Kathleen Beckman is an evangelist, speaker, and author living in the Diocese of Orange, California. She has played an active role in promoting Catholic spirituality for nearly 30 years. Among her apostolates are Magnificat, a ministry to Catholic women; the Foundation of Prayer for Priests, an apostolate of prayer for the holiness of priests which she co-founded; and the Pope Leo XIII Institute, which trains clergy in exorcism and deliverance. She also has served on an exorcist’s team for a dozen years.
Beckman is the author of several books, most recently A Family Guide to Spiritual Warfare: Strategies for Deliverance and Healing. She is also a featured speaker at an in-person spiritual warfare conference in the Diocese of Orange, California on March 20, along with Norbertine Father Charbel Grbavac and Deacon Steve Greco.
Deacon Greco, who interviewed Beckman for his Relevant Radio program Empowered by the Spirit, said, “The material Kathleen presents in her new book is an absolute must for Catholics who want to grow in their faith. She offers practical guidance on ways we can defend our families from the attacks of the Enemy.”
Catholic World Report: Why did you write A Family Guide to Spiritual Warfare?
Kathleen Beckman: I have participated in missionary conferences in 13 countries over the past 20 years, and I’ve seen a real demand for such a book. People are carrying a deep burden for their families and what is happening in the domestic church. There are many good books on spiritual warfare, but very few focused on the domestic church, exploring how the devil works in the mix of marriage and the raising of children. I have been moved by listening to many tragic family stories, and I thought such a book would be of help. I have received a lot of formation in spiritual warfare, and I’ve taken many courses. For six years I’ve been on the faculty of the Pope Leo XIII Institute. I have listened to leading exorcists, and I have information I thought would be helpful to share.
CWR: What is your background? How did you get into speaking and writing on Catholic spirituality?
Beckman: I was invited into ministry in the early 1990s by Fr. Ray Skonezny, a priest in the Diocese of Orange who wanted to begin a Magnificat ministry to women. I was diocesan coordinator for 20 or more years, and that helped me develop contacts with priests of the diocese.
Fifteen years ago, a group of Claretian priests in Los Angeles County asked for help with a woman manifesting the demonic who knocked on their rectory door. They observed in her such things as demonstrations of super-human strength, contortions of the face and body and a guttural, demonic voice. They believed it was not prudent for them to minister to her at length, so I participated in a team that prayed for her. We lost track of her over time, as she didn’t follow through with our efforts to help her. That’s actually common in this area; people want the devil off them at a particular moment, but in the long term are unwilling to do the hard work of conversion and amendment of life and heart.
CWR: What will you be sharing at the March 20th Be Not Afraid/Spiritual Warfare in the Family and World conference?
Beckman: Since I finished my spiritual warfare books, I’ve done many Catholic media interviews and participated in events where I’ve talked to people one-on-one. I did a book signing recently and spent four hours talking to people. They were asking about their own personal family situations. One couple, for example, was only civilly married and wanted to know how to get their marriage blessed and receive that protection. I talked to a young girl who said Jesus was not answering her prayers, so she decided to turn to Satan. She believed he helped her more than Jesus.
I want to participate in this conference to connect to more people such as these, to empower them with the spiritual tools they need. Too many think of themselves as victims, giving too much credit to the evil spirit. What we need to see most is the victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In the praying Church, the Lord always wins.
I plan to share my own testimony from my book. One story I relate was how my father-in-law was beaten to death at his place of business, which led to an explosion of darkness in my family tree. The story was featured on the television program America’s Most Wanted. It was a nightmare, and a great crisis for my family. I was tempted to believe I’d married into the wrong family. I struggled with the Lord about forgiving the murderer, who has not yet been apprehended. In my book I share about how forgiveness is key; I was transformed by forgiveness.
I was fearful. I was worried the murderer would come after my husband or children. I was only able to work out my anxiety and distrust by many hours of daily Adoration.
CWR: You have served on an exorcist’s team for 12 years. What do you do on this team?
Beckman: Diocesan exorcists are assisted by a team of people during the rite of exorcism. It would be difficult for them to carry out this ministry without this assistance. There are six to eight people, including a medical professional. They might answer the prayer responses during the rite. They can pray the Rosary or Chaplet. They may be asked to read the beginning of the Gospel of St. John, which is powerful against the demons. We are intercessors, there representing the broader church, the praying Catholic family.
We also assist in a practical way with logistics. The evil spirits often try to physically attack the priest. The possessed can manifest a super-human strength, so we may help restrain them.
CWR: How often do you participate in exorcisms, and where are they held?
Beckman: I participate in about 15 to 20 annually. They are performed in a consecrated place where the Blessed Sacrament is present, although I cannot reveal the specific location.
CWR: What are some of the behaviors of the possessed besides super-human strength?
