St. Teresa of Avila relates a terrible encounter with demonic forces and how she was able to easily chase him away.
St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Such was the case for countless saints who were visibly tempted by demons, sometimes even physically assaulted by these evil creatures. These saints were strong in faith and God allowed them to be tempted in such a way, but always provided a “way of escape” for them.
In the life of St. Teresa of Avila, she ascended the great heights of sanctity and this infuriated the devil. He sought to dissuade her from her spiritual journey and began to visit her.
She recorded one such occasion in her autobiography and explains what made the devil flee.
Once, when I was in an oratory, he appeared on my left hand in an abominable form; as he spoke to me, I paid particular attention to his mouth, which was horrible. Out of his body there seemed to be coming a great flame, which was intensely bright and cast no shadow. He told me in a horrible way that I had indeed escaped out of his hands but he would get hold of me still. I was very much afraid and made the sign of the Cross as well as I could, whereupon he disappeared, but immediately returned again. This happened twice running and I did not know what to do. But there was some holy water there, so I flung some in the direction of the apparition, and it never came back…From long experience I have learned that there is nothing like holy water to put devils to flight and prevent them from coming back again. They also flee from the Cross, but return; so holy water must have great virtue.
Holy water is a sacramental of the Church that invokes the saving power of God. Furthermore, holy water has a double meaning of reminding us of our baptism as well as a symbol of spiritual cleansing. Holy water is said to have great power over the devil as the devil cannot stand this “clean” water, since he is entirely unclean for all eternity. It is a reminder of the water that flowed out of Christ’s side, which is a symbol of Baptism, and brings to mind the day of the devil’s defeat (Christ’s crucifixion).
God always provides a way to conquer evil!