A priest speaks about demonic possession and exorcism

A reader alerted me to the following in The Daily Illini.  This concerns demonic possession and exorcism.

My emphases and comments.

Exorcist shares past experiences with demonic possession
Katie Palmer  
October 28th, 2009 – 4:00 AM

With Halloween around the corner and Hollywood releasing horror movies such as "Paranormal Activity" and "Saw VI," one cannot help but feel chills running down his or her spine. [But perhaps for the wrong reason.  Perhaps because people are becoming desensitized to true evil by constant exposure to silly evil.] St. John’s Catholic Newman Center had the timing right when it invited exorcist Father Vince Lampert to speak about his experiences Monday night at Foellinger Auditorium.

Lampert, the head priest at St. Francis and Clare parish in Greenwood, Ind., was ordained a priest in 1991. He was later asked by the archbishop of Indianapolis if he was willing to train as an exorcist, said Monsignor Gregory Ketcham, director and head chaplain at the Newman Center.

"Father Lampert was asked to take on the role of an exorcist because he is very prayerful and faithful, and he has a lot of integrity — he’s a good man," Ketcham said.  [Exorcists need to be upright.]

Lampert is one of twelve exorcists in America today, Ketcham said. Lampert spent a whole summer in Rome training under Italy’s head exorcist. This training included witnessing and assisting in about 60 exorcisms.  [There is now a course for priests in Rome.]

Now that Lampert has been a fully trained exorcist for several years, he said he receives five to six calls a week from people who believe they are possessed. Exorcisms are only performed as a last resort once the subject is determined to be truly possessed[And not just a little strange.]

"For one to become possessed by the devil, one has to have a dedication to the devil, be cursed or lead a life that is full of sin; it is something more than just a struggle against temptation," Lampert said.  [There is also a difference between the levels or grades of demonic attacks.]

Performing an exorcism takes a lot of preparation by not only the subject, but by the exorcist too, Lampert said. Before each exorcism, Lampert has to go through a series of prayers and attend confession so the devil will not be able top reach him.

"In order for a person to be exorcised, they have to be fully committed to turning to Christ," Lampert said. "If they resist, the exorcism cannot be performed."

When determining if a person is in fact possessed, Lampert looks for several criteria.

"A person may be possessed if they have an ability to speak unknown languages, unhuman-like strength, the knowledge of the unknown, and an inexplicable aversion to holy places," Lampert said.  [Remember… this world has it "Prince", as the Lord said.  The realm of the sacred and the secular or profane are in contrast.  By blessings and consecrations, people, places and things are torn from the grasp of the Prince of this world and given over to the King.  Sacramentals are powerful weapons of the spiritual life.  Use them.  Ask for blessings.]

During an exorcism, Lampert goes through 10 steps, including prayers and blessings, he said.

"Sometimes the exorcism can be rather dull," Lampert said. "But I have seen a woman levitate and people’s faces contort."

During his lecture, Lampert told several stories of extraordinary events that have occurred during his exorcisms. In one story, a person spoke in a childlike voice that was not his own, as it was the devil speaking.

People formed long lines before the microphone in order to ask Lampert questions about his unusual career. [I bet.  The problem with this topic is that it tends to spark unhealthy interest and dangerous curiosity.] Many viewers were also listening attentively to his answers with gasping and awing. Many of the seats at Foellinger Auditorium were occupied throughout the event.

Erika Satterlee, freshman in LAS, said she went into the lecture not knowing much about exorcisms except for depictions in movies.

"The lecture was definitely interesting," Satterlee said. "It freaked me out too, which I knew it would."  [You better be freaked out.]

This was Lampert’s second time speaking at the University around Halloween, Ketcham said.

"Lampert’s purpose of speaking is to share the Catholic view of evil and how it works in our lives," Ketcham said. "He is here to tell us the truth."

 

Perhaps the riposte of Yoda to Luke Skywaker is appropriate.  The young man declares that he is not afraid.  Yoda responds "You will be."

Some random comments.

Every diocese is suppose to have an appointed exorcist.  Sadly, this hasn’t been take seriously in all times and places.

The new Rite for Exorcism is held by some to be inferior.  However, the Congregation for Divine Worship said that the old Rite can be used.   Furthermore, the older Rite of Excorcism is found in the pre-Conciliar Rituale Romanum.

Priests cannot, on their own, do exorcisms without permission of ecclesiastical authority.  This is for everyone’s good! 

Laypeople: Do not! NOT!  NOT EVERRRRRRRR attempt anything like an exorcism.   If you have concerns about a person, go to a priest or the bishop after consulting medical and psychological professionals.  If you are worried about your house or a place.  Talk to a priest. Use sacramentals such as Holy Water and blessed salt.  Do NOT fool around with this stuff.  This isn’t a joke.

Avoid avoid avoid things that might open you up to oppression by the Enemy, such as Tarot cards and Ouija boards and other things that might be taken to be "games".  If you have those things destroy them NOW, not later.
 
Priests have the character that comes from Holy Orders: lay people do NOT. 

Be aware of these things without developing to great an interest.

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87 Responses to A priest speaks about demonic possession and exorcism

  1. greg the beachcomber says:

    Great post. I’d re-emphasize destroying the Ouija boards and Tarot cards, and not just giving them to Goodwill for someone else to use and open themselves to possession.

  2. RichR says:

    Perhaps the riposte of Yoda to Luke Skywaker is appropriate. The young man declares that he is not afraid. Yoda responds “You will be.”

    Well put. I know we all are tempted to the thrill of the supernatural being manifest in our own natural reality. However, when that supernatural event is evil, we forget that we are dealing with entities that are SUPERnatural….ie, above our own human nature. Demons are bad. They are also stronger than us by nature. To face off with a devil is tempting God.

  3. RichR says:

    I guess I should clarify…..

    to face off with a devil when we are not duly prepared and authorized is to tempt God.

  4. Baron Korf says:

    Father, does that admonition to us laity include things like the Leo XIII Exorcism Prayer? Not over a person, but in general. I know some people advise it to chase off demons from one’s home. [I would stick with the shorter St. Michael Prayer and sacramentals. Invite the priest for more.]

  5. dcs says:

    There are only 12 exorcists in the U.S.? That can’t be right. Counting Eastern Catholic dioceses, there are 195 dioceses in the United States. This means that at most only about 6% of U.S. dioceses have an appointed exorcist.

  6. paladin says:

    Laypeople: Do not! NOT! NOT EVERRRRRRRR attempt anything like an exorcism. […] Do NOT fool around with this stuff. This isn’t a joke.

    Amen!!

    Now, if only we could get the Charismatic Renewal and others who are enamoured of “deliverance ministries” to take that injunction seriously (which is mandated by the CDF, and the mandate was written by then-Cardinal Ratzinger!)! We are allowed–nay, urged and encouraged, and perhaps even morally obliged–to use deprecatory prayer (i.e. begging the help of God and the Saints, especially the Blessed Virgin), but imprecatory (i.e. “commanding”) prayer is forbidden to non-exorcists (e.g. “I command you, demon, in the Name of Jesus, to depart; I bind and cast you out, in His Name!”) [Good distinction.]

  7. paladin says:

    Hm… the automatic editor seems to like “eating” my punctuation marks, and especially exclamation points and quotation marks! Could it be… SATAN? :)

  8. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    I actually know a (Roman Catholic) woman who participates in a Charismatic ministry and uses command prayers. She has attended many ecumenical services and participated in deliverance sessions with Evangelicals. She prays in tongues, and believes that this makes her prayers far more effective than ordinary prayer; she has a “deliverance tongue.” This makes me slightly uneasy, as do the teachings of Francis McNutt, a former Catholic priest, now married (he entered the Episcopal Church and was laicized). Do you have any information on this person, and also on the anointing with blessed olive oil, which is done during some Charismatic healing services by lay helpers?