Beckman: They can demonstrate knowledge of unknown information, such as something in the background of the exorcist, or they may speak in languages the person never learned. They speak in a guttural voice. I’ve seen people foaming at the mouth, or vomiting up cursed objects that have been ingested.
When we are dealing with infestations of homes, we’ve observed the spontaneous catching on fire of people’s clothing, the sudden appearance of nails and other manifestations of the preternatural.
CWR: Do you find this troubling to observe?
Beckman: My faith has grown so much during these years, and I’ve seen many people liberated through the ministry of the Church, that it does not disturb me. I am, in fact, left with a sense of awe, seeing firsthand a great spiritual battle played out before our eyes. The devil will do anything to torment us; the exorcist will do anything to bring people back to God.
I would add that I did not volunteer for this ministry. It is a calling. I was minding my own business, and priests began to call me asking for help. I never sought involvement in exorcisms; it was always an invitation that came to my door.
CWR: What are some manifestations of the demonic you have observed in our culture today?
Beckman: There are many. There is a complete lack of faith, a hypersexuality, and a hyper-egoism. There is a turning away from Jesus, a resistance to the Gospel message and the prevalence of the New Age and the Occult. There are even people who undergo a “de-baptism,” a ceremony in which they renounce the Christian baptism they received as children.
There can be a manifestation of the diabolic in video games, and I also warn about involvement in the energy arts, such as Reiki, Chakra, and even Yoga. There is the evil eye jewelry worn by Hollywood types. And, of course, gender ideology, and confusion about what is a man and what is a woman. It is all an attack on the family.
I should also mention abortion, and also pornography, one of the most frequent doorways to demonic obsession and possession. There is violence in society, and the hatred and polarization we see between groups in society. I see the hand of the enemy in it.
Once the family has broken down, we will see the breakdown of society. We need to protect marriage and our loved ones. We need to be vigilant and courageous. We might have to engage in hard conversations, such as with a spouse who is looking at porn.
CWR: What, in your experience, are the most effective tools Catholics have to keep the devil at bay?
Beckman: We need to live the Catholic faith. We need to live a sacramental life, and frequent the sacraments as often as possible. We need to imprint the Word of God on our minds and hearts.
We need to live in a state of grace, living the Gospel and the Beatitudes. We need to pray as families and go through the liturgical seasons of the Church together.
Fathers need to bless their children and spouse with the Sign of the Cross. We need to make use of holy water, crucifixes, and blessed objects. All these things are a torment to the devil, and make it uncomfortable for the demon to be in our presence.
Having participated in exorcisms, I have seen the devil’s revulsion to holy water and blessed salt. He doesn’t want to be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament or the Blessed Mother. He doesn’t like the crucifix. Lay Catholics have access to all these things, with the exception of the rite of exorcism itself.
CWR: There have been many publicized cases of sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the news in recent years, the best known being the case of the former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Besides the family, do you believe the devil especially targets priests?
Beckman: Absolutely. There is no question about it. A well-known exorcist has stressed to me the importance of praying for priests. He told me that during the rite of exorcism, the evil spirits have been manifesting more in a sexual way, trying to seduce the priest.
Priests are the first target. Take out the shepherd, and you get the whole flock. The McCarrick case led to many Catholics abandoning their faith. No doubt priests are on the front line. Every priest is part of the ministry of healing and deliverance.
CWR: You wrote When Women Pray: Eleven Catholic Women on the Power of Prayer. From a Catholic perspective, what is wrong with the secular feminist movement of recent decades?
Beckman: The secular feminist movement has hurt women. Those who have bought into it have bought into a lie. We have wonderful Catholic women, such as Carrie Gress and Johnnette Benkovic, who are helping more and more women realize that God’s plan for them through the teaching of the Church is the way of beauty and truth. Many women have given into the practices of the Sexual Revolution, and have put their careers first before their true roles. They end up very unhappy. I have seen many come to us for deliverance.
CWR: You have also written a book on forgiveness. Why do you think this is an important message to stress?
Beckman: Without forgiveness, we cannot be reconciled to one another. When we hurt one another, especially in the confines of the domestic church, if we do not quickly forgive, there will be strife and division. We will not have peace and joy.
The Lord showed us from the Cross the great extent to which we must go to forgive when he said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
When we don’t let go of our anger, the devil can manipulate us. He uses it to divide us; fomenting envy and jealousy is his world, his game.
CWR: Any other thoughts?
Beckman: I receive many emails from people asking questions related to spiritual warfare, which are answered in my book. I invite people to read it, as they will find a great number of resources there.
I also invite anyone in Southern California to the March 20 Be Not Afraid conference to hear me, Deacon Steve and Father Charbel. We each want to minister to families, and help them to receive light, hope, encouragement and the tools they need to engage successfully in spiritual warfare.
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