Title: Interview with Fr. J.L., S.J., on Ignatian Spiritual Discernment
Author: Antonio Simon, Jr.
File Number: 01-211001 (REDACTED)
Release Date: October 1, 2021
Interview with a Catholic Jesuit priest at a South Florida parish. Discusses the Ignatian method of spiritual discernment; the role of discernment in vetting authentic supernatural experiences from hoaxes and demonic apparitions; the mode of operation of guardian angels; demonic oppression; and the iconography of dragons as applied to angels and demons.
This dossier is the result of an interview conducted on the evening of July 21, 2021, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:41 p.m. The interviewee is Father [REDACTED] of the Society of Jesus, a priest in residence at the [REDACTED] Catholic Church in [REDACTED], Florida. The interview occurred in his office at the parish rectory. The topic of the interview is paranormal phenomena examined via the Ignatian method of spiritual discernment.
Fr. [REDACTED] is a Caucasian American male, approximately sixty years of age, with light eyes, fair skin, and thinning white hair. He is fluent in English and appears to have some proficiency in Spanish as well. Prior to coming to [REDACTED], he worked at the parish of [REDACTED] in [REDACTED]. He offers Mass regularly at the [REDACTED] parish.
Throughout the interview, he was patient, knowledgeable, and welcoming. His posture was quiet and attentive, at times asking questions to ensure he correctly understood the matters as they were presented to him. Occasionally he played coy, insinuating that he knew more than he was putting on. For example, when asked what his degree of familiarity with Ignatian discernment was, he responded that he was “as familiar as anyone else” with the process. This answer is surprising given that the founder of his society, St. Ignatius, formulated the method of Ignatian discernment. It stands to reason that no one should know the Ignatian method better than a Jesuit like Fr. [REDACTED].
His coy attitude is likely attributable to his wanting to break the ice between us, as we had never previously met. He appeared comfortable with the topics of inquiry and provided responses that were direct and complete. He did not dodge questions. When asked to elaborate, he did so freely. All told, he proved to be a solid interviewee.
Q: How often would you say that paranormal phenomena occur in people’s lives today? Is it rare? Or is this something that happens more often than most would admit, but that no one talks about?
A: I cannot give a concrete statistic. However, this does not undermine the fact that both supernatural and preternatural events have occurred throughout history and continue into the modern day.
It does people a disservice to believe that the wondrous events recorded in Scripture are myths that can be dismissed out of hand. While it is true that some accounts in the Bible are intended to be historical and others are not, the Bible in its entirety is inspired by God. Therefore, even the non-historical accounts contain important truths.
In light of how Scripture evidences only so many of these phenomena, it is natural to have questions as to their scarcity or ubiquity. It’s hard to say one way or another. These events are the ones which, through divine revelation, we have come to learn about.
Now, speaking not from personal experience but strictly from common sense, anyone who has had a genuine encounter is more likely to keep it to himself. Events of this sort, good or bad, tend to have profound emotional effects on a person’s life that might make the witnesses hesitant to discuss them with just anyone.
In contrast, charlatans will more often than not advertise their claims. This sort of person wants to feel special, to show how different he is from everyone else. Their claims tend to be exaggerated, if they can be believed at all. Thus, the more openly someone talks about his spiritual experiences, the less credibility he should be afforded.
This gives rise to the impression that genuine phenomena are rare and hoaxes are plentiful, because witnesses don’t come forward and charlatans are not credible. The state of affairs is no reason to dismiss these phenomena entirely. Likewise, to turn your back on the demonic is just asking to be ambushed. Maintenance of a healthy faith life requires that you acknowledge the devil is active in the world, but despite Satan’s efforts, God is infinitely powerful and merciful, and He will do what is best for us.
Q: Are you familiar with Fr. Teilhard de Chardin?
A: I know of him. I have read his books in the past.