  9. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    Just in case my comment is confusing, I was wondering if anyone knows of Francis McNutt and his ministry, which I think is based in Florida (or used to be).

  10. Girgadis says:

    Yes, while there is something thrilling about the supernatural, I think there
    is a type of natural possession that we see far more frequently and that is
    the kind that grips a person’s soul. There are people on this earth who don’t
    give a thought to the devil yet do his bidding every day. I don’t know if this
    is true but I would say they face a much worse fate than a person who is
    physically possessed and wants to be freed.

    Father, I also wondered what you think of some of the theories espoused by
    Malachi Martin in his book, Hostage to the Devil. Can a person be “perfectly
    possessed” in that they are not repelled by the Eucharist and blessed
    sacramentals? And do you think the demons that possess are souls condemned to hell
    that will do anything to get out?

    Incidentally, at this time of year in Philadelphia, it’s commonplace to see
    guides taking people through our historic cemetaries on “ghostwalks”. People
    don’t realize what they are inviting when they dabble in such activities. They
    could literally be playing with fire.

  11. Baron Korf says:

    Thanks for the link Paladin, that clears up my question.

  12. Re: unhealthy interest

    Yes, that’s the problem. People should know enough to take this stuff seriously, but shouldn’t get obsessed and fretted by it. God is with us, and has already won. In the big picture, demons are just a bunch of sore losers, desperately trying to make themselves relevant by annoying us.

  13. Steve K. says:

    “There are only 12 exorcists in the U.S.? That can’t be right. Counting Eastern Catholic dioceses, there are 195 dioceses in the United States. This means that at most only about 6% of U.S. dioceses have an appointed exorcist.”

    That doesn’t surprise me at all. Many modern Catholics – including quite a few clerics – simply don’t believe in the existence of the devil and demons, or really in the supernatural at all. Mention the threat posed by Satan around the parish sometime and watch the eyes roll. It’s all vague social forces oppresing people now, not any personal force of evil, donchaknow.

  14. Steve K. says:

    On another note, it’s nice seeing this article at this time. I really can’t stand Halloween, and this is the major reason why.

  15. Allan S. says:

    I have read both of Fr. Gabriel Amorth’s books on the subject, and he suggests laity pray what he calls “prayers of deliverance” which he lists in one of the appendicies:

    Prayer Against Malefice
    Anima Christi
    Prayer Against Every Evil
    Prayer fo Inner Healing
    Prayer to St. Michael
    etc.

    Fr. Amorth also clearly explains the differences between five different kinds of demonic attacks.

    Worth buying both books.

    Oh, from the Archdiocese of Toronto’s website:

    “Exorcisms

    The Archdiocese of Toronto does not have an exorcist nor does it perform the rite of exorcism.”

    Guess there’s no evil here….

  16. DavidJ says:

    Technically, isn’t every bishop an exorcist? Also, priests cannot perform _major_ exorcisms without their bishop’s permission, but minor exorcisms are alright from what I understand. Heck, one’s even included in the Baptismal rite. [We aren’t talking about the Baptismal Rite or other things.]

  17. everett says:

    Mass. Catholic, I can respond in part to some of what you’re talking about. Properly done (which it rarely is), the Charismatic Renewal does not attempt any sort of exorcisms. The phrase deliverance is supposed to refer to a much lower form of spiritual influence, where there might be demons or whatever other spiritual powers that are acting and influencing on a person from without. This needs to be distinct from cases of possession, obsession of persons, or infestation of places (mentioned in paladin’s link)

    In this case what should be occurring is prayer freeing a person from the influences of these spirits by the power of Jesus, through the intercession of the saints (We pray that by the power of Jesus Christ, through the intercession of the BVM that you might be delivered and protected…). This then is a prayer requesting that something happen by the power of Jesus, to a person. What would not be appropriate (also mentioned in the link) is addressing a truly diabolical presence and commanding them in any way, unless the person is a priest who has the permission of the local ordinary.

    The tricky part is that in the Charismatic renewal, often times things such as addictions, or even physical ailments, are sometimes addressed as if they were diabolical in nature (which they could be, but its more likely that they aren’t), which in turn leads to things sounding like a diabolical influence is being commanded. Then, because people heard something sounding like commanding, they think that its acceptable for them to do it as well. The biggest problem here is a lack of proper formation regarding spiritual warfare. The only reason I know about this is I was involved in the Charismatic Renewal for many years, and I wanted to make sure that everything I was doing was in line with what the Church taught.

    The blessed oil being used by lay people would just be the case of the use of sacramentals. Sacramentals certainly have their place in Catholic life, so long as a person doesn’t misuse them, or try to make them more than they actually are. I can’t help you with the Francis McNutt part – I’ve heard of the name, but that’s it.

  18. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Having witnessed an exorcism it is nothing I ever want to see again. What amazed me most was the authority the Priesthood of Jesus Christ has! While one can study the theology of it there is nothing like seeing it in action. The demon, in this instance, was helpless before the priest. The possessed had been speaking in Kini Greek, a language she had no knowledge of, and was cursing the priest who she knew was coming. As soon as the priest came into the room she sat up strait and was silent! She only spoke from that point on in a controlled dialogue with the priest. It cannot be overstated that exorcisms are for the priest, or in the Orthodox Church, a serious monastic whose personal holiness is on the level of a saint. Let us remember many of the monastic exorcists were not priests but possessed the gift to exorcise demons because of the possession of God’s grace inside them. How glorious are the Church’s priests and may God continue to bless and protect them.

  19. Geoffrey says:

    I’ve heard stories of Protestants performing “exorcisms”… How does that work, since they are not Catholic priests? I’ve never been able to find an answer to this question!

  20. Jordanes says:

    Geoffrey, I think the answer to your question might be found in Christ’s question to the Jewish leaders, “If I cast out demons by Beelzebul the prince of demons, by whom do your sons cast them out?” and in Christ’s words to his disciples not to try and stop the man who was doing good in Jesus’ name even though he wasn’t following in their company. Jesus said those who are not against us are for us.

  21. kolbe1019 says:

    Some body said Demons have SUPERnatura. power and thats not true. They have preternatural. Thanks For the article Fr. Z people also need to remember that if they are in the State of Mortal Sin they are in the dominion of Satan and that is far far fat worse than spooks. Don’t forget like Ouji boards even possesing items like pornography is considered as local infestation, or an entry point from Satan. Let us give ourselves fully to Jesus Christ and reject all things that are oppossed to that kingdom. God bless you and God love you Fr. Z!

  22. paladin says:

    I’ve heard stories of Protestants performing “exorcisms”… How does that work, since they are not Catholic priests? I’ve never been able to find an answer to this question!

    Short answer: God’s mercy, working to save the ignorant Protestant (or non-exorcist Catholic, etc.) who’s playing with fire without the authority to quench it. Translation: the Saints, and the person’s guardian angel, are working overtime, to keep the demons from handing the “faux-exorcist” his own head on a platter!

    It’s a bit like considering the “good fruits” of a false apparition (like Necedah, WI); the fruits are good, but they came from the tree of God’s mercy (and through the intercession of the angels/Saints); they never came from the tree whose only claim to fame was that it was nearby…

  23. mom2six says:

    I was at the U of I this year and last year to hear Fr. Lampert speak. Both years he emphasized that there are only 12 exorcists in the U.S. even though Pope Benedict XVI has asked for every diocese to have an exorcist.

    You can listen to Fr. Lampert’s talk here: http://www.sjcnc.org/images/cm/20089495327849991451457/FrVince.mp3

    You can watch last year’s and this year’s talks here: http://www.sjcnc.org/images/cm/20089495327849991451457/FrVincePart1.wmv

    St. John’s Catholic Newman Center at the U of I is the leader in campus ministry. My 3rd son lives in Newman Hall and I can’t praise the environment enough. If any college student is looking for a good Catholic environment, you will find it at SJCNC. SJCNC has 7 or 8 priests available to the students. Many vocations have come out of SJCNC including my 2nd son who was able to learn how to serve the Tridentine Mass there.

