Monday, October 25, 2010

Demonic Dreams: How Compromising Let Evil into My Home

A New Hobby for the Happiest Time of the Year

The end of Daylight Savings time is near! Slowly over the last few months "I'll be home after dark, dearest," has transitioned from 9:45pm to 6:45pm. From November to March, it'll move to 5:45pm and I'll get a whole extra hour each day with my husband!

I've been on the hunt for a project to fill our cozy Winter evenings, and finally settled on one. We're going to take up pyrography (wood-burning) and attempt to craft a beautiful chess board (or perhaps a whole game table) like this one. I have lots of designs in mind, and if we can pull off a whole table with a Backgammon board, Scrabble board, and chess/checker board, we'll have picked up a new skill and shared many lovely evenings making a beautiful heirloom to cherish in our family.

But there's a problem: we know nothing about pyrography. I searched online for some beginner tutorials, tips, and basic guides. There aren't very many, let me tell you.

My Mistake; Lingering with Evil

One site proved rather helpful. It had lovely designs of floral patterns, in-depth tutorials, and lots of helpful advice. There was a link to view more of the artist's work.

Dragon designs. Hm. Some cuddly and fuzzy, and a few rather scary looking ones.

"Ew, I don't like that," I said to myself, but saw a garden scene so kept clicking.

Pentagrams, goddesses, and astrological symbols, along with many other strange symbols and images that I didn't recognize (but felt uneasy about) were interspersed with how-tos of lovely floral work and landscapes. When I saw the 3rd ornately scrolled pentagram, I said "That's it! This is evil" and left the page, not caring that the next click promised a how-to of delicate daisies and lilies. Trial and error would be a safer teacher.

That night I had a horrific nightmare and startled my husband when I awoke repeatedly yelling, "Jesus, help me! Jesus, help me!" I attributed the nightmare to the late-night ice cream, said a prayer, and at last fell back asleep.

The next night, I had a similar dream of possessed people encircling me, grasping for my soul, transforming into beasts, hurling curses and shrieking profanities.

The next night, the same thing.

Having eschewed spicy food and late night ice cream, I could only trace back the demonic nightmares to the day I'd visited that site.

I told the whole of it to my husband, and we prayed the St. Michael the Archangel prayer and a Rosary while I erased our browsing history, cleared the cache, deleted all cookies and eliminated all temporary internet files; purging our home of any traces of that evil place.

Last night I dreamed of butterflies and babbling brooks.

What to Take from This

I use this as a cautionary tale, though. There are many pockets of peace and beauty, truth and goodness online, but it doesn't take long to find scores of great evil.

Upon reflecting on my recent encounter with evil on the internet and similar experiences over the years, I've put together two lists for surfing the net: one for safeguarding my virtue and the sanctity of our home, and the other are my non-negotiables... a one strike policy, and I instantly leave the site, not lingering to find a redeeming quality.

Of course one must use prudence in all cases. For example, while Christmas shopping online you don't want the screen visible to everyone, and some sites that are perfectly moral are not age appropriate for children... but these help me as a general guide with exceptions as necessary.

5 Strategies for Safeguarding Virtue and the Sanctity of Your Home while Online

1. Before turning on the computer, say a prayer to your Guardian Angel and invite him to guard your virtue online.

2. Place the computer in a highly trafficked area of your home with the screen visible to everyone.

3. If you have a laptop, as much as possible, do not use it in your bedroom.  
    This fosters isolation, and it's easier to go astray when you're by yourself.

4. Limit your time online.
    I have a major problem with this one, wasting untold hours in cyberspace. But for personal use (as opposed to work-related use or responding to e-mails), my rule of thumb is: don't spend more time online than time in prayer. When I honestly try to implement this, suddenly "I don't have time to pray" disappears.

5. Think, for every single website visited (even mine): "Would I show this page to the Blessed Mother?" or "If somebody walked in right now, would I instantly click off of this site?" And I don't mean because you don't want others to know you're researching your IBS symptoms. We're talking moral value, here.

My Top Five One-Strike Non-Negotiable Bye-Bye Website Criteria

1. If a website has a black background (unless it's EWTN on occasion) I immediately close it.
    I don't care how artsy it is, I don't need darkness (plus it's hard on the eyes). This one may seem strange, but most evil encounters I've had online are on sites with black backgrounds.

2. If there are any pornographic images (ads, or otherwise), bye bye.
    I quit using as a web host because they're more interested in buxom broads than anything else.
    I recently downloaded AdBlock Plus for Firefox and it has eliminated almost all ads, so I don't deal with this as often as I used to (especially in Yahoo! Mail).

3. Any images, representations, or text of: pentagrams, horoscopes, astrological symbols, pagan symbols, symbols of the occult, tarot cards, amulets, etc. are instant deal breakers.
    It was because I lingered on a site with these that evil entered my home. Just stay away.

4. If there is any mockery or blasphemy of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Mother, or the truths of the Catholic Church, adios.
    Comedians especially love to mock the Bride of Christ, the Church. I don't care how funny they are, this is satanic. Bye bye Jim Gaffigan. Your Hot Pockets skit was so funny; why do you have to mock the Immaculate Conception and do extended diatribes against the Church?

5. If there is any coarse language, I just don't need it.
    I'm sorry to some of my ex-favorite Bloggers; expand your vocabulary and rid your language of foulness. If I read it, I'm more apt to think it; if I think it, invariably it will slip into my speech. No thanks.

Finally, I've recommended it before, but I think (especially around Halloween) it deserves re-reading: Bishop Donald W. Montrose's "Spiritual Warfare."

I'm interested to hear from you. What are some of the ways you safeguard your virtue when online, and what are your non-negotiables when on the web?

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