Q: He was a Jesuit sent to a far-flung place…
Q: That’s right. He once wrote about an encounter in China with a spiritual entity he called “the Thing.” It entered his body and engaged in a bizarre colloquy during which it remarked: “Once you have seen me, you can never let me go. We will be saved together, or we will be damned together.” It seems apparent to me from his description of “the Thing” that he is speaking with an angel. I have always understood that holy angels can never fall and fallen angels can never repent. What is your opinion on this experience? How could an angel neither saved nor damned require human agency to meet its ultimate fate?
A: I was unaware of de Chardin’s spiritual encounter. What book of his related this event?
Q: I’m not sure which, but I’m certain it’s in one of his books.
A: To answer your question, you are correct in that the angels who fell became demons, while those who remained faithful to God stayed with God. At this point, the angels’ wills became fixed. A fallen angel cannot repent, just as a human cannot repent after death. There simply is no way. This is why I find it strange that an angel would say such a thing as de Chardin relates. No angel of God would say that. Assuming this was a genuine spiritual encounter, it could well have been demonic in origin.
Q: How well-versed would you say you are in the discernment of spirits?
A: As familiar as anyone else.
Q: What would you say is the most important factor when determining whether the origin of a spiritual encounter is divine or demonic?
A: Caution. Above all else, the need for caution, so not to bias your thinking in favor of one outcome or another. Discernment is a process best conducted alongside prayer and the sacramental life of the Church. If it can be arranged, it is best to also secure the assistance of someone trained in discernment.
Q: Like you, I presume.
A: Yes. It is also important to examine the circumstances with an objective moral lens. Regardless of how a circumstance makes you feel, if it is morally wrong, it tends to shift the character of the phenomenon away from divine origins. Keep in mind, though, that not all circumstances will carry the same weight. Some tip the scales more heavily in their direction than others.
Hand in hand with caution is patience. The discernment process is not quick and easy. It takes time. You must be on guard not to leap to conclusions, whether good or bad. If you are cautious, honest, and patient, you can make reliable judgments.
Q: About the circumstances—let’s say someone had an ostensibly genuine spiritual experience while in a Catholic chapel or some other consecrated place. Let’s say it occurred before the Blessed Sacrament. Would the locale, or the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, be factors toward discerning that the experience was God’s doing and not the work of Satan?
A: Details like those can be important determinants, yes. That this experience occurred in a chapel is reassuring, as is the fact that it happened before the Blessed Sacrament. On that note, it bears mentioning that any time an exorcism is performed over a person who is possessed, the ritual is almost always conducted in a church. There is a reason the Church chooses the ground on which it fights these battles.
In addition, the exorcist tends to have with him the Blessed Sacrament. So I would say yes, these all tend toward judging the experience as from God, but these alone cannot be determinative. Used in isolation, they are not foolproof in themselves.
Q: What circumstance would you say carries the most weight? In general, I mean.
A: Above all, you need to keep the words of Jesus in mind: “By their fruits you will know them.” A good tree never bears bad fruit, and a bad tree never bears good fruit. The outcome of a spiritual phenomenon is the most indicative factor of its source. Any spiritual experience—even horrific ones—can at times yield good fruit. If the event deepens your reliance upon Christ, enkindles your faith, encourages you to do works of charity for the love of God, or suchlike, then chances are it was of divine origin.
By the same token, anything that has the effect of leading you away from God is probably not of divine origin. This doesn’t mean it is necessarily of the devil, because there are three sources from which these inspirations might arise: the world, the flesh, and the devil.
The world and the flesh are natural origins. Inspirations come from the world when they come from a natural cause outside of ourselves. They come from the flesh when their cause is something within us, something that is part of our physical existence.
Sometimes, it is difficult to nail down whether the source is the world or the flesh. The line can get blurry when you discuss people with a history of drug abuse or mental illness. But if we can set natural origins aside for a moment, that leaves two options: supernatural causes (God and His holy angels), and preternatural causes (Satan and the fallen angels). Discernment is like a process of elimination. Once you are confident you have ruled out all other causes, you can be fairly certain what is left must be the source of a spiritual event.
Q: An exorcist I once spoke with told me of a certain Scriptural challenge. It’s based on a verse from the first epistle of John: “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” The challenge consists of gauging the spirit’s response after asking it: “Who is the Word of God made flesh?” Are you familiar with this challenge? Is it efficacious?