  24. moon1234 says:

    The power to cast out Demons is not limited just to Priests. The problem is that those who are not clerics, specially trained to deal with demons, open themselves up to attack by the devil/demons. Even for priests who are very experienced, they will never be the same once they perform an exorcism. The demon now knows the priest and has a special hatred just for him. To be controlled/commanded by a “human” in Jesus’ name is the worst possible insult to a demon. For this reason it is best to leave exorcisms of actual posession to a trained exorcist.

  25. mom2six says:

    It looks like these videos are only from last year.

  26. Matt Baglia has written a very good book called The Rite where he follows a priest from California (I can’t remember which diocese now) who was sent to Rome to be trained as an exorcist. It is very well done, and a worthwhile read for all Catholics. I especially recommend it for any priests who might feel called to this very important ministry. The Holy Father has called for more priests to be trained as exorcists, and we need men to do this. This is an essential component of the Gospel and of the mission of Christ carried out through his priests.

    While we the laity are limited in the active role we can take in helping individuals with demonic afflictions, where we really can direct our prayers to great good is towards the many, many bishops who no longer believe in exorcism, who perhaps do not even believe in the devil, and who refuse to take their responsibility to appoint an exorcist for their diocese seriously.

    As to moon1234: Your comment is slightly misleading. While certain prayers of deliverance are allowed by laity, a true exorcism may never be prayed by anyone but an ordained priest. This is a canonical measure rightly taken by the Church many, many centuries ago.

  27. TNCath says:

    Had we more exorcists, as in every diocese, perhaps the Evil One wouldn’t be so active.

  28. wchoag says:

    “Priests have the character that comes from Holy Orders: lay people do NOT”

    Father, I know that you are making a very important admonition to the laity here, but the order of exorcist is historically a minor order without any indelible mark. Now, current law restricts the exercise of this office to those duly delegated by an ordinary (which in law is not always one of episcopal dignity). However, in theory, such ordinary could delegate…say…a seminarian of the FSSP or ICK who has received this minor order though not yet advanced to the diaconate or presbyterate (and thus clerical state under current law) with the accompanying indelible mark. Highly unlikely, true! But is nonetheless possible in theory, is it not?

  29. ghp95134 says:

    Regarding Ouija boards …. they can be very spooky! As a 15 year old in 1968, I was anxious for my Special Forces father to be assigned to Germany — I always wanted to go there. So…. my neighbor and I consulted a ouija board:

    Me: Will we be assigned overseas?
    Ouija: Yes.
    Me: Will we go to Germany?
    Ouija: No.
    Me: Where will we go?
    Ouija: (properly spelled, but I misread it as) thighland.
    Me to friend: I’ve never heard of a place called thigh-land. This is stupid!

    3 months later my father brought the news that we were being assigned to Thailand for 2 years.

    True story …. and I’ve never consulted a “wee-jee” board since then.

  30. rwprof says:

    This raises an interesting, yet little discussed, difference between East and West with regard to unnatural or paranormal phenomena. The cultures in which the Eastern church flowered viewed such phenomena as evil unless proven otherwise, so where the West sees, say, miraculously preserved remains, the East sees vampyr.

  31. Bornacatholic says:

    I used to be in the crazy business and dealt with the mentally ill who were in psychiatric emergencies. It was during that time (well over a decade ago) that I read/studied/ and was prepared to use Msgr. Corrado Balducci’s (“The Devil”)categories of Demonic Possession.

    The book is an easy read, well structured and delineates the various levels of demonic activity from infestation to possession.

  32. Bornacatholic says:

    As regards Supernatural, it is my understanding that only God is supernatural.

  33. paladin says:

    moon1234 wrote:

    The power to cast out Demons is not limited just to Priests.

    As of now, yes, it is… and not only to priests, but only to priests who are specially deputized by their ordinary (or the Pope).

    This is not something for the laity to covet! “Authorization” and “authority” aren’t just arbitrary declarations on pieces of paper, like an honorary Doctorate from Notre Dame, or something. When the Church gives “authority”, this means that the “power to do so” is now flowing. We (especially in America, the land of “have it your own way”) can’t allow ourselves to fall into the error of thinking that “some laity can exorcise demons, but it’d be naughty and disobedient for them to do so” (i.e. valid, but illicit). Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense!! Above and beyond any question of liceity (i.e. “lack of naughtiness”): if you don’t have the authority to perform a task in the order of grace, the necessary “power” to perform the objective (i.e. actual grace) is NOT flowing to you, and you will be powerless to effect what you attempt.

    Think of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: when Pope John Paul II said that the Church “has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women.” This didn’t simply mean that the Church would be naughty and scandalous for “ordaining” women (though the attempt would certainly be scandalous); this meant that, even if the Pope Himself attempted it, nothing would happen. Just so, with faux exorcists; they’ve as much ability to compel demons to do thus-and-so as my cat does.

    wchoag wrote:

    Now, current law restricts the exercise of this office to those duly delegated by an ordinary (which in law is not always one of episcopal dignity). However, in theory, such ordinary could delegate…say…a seminarian of the FSSP or ICK who has received this minor order though not yet advanced to the diaconate or presbyterate (and thus clerical state under current law) with the accompanying indelible mark. Highly unlikely, true! But is nonetheless possible in theory, is it not?

    Yes, it is theoretically possible. But without that delegated (and very real–it’s not “just on paper”) *authority*, any “demonic exorcism” attempts will be invalid (i.e. will fail utterly). Any appearances to the contrary can be attributed to God’s mercy (see above), to a lack of true possession, or even to demonic deception (“taking a fall” in order to lure people further in). No authority, no exorcism, no commanding of demons: period.

  34. I attended a lecture given by Fr. Thomas Euteneuer of Human Life Internaitonal. He also happens to be an exorcist. It was fascinating.

    He said that the prayers of the Rite of Exorcism are powerful, but particularly so when prayed in Latin. i.e. These prayers are noticeably more aggitating and repulsive to demons when spoken in Latin.

  35. pilgrimom says:

    My father, who was at Holy Cross College in Mass. in the late 1930’s, had an elderly Jesuit as a Theology professor. During class one day, the students got him talking about his youth and the fact that he had performed exorcisms. Apparently, the worst case he had involved a Southwestern Indian girl about 11 years old. He got a call from the reservation and, jumping in his car, he discovered that, although it started fine and moved forward, something kept pushing it back. It was almost like a giant hand holding the car back as if it were a toy. The priest kept gunning the motor and finally the car was released. He drove to the reservation to find the illiterate girl speaking in classical Latin and ancient Greek. I believe that the exorcism was successful. Also, in NYC, during the visit of Paul VI, my father heard from a policman that a priest performed an exorcism at the exact same time as the Pope was saying Mass at Yankee Stadium. The demon told the priest that he was irritated that the Pope was getting so much attention and he wanted to create distraction.

  36. mom2six says:

    Louie,
    Fr. Lampert gave a description of an exorcism where the priest was using the new rite book of 1998. The demon said something like, “You’re not going to try to get rid of me with those prayers, are you?” The exorcists are authorized to use the older rite book if they choose to. I believe Fr. Lampert said the older book was from the 17th century. The 1998 book is rather small and is in Latin.

  37. Christina says:

    Wow that was freaky. This conversation drew me in, with my mind on demons, and then I look up and there’s a huge bug on my screen and my heart jumped to my throat!

    I was raised in an ecumenical charismatic community and it is true from my standpoint that they take demons and spiritual attacks quite seriously. I don’t have much experience with this group trying to exorcise, but I remember one event prompted a leader to publicly say that “We did not do an exorcism. We do not do exorcisms.”

  38. Bornacatholic says:

    OK, I just found the book. “The Devil” which treats of the Demonic in its activity from local infestation, to personal infestation, to diabolical infestation.

