The bad Guy and as Sister says he can go to hell.
When The Demons Strike Back: Experience Of An Exorcist After An Exorcism
By Fr. Tom Euteneuer
I have been an exorcist for three years, and I know all too well that it always costs something to enter onto the devils territory and wrench a soul out of his grip, but I have never experienced a demonic retaliation like the one I am about to recount. The only reason I write this true story is to encourage those who read this to remain vigilant, faithful and confident that Christ and His angels have all-surpassing power over demons. The demons may make us suffer temporarily, but they are no match for the power of Christs Love and the vigilance of these holy spirits who never cease to come to our aid in time of need.
Several days after performing a solemn exorcism which lasted nine full hours and was a tough piece of spiritual warfare, I was attacked unawares. I guess I had let my guard down after the exorcism was over, and I was directing my attention to other matters at hand. On this particular morning I was to have a meeting with my bishop. When the alarm clock woke me at 7 immediately, without warning, collapsing at the foot of my bed, I felt a wave of nausea flow over me. I just sat there on the floor sweating and thinking I felt so bad that I was going to throw up and be sick the rest of the day and therefore miss my long-awaited meeting with the bishop. Hoping that the nausea would go away, I sat still as a lamb, but I just got more nauseous as the minutes passed. I then staggered up into the bed again knocking hard against the dresser thinking that if I actually lay back down the nausea would go away.
The two young dogs in the house where I was staying heard the noise and barked, and the younger of the two immediately rushed into the room and got half on the bed licking my face as if he knew something was really wrong. Animals have a good sense of when people are hurting dont they?! They are Gods little angels and mans best friend in every way.
As I lay there getting sicker and sicker I thought I was going through another violent bout of food poisoning like I had experienced earlier in the year, but this nausea seemed of another character. I could not identify just what was happening to me, but I kept feeling worse. No more than five minutes had gone by since I woke up, and I was in dire straits and still sweating profusely.
The nausea just got worse, and by this time I knew I was going to throw up so I rushed into the bathroom like a drunken man, sat on the bathroom floor and lurched over the toilet thinking that this was it. I wanted whatever was in there out of my system, but nothing at all came out. In the meantime I was getting sicker, and I didnt think it could get worse! The nausea was causing me serious blurry vision and malaise, and I was on the point of actually blacking out. My greatest sadness was that this hateful thing in my system was going to make me miss my meeting with the bishop. I am sad to say that I was not even thinking of God at the moment because I think I feared my bishop more!
But just then, as I was at my lowest point and literally on the point of fainting, something took hold of me and lifted me up and said, “We’re not taking this!” or words to that effect. Then somehow, from a sitting position on the floor, I reached up and grabbed the sink with a power I didnt know I had and yanked myself to a standing position saying to myself, “No! Shake it offI’m not taking this.”
Well, bam, it was over. Immediately the nausea dissipatedI mean completely. It did not linger or take its time getting out of my system. It disappeared as quickly as it had come. My color came back in a few minutes, the sweats stopped instantly and I felt not the slightest bit of sickness at any time after that the whole day, night or week. What a miraculous resurrection! I was dumbfounded. At one moment I felt like I was sinking into the pit of hell and the next moment I was placed on the pinnacle of the Temple!
Simply put, I was attacked for daring to go against the demon to liberate a soul from his grip. It was not food poisoning that hurt me because nothing came up; the last time I was in that state the poisoned substances took a good two days to clear out of my system. But here, nothing. The illness was instantly gone. Not the slightest bit of sickness remained after I stood up. It was as if a spirit of nausea had been sent into me as retaliation for my pastoral love of that soul and was as easily cast out of me by my guardian angel who just said, Enough is enough! Tell me, how can we live without our faithful protectors? My, how I learned the truth of what St. Paul said to Timothy when he witnessed, The Spirit God has given us is no cowardly spirit (2 Tm 1:7). Intrepid is a better word.
