John H. Hampsch, cmf
One of the most disconcerting types of suffering is that which results from being targeted by another person as the object of an evil curse, (similar to a hex, which is a witchcraft-induced evil spell). A curse or hex may take any of countless manifestations; and, in many cases, the victim may never know who the culprit is who imprecated the curse or hex.
A curse may be cultural (Gypsy, Indian, Italian, etc.); it may be of occultic or Satanic origin, or simply an act of perverse retaliation as a kind of vendetta—simply an enmity-engendered hatred from another person. Invoking curses is a frequent practice among those involved in any of the many evil forms of occultism, such as Santeria, Voodoo, Obeah, etc. Anyone who invokes a curse is certainly (knowingly or otherwise) under demonic influence. By invoking a curse such a person commits the most heinous sin against the virtue of charity that is possible; it delights Satan, but calls down the vengeance of God upon the one responsible. The most serious type of curse is one that turns a good Christian into an irreligious or anti-religious person. The most difficult type of curse to break is one invoked by a family member or by a living or deceased ancestor.
The following may be regarded as effective Catholic norms for responding, if you are unfortunate enough to be targeted by a curse or hex:
1) Your success in drawing down God’s power against a curse will be in proportion to the level of your faith. In the words of Jesus, “According to your faith it will be done” (Matt. 9:29). It helps to elicit a faith-filled prayer of deliverance from a priest, a mature Christian or a prayer group. Like healing or any prayer-induced miracle, curse-lifting is not a frequent occurrence. Why? Because most people pridefully overestimate their own faith; they are satisfied with their low level of faith that is enough to induce them to pray frantically for relief, but not enough to humbly beg for a deeper degree of faith that would trigger that sought-for relief. Praying for a cure is less important than praying for enough faith to induce that cure. The latter must come first, as Jesus taught when correcting his apostles’ failed attempt at exorcism (Mark 9:19 and 23).
2) Make frequent and fervent use of the Sacraments—especially by very humble and contrite confessions, and by receiving Communion with exquisite devotion and love. The Enemy’s power, even when operating through malicious human agents, is vastly reduced when these Sacraments are received, not routinely, but humbly and devoutly.
3) Never reverse a curse by calling down harm on the person or persons responsible for this flood of evil. (See 1 Peter 3:9 and Rom. 12:17-21).
4) Stand meditatively and expectantly beneath the cross of Jesus to be covered symbolically by his Precious Blood as a shield to deflect the onslaughts of evil in the afflicting curse. By that “atoning blood” (Rom. 3:24) shed on the cross, the forces of evil are disarmed and conquered, as Paul says (Col. 2:15).
5) Do the four things that Jesus asks us to do in relating to our enemies, like those who invoke curses on us; these are outlined in Luke 6:27-28. The four things are: Love your enemy, do good to your enemy, pray for your enemy and call down God’s special blessings on your enemy (see also 1 Pet. 3:9). Love of enemies is a challenge, but loving in this context does not mean liking. It means benevolential love, or “agape” love, as St. Thomas Aquinas says. This love consists in desiring good for one’s enemies. Yearn for their salvation, not their damnation; desire that they repent and become holy. In this endeavor, St. Augustine’s maxim is pertinent: Hate the sin but love the sinner, as God does.
Every Christian must sincerely desire that bad persons become good, like the great terrorist, Saul, who, when converted became St. Paul, a champion of Christianity; or, like the thief, Dismas, when dying next to Jesus, was canonized by him: “This day you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). In the words of Jude 22, “Snatch others from the fire and save them…show mercy.” James 5:20 speaks of the amazing benefits of converting a sinner from his life of sin. If you turn from sin the one cursing you, that enemy will befriend you for all eternity.
6) Until the time arrives for you to be released from the curse, strive to conform to even hidden moves of Providence, with faith-reliance on Jesus as demon-evictor (Mark 16:17). Offer up your sufferings that result from the curse or curses. Like all suffering, disappointment, adversity, etc., this unique type of suffering should be united–even joyfully–with Jesus’ redemptive suffering (1 Pet. 4:13). Don’t waste suffering that could otherwise lead to your sanctification and consequent reward. Carrying this cross courageously infuriates the Devil and his demons lurking behind this evil. Sustaining the affliction will grace-fill your soul, help other souls, and reward you for all eternity (see Heb. 6: 10-11).
7) For curse-breaking, invoke the angels and saints, your guardian angel and patron saint, Archangel Michael, and the especially the sinless Virgin Mary who is prophesied to crush the head of the sinful serpent (Gen. 3:15).
Of course, you should seek relief from the effects of a curse, as you would for sickness or any hurtful situation. But meanwhile, as you await your release, use your curse-caused suffering; though it is admittedly hurtful, it may well be the very sacrifice used by God to obtain salvation for your persecutors, as well as your own sanctification and your unimaginable heavenly reward.
The bottom line is this: after our lifelong struggle against evil, the last chapter of the Bible tells how it will all end. With Christ, we are the winners!