And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.’ And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ And he said to them, ‘This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.’” (Mk 9: 25-29)

A “deaf and dumb spirit” afflicts me when I am unable to say what I need to say, for example, at confession, and hear what I need to hear, in open-hearted teachability. This kind of spirit traps me in circles of self-isolation and self-justification, doing the same self-destructive thing over and over again. So it was for the boy healed by Jesus, as the boy’s father testifies: The spirit, says the father, “has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him…” (Mk 9: 22)

This Lent, let me come before my Lord and have this spirit cast out “by prayer and fasting.” And I don’t mean my own prayer and fasting, because I can’t cast out my own demons, even if I were the world-champion of prayer and fasting. I mean, the prayer and fasting of the Church in this wonderful season, which offers me healing and liberation from my demons, if only I am willing to come and be healed. So let me come and be healed, regardless of the insufficiencies of my own prayer & fasting, in heartfelt confession and teachability. Lord, lift me up, that I may rise, by the prayers and fasting of Your holy Church. Amen!


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