Let all faithful Christians take comfort. Our guardian angels never let us down if we strive to help others out of their spiritual bondage. When we engage in spiritual warfare we may have to bear some scars from the fray, but we will never be abandoned by Christs angels and saints. I had seven or eight minutes of persecution which I in turn offered for the sake of the soul I am still trying to liberate. If the devils intent was to drive me away, he picked the wrong guy with the wrong guardian angel. In fact, he just caused a potent bout of suffering to be offered for the liberation of the soul he oppresses much harder than he persecutes me. He lost in every way. St. Augustine says that God prefers to extract good from evil rather than suppress evil entirely. Now I understand why. God gets so much more out of it when we suffer with faith.
And there is a reason for all this warfare. St. Peter says that we may for a time have to suffer the distress of many trials; but this is so that your faith, which is more precious than the passing splendor of fire-tried gold, may by its genuineness lead to praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ appears (1 Pt 1:6-7). Amen to that.
[Fr. Euteneuer is director of Human Life International in Virginia] http://www.spiritdaily.org/Spiritual-War-Angels/priestexorcismeffect.htm
Die Welt: Shortly after being named Pope, Benedict XVI met with a group of exorcists. Was that a signal?
Pedro Barrajon: No, it was just a routine meeting of Italian exorcists. The teachings of the Catholic church on evil have not changed in centuries.
What are those teachings?
They’re based primarily on the Bible, according to which God created all beings: mankind as well as the pure spirits, in other words the angels and demons.
God made demons?
He made everything. According to the Christian tradition, demons and the devil are fallen angels. They are angels that have revolted against God since the beginning of creation.
How could God permit evil in the first place?
For our freedom! Evil is linked implicitly to the gift of freedom. God made man free. In choosing whether to ban evil or give the gift of freedom, God opted for freedom. Without the possibility to choose between good or evil, there would be no freedom. That means that God values freedom more than all our sins. Animals are not evil but they are also never free. With freedom, God elevated us above animals.
How are we to understand the pure spirits?
They have wills. They have intelligence. But they have no senses. They have no bodies. Only people and animals have bodies.
According to Christian belief, God is a person. Are evil and the devil also people?
The Swiss theologian Karl Barth said that the demon is an impersonal person. What is a person? It’s a being with a spiritual nature, with intelligence and a will, whose intelligence searches for the truth and whose will aspires to goodness. The demon has intelligence and a will but its will aspires to evil and its intelligence searches for the non-truth. In this sense, says Karl Barth, the devil is a personal non-person, he calls it “the null”.
Does it have a face?
No. But God can allow angels and demons to take on physical forms of appearance. That’s how it’s possible for angels to appear to people and convey messages to them. And God can also permit demons to take on physical qualities and appear in this form to people or animals but that doesn’t affect their being. They can take on these forms but they don’t possess them.
Do they smell?
Some saints are said to be able to smell the devil like the great Teresa of Avila. She said the devil stank.
Some saints say that. It’s basically just a disgusting stink.
Where are demons at home? Hell?
Yes. Hell was made for them, not for people.
So Hell was made too?
Yes. Angels were created, thus fallen angels and thus hell. It is no self-creation. Hell is not a place, it’s a state. It’s the state in which demons can be themselves, united in their hatred of God. It’s the state of the negation of love. God is love. Hell is anti-love, it’s hatred. Hell is a notion of the state of these spirits. Hell is the state of an eternal anti-love. It’s also the eternal refusal to accept the love of God.
Are there objective criteria that can be used to determine if a person has been possessed by a demon?
The new ordinance on exorcism summarises the criteria for the event of possession very well. The clearest for me as a priest is the deep aversion to holy objects such as the cross, the rosary or the sign of the cross. Also an aversion to the word God when it is spoken, such people get very nervous. Less significant indications are the supernatural capabilities that these people can suddenly develop. They can speak foreign languages that they’ve never learned. They can levitate; they can float, they can overcome gravity. Sometimes they become inexplicably strong and violent. But it’s not that easy to diagnose cases of possession. I usually suggest that people see a neurologist or a psychiatrist before I get involved in their case. If I am advised by these experts that they can’t help, then I can begin a spiritual treatment. As a rule, I would say that of ten people who request an exorcism, one is truly possessed.