    I studied the book to discover how to diagnosis Diabolical Possession and learned that Hatred of The Holy, Dual Personality, and Evidence of Possession all must exist prior to an actual determination that a likelihood of possession was occurring.

    Msgr.had degrees in theology,philosophy,canon and civil law, psychology and parapsychology.

    Fortunately, I never had cause to apply his diagnostic criteria to any individual;although I always suspected that Sam Francis was inspired when he described the Democrat Party as The Evil Party due to its obvious existence as a local infestation :)

  39. gloriainexcelsis says:

    Not realizing what I was doing, 10 or so years ago my best friend and I were talking about how Satan was indeed loose in the world. She and I then and there asked God to bind Satan. That night, I was awakened by a loud roaring. I opened my eyes to total inky blackness. There was no light in my room. Before me appeared the hideous head and face, all red and angry, of you-know-who. This can not have been a dream. I do not hear sound in my dreams nor do I dream in color. An ejaculation came to me immediately that I said often as a child. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul.” I repeated it 10, 12, maybe more times and the vision was gone. Interestingly, my friend, a devout protestant, didn’t receive the same visit. The Rosary, the Anima Christi and prayer to St. Michael have sufficed since in my prayers againt Satan.

  40. TMA says:

    I would like to say something about deliverance prayers. We adopted our children as infants. Our daughter was exposed to drugs and alcohol before birth and was abandoned at birth. As she was growing, we attributed some of her behavior problems to the drug exposure. A diocesan priest thought we just needed stricter discipline. It wasn’t until a traditional priest started praying deliverance prayers over her that calm came over the child and regular discipline was effective. These prayers have to be repeated from time to time.

    Frequent sacraments, the rosary, sacramentals and a house clean of bad influences were recommended to us in this spiritual battle. Imagine this, when our son attended the local Catholic school, he was actually given Harry Potter and Pokemon items as academic incentives. (BTW, this is the same Catholic school/parish that is holding a “witches dinner” this weekend.) Sadly, most Catholics, including priests think we’re from another planet when this subject comes up. A diocesan priest once told me, “There is no demonic influence. These people are just crazy.”

    The deliverance prayers done by a priest are very effective, but folks have to be willing to clean up their act in their homes and in their families. We are blessed to know FFSP and other traditional priests who know about spiritual warfare and are able to help families in this way. I hope more diocesan priests will learn about what they already have the power to do.

    Here are a couple of talks which helped us:
    http://www.audiosancto.org/auweb/20081007-An-Evening-with-an-Exorcist.mp3

    http://www.audiosancto.org/aurss/20090315-The-Main-Means-to-Overcome-Satan.mp3

    Also, Fr. Ripperger, FSSP has excellent information on his website.

  41. Peggy R says:

    Okay, before I read further, can I get this off my chest:

    The writer calls Fr. Lampert the “head priest” at 2 parishes. Um, that’s a pastor, Katie, Youthful and uninformed writing style…

    Sorry…now back to the content.

  42. Oneros says:

    “I know that you are making a very important admonition to the laity here, but the order of exorcist is historically a minor order without any indelible mark. Now, current law restricts the exercise of this office to those duly delegated by an ordinary (which in law is not always one of episcopal dignity). However, in theory, such ordinary could delegate…say…a seminarian of the FSSP or ICK who has received this minor order though not yet advanced to the diaconate or presbyterate (and thus clerical state under current law) with the accompanying indelible mark. Highly unlikely, true! But is nonetheless possible in theory, is it not?”

    The order of Minor Exorcist traditionally had to do with watching over the Catechumens, doing the pre-baptismal MINOR exorcisms (anointing with the oil of catechumens, etc), dismissing the catechumens after the Mass of the Catechumens, etc, and not so much dispelling demons from the possessed or harassed.

    I suppose with the proper authority anyone could be appointed to be an exorcist. It is ultimately a Sacramental, after all, not a Sacrament. But, like blessings, though theoretically any baptized person could be delegated canonical power to do it with proper authority…the Church generally reserves it to priests who have that permanent character.

  43. Laura T says:

    I attended Fr. Lampert’s talks both last year and this year. He did address almost all of Fr. Z’s “random comments” during his talk.

    The article fails to mention this, but the most powerful theme that he has presented both times is that he is not afraid of any of this. He always says demons do not scare him because they have no power compared to Christ and the Church. That’s a great message for many, and can certainly help us not to have an unhealthy interest in the demonic.

  44. PJ says:

    “Exorcists need to be upright.”

    Something of an understatement, perhaps?

  45. Bornacatholic says:

    I in no way want to freak you out, but, Msgr. Balducci lists Saints who have been possessed; St, Catherine, St Francis Xavier, St Theresa of Avila, St Magdalene of Pazzi, St. Rose of Lima, St John Vianney, St John Bosco.

    It happened to them, it could happen to me and thee.

    Msgr notes only a Catholic Priest is justly qualified to perform an exorcism:

    By natural right, Satan is subject exclusively to God, and for that reason an exorcism is justified only when it is performed in the name of God and by the authority of the Church, to which Christ gave that power

  46. Bornacatholic says:

    Can. 1172 §1. No one can perform exorcisms legitimately upon the possessed unless he has obtained special and express permission from the local ordinary.

    §2. The local ordinary is to give this permission only to a presbyter who has piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life.

  47. Oneros says:

    I actually live at SJCNC (I know who’s mother mom2six must be!) and was at the talk this year.

    It was pretty good although it got a bit weird when he started talking about the phenomenon of “restless spirits” which he was rather foggy and vague about.

    I mean, he finally deigned to speculate that maybe they are demons merely masquerading as dead people (like some of the Church fathers speculated about the Witch of Endor situation, I suppose). But even then, he seemed to portray the phenomenon of “ghosts” as both something that he believed in, but which he “couldnt find much about” in the OFFICIAL doctrine of the Church so he relies on other exorcists (including protestants, apparently) to swap stories with. That makes me a bit uncomfortable.

    He sorta hedged and said that sometimes, if these “restless spirits” dont seem to be evil, he just lets them be or gives a blessing. This was a bit much for me. He didnt really have an answer when people asked about the implications of this for the Particular Judgment.

    Of course, I suppose that “wandering the earth” could be a form of purgatory (or even damnation), though even then, souls are immaterial, so if they are “appearing” it must a miraculous “vision” granted by God, or else infused by demons or angels mediating the phenomenon. But he didnt say anything about these possibilities, so it seemed rather outside the realm of good sound theology.

    He also hedged when it came to traditional pagan religions. An African woman asked about her traditional shamanism, and how some people link it to demonic activity (rightly so, I’d think!) and he basically said it would be okay “as long as it were directed towards God”…but I got the sense this meant the vague God Of Natural Reason (as celebrated at Assisi) and not NECESSARILY the God of Revelation specifically.

    He also hedged when it came to the charismatic movement and protestant “exorcisms” believing that they could be just as successful and basically portraying the limitation to priests as just a Catholic bureaucratic requirement. Though he qualified that ANY exorcism done by anyone is really done by God, of course. But he seemed to think other religions could be just as much a channel for this as the true faith.

    In general, I’d say, he “theory” was very sound when presented objectively at the beginning. But when he started getting into SPECIFICS and specific hypotheticals…it got quite a bit more hazy and rather like equivocating. Like…he had the story about the demon saying the new rite wasnt as powerful, even joked that, instead of commanding, the new rite basically says, “Hey, devil, maybe you could leave sometime, if it’s not too much trouble”…but then concluded that the two rites are equally good. A lot of equivocation like that, especially about other religions and their “exorcisms”. Also, someone asked if a devil could appear to someone as good and trick them, and he basically said no even though I was thinking of “the devil will appear as an angel of light” quote.

