‘Speak of the Devil: Spiritual Warfare’ Highlights Ancient Fight in New Way
EWTN docudrama, reairing this weekend and Monday, retells the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
EWTN’s new docudrama Speak of the Devil: Spiritual Warfare dramatizes the gradual shift from seeking holiness to getting drawn into sin and rebellion. Through a retelling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son with a pious medieval family, it relates the journey of the youngest son. Moving from obedient and embracing the faith to falling prey to the influence of a bad crowd, evil unfolds.
Viewers will empathize with the heartbreak of parents who tried their best and also learn how best to build a defense against the devil. Interspersed with the drama are insights from experts in spiritual warfare who explain what is happening on a supernatural level and the many weapons Catholics have in our battle against the evil one.
The EWTN premiere was Oct. 20 — see the trailer here — preceded by a special EWTN Live with Father Mitch Pacwa. Additional airings include Saturday, Oct. 23, at 8pm ET, and Monday, Oct. 25, at 1:30am ET.
The film’s director, Campbell Miller, and executive producer, Aidan Gallagher, from EWTN’s Ireland office, shared their thoughts via email with the Register on the biblical message for today’s generation.
What do you hope people take away from this film?
Gallagher: God is all merciful. We would like people to be more aware of this fact after watching the film. There is no limit to God’s mercy — it’s unfathomable! In fact, there is no sin we can commit that God cannot forgive, if we are truly sorry. This is beautifully illustrated in Isaiah: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” So, with God, life can be beautiful again, even though we did fall.
In addition, God loves us. We would like people to take away from this film the awareness that God truly loves us, and he wants us to come home if we have sinned. By saying “sorry,” particularly through a good confession, we have a much better friendship with God, which is great because then we can do much more, with Jesus living in us.
Also, success and failure are never final. After watching this film, we would like people to be determined to keep trying and never give up the fight — to get up again, if you do fall. Life is not easy, but because God and our Holy Mother Mary are always there for us, we can reach out to them at any moment for help and protection. But we need always to be battle ready, and put on our “armor” each day, and use the spiritual resources available to us, especially prayer, the sacraments and fasting.
Miller: There are two points I wish viewers to take away: that the grace from our Father is for everyone — there is nothing we can do that would make God love us less; he will always pursue us so that we may come back to him — also, that the devil does exist, and as Catholics we have been given armor and weapons to fight this spiritual war that is taking place around us.
In what ways do you think today’s Catholics will find the story relatable?
Gallagher: The Prodigal Son story has been a popular one throughout the ages, and so it is today. These core principles are still a game changer for people when they fall: love and mercy; repentance and forgiveness; reconciliation and renewal of mission, empowering us towards heaven.
God’s grace: Catholics today live in an age of unprecedented evil with terrible sins against humanity and against God. But “the darkest hour comes before the dawn”; and with this also being the age of mercy, God’s grace is very much there for us, to keep us strong.
I hope that today’s Catholics will find the Prodigal Son story relatable because, we are called now, perhaps more than ever, to be steadfast in the faith — for both ourselves and our families. Our faith is being constantly threatened, and we must work hard to protect it and pass the loving security and treasure of it on to our loved ones. This is what the film helps portray.
Where did the idea come from to remake the Parable of the Prodigal Son with a Viking reenactment?
Miller: We decided on the Parable of the Prodigal Son, as it was well known and everyone can relate to the story of the Prodigal Son. We are all sinners, we all need reconciliation; and for some out there, it’s good that they know that the Father, who is a representation of God our Father, loves us and is always pursuing us so that we may come back to him.
We studied what the homes and vocations might be from someone of that time period. I worked closely with our costume designer, arts department and makeup supervisor to make sure the overall look for a person from back then would be correct. We wanted to make sure that all scenes were believable and as factually correct as possible, especially those that took place within the Church context.
It was great to make characters that were true Catholic heroes, such as the Father in the story. We wanted him to be relevant, relatable.
In what ways do you think today’s Catholics will find this story relatable?
Gallagher: More and more today there are many distractions that make us lose sight of God, his word and his plan for our lives. These distractions can lead us in the wrong direction towards sin. They open the door to the evil one without realizing. It’s important as Catholics today we understand what these distractions are and are aware of the deceptions and temptations the devil attacks us with and how to defend ourselves.
The principles of this story are timeless: Each one of us can relate to any one of the sons during our life. No matter how much we try not to fall, we will at some stage. But it is heartening to know that, with God’s grace, there is nothing we can do that will make him love us less or more. The parable demonstrates God’s love for us and that he patiently waits for all of us to come home.
We hear a lot about spiritual warfare these days. Do you think the fight is heating up, or has it always been the same?
Gallagher: The fight is definitely heating up. The devil is a master of deception; he wants us to believe lies about him, about God, about ourselves and about what’s important and true. The devil attacks us through deception, which can lead to sin. More and more Catholics today believe that the devil doesn’t even exist, which is his biggest deception; by having their guard down, they are susceptible to temptation and don’t have the weapons and armor that God gave us to fight him off.