The Memoirist
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The Memoirist

An Epic Battle Between Good and Evil

Things that happened because a demon didn’t want me baptized

Photo by Josh Eckstein on Unsplash

Note: It’s been almost a year now since I was baptized (September 27, 2021), and I’m so grateful every day. It’s one of the most beautiful gifts I’ve ever been given.

With grief, I walked slowly to the altar. My priest held the wafer out in front of me. I sadly shook my head, knelt, crossed my arms across my chest, and bowed my head so that she couldn’t see me crying. The grief I felt about declining the Eucharist was real, and not understood by most people.

I had been receiving the sacrament for years, ever since I walked into an Episcopal Church for the first time, was served communion, and realized I had just consumed Jesus Christ himself. In the flesh and blood.

Why then would I refuse the wafer one random Sunday in September? I could tell the priest was confused. She knew this meant a lot to me, but I had just discovered the unsettling fact. I had not been baptized, not as a Christian that is.

My theology, which had been developing over the years since I met Jesus, said that one must be baptized before receiving. It’s the only rule the Episcopal Church has for this sacrament. They don’t ask much.

In my particular parish, baptism isn’t a necessary prerequisite. I knew this, and yet I still refused the gift. I had been arguing with God the entire service until that moment. In the end, I decided I would do as God asked, even though most people would have understood my continuing to receive.

I have received communion for years now, a sacrament I desperately need

But taking the Eucharist was something that caused great physical pain week after week because the demon did not want me partaking in the sacred meal. I took it anyway out of sheer spite for what it was putting me through because I could not do without it. It was essential.

I refrained, and it was awful. I let the grief roll over me, making sure to feel the feelings instead of trying to shut them down. It was the right thing to do and my heart knew it. But still, I grieved, just as I had grieved other things that God had recently asked of me in the way of penance.

As I walked out the door, the priest turned to me to speak, as I knew she would.

“Are you okay today?” She asked me. I lowered my head.

“Yes.”

“You sure?” She asked, leaving the rest of the questions she had unasked.

“Yes, Mother.” It was a lie and we both knew it, but I wasn’t able to tell her yet.

After church, I came and asked a friend who knew some of the basics of what was going on with me. I don’t know whether he believed it, but I knew he loved me, cared for me, and respected my experiences.

“I need to ask you something,” I said to him, as he walked up to me. I leaned against the wall so I could relax my arms from my walker for a few minutes. “What I’m going to ask of you is very dangerous, and I need to protect you if you do this for me.”

“Okay,” He said.

“So, get this…I’ve been confirmed in the church, I’ve been reaffirmed, but I have not been baptized. I just found out. Well, I’ve been baptized and consecrated to evil by my parents. So baptism would take away the rights of evil spirits to me by baptism. It’s not a safe thing, and I hate that I even have to ask. I haven’t got many people I trust enough to ask. Jason, will you baptize me?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said.

The Church allows a layperson who is a baptized Christian to baptize in some circumstances as far as an emergency baptism, and my circumstance was one of those. I would have preferred to have a public church baptism and celebrate with my parish family, but that was not possible. It was too dangerous.

The next day, Jason held the door open for me so that I could walk into the church. I asked him if I could anoint him with the blessed oil and pray for him. I was so awkward with both that it was ridiculous. He’s taller than I am, so he had to bend down so that I’d be able to anoint him.

I was self-conscious about weirding him out despite the already strange circumstances

“Do you mind if I say a prayer…or whatever?” I asked him.

He said that was fine, and so I began “Umm, Jesus, please keep us safe and Mary and St. Michael and Mary Magdalene…” my voice trailed off to a whisper and I felt humiliated.

He was a person I feel safe with, though. After all, I’d asked him to baptize me under these circumstances.

“Are you ready?” he asked kindly.

I nodded, looked at him, and said, “I need for you to hear me. I fully consent to baptism. If, after this point, I cry, or beg for you to stop, please continue until it’s done. I want to be baptized.”

“Okay,” Jason agreed.

We walked to where he had set up.

“I’m really scared,” I whispered.

“That’s okay,” he said gently.

I wanted to hurl and run away, but I stood there stubbornly. I needed to do this. My soul was at stake. I had no reservations about whether Jesus would accept me, but I knew that a battle was being waged between Jesus and Satan.

“Bow your head over the font for me,” he said.

I was having a panic attack and gasping for air, but I bowed my head.

“MaryClare Catherine StFrancis, I baptize you in the name of the Father,” he said, as he poured water on my head.

My face and head exploded painfully and I felt like I was drowning, yet again, as it felt when I was baptized to serve the darkness. There was the sensation of water in my nose and the area between my eyes.

Tears were pouring down my face. It was excruciatingly difficult, but I said in my head thank you, Jesus.

He poured the next lot of water.

“and of the Son,”

“It hurts!” I cried out. “It really, really hurts! Oh God, it hurts.”

It took everything in me to stand there as I shook uncontrollably. I held onto my walker and bowed my head over the font. My breathing was constricted and I gasped, but despite the strong urge to run again, I stood there, willing myself to stay firmly rooted to the spot.

Then Jason poured the last of the water

“and of the Holy Spirit.”

My pain and panic were unbearable. But, mercifully, except for a few more prayers, it was done. A sense of relief washed over me, but also a sense of grief. I felt like I had lost something when in reality I had gained everything.

By the time we were done, I was crying hard. Jason handed me a cloth to wipe my face with, and peace came over me. I was so thankful.

I had finally been baptized. It was by my own choice and with my full consent. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The only person or entity who had baptismal rights to me now was Jesus.

This was a day when I was witness to a battle between the forces of heaven and the forces of hell, one of those epic battles that would make a great novel for those who enjoy that kind of story.

Jesus, Mary, St. Michael, the communion of saints, and the company of the blessed fought over my soul against Satan and his demons, and they won.

They cared that I was baptized, that they showed up just for me, an insignificant, fucked-up woman who had been involved in evil things. They loved me enough to fight for me.

I had not only chosen Jesus and his people over Satan and his ilk but I had been baptized. God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

At that moment I, MaryClare, was sealed as Christ’s own forever.
Thanks be to God.

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MaryClare StFrancis, M.A.

MaryClare StFrancis, M.A.

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She/her. I write memoirs, feature articles, essays, poetry, and more.