    Nevertheless, I think, for non-catholics…it was a good outreach event. The auditorium was packed and lots of non-Catholics were asking the questions. The priests were all there in their dress cassocks and I think it was a good “show” of the Catholic community (especially when Msgr asked anyone who knew the St Michael prayer to recite it and about half the people there did, to the impressed bewilderment of the non-Catholic half). The Knights of Columbus were acting as ushers, and it was generally a good show of numbers. SJCNC really is the leader in this sort of campus ministry. We had confessions on the quad a few weeks ago (a bit gimmicky, I know) and are going to have another eucharistic procession on the quad for All Saints Day, numerous rosary groups, 600 live-in residents (with GREAT facilities, right off the quad), a beautiful chapel, and tons of involvement. It is a really happening place.

  48. Peggy R says:

    TMA,

    Wow! You’re telling our story. We adopted our boys as infant/toddler. They were born into severe alcoholism and poverty, malnutrition, the works, in Russia. We did baptize them as soon as possible. My husband and I have sometimes wondered seriously whether there was evil imparted into them b/c of their birth situations…not of their own sin, but b/c of the sin done to them. The “normal” things, behavior mod, etc, don’t work often. Yes, people think we’re exaggerating the problems.

    We do sacramentals as well. Guardian angels in pockets, GA prayer daily. Holy water, sign of cross as well. We pray Lord’s prayer, 3 HMs’ and Glory Be as we await the bus. Keeping God strong in our home is vital.

    I will look into deliverance prayers and talk to a priest or two whom I know well.

    Thanks.

  49. wchoag says:

    “The order of Minor Exorcist traditionally had to do with watching over the Catechumens, doing the pre-baptismal MINOR exorcisms (anointing with the oil of catechumens, etc), dismissing the catechumens after the Mass of the Catechumens, etc, and not so much dispelling demons from the possessed or harassed.”

    Yes! Of course! If this is verifiable (and I assume that it is), it makes perfect sense since there is nothing in the ministries of Lector and Acolyte or the Orders of Porter, Lector, Exorcist, and Acolyte that cannot be done by a properly delegated layman by virtue of baptism. Although, the minor exorcisms in the Extraordinary Form baptism are certainly of the same order as Exorcism prayers, i.e., deliverance from demons, whereas the catechumenal and baptismal exorcisms of the Ordinary Form are essentially blessings.

  50. Oneros says:

    “That’s a great message for many, and can certainly help us not to have an unhealthy interest in the demonic.”

    Which some people there clearly did. He made it very clear that extraordinary demonic activity is very different than mental illness, depression, anxiety, even mere temptation, etc.

    Yet a lot of people (seemed to be curious evangelicals mainly) kept asking questions like…they WANTED to hear that there was SOME connection to demonic activity in mental illness. Like they wanted some “magic” quick-fix solution to their OWN depression or whatever.

    It was just interesting, because I know that pentecostals and the like use “exorcism” to “cure” depression, homosexuality, etc…which clearly isnt a healthy attitude.

    But even after he dispelled that notion, people kept, like, fishing for a connection like, “Well, couldnt demonic activity maybe exacerbate mental illness?” or “Couldnt demonic activity and mental illness be intertwined?” and stuff like that, where they were clearly looking for a “yes” to affirm their blaming of their own emotional and spiritual problems directly on demons. Which was a bit disturbing to see.

  51. JosephMary says:

    As I understand it, the protestants do deliverance prayers which is somewhat different.

    A few weeks ago I heard Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, an exorcist, speak. It was a wonderful and enlightening talk. One thing that he said I would like to pass along: Those in s state of grace do not need to fear the demon. Christ is Victor!

    Several years ago I corresponded with an exorcist who would sometimes be commissioned by his bishop. He would share a little of the experiences with me. He would first fast and pray and receive the sacrament of penance. Interesting things would happen. He would tell me that he felt that exorcisms took time off his life.

  52. Mrs. O says:

    How does one know if they are cursed?
    Surely there is a difference between daily struggles and taking up the cross and one being cursed.

  53. CarpeNoctem says:

    To amplify the bit about potential subjects of exorcisms being totally committed to Christ, there is one more line to share that I once heard from another exorcist, which is spot-on for those who believe they are struggling with demons:

    “One good confession better than a thousand exorcisms.”

    That’s not to say that there is no place for exorcism in the life of the Church or that there are cases where the graces of confession just aren’t ‘good enough’– I think the point is that some people get themselves all worked up about the occult and demonic possession/obsession/oppression, when 999 times out of a thousand (or better) the solution is a thoroughgoing celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

    FWIW

  54. Oneros says:

    “Yes! Of course! If this is verifiable (and I assume that it is), it makes perfect sense since there is nothing in the ministries of Lector and Acolyte or the Orders of Porter, Lector, Exorcist, and Acolyte that cannot be done by a properly delegated layman by virtue of baptism.”

    New Advent says: “From this form it is clear that one of the chief duties of exorcists was to take part in baptismal exorcism. That catechumens were exorcised every day, for some time before baptism, may be inferred from canon of the same council, which prescribed the daily imposition of hands by the exorcists.”

    So, though they may have also at some point done Major Exorcisms, or at least assisted, their MAIN function (the one that justified having a whole Minor Order for them) seemed to be the daily Minor Exorcisms of the catechumens, anointing with the oil, etc.

  55. Soler says:

    Avoid avoid avoid things that might open you up to oppression by the Enemy, such as Tarot cards and Ouija boards and other things that might be taken to be “games”.

    Tarot cards were invented for the purpose of playing card games, and there are quite a few different types of Tarot decks that are still used to play these games…

    Surely Satan won’t attack someone for losing a game of Ottocento…

    ;-)

  56. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Great post, with great advice from our genial host. As he says, this is not something to fool around with.

    Also, be cautious about this, precisely because of the fascination so many of us can have with this subject.

    Many years ago, before I was a priest, I got fascinated in this subject, and was reading whatever I could get my hands on. But what I began to notice was disturbing thoughts and feelings–and I really sensed a presence of evil. I promptly stopped that reading.

    Sometimes folks will call the parish office and say they want an exorcism–the staff of course happily turns those calls over to me! So far, I haven’t had anything that serious, rather people who want prayers, who may be a little unbalanced, and perhaps they did mess around with things they shouldn’t have.

    Realize also that what can happen is that we tap into the power of our own imagination; we may or may not be having an encounter with the enemy as well.

    Notice that in Scripture, Moses enjoined God’s People to avoid all witchcraft and seeking after occult things. Good advice!

    Finally, I think many–repelled by a too casual dismissal of these things–err the opposite way, and magnify the power of the enemy. The enemy is powerful, but we have Christ! Never underestimate the power of grace at work in our Faith, in blessings, and in baptism.

  57. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Moon 1234

    Only in the Roman Rite would an exorcism be illicit if performed by a priest or unauthorized layman/monastic. It may very well work which would make it valid but illicit. In the Eastern Church it is not uncommon to have a monk perform an exorcism, though one would find it more often done by a priest.

  58. paladin says:

    Baron Korf wrote:

    Thanks for the link Paladin, that clears up my question.

    :) From Papa Benedict’s plate, to yours! You’re quite welcome.

  59. becket1 says:

    “Priests have the character that comes from Holy Orders: lay people do NOT.”

    Uh what if you are a Extra-Ordinary Minister of Holy communion, that’s a “Holy Order” as well. Or what if your just plain Eileen George, who speaks to St Michael on a regular basis. I think your wrong Father, your not in the spirit of Vatican 2 here.

    Just Joking!!.

  60. tired student says:

    Isn’t it important to follow up an exorcism with some psychological/psychiatric help for the afflicted person? Maybe the priest covered that in his lecture. While I do believe that people can be possessed, I also think that some people have psychological disturbances that also need medical attention. Priests may not always be qualified to provide this assistance.

  61. Kimberly says:

    Has anyone noticed the rise of vampire movies, shows, books, etc. They have a huge selection of vampire novels for grade school children in one of the big MART stores. Does anyone know what the Church says about these? Are they connected to the devil?