A: Demons do not like the name of Jesus. It causes them grave discomfort, and that is putting it mildly. It is through the name of Jesus that demons are driven out. In fact, Jesus is the exorcist; the priest is only the instrument through which Jesus acts.
I would say that the Scriptural challenge is a good tool for discernment, but it cannot be the only one in your toolbox. Some demons are better at resisting the compulsion Christ’s name has over them, just as others are better at resisting the Real Presence, or holy water, or blessed objects. We use all of these tools because we are not meant to rely upon any one. These aside, the best tool is to judge the tree by its fruits.
Q: Let’s say you posed this Scriptural challenge to a spirit: “Who is the Word of God made flesh?” And it answered: “Our Lord, Jesus Christ.” Note the emphasis on “our.” What are your thoughts on this? Would you take this as evidence of a spiritual encounter’s divine origins? Could it be a demon masquerading as a holy angel? Or is this inconclusive?
A: Standing on its own, it is inconclusive. It is just one factor out of many that must be considered. You cannot rule out that it could be the devil in disguise if you have nothing else to go on. But for the sake of discussion, the response given sounds like a positive factor.
First, it said the name of Jesus Christ. Most demons speak in euphemisms to avoid mentioning things that upset them. That is to say, holy things. They have euphemisms for holy water, for the Blessed Virgin, for Christ, and so on. In general, they tend to avoid direct references to any of these.
Second, it said “Our Lord,” as you pointed out. While it is true that Christ is the lord of all the angels, fallen and holy, its stress on “our” denotes camaraderie—at least I think it does. It is as if to say you and the spirit are on the same side of the battle against Satan. If that is the case, then this would seem to be a spirit of God.
Q: Have you read the account of the possession of Sister Magdalena?
Q: In a nutshell: Magdalena was a sixteenth-century Spanish Franciscan nun who was widely believed to be a holy mystic. St. John of the Cross, her contemporary, suspected she was possessed. When he posed this Scriptural challenge to her, she answered: “The Word became a man and dwelled among you.”
Q: Is there something wrong with the way she answered?
A: That is not how that verse goes.
Q: Oh, I agree. But what can this tell us?
A: In the absence of other factors, not much.
Q: Let’s try this: the first example I gave was of using the challenge to identify an angel of God; the second, with Magdalena, was a way to spot demonic influence. Would you say this tool is better at one or the other?
A: Off hand, I can’t say either way.
Q: All right, let’s shift gears. I have with me an account of someone who claims to have met his guardian angel. I’d like to share it with you and ask your opinion on a few topics. Now, this occurred when he was a student at a Catholic high school. While meditating in the chapel, he got the impression he was transported somewhere else.
A: How so?
Q: He saw this in his mind’s eye.
A: As though he were imagining it?
Q: Something of the sort, except I am given to understand that these images did not originate with him. It was like watching a film in the sense that the setting and the characters were already present, except he could interact freely with them as though he were actually there.
A: Would you know whether this person has a history of substance abuse or mental illness? I don’t mean to insinuate anything, but it would be useful to know.
Q: No, none of those.
A: All right. Go ahead.
Q: A man appeared before him. He had a beard and a white robe. Light obscured his face. Each of his hands had a hole in them that bled a little. He had similar injuries on his feet.
A: This is Jesus?
Q: That is what I am led to believe. Jesus said that He wished to introduce this person to his guardian angel. He turned to look, and before him stood a dragon.
A: Describe it.
Q: It stood on two legs and was slightly shorter than he was. Green scales. Blue eyes. Big wings—very big wings. Ivory fangs. Black talons. Pink tongue. This was a wondrous creature. It was not so much an “it” as it was a “he.” The dragon did not speak, but he got the impression it was a person like he was.
Q: It smiled at him. This wasn’t an animal baring its fangs. He wasn’t afraid of the dragon. It looked genuinely happy to see him. So much so, in fact, that it spread its arms for a hug.
