The other day I was listening to the May 5, 2016 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show on The Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM out of Buffalo, New York with Catholic priest, Dave Baker, and moderator, Mike Denz, taking questions from listeners. During the show, the topic of conversation turned toward demonic possession and exorcism. Dave suggested that Catholics could protect themselves from demonic activity by wearing a Saint Benedict medal. I was a member of the Catholic church until around 1980 but I wasn’t familiar with the Saint Benedict medal, although its history goes back 1000 years.
The medal has the image of Saint Benedict of Nursia (480-543 or 547) on one side and the Latin inscription, Vade retro satana (“Step back, Satan”) on the reverse side. Tradition has it that Benedict was an Italian monk who lived in a mountain cave as a hermit. One day Satan visited Benedict and put lustful thoughts in his mind. Benedict stripped off his clothes and rolled in a nearby thorn-bush, completely lacerating his body and thereby purging all sinful thoughts. Another time, fellow clerics attempted to poison his food but Benedict allegedly escaped harm through miraculous intervention. Benedict is most famous for having created the rules and rituals of monastic life.
Catholics use a large variety of sacramentals blessed by priests to ward off evil and bring good favor including holy water, scapulars, medals, palm fronds, rosaries, statues, candles, crucifixes, etc. Catholicism is a religion of the concrete (physical) and action. God’s grace is received through the priest’s administration of the sacraments. A Catholic must always “do” to attempt to maintain their good-standing: go to church, receive communion, visit a shrine, display sacramentals in the home, etc. One must say the rosary so many times, go to mass on the first Fridays of the month so many times, say a novena so many times, etc. There’s a ritual for every occasion. It’s a religious treadmill. Somewhere buried deep under the rituals and religious striving is Jesus Christ. He’s the One you need.
Catholic friend, wearing a medal or any other religious object won’t protect you. You won’t find any reference to wearing blessed objects for protection in the Bible. We must come to God by faith, by accepting God the Son, Jesus Christ, as Savior by faith. Religious routines won’t make us holy. Pious rituals won’t make us acceptable before a Holy God. You could wear 100 Saint Benedict medals and it wouldn’t do any good. Protection from demons? Satan’s biggest lie is that people can earn their way to Heaven by being religious and “good.” But only God is good. Accept Christ. Rest in His righteousness, not your own. We don’t have any. After you’ve accepted Christ, then follow Him as Lord. Ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s Word without compromise. You’re no doubt a little nervous even contemplating leaving your religion. Follow Christ. Everything else is worthless in comparsion.
“For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” – Romans 10:2-4