  62. Girgadis says:

    Fr. Martin Fox

    You are so correct. While this subject holds much fascination, I think there is a minimum we lay people need to know. At one time I was tempted to read everything I could on this subject but thankfully, I realized it would not be healthy to continue down that path. Not to mention when you read about actual exorcisms, the language is most vile and disgusting. I’d rather not have that stuff rattling around in my head. I also try to remember something Father Gabriel Amorth once said – that every Hail Mary is like a hammer blow to the devil’s head.

  63. isabella says:

    While I was away from the Church, I was a fairly good tarot reader (not proud of it now that I know where the info came from). The cards are NOT a harmless game.

    An example that won’t taint anybody’s soul by reading it – I was stranded at a remote location with some contractors and there was a pack of tarot cards somebody had left behind. One of the guys asked for a reading, so I laid out the cards and said half jokingly “Are you planning on leaving us soon?” He turned crimson and we all drifted off – none of the other readings were very interesting. Found out a few weeks later he was working for another firm in the same business, and it was a closely held secret so we couldn’t replace him as a manager at a critical point in the project.

    From there, I drifted into things I will not talk about. I go to Confession regularly, Mass every week, but even now, sometimes have such bad luck I’ve had other people ask “me” if I am cursed. I really don’t know, but am trying to have faith in the Sacraments, my repentance, and Jesus and His Blessed Mother. But it’s hard to unlearn something you wish you’d never known. I melted down my ritual jewelry and put a lump of silver in the collection basket one Christmas — everything else went into the landfill where nobody else could read or use them. I still occasionally find things around my house and when I do, I burn them.

    Don’t want to sound like a drama queen, but please leave that garbage alone. For me, it’s like having opened a window, closed it, but still being drawn to the lock. It’s more like “oppression” than “possession”. And yes, I’ve seen a psychiatrist who has told me I’m fundamentally sane. Please don’t even experiment.

  64. Supertradmom says:

    Satan like two things: the idea that he does not exist, and over-attention. Both of theses attitudes create false views of the evil one and his power-either in denying him and his legions, or by paying too much attention to evil, the occult, and death. Catholics need to be vigilant and aware of the number of young people who are into wicca, spells, voodoo, and the like. Since the 1970s, priests in our diocese have been trying to get the public high schools to address these things, but have not had any success. The parents of children who have fallen into occult activity have begged priests for help in getting their kids away from teachers and other significant adults, who practice witchcraft et al. A woman I know had two girls in the high school last year who came home upset at some other girls who were “casting spells” on them. A similar thing happened at the local college, where a teacher, who publicly practices wicca, was getting young people to join her coven and other ones. She is a highly popular teacher and has encouraged many young people to get into the occult. The college has no position on this, as it is considered a religion and the idea of “freedom of religion” protects this teacher and her groups.

    I talked to some of the girls involved in these occultic activities. The activities are connected to and encourage loose sexual morals. All these things, such as seances, ouji boards and wicca are not games, but serious doors into the realm of the evil one. We must pray for our youth today, who seem attracted to such stuff. We not only need more exorcist priests, but we need priests who are willing to talk from the pulpit, at least once a year, on the real dangers of the occult.

  65. TKS says:

    I know well some people who teach the ‘binding and casting out’ thing. They are very religious people. Is this something that should not be done?

  66. mom2six says:

    Oneros,

    I felt that those people who were asking about mental illness and possession were looking for a way to trip Fr. Lampert up. I didn’t think they were looking for an excuse for themselves, but rather wanted to say that exorcisms are nonsense and there are no demons by trying to prove that mental illness can be blamed for everything.

    I also thought Fr. Lampert was guarded in some of his answers so as not to offend the non-Catholics. I didn’t expect him to tell the questioner that his Protestant minister couldn’t perform an exorcism successfully.

    I agree with you that SJCNC is a happening place! It is a great place to deepen your spirituality. Go Msgr. Ketcham and staff!

    I was disappointed that there were so many questions on haunted houses and restless spirits.

    Fr. L did say that he and his fellow exorcists have done a lot of research on some questions, but the information is just not there.

  67. Luis says:

    Doesn’t the medal of St. Benedict have an exorcism written onto it? Can someone explain this sacramental and its use to me… Now that you’ve freaked me out? Just kidding about the freaked out part… Thanks

  68. Dave N. says:

    Even the agnostic French sociologist Emile Durkheim realized there’s a difference between sacred and profane.

  69. patrick_f says:

    “now, if only we could get the Charismatic Renewal and others who are enamoured of “deliverance ministries” to take that injunction seriously (which is mandated by the CDF, and the mandate was written by then-Cardinal Ratzinger We are allowed—nay, urged and encouraged, and perhaps even morally obliged—to use deprecatory prayer (i.e. begging the help of God and the Saints, especially the Blessed Virgin), but imprecatory (i.e. “commanding”) prayer is forbidden to non-exorcists (e.g. “I command you, demon, in the Name of Jesus, to depart; I bind and cast you out, in His Name!”) [Good distinction.] ”

    Very true. I work around Evangelicals, who are mostly Pentecostals (which the Charismatic Renewal draws alot from, but I digress)

    Too much of the mindset is a Clericalization of the laity. NO better way to win over your enemy then to make them seriously over rate themselves.

    Priests, and Exorcists are trained for this. Betty sue is not.

  70. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    in 1995 I was a pilgrim to Lourdes during the annual Military Pilgrimage. That is when many Catholics in the military services of their respective countries gather in Lourdes, with our Chaplains, and sometimes with our families. It is both a solemn and joyful weekend, usually near Pentecost.

    In 1995, during the Rosary Procession (at sunset, with the candles), where we had the Holy Father join us via radio (and loud speakers) there was a cold “ill wind” as it was called by several of those we were walking with. I was in uniform, walking with a couple friends and we ended up walking with some French and Italian troops.

    We were progressing from the road to the sanctuary area, over the underground Basilica. If you have been there, I’m sure you know the area and the usual order of events. The Holy father was speaking, something about evil and we were to guard against evil.

    I get chills and a feeling of impending doom just remembering this, event. The wind picked up and tried to blow out all our candles. It was a cold, colder than freezing feeling. Many candles went out, Everyone with out regard to nationality, was busy relighting by bringing out candles and standing close together.

    I had a feeling that the “Evil Prince” was present and doing his dangest to disrupt us. I remember seeing people from all over the World, and thinking that former enemies could be at PEACE and worship together in this one place. And right after that, I had a thought about people here this day will be killing each other within a year.

    In April of 1996 was the start of the Rwandan Genocide. Some of the Rwandan troops present at Lourdes were killed by some of the other Rwandans also at Lourdes. Evil exists.

    I do however remember my grandmothers, and several other older people always telling me to “learn the Lord’s Prayer, he will protect you.” When ever I, or others I knew where in harms’ way, the Lord’s Prayer, a Hail Mary and a St. Michael (short form) for good measure.

  71. Alice says:

    Mom2six, does St. John’s ever do the Tridentine Mass? I can only remember one and that was way back in 2002.

    Those of us who had our faith nourished through the SJC programs are going to overtake the world, one baby at a time. I found my vocation through SJCNC, although not quite the way I expected: He was sitting across the classroom from me in one of Dr. Howell’s classes! :) Through SJCNC’s agreement with the Religious Studies Department at UIUC, I was able to get 9 credit hours in Catholicism from orthodox teachers. It was great. [This is not about the so-called “Tridentine Mass” or that school.]

  72. bookworm says:

    This should only be attempted by trained professionals… don’t try this at home, kids!

    I know from experience that some charismatics/Pentecostals go way overboard on deliverance and binding evil spirits, and with seeing demonic influence everywhere. I don’t recall where I read this exactly, but supposedly, Protestant religions place a much greater emphasis on the power of Satan than the Catholic Church does, because Protestants (for the most part) don’t have the sacraments or sacramentals (holy water, medals, priestly blessings, etc.) to fall back on, and as a result, they have less of a “line of defense” against demonic power and percieve it as stronger than it actually is.