At this point, Jesus put a hand on his shoulder and his other hand on the dragon’s, and brought the two of them together, saying—hold on, let me check my notes; I want to get this exactly. Jesus said: “This is your friend, whom I have sent to you. I have instructed him to teach, guide, protect, and console you. Be good to each other.”
And they hugged.
It was the most amazing feeling he’d ever experienced. When he came to his senses, he was in tears. He felt joy that lasted a week straight.
Let’s pause here to ask questions. Based on what you’ve heard, what is your opinion as to whether this particular experience was of God or of the devil?
A: It is difficult to say. I do not want to jump to any conclusions. I get the impression this is only the beginning of something, and that being the case, there aren’t yet any fruits by which to gauge what is happening here.
Q: Fair enough, so let’s move on. That night, the dragon showed up at bedtime.
A: Showed up how?
Q: In his mind. Always in his mind. It would speak to him that way too.
A: Could anyone else see or hear it?
Q: No, just him. They said their prayers together and conversed about the day’s events. This went on nightly for several years.
A: How many years?
Q: At least twenty, if I had to guess.
A: That is a long time. This was happening consistently, every night?
Q: Just about, if I understand correctly. And I found that as disconcerting as you appear to have.
A: Why would it be disconcerting?
Q: You’re the expert, Father, so you’d know better than anyone, but I’ve done a little research into the matter—specifically, the patterns of demonic behavior. God does not abide futile miracles. When God sends His holy angels, they get in, get done, and get out. They don’t stick around to chat. Demons seek to establish abusive relationships. They want familiarity. That’s why they tend to linger.
A: I disagree. Guardian angels never abandon the people they protect.
Q: That is true, but they also have never been known to be clingy. Wouldn’t you agree that these factors insinuate demonic activity?
A: Not necessarily. A number of saints have had conversations with their guardian angels. St. Padre Pio, for instance. He spoke with his and other peoples’ angels frequently.
Q: But they’re saints. That should count for something. It’s expected of them that they should have experiences like Padre Pio’s.
A: We’re all saints in the making. Besides, fostering a devotion to your guardian angel is a good thing. I should think God would encourage it, because why else would he appoint so faithful a companion to walk at our side?
Q: Point noted, Father. So, somewhere into this relationship, he realized he’d been referring to the dragon as “dragon.” As well as they’d gotten to know each other, he felt this curtness might be taken as rude, and so he asked the dragon its name. It declined to answer. He insisted, and it responded with an unsettling insinuation, not so much with words but with the sentiment that pressing the issue was a bad idea.
A: Did it threaten him?
Q: No. But after a while it did provide him a nickname he could use for the dragon.
A: Tell me more about what happened in this timeframe. Did their relationship change?
Q: They became friends. Better said, their friendship deepened. They became best friends. They prayed every night. He enjoyed praying with the dragon. On occasion, he would hear it speak to him internally. It told him it delighted in the service of God and the company of his friend (i.e., the witness to this account). Other times, it would prod his conscience, especially when he was about to do something he felt he shouldn’t. By the time he reached adulthood, he started taking his faith more seriously. And then, without his asking, the dragon told him its actual name.
Let’s take a break here. What is your take on this so far?
A: At this stage, I am fairly certain that the initial introduction by Jesus was a message from God. If that is the case, then so too is the angel whom God introduced this person to. This much is clear from how the angel faithfully carries out the mission Jesus assigned it. It placed this individual on a trajectory toward God—saying prayers together, promoting his faith, fostering virtue—that’s good fruit, which comes only from a good tree.
Q: Wouldn’t you say its behavior is too chummy for an angel of God?
A: Not at all. What is more, it admitted that it delights in the service of God. This is contrary to the behavior of demons. If they are to act at all, demons must be compelled, whether by God or by other demons. This is because demons despise the work they must carry out for eternity. That is their punishment. And while it is true that they can lie and say they enjoy serving God, this is not something a demon would normally admit.
Q: What I mean to say is this: in the Bible, Samson’s parents are visited by an angel of God, except they don’t know it’s an angel. When Samson’s father tries to ask the angel its name, it rebukes him. Elsewhere, Scripture reveals the names of only three angels, despite that a countless multitude of them exist. Wouldn’t Scripture demonstrate that we’re supposed to maintain professional distance with the angels? Or perhaps that we aren’t meant to know their names? Doesn’t the Church teach as much?