Are there reasons for possession?
We don’t know them. Nor can we say why one person gets cancer and another doesn’t. We have no explanation for that either. We only know that God’s power and love is greater when it comes to our physical and spiritual illnesses. That’s how possession has to be seen.
How does an exorcism work?
The church demands from a priest who is undertaking such an “expulsion” the moral certainty that it is indeed a case of possession. But there is no absolute certainty. So it is very important that an exorcist be a man of prayer and fasting.
The exorcism is a major official prayer in which the power of the church is very present. That’s the main thing. Sometimes holy water is used or incense, and there is always a crucifix in the priest’s hands. Several people should be present, in addition to the priest, in the event that the possessed person gets violent. People can be transformed by the expulsion of the devil. They don’t remain the same. During this rite, the demon exposes himself, given the presence of God and the many people praying together. It often becomes violent, because it knows that it has been defeated in a way. The voice of the possessed person usually changes and becomes very unpleasant.
Not at all. In such moments, I only feel sorry for the possessed person because he’s suffering and you see that he’s suffering. But at the same time you’re happy because you know that the exorcism will free him from this anguish. Every exorcism begins with the invocation of the trinity: the father, the son and the holy ghost. Then there’s a reading of excerpts from the Bible, before a kind of dialogue between the exorcist and the possessed person begins, in which the exorcist asks for the name of the demon. That’s always a difficult moment. Evil never wants to reveal itself. It often lies.
Why doesn’t he want to reveal his name?
The name discloses his being. Franz Rosenzweig once said the name is not “sound and smoke”, as Goethe says, but “word and fire”. The name Jesus means “God saves”. Isaac, Jacob, all these names have a particular meaning. And it always discloses the person’s being. When I say my name, I’m also saying: I am here. No Demon ever wants to say its name.
And once it’s said it?
At the end, the priest says to the demon, “Go away! Disappear!” The demon usually answers, “No, I don’t want to.” It rebels and revolts. Sometimes it says “You have no power over me. You are nothing to me.” But after a while, its resistance weakens. This usually happens after the invocation of the Holy Mother, she’s very important for that. No demon ever dares to insult her during an exorcism. Never.
Does he have more respect for Mary than for God himself?
Apparently. Otherwise no holds are barred, and everyone is insulted: the priests, everyone present, the bishops, the Pope, even Jesus Christ. But never the Virgin Mary. It’s an enigma.
An exorcism can last up to one hour and it ends with prayers. It’s advisable not to let it last too long because this battle is very difficult and stressful for all those present also for the person being exorcised. After the exorcism, everyone feels enormously relieved, as though they can breathe again. But in many cases a new exorcism is necessary. I know of cases in which people were only truly free to begin a new life after several exorcisms. They often say it’s like being born again.
There is so much evil in the world. Look at all the wars, all the massacres, the tyrants and murderers. Is it not strange that the devil still plays his games with lonely and poor people, taking them over? Couldn’t he do better, or rather worse? Isn’t he busy enough already?
That is truly a mystery. Cases of possession seem to me to be the evil flip-side of miracles, which are equally inexplicable, but which we can also observe. The devil is present everywhere that evil things happen within the normal laws of nature. In anyone who says: I don’t accept love, the love of my brothers and sisters, the love of God. And in many places, in all massacres, in every murder, in physical catastrophes, in every concentration camp, in all evil. Sometimes he shows himself, strangely, but also in cases of possession. But he’s much more dangerous where he doesn’t let himself be seen, where he can’t be done away with through exorcism. No question.
The interview originally appeared in German in Die Welt on December 2, 2005.
Father Pedro Barrajon is a professor of theological anthropology at the Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum in Rome, and member of the Catholic formation Legionaries of Christ, dedicated to studying and spreading the teachings of the Pope.
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National Catholic Reporter, Sept 1, 2000 by John L. Jr. Allen
Ancient ministry attracts new practitioners
At 73, Rome’s Fr. Gabriele Amorth, bald and with a face whose deep crevices suggest wisdom, looks a bit like Yoda, the diminutive sage who trained Luke Skywalker to be a Jedi Knight in the popular “Star Wars” trilogy. Amorth, too, is keeper of an ancient craft in a cosmic battle against evil.