    Even if demons could cause you to be injured or killed (either accidentally or by “inspiring” someone else to do you violence) in the end, God will use it for good. Sooner or later Satan always shoots himself in the foot! The worst thing in the world Satan could ever do — kill God Himself — already happened, 2,000 years ago, and we know how that turned out :-)

    By the way, the saints “bornacatholic” lists as having been “possessed” were NOT possessed. They were targets of external demonic attack or oppression, which is an entirely different thing. They may have had strong temptations or even delusions at times but at no time was their free will ever overridden.

  73. Scelata says:

    “Demons are … stronger than us by nature.”

    Can someone explain this, or comment on it?

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

  74. bookworm says:

    Regarding St. John’s Newman Center, it is one of the best in the country, and their chapel is awesome. In fact I would go so far as to say that its presence makes the U of I Urbana-Champaign as much or more of a “Catholic” university than some CINO institutions we could name :-)

    The ability to actually earn university credit for classes in orthodox Catholic doctrine is a legacy of its longtime chaplain, the late Msgr. Edward Duncan, who fought off an attempt back in the 70s to drop the credit status of those classes.

    Now if we could just get the same kind of ministry in place at the other two campuses in Chicago and Springfield…

  75. Lee says:

    In 1970 and 1971 I spent the better part of the summer at a Pentecostal bible camp on the shores of Leech Lake in Northern Minnesota. A large part of their ministry was deliverance ministry. I was then and am now a practicing Catholic. What I saw, heard and experienced there, however, has given me doubts about our own extremely reserved and miserly approach to this topic.

    For one thing, their experience was that virtually anyone who has been involved in deep sin is going to have problems along these lines. As they put it, conversion and repentance cut the ground out from Satan’s feet, but he still has to be cast out.

    They did that. The before and after was simply undeniable.

    Now, what is going to happen with repentant Catholic adulterer/ adulteress, prostitute, kleptomaniac, homosexual when he knocks on the rectory door and tells Father that although he/she is deeply repentant, has gone to Confession, goes to daily Mass and Communion, says the Rosary daily, he/she still strongly feels demonic influence and would appreciate it if Father would exorcise him or her? First of all, it is almost a given that Father will NOT exorcise him or her. He or she will likely walk out of the rectory with the phone number of a local psychiatrist or counselor. And it is very likely he/she will walk out feeling very patronized to boot.

    Even if the priest is a essentially agreeable, there is a daunting process set before the pentitent that includes, I believe, psychiatric causes being ruled out. From the time he/she walks into the rectory till the day of the actual exorcism many weeks and months will likely elapse, weeks and months filled with many embarrassments. Correct me if I am wrong, but that is my impression. In the meantime this person- if actually possessed- is the prey of demons and cannot help but feel that his/her eternal salvation hangs in the balance as he or she struggles with overwhelming temptations to the old way of life, to despondency, to suicide.

    If the Catholic priest is not going to help, one goes where help is to be found. And help is just around the corner. And so there is this “inexplicable” exodus to the sects, esp in SA, but also here.

    When, O priests of Jesus Christ, is exorcism going to occupy the same place and proportion in your ministry as it did in that of the Lord and His apostles? He said to them, “I saw satan falling like lightning from heaven.” What does he see now? Certainly not that!

    To me it seems that you have ceded a very large chunk of your ministry to the psychiatrists, but the cure of souls belongs to the Church, does it not?

    Of course, one should fear being involved with the occult, but so far as exorcism is concerned, there is nothing to fear- according to what I have seen- so long as one approaches the task in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name and the blood of Jesus Christ. “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world,” was a verse often heard said forty years ago by men who knew it from plentiful experience, men who were not afraid and who did marvelous good for many people.

    If we ought to be afraid of anything, it is leaving people the prey of demons a second longer than necessary.

  76. Alice says:

    Scelata,
    As I understand it, demons are fallen angels but their fall did not strip them of their angelic nature any more than our fall stripped us of our human nature. Humans are “a little less than the angels” so demons are stronger than us because of their angelic nature.

    Bookworm,
    Msgr. Duncan is still alive, although he is retired.

  77. DH says:

    Fr. Z et al,
    You may view the formal portion of Fr. Lampert’s presentation (in three parts) on our Youtube channel at http://www.youtube.com/uiucnewman
    and listen to the full audio here:
    http://www.sjcnc.org/images/cm/200872817257127001/distinguished_lampert_20092610.mp3

    It’s worth noting that a number of students sought out a priest after the event. Please keep all of the students who attended in your prayers!

    Cheers,
    Your Friendly Neighborhood Newman Center Communications Guy

  78. bookworm says:

    Alice, thanks for the info. Glad to hear Msgr. Duncan is still around, though he must be 90+ by now! I remember him saying that being around college students for over 50 years probably helped keep him young.

  79. Scott W. says:

    I’ll leave it to others to respond to Lee. It should have a respones because repsectfully, it seems there is lots of question-begging in it. On the subject of Tarot however, as a former dabbler in the occult, I’m always sighing when I see the same excuses made for it over and over again. Even at an early age, I knew there was a clear difference between a Tarot deck and a regular pack of playing cards. But, under the sin-makes-you-stupid rule, people think they can change that reality with a philosophical exercise. I once heard one guy defend having them by saying he wasn’t using them for occult purposes; he just liked the pretty pictures. I told him to try this excercise: put some pictures of an old girlfriend on your wife’s dresser. When she rightfully asks what the hell are you doing, say that you don’t intend to do anything with the ex, you just like the pretty picutres. I told to report back with her response (assuming he survived). The point is that you can’t be married to God and think that flirtations with idolatry are innocent.

  80. robtbrown says:

    “Demons are … stronger than us by nature.” Can someone explain this, or comment on it?
    Comment by Scelata

    They are angels, pure spirits whose power is not limited by matter.

    Even though they are fallen and lack supernatural gifts, they nonetheless retain their natural powers.

  81. Alice says:

    Lee, I know that you will likely disagree with me, but here goes.

    Now, what is going to happen with repentant Catholic adulterer/ adulteress, prostitute, kleptomaniac, homosexual when he knocks on the rectory door and tells Father that although he/she is deeply repentant, has gone to Confession, goes to daily Mass and Communion, says the Rosary daily, he/she still strongly feels demonic influence and would appreciate it if Father would exorcise him or her?

    What you are describing does not sound like possession at all, but rather a deep seated vice or a habit committing a certain sin that has weakened the will. In many cases of demonic possession, the person would be held back from doing some of the things that you have described. St. Gemma Galgani showed symptoms of possession such as spitting on crucifixes and breaking rosaries. There was another saint (or maybe he’s just blessed) who was physically stopped for many years from going to confession or receiving Holy Communion by the demon who possessed him. Attributing to Satan what rightly belongs to the flesh or the world flatters Satan’s pride, something that Holy Mother Church rightly wishes to avoid.

    In the meantime this person- if actually possessed- is the prey of demons and cannot help but feel that his/her eternal salvation hangs in the balance as he or she struggles with overwhelming temptations to the old way of life, to despondency, to suicide.

    Once again, you are describing is most likely natural, not preternatural. Most likely, it is despair (or possibly depression). A possessing demon does not want its host (what do you call the possessed person?) to die because that would mean a quick ticket back to hell.

    I suggest you find Evidence of Satan in the Modern World published by TAN and read it. There are plenty of stories of true possession in the book that will help to make the differences between possession, other forms of demonic activity, and natural phenomena clear.

    I would also be very careful quoting a Pentecostal Bible Camp’s experience over the experience of Holy Mother Church, who is 2000 years old and universal. When I see people drawn away from Holy Mother Church due to “signs and wonders” or adults drawn away from Christ due to their wild Pentecostal upbringing, I have to ask, from whom do these signs come?