A: The Church teaches that you should not give names to angels. It isn’t your place to do so. Besides, each angel already has a name. When the dragon—let’s speak clearly here—it was an angel, wasn’t it?
Q: Yes. When Jesus introduced this person to his guardian angel, He made it clear this was an angel. It only looked like a dragon.
A: All relationships take time. When this person asked the angel its name, the angel was within its right to divulge it or not. It gave a nickname instead. That is fine. Perhaps it felt this person was not ready to know its actual name. When finally it gave its name, that was fine too.
This evinces a desire for closeness, keeping always in mind a sense that everyone needs to know their place. You may know your father’s name, but saying it at the wrong time or in the wrong context may be disrespectful. There is nothing wrong with knowing the name if it is told to you without asking. That’s how we came to know the names of the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. There is also nothing wrong with using the name in a respectful manner.
In the Book of Genesis, God was intimately involved in the affairs of Adam and Eve, so much so that He actually walked among them. When they sinned, a wedge of separation was driven between man and God. By the time of Abraham, God’s efforts at mending that divide were already underway, but it was not until the days of Moses that God revealed His personal name to the Israelites. The act of telling another one’s name is a step toward fostering intimacy.
The facts of this spiritual experience follow a similar track. The angel took measures to get this person to trust it more fully. A name is one way of doing this. In some cultures—particularly those in Africa and others among the Native Americans—a person is given a name by which the world may know him and another which is only to be used among his closest relatives. The fact that the angel gave this person its nickname and its actual name evidences a desire for intimacy.
Q: St. John, in the Book of Revelation, calls Satan a dragon. This imagery echoes back to the depiction of Satan as the snake in the Garden of Eden. Thus, it would appear that in Catholic iconography, dragons represent everything that persecutes the Church. Why ever, then, would Christ pick the image of a dragon as a holy guardian angel?
A: God does as He wills, and what He wills is always best for us.
Q: Given how dragons are associated with Satan, might this call into doubt the initial spiritual experience and everything that followed?
A: Why would you say that?
Q: I’ll explain. What are the chances that this is just a long-con? Satan is the father of lies. He can disguise himself as an angel of light. Who’s to say he can’t disguise himself as Christ to fool an unwary teenager? Causing some poor soul’s demise by making him think a demon is his guardian angel is the sort of irony you’d expect of Satan. And the fact that it’s a dragon standing in as his angel is all the more ironic when you consider how interrelated Satan and dragons are.
A: Are they interrelated?
Q: St. John seems to think so.
A: I see your point but I can’t agree with you.
Q: You mean about dragons?
A: I mean that I do not think this experience was diabolically motivated. In fact, I believe the opposite: that it was divinely inspired. Remember, it is the fruits of the event that matter most. There is enough here to weigh in favor of this having been sent from God.
Q: Oh. I see. Well, now that we’re on the topic, what is your take on dragons?
A: The reason Satan is depicted as a dragon in the Book of Revelation because that book was written in Greek, and in Greek, the word drakon evoked imagery of the biggest, most frightening thing conceivable. But Satan is an angel, not a dragon. Regardless of whether they are holy or fallen, all angels are powerful creatures. Thus, Satan is powerful by virtue of his being an angel, and describing him as a dragon is one way to express this power.
Contrast drakon with arnion—the Greek word for lamb. A lamb has no chance against a dragon. It has nothing with which to defend itself against the dragon’s talons and fangs. Christ is the lamb, but He is no ordinary lamb. Where the dragon stands for power, the lamb stands for sacrifice. It represents innocence, purity, and meekness in the face of suffering. Christ exemplified these qualities. In His self-sacrifice upon the cross, the power of His divine charity overcame the might of the most fearsome creature known to exist.
So no, dragons aren’t evil. They’re just scary.
Q: To clarify, Satan is evil—
Q: Yes, I’ll admit that’s a truism if ever there was one, but walk me through this—Satan is an angel, not a dragon. So, despite the correlation between Satan and dragon imagery, you see no logical bridge between Satan’s evilness and a dragon’s evilness?