Amorth’s apprentices, however, wield prayer books and holy water rather than light sabers. “Don Gabriele,” as the priest is known in Rome, is the official exorcist for the pope’s diocese, and the leading apostle for what he and others say is a revival in the practice of exorcism in the Western church.
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The resurgence was evident at a weeklong mid-July conference in Rome of the International Association of Exorcists, a group Amorth cofounded in 1993. Their first meeting seven years ago brought together just six Catholic exorcists. This summer more than 200 exorcists and their lay assistants showed up from all parts of the globe.
“When I started this work, I could name most of the other official exorcists in the Western church on my hands,” said Fr. Rufus Perea, a priest and exorcist of the Bombay, India, archdiocese who travels the globe healing and praying over people for deliverance from demons. “Now there are hundreds of us.”
The conference was off-limits to journalists, but several participants agreed to sit down afterward with NCR. The conversations provided a rare glimpse under this corner of the church’s big tent.
The practice of exorcism reaches deep into Catholic tradition. The word comes from a Greek term meaning “to pray or ask deeply,” and originally it had nothing to do with expelling demons. Jesus himself is “exorcised” twice in the New Testament, once by the high priest (Matthew 26:63) and once by the Gerasene demoniac (Luke 8:26-40). Both urge him to do something using the Greek word exorkizo. In the early Christian church, however, this term came to mean the practice of casting out evil spirits. The practice has waxed and waned throughout Christian history. (See accompanying stories, “A bit of exorcist history” and “Revised rite.”)
Polls show that surprising numbers of people remain open to the practice. A 1999 Atlanta Journal-Constitution survey concluded that almost 50 percent of Americans believe people are sometimes inhabited by the devil.
Fr. James Moroney, chief liturgist for the U.S. bishops’ conference, told NCR it is impossible to verify whether there has been growth in the number of exorcists in the United States, since the church does not track how many exorcists local bishops appoint.
Team handled 25 cases last
The most renowned American exorcist, Fr. James LaBar of the New York archdiocese, believes the movement is gathering steam. LaBar, appointed by the late Cardinal John J. O’Connor of New York, is part of a five-person team from that archdiocese that travels the country responding to exorcism requests. The group handled more than 25 cases last year.
“People know Cardinal O’Connor has exorcists, and so they call and we go,” LaBar said on a 1999 radio program. LaBar, who was unavailable for comment for this article, first came to prominence in 1991, when he took part in a Palm Beach, Fla., exorcism that was videotaped and later broadcast on ABC’s “20/20.”
LaBar said last year that his caseload is heavy in part because so few other American bishops have named exorcists. “Today if there are a half-dozen dioceses that have an officially appointed exorcist that would be a lot,” he said. “There’s a growing demand, and we don’t have the manpower to meet it.”
Rome’s Amorth told NCR that when he began working as an exorcist in 1986, there were fewer than 20 official exorcists in Italy. Now, he said, there are more than 300 in the country. Fueling the growth, observers here said, are two broad trends. The first is a rebirth of traditional forms of belief and devotion within Catholicism inspired by John Paul’s papacy. The other is the Catholic charismatic movement.
Perea, whose background is in the charismatic movement, told NCR that the two impulses generally reinforce each other, but there are tensions.
The first meeting of exorcists in 1990, he said, was composed almost entirely of traditional exorcists wary of lay collaboration. “They didn’t want to hear about any lay people practicing the ministry of deliverance,” he said, “especially enthusiasts coming out of the charismatic renewal.”
Perea pushed for expanded lay involvement and for a detente between the traditional exorcists and the charismatics. Today he heads a companion association, in partnership with the exorcists’ group, for priests and lay people who lack an official commission from a bishop but who nevertheless offer informal prayers for deliverance.
Such practices cause some uneasiness in official circles. A 1985 letter to bishops from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith specifies, that certain functions that are part of the exorcism rite are restristricted to priests. Those include ordering the demon out or inquiring about its identity.
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