Mary Crushes the Serpent

[The first part of the following is from my book, A Place Prepared by God, and the rest is from a good book on exorcism.]

In Genesis 3:15 we have what is sometimes called the “proto-gospel,” the first indication of the redemption of mankind from sin.  It follows immediately upon the primordial wrongdoing of Adam and Eve.  Something important about God is revealed here: as soon as his most precious creatures (the ones made in his own image) grievously ruptured their relationship with Him by disobedience to his commandment, thus incurring a severe punishment, the Lord God devised a redemption from this punishment for their future descendants.  It did not please Him to punish them (though justice required it), so his heart turned to mercy…

The text of Genesis 3:15, in which God addresses the serpent, is quoted here from the Douay-Rheims Bible, a translation of the Latin Vulgate which has been normative for Roman Catholicism for many centuries.  It reads thus: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” …

Heaven itself has evidently confirmed it when the Mother of God appeared to St. Catherine Labouré in 1830.  There were various elements of this vision, and among them was an image of a serpent under Mary’s feet.  The saint was told to have a medal struck according to the vision.  This apparition of Our Lady is one of the few that have been formally approved by the Church after thorough investigation of its authenticity.  This reality of her power over the devil is also important for our understanding of Our Lady’s role in helping us in our own “spiritual warfare.” …

When [Blessed Pope Pius IX] promulgated the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 in his apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus [he wrote]: ‘The most holy Virgin, united with him [Christ] by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot.’”  [Much Western sacred art of which Mary is the subject depicts her with a serpent beneath her feet.]

To say that Mary crushes the serpent is not to imply that she does so independently of the power of Christ.  Pope Pius IX makes it clear above that it is because of her indissoluble and intimate union with Christ that she can crush the enemy of our salvation.  But there is more.  Involving his servants in his work is simply the Lord’s chosen way of acting.  He always remains the Source of whatever power is exercised against the devil or for the building up of the Church.  But if He were to do everything Himself, there would be no need for prophets and priests and apostles and teachers, and all the ministries of the Church.  Therefore He appoints his servants to carry out his will, by the power of his Spirit and his grace.  As the Scripture indicates, the Lord has appointed his Mother to crush the head of the serpent, by the application of his own strength and redemptive grace.  He has sent her to the front lines of the battle, as it were, by placing enmity precisely between her and the satanic serpent…

As the Woman clothed with sun, the Queen of creation and glorified Archetype of the Church, Our Lady has immense power from God to assist us in the spiritual warfare, and we will benefit greatly if only we will choose to make use of it.  Safely in Heaven, Mary is infinitely out of the reach of any further attempts of the devil to harm her, but the war now is between the serpent and the Woman’s offspring, “those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus” (Rev. 12:17).  Though at peace in Heaven, the Mother is constantly vigilant for the welfare of her children, to whom she brings the grace of God in all their needs.

Exorcists have testified that in their experience the devil is terrified of the Mother of God and flees when she is invoked.  “Many exorcists invoke Mary, and when they do, notes [author Matt] Baglio, ‘the demon is so terrified of her that he will never pronounce her name. He’ll say “that woman” or “she destroys me.”’ And again: “…in his conclusion to the book [An Exorcist Speaks Out, by Fr Gabriele Amorth], he describes Mary’s role as ‘an instrument of the divine plan,’ in the war against evil. Also, in a chapter where he describes the behavior of demons, he talks about how demons react to certain holy names.  Obviously, demons are going to hate the Holy Name of Jesus.  But most of them also cannot say the name of Mary, saying ‘she’ or ‘your Lady’ to indicate Mary.  If the demon possessing a person is high-ranking, they can say these names, but ‘always followed by horrible blasphemies.’”

Finally, for the purposes of this brief page, here is an excerpt from The Rite, by Matt Baglio (from which most of the quotes in the preceding paragraph come from), concerning Our Lady’s role in delivering a possessed woman from the devil.  This happened in Rome in 2006; the woman had been tormented for years by the devil without getting any relief. The exorcist had been commanding the devil to leave in the name of Jesus Christ and of the Immaculate Virgin Mary: “All at once, the [possessed] woman felt awash in an incredible feeling of love as the veiled figure of Mary appeared before her, wrapped in a gold-and-white veil that covered half her face.  Watching in amazement as the figure approached, the woman was even more surprised to see that Mary was gazing at her tearfully.

“As the exorcist watched, the demon once again went into a fit. ‘No, no, no, don’t cry!’ he screamed, and the woman’s body practically convulsed.  Then for an instant the woman snapped out of the trance, saying, ‘A tear from Mary is all it took…’”  Having been thus broken, the demon was cast out by the exorcist within a few minutes.

The demons are filled with fear and hate for the Blessed Virgin, not only because of the awesome power of her holiness, but also due to their own monstrous pride.  They can’t stand the fact that they, the great spiritual beings of a higher nature than ours, are compelled to cringe and flee when the little Maiden of Nazareth approaches!

Another woman who was delivered from the devil testified that when the name of Mary was invoked, “I felt hit by a huge wave of a very bright white light—it was all-encompassing, a light that I could perceive and feel as well, and it gave me a sensation of very sweet peace, while for the demon it provoked atrocious pain… I knew that the light that was embracing me was a spiritual one.  Closing my eyes again, I could also perceive that this same light was stabbing the eyes of the monster like a thousand swords.  Meanwhile, the monster was screaming, moving like crazy, saying that the veil of Mary (whom he referred to as ‘that one’) was suffocating him and causing him a huge amount of pain, to the point of causing him to go into terrible, indescribable spasms.  Toward the end he launched a scream as he never did before… Then all of a sudden there was calm and silence…”  The woman was soon completely liberated, and received as a sign the passage from the Gospel of St Luke about Jesus being sent to proclaim release to the captives and to let the oppressed go free (see 4:16-18).  The woman concluded: “While I was crying tears of joy, I started to thank the Lord and the Immaculate Virgin, which I will continue to for for as long as I live.”

We can rely on the powerful intercession of the Mother of God in our spiritual warfare.  The devil cannot overcome her, for she has been given the power to crush him, and she will wield this power until the Day of Judgment.  Now is the time to invoke her.  The best way to do that is through praying the Holy Rosary.  The Marian prayer, especially the Rosary, is a very powerful weapon in the fight against Satan,” explained one exorcist, Father Francesco Bamonte.  “That is why [Mary] insists so much that we pray the rosary; the rosary is a prayer that really whips the demon into a frenzy.”  On numerous occasions, Father Bamonte has beseeched Mary for help, only to have the person he is praying over say, “She is here!” or “You can’t imagine what I would do to you if she weren’t stopping me!”

Something to think about when fighting the powers of darkness…

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