A: Fundamentally, Satan is an angel. He is evil because of what he does, not because of what he is. St. John compares him to a dragon because Satan is powerful and frightening, but not everything that is powerful and frightening is evil.
Q: In light of this, would it be wrong to think of dragons as good?
A: I don’t think it would be wrong because power does not equate to evil. God is all-powerful and not evil. A person who wields power and uses it for the benefit of others is not a villain but a hero. Turning back to angels—remember, they’re soldiers. Soldiers are tough, strong, and armed with deadly weapons. The weapons they carry are not pointed at us but are used in our defense. Likewise, dragons are tough, strong, and dangerous. They’re fighters. They’re noble and fierce, like lions.
Just because lions can hurt us does not make them bad. Aslan from C.S. Lewis’s books is a mighty lion. Lewis made him out to be Christ-like in virtue. By rights, Aslan is a hero. I see nothing wrong with thinking of dragons in the same way if the circumstances allow. It just so happens that, in our culture, dragons are the bad guys because of how big and scary they can be. They’re worthy opponents, and so defeating them is a mark of honor. But if things were different, they would make for just as worthy heroes.
Q: Aquinas taught that things are received in the mode of the recipient. Do you suppose the angel appeared the way it did—as a dragon, I mean—because of some quality in the witness?
A: Maybe. Did he like dragons?
Q: I’d imagine so.
A: That could be a factor. Like I said about St. John witnessing Satan as the dragon in Revelation, the person who experienced this event, his learning, memory, imagination—all these things were tools with which his intellect attempted to comprehend his guardian angel’s presence. If you and I could see the angel, it might have appeared under a different form to each of us because the contents of our minds are unique.
It gets better—all angels are unique, and every guardian angel is uniquely keyed to the person assigned to his care. That is why I’m not too concerned that the angel appeared as a dragon. It could have appeared as literally anything—partly because of how the viewer interpreted its essential qualities, and partly because of how the angel wished to be seen.
I think it says a lot about God that the angel appeared as a dragon. It shows that God knows this person better than he knows himself. God intended for the angel to look that way because it was the likeness that best fit the angel’s role. This demonstrates God’s mercy and creativity. He created a special angel just for this person, with qualities that suit him perfectly.
Q: So you’re of the opinion that it would be safe to trust this angel?
A: Yes. I don’t see why not.
Q: Let’s keep that in mind because the story doesn’t quite end there. As it happens, when this person was well into adulthood, he noticed a change in the dragon. Almost overnight, it began insinuating that he do improper things.
A: Improper how?
Q: Sinful. Gravely sinful, in fact. Let that suffice. So, at first, he refused. It insisted, and eventually, he did what it requested. And he felt awful for having done so. From there on in, it kept nagging him to do other things. If he didn’t cooperate, things would go poorly for him.
A: How do you mean?
Q: He could never point to any one thing going wrong in particular, but if he did not appease the angel, it would give him a hard time. Some days, it would chatter all day long in his head. It simply would not leave him alone. This noise made it hard for him to focus. The only way to he could get any peace was by doing as it asked.
A: And you say this was the same angel as before?
Q: Yes, by appearances at least. It looked and sounded the same, except there were some things that were off about it. Its behavior was markedly different, especially with its constantly goading him to do things against his conscience. And then, when it spoke, its voice was similar and yet not quite right, as though it were someone trying very hard at disguising himself as it.
A: I think now I see why your questions initially had something of a cynical tone.
Q: You can never be too careful. Around this time also, a bunch of strange coincidences befell him all at once. The witness became ill for a week with hand, foot, and mouth disease. He lost his job. His car started acting up. His home air conditioning unit broke down. Tensions ran high among his wife and children. He suffered from awful nightmares; his children too.
A: How old were they?
Q: The children? There were two of them, both under five years old at the time.
A: How long did this go on?
Q: Six months to a year. He began to suspect there was something more to what was happening than appeared at first blush. He started asking around to see if anyone could put him in contact with an exorcist. After a few phone calls, he scheduled an appointment with one.
