being “Belfegor” (cf. their song “The Last Supper”) and “Deicide,” one of whose pieces was recorded during a black mass.
If Satan mounts such aggressive attacks on the Blessed Sacrament, it is because the Eucharist is the cause of his greatest defeats. In a book by the recently deceased Fr. Emiliano Tardiffa, we read the following episode. “During a charismatic prayer meeting, we had a woman brought to us who had suffered diabolic oppression for twenty years. No psychiatrist or therapist had been able to bring her relief. We prayed over her for three hours without result. It occurred to me then to bring her in front of the chapel tabernacle. I told her we were having trouble and suggested that she rest her head on the tabernacle. As she did so, I called out, “Lord, deliver this woman! We don’t know what to do with her.’ I had scarcely said these words when, as if struck by lightning, the woman fell to her knees and began shedding huge tears. She had been set free. The priest who was with me cried out, ‘Now I truly believe in the Real Presence!’”
St. Bernard often cast out evil spirits by exposing the victim to the consecrated Host. St. John of the Cross is said to have done the same in the case of a certain Maria Vichès, whom diabolic oppression prevented from entering a church. After receiving the Holy Eucharist from the saintly Carmelite, the woman was instantly made whole. Church history abounds in such testimonies to the power of the Eucharist. Let us cite a few more instances.
On being appointed bishop of Geneva early in the seventeenth century, St. Francis de Sales found himself in a Calvinist-dominated area that no longer believed in the Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist. And yet, in the course of his daily pastoral activity, more and more demonically oppressed people were being brought to him. The unavailability of the Eucharist in a Christian country was not without consequence. With his own hands the bishop gave out Holy Communion to those needing it. Spectacular expulsions and healings took place. Over four hundred people were delivered in this way. Francis de Sale’s practice was not without controversy, but this outstanding theologian and teacher of the spiritual life justified the practice with the following simple words: “Yes, many such innocent souls turn to me. I give them the Blessed Sacrament, bless them and say, ‘Go in joy, for your suffering has left you!’” It turns out that this marvelous “pastoral idea” was not the invention of the Bishop of Geneva, the spiritual father of St. Jane Frances de Chantal. St. John Cassian had recommended the practice of giving Holy Communion to people oppressed by Satan as early as 432 AD. In 441, the Synod of Orange spoke out in favor of allowing so-called “energumenes” (i.e. the demonically oppressed) to partake of the Eucharist in order to be set free.
An extraordinary incident is found in the life of St. Peter of Verona—a tireless defender of the Church against the Manichaeans. This sect (St. Augustine was strongly attracted it before his conversion) took its name from its founder Manès (277), who mixed elements of Christian teaching with ancient Persian mythology. Whenever traveling to Milan, Peter made it a practice to stop at the house of a good friend, who was an ardent Catholic. On one occasion the friend received him with uncharacteristic coldness. On being asked for the reason for this unexpected change, the host replied that he had recently met a Manichaean who reproached him for extending his hospitality to Peter of Verona, a Catholic and “enemy of the truth.” This Manichaean had proposed that they go to a certain shrine and hear from the mouth of Mary herself who was right in the matter of faith. And, indeed, Peter’s friend had witnessed the appearance of a wondrous lady on the altar, who said to him, “My son, you are in error. Look, the real faith is here, not with the Catholics. I, the Mother of Jesus, am telling you this.” On hearing this, Peter of Verona answered, “Go tell your friend that I too will become a Manichaean, if I see the Mother of God.” A meeting was arranged for the following day. A woman serving as a medium went into a trance and soon the figure of a beautiful woman stood before them on the altar. At this moment Peter withdrew a host, which he had consecrated that morning at Holy Mass, and, holding it up, said, “If you really are the Mother of God, then pay homage to your Son!” The vision vanished instantly in a puff of smoke.
Father Lamy was a Catholic priest, whom Satan tormented whenever he said Holy Mass. He experienced personally the extent to which the Evil One despised both the Eucharist and the priesthood. “When a soul stops praying—the Devil admitted to him—I begin to regard him as my own possession. Stop praying, and I will stop tormenting you!” One morning the Devil appeared before the priest across the altar just as he was about to start Holy Mass. “No doubt he’s here to sneer right into my face” thought the exasperated priest; and he said to Satan, “Right then, I’ll say no Mass this morning!” “Say it!” the Lord’s voice suddenly boomed forth. “We both learned a lesson this time!” said the pious priest after his unwelcome guest’s sudden disappearance.
As he related a few years ago at a retreat for priests in Czestochowa, Father Jacques Verlinde received a similar object lesson in the power of the Eucharistic Bread. Before his conversion, he had been a gifted and successful “healer” who made use of magic, a pendulum and other “therapeutic” accessories used by those in the service of the Father of Lies. Even after his conversion, he was slow in parting with certain practices that were considered harmless and even useful in healing people of various illnesses. One day, during Holy Mass, while fixing his gaze on the raised Host in the process of transubstantiation, he suddenly felt an upsurge of vile and irreverent words. Feeling shocked by this, he consulted a priest right after the liturgy. From his talk with the priest, he learned that the use of pendulums and magic can lead to oppression and enslavement by evil spirits. The very moment of transubstantiation, when the person of the victorious Christ is revealed, exposed Verlinde’s weakness in serving two Masters at the same time. Fr. Verlinde claims that not only did this experience cause him to renounce totally the use of the pendulum and magic, but it also bore fruit in his discerning a vocation to the priesthood. For several years now, Father Verlinde has been leading Eucharistic processions through the streets of southern France on the Feast of Corpus Christi—along with his spiritual daughters and sisters, former prostitutes and “women healers.”