  82. JB says:

    Father, what is your opinion of laymen being involved in the online support group Auxilium Christianorum? They are strongly encouraged to seek the advice of their spiritual director before taking on the task of praying for exorcists using an ‘office’ of sorts that they pray everyday; live a life of sanctifying grace through the sacraments; pray the rosary daily; etc. and they seem to be very orthodox.

    Also: To answer Baron Korf’s question at the top: The Leo XIII exorcism prayer is forbidden to laymen. From paragraph 2 of Inde Ab Aliquot Annis (1984):

    2. It follows also from these same prescriptions that Christ’s faithful may not employ the formula of exorcism against Satan and the fallen angels which is excerpted from that formula made official by order of the Supreme Pontiff Leo XIII, and certainly may not use the entire text of that exorcism. Let all bishops take care to admonish the faithful about this matter whenever such instruction is required. (Trans. by EWTN)

  83. bookworm says:

    “The point is that you can’t be married to God and think that flirtations with idolatry are innocent.”

    What about the “angel cards” marketed by Doreen Virtue? Obviously she’s a New Ager and I would never buy her stuff, but are her cards demonic, pagan, or just stupid?

    The reason I ask is that I know someone who has them and I can’t convince him that there is anything wrong with them. He claims that they can’t be bad since they are about angels, not demons, all their messages are positive, and doing informal “readings” with them is no different than sticking your finger in the Bible looking for inspiration, which he has seen done at prayer groups and retreats frequently.

  84. Lee says:

    Alice,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

    Yes, I thought about that, too, that when the Church talks about possession, she is talking about something different from what I have seen.

    I suppose there is an entire spectrum of demonic activity ranging from influence all the way to complete possession of a person’s will. And the Church is prepared to deal with the fully possessed person through her exorcists, preceded by what I have come to understand is a lengthy and elaborate process including the permission of the bishop.

    Nevertheless, a great problem remains for those who are on the lower end of the spectrum. Here is the problem: NO help. When a person comes to understand that he/she is- to whatever degree- the prey of evil spirits and goes to a Catholic priest ( Of course, there would be exceptions,but I am speaking typically), the response is very apt to be somewhat along the lines you suggest. The person will be patronized and informed that, no, he/she is not demon possessed, for that would involve complete siezure of the will, etc., etc. “So get to confession, pray to Our Lady, and here is the phone number of my friend Dr. Bob who is a member of the parish. I am sure you would find him very helpful” says the pastor rising from his chair by way of indicating the conversation is over.

    For my money, the priest has just revealed his incompetence to deal with the situation. No doubt pastors, like physicians, have found a million ways to say or to convey, “It’s all in your head” when they haven’t the least idea how to procede.

    As my uncle ( a physician) put it, when a person presents a complaint, the presumption should be that there is something wrong. When a Catholic says to his pastor that he is troubled by evil spirits, he is very likely troubled by evil spirits.

    “For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God”

    Now when I point out that there are pentecostals who know how to deal with demon influence/oppression/possession, you respond, “When I see people drawn away from Holy Mother Church due to “signs and wonders” or adults drawn away from Christ due to their wild Pentecostal upbringing, I have to ask, from whom do these signs come?”

    This line of thinking should give you pause, for “some of them said, ‘He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons’ (Luke 11:15) But…He said to them, ‘Every kingsom divided against itself is laid waste, and house falls upon house. And if satan is also divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?'”

    When people are healed, exorcized and endowed with charismatic graces, this is the work of the Lord and *no one else*

    Besides, I think in very many cases, it is not at all question of people being “drawn away,” but rather of finding help in a pentecostal quarter after being denied help by the priests of the Church to whom they had appealed in all good faith. And discovering elsewhere than at home in the Church that “The kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power.” My point is that it is so dangerous for Catholics, especially less educated ones, for our priests and bishops to remain in ignorance of how to deal with common, ordinary, every day demon influence/oppression/obsession (call it what you will) in ways that fall short of a full-blown exorcism.

    Just to take one example, I can think of a young mother who complained of being afflicted with a depressing spiritual darkness that would not go away. Her friend put an arm around her shoulder and prayed simply, “Lord, send down your Spirit and drive away this darkness.” As this mother said later, “It went, and it never came back.”

    It would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic, that we only have 12 exorcists in this country. No doubt there are dioceses in this country that could keep 12 exorcists busy all day long all dealing with the entire range of demon activity in the souls of Catholics.

  85. Alice says:

    Lee, Perhaps I should let you know that a friend of mine went to our priest last Sunday because this friend felt the presence of the devil. The priest had my friend in with a very good sister who has experience with this kind of thing by Monday and my friend has seen Sister several times since. My friend does NOT feel patronized and there will be an exorcism if needs be. Just because someone says they feel the devil does not mean that they do. The Church has also given us Holy Water, the Sign of the Cross, blessings, and many, many other ways of handling the devil.

    When people are healed, exorcized and endowed with charismatic graces, this is the work of the Lord and no one else

    When these people then take this as a sign that they should leave the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ for some faith community where Jesus is not physically present and where there is no one with the power of Absolution, I suspect either trickery or preternatural powers at work. Locally (and I think this is true across the country), the largest pool of converts to charismatic “churches” are ex-Catholics.

    Just to take one example, I can think of a young mother who complained of being afflicted with a depressing spiritual darkness that would not go away. Her friend put an arm around her shoulder and prayed simply, “Lord, send down your Spirit and drive away this darkness.” As this mother said later, “It went, and it never came back.”

    That’s not an exorcism. That’s a prayer and a proper use of prayer. I would do the same thing with a friend and feel no guilt whatsoever.

  86. isabella says:

    Bookworm,

    If you are still reading this thread (I have a weird fascination with it), IMHO the “angel cards” are just another form of tarot cards, that are read in non-traditional ways. So, whether you consider them evil or merely silly would be the same as what you consider traditional tarot cards to be (from a former reader who left the Church for a while in a fit of pique to read cards and runes).

    When I was toying with the idea of returning to the Church, I was told by a good and holy priest in Confession once (who has actually been featured on this blog as introducing the EF in a particular city) that he didn’t have time to talk right then, but insisted I make an appointment to come to his office the next week. (think it was part of my penance). After we discussed the various forms of divination, which he said were contrary to God’s will, but often used by the enemy as a way to draw people in by giving them “special knowledge”, we talked about the “Norse gods” I thought I was seeing on my utiseta (form of vision quests).

    He flat out said “There ARE no Norse gods. You have been consorting with demons”. No wishy washy “well, all religions have *some* good in them if you mean well” like you hear a lot. It scared the daylights out of me. He gave me a humungous reading list on Catholic theology, some of which I still have and read when I feel like backsliding. But that was what really ended it for me. And I think that is why I love the EF Mass so much – I can feel the beauty and power and majesty of GOD, not the other. And I thank Him for priests who aren’t afraid to be priests.

    I no longer read cards and haven’t for years, but there must be a bezillion variations on the theme of tarot cards – marketing schemes. I still see them in book stores. The art work is often exquisite, but they are still evil and they open windows that should stay firmly shut. JMHO.

  87. lidphile says:

    SWEET ZOMBIE LINCOLN!

    Lol! I’m missionary…ing here in Uganda, and “excessive interest” would be an understatement here… for example:

    Woman: My sister is sick. Pray for us.
    Medical team: We should get her to a clinic then.
    Woman: NO! we need to pray against the DEMONS OF SICKNESS in her!
    Medical Team:Your sister has Malaria, not demons… Let’s get her into town.
    Woman: DEMON OF MALARIA, We REBUKE YOU in the NAAAAMEEE of JEESUS!
    Medical team: It’s not a demon of malaria, okay. It’s a protozoa of malaria….

    Don’t even get me started on African Pentecostals…

    Now, to be fair, the HUGE amount of witchcraft and high prevalence of human sacrifice DO cause very dangerous real demonic activity, but we shouln’t be blaming demons on lost car keys…

    Just my 2 cents.