A: How ever did he manage that?
Q: He had help. So while he was sitting with the exorcist, he told him the story you’ve heard up to now, as well as the part about dragons. It didn’t faze the priest. The priest told him dragons stand for change.
A: They go hand in hand. You can’t have change without power.
Q: Good point. The priest said there was nothing wrong with dragons. The witness then confessed his sins. For his penance, the priest told him to pray in the chapel before the Blessed Sacrament. Here is where he recommended the Scriptural challenge.
A: Did he do it?
Q: Oh yes.
A: What happened next?
Q: You already know. That was the subject of one of the first questions I asked you.
But you know what happened after that?
While he was kneeling in a pew in the otherwise empty chapel, the dragon showed up again, except this time, it was huge—seven, eight feet tall, at least. It gave him a hug and reassured him that it was his guardian angel. Then it told him: “The Lord created me for you, and you for me. I waited a long time in anticipation of your birth. In loving you, I honor our Lord, whom I delight in serving. And I love you very much.”
While this was happening, he observed that those odd quirks he’d previously noted in the dragon were gone. Their absence struck him so sharply that he began to suspect he may have been dealing with an impostor during the time the dragon was acting strangely. And yet he was certain that the dragon with whom he was presently speaking was the same one he had been introduced to years ago.
A: Except he was bigger now. Why?
Q: I don’t know. But now, having heard this much, what is your opinion of these events?
A: I still think the initial encounter was genuine. I’ve heard nothing that would change my stance on that. Likewise, I think this latter encounter bears the marks of having come from God. It could very well have been his guardian angel.
As to what happened in between, those events were highly suspect. But you need to always keep two things in mind: God never allows us to be tested beyond what we can handle; and God can bring out the good even from the worst of circumstances.
To put it bluntly, God permitted this person to be scared into taking his faith more seriously. That’s a blessing in disguise. Some people skate through life, not looking where they’re going, and suddenly it’s too late—they’ve skated off the edge of a cliff. It’s a blessing to be shown where the cliff ends while you still have time to change course.
Q: Don’t you think those highly suspect events would call into question the initial spiritual experience? That maybe it was a ruse all along, and only at that moment was Satan forced to tip his hand?
A: No, I don’t think so. The fruits of this relationship remain what they are. That period of troubles was an attempt to pervert something good. It was calculated to sidetrack the person from walking with God. And, if I heard you correctly, this person felt as though he was talking to his old friend, the angel, once more. Whatever he was talking to in that in-between time was not his angel, and he recognized this fact.
Q: If it wasn’t his angel, then what was he talking to during that time?
A: I think you can guess what it was.
Q: So what can someone do to keep from being fooled like this again?
A: You have to remain alert. This friend you’ve been telling me about, he suspected the impostor when it suggested he do things his guardian angel never would have had him do. That’s a red flag, particularly when those actions are immoral. A holy angel will never prompt you to do something immoral. And then there is the demand for appeasement and the constant mental bombardment until it got what it wanted.
Q: Does that sound to you like demonic obsession?
A: That’s about right. It can take other forms, but yes, that sounds close enough. You also need to trust in God that He will take care of you. God is in charge of everything. When it comes to demons, they can do nothing unless God permits. So long as you pray and trust in God, and lead a healthy faith life, you should be fine.
Q: That’s all I have for today. Thank you very much for your time, Father.
A: It was my pleasure. I hope your friend gets the answers he needs.
 Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881—1955) was a French Jesuit priest whose writings have influenced such important figures in the Church as Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. While in China, Fr. de Chardin had a mystical experience. The event, as he describes it, raises serious questions as to its purportedly holy origin, and the character of de Chardin’s theology in general.
 de Chardin, Pierre Teilhard. Hymn of the Universe. New York: Harper & Row, 1965.
 The Holy Bible: Douay-Rheims Version, Matthew 7:16.
 1 John 4:2.
 The name, Jesus, in Hebrew is “Yeshua” (Joshua), which renders: “God is deliverance,” i.e., “God saves.”
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