Monday, October 31, 2011

Exorcism is not a parlor game.

I didn't realize that this year is the 40 year anniversary of The Exorcist.  That film really scared me.  I saw it on Holy Thursday while in the novitiate of the Southwest Carmelite Fathers.  I know! 
I do not like reading about, or watching films on possession - although I have done so, most of my reading has been limited to Fr. Amorth's books, although for the theology of the matter, I've depended upon Garrigou-Lagrange.  I think many contemporary writers and speakers on the subject just may have been a tad imprudent - take the late and kind of strange Malachi Martin, or the banished Fr. Euteneuer for instance.  Exploitative, sensationalized literature attracts and excites the morbid curiosity of the curious.  There is an article today concerning Martin wherein the author claims that an exorcism doesn't always require a Catholic priest.
Last week, while one of those mindless Disney sit-coms on Wednesday night was airing, there was a scene in one show wherein teens were going to perform an exorcism to get rid of the spirit of a supposedly dead girl who once lived in the house the would-be possessed lived in.  A very little bit of knowledge - even about sacred ritual - could-maybe-probably-perhaps become a portal for the evil one.  Gosh - if Michael O'Brien thinks it is bad to list one's astrological sign in one's online profile - playing exorcist has to be bad.
After viewing the scene, it occurred to me that younger people most likely would indeed try to exorcise someone or some place.  I'm sure the actual ritual or types of rituals are obtainable online or at Barnes and Noble, or a good library.  In addition there are readily available exorcism prayers to St. Michael which the Church actually cautions should not be used by lay people.  Yet there it is - on prime time television, whetting the appetite of kids to get into the business of exorcism.  And it is not just kids who fool around with this stuff - adults do too.  I've heard stories of adult men making the rounds of so-called liberal priest's residences, performing little exorcism rituals - at one time even attempting on their own to exorcise the Cathedral.  Such presumption can be dangerous.
Anyway - I think many of us are far too obsessed with the subject, reminding me of Teresa of Avila's complaint, "I'm sick and tired of those people who go about saying: 'The devil, the devil, the devil,' when instead they should be saying 'God, God, God'. I fear these kinds of persons more than the devil himself."  Me too.
That said, Fr. Longenecker has a more informed post on the subject of exorcism and our popular obsession with it, which may help clarify some of the mystery surrounding the issue.  Father links to the older post here.


  1. +JMJ+

    I should have saved the story of my Exorcist dream for this post.

  2. This was the scariest film ever, and even today when I watch it-even though the special effects are somewhat dated-it leaves me feeling very uncomfortable.

    I remember going to see it when it came out. A crowd of us came off shift at the hospital and went down to the local cinema.

    When we came out Canon Murphy was outside just incase anyone needed any assistance. Even though he was elderly, he was there every night the film was shown.
    Thank God that we have a diocesan Exorcist, we might not know who he is, he might not appear in the Ordo/Yearbook, but we know he is there and as Laity, that is all we need to know.

  3. This is the time of year when ghost stories abound; every town and locality seems to have some. In 50-plus years I have never met a ghost, and I don't want to, however I don't dismiss the possibility of them. I heard a story this year, supposedly true, that haunted me (no pun intended). It seems that a number of years ago there was a tragic accident in which a school bus was hit by a train at a lonely country railroad crossing where there were no guard rails. People who have had occasion to be near there at night say that they can hear children crying, yet there are no houses anywhere around. I find this deeply troubling, if it is true (I don't dismiss the possibility of someone's immagination being overheated). It is awful to think of children, or anyone, being trapped in time in such a terrible moment, apparently unable to find their way home. Of course I pray for the dead and have added those victims to my list; I feel helpless to do anything else. Does God allow something like this to happen; where are the guardian angels when they are needed to guide the dead across? I don't expect anyone to answer that, of course none of us know. But for this reason I find ghost stories more sad and troubling than scary. The worst thing would be to be dead and not be able leave this earth.

  4. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

    Forget about diabolical possession.

    The Devil is so vain, he will let Priests know he is in possession of someone's soul in due time.

    One thing that is of grave concern is the diabolical infestation and harassment that demons engage in.

    It is a master stroke of Satan's cunning.

    People are afraid to speak out from fear of being called crazy, or stupid.

    "We don't talk about things like that; if you don't bother demons, they will leave you alone" is the biggest stupidity that ever came down the pike.

    Use real Holy Water.

    Get some Saint Benedict Medals from a Benedictine Monastery, better yet, get them from the Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery in Silver City, New Mexico. (they come Blessed if you ask).

    Give Holy Water to those that need it, along with the Saint Benedict Medals and small crucifix that they might protect their homes and property.

    People that cast out Satan and are not Catholic will have to account for being a heretic and invoking the Holy Name.

    I don't write the rules, i just try to stay within them.

    Only God's grace protects us from Satan and his legions.

    As for learning about devils:

    "...before setting to work for God and to fight against the devil, first calculate your forces; and if you consider yourself well enough equipped to begin, you are a fool, because the tower to be built costs an outrageous price, and the enemy coming out to meet you is an angel, before whom you are of no account.

    Get to know yourself so well that you cannot contemplate yourself without flinching.

    Then there will be room for hope.

    In the sure knowledge that you are obliged to do the impossible in Him who strengthens you, then you are ready for a task which can be performed only through the Cross."

    The problem with the actual study of demons is that, for our intents, the information is full of theological errors.

    In other words, you will be up against heathen legend vs. Christian theology.

    It would be very difficult to sort it all out on your own.

    St. Albert the Great has some advice for you: "It is taught by the demons, it teaches about the demons, and it leads to the demons."

    from experience, when the Devil confronts you, get your dukes up; don't go down without a fight.

    Struggle, and keep in mind :

    "My Jesus, Mercy"

    The Devil hates that.


  5. I lived in an apartment by th eriver for one year that I could swear was was in the older section of town. One bedroom was ALWAYS cold, the water pipes would leak and break at least every other week, and my tow kittens I had at the time was alway acting like they were playing with something..the cool bedroom was nice inthe summer but was absolutely FRIGID inth could feel the warm air come out of the furnace vents but it never warmed upt he room...I even put a space heater in there no effect.

    I really didn't think much about it...old buildings have problems that's why the rent is cheap blah blah..when I went to move to a little cottage and was packing up my boxes my neighbor across the hall from me had his father visit...he noticed me moving boxes and he helped me put them in my truck...he said "You live in 73??? I hated that place--the bedroom was always cold, the water pipes always broke, and something was driving my little dog crazy" I had never told this to anyone..and found he had lived in the same apartment 20 years prior..

    And get this--I went to the super to clear out the apartment and turn in my key...I causally said " No one told me that apartment was haunted." She just kind of looked at me and said "Well--if we had told you it was haunted you wouldn't have rented the apartment would you??" Ca ching....

    The I was really worried cuz the little cottage I was moving into was over 120 years old...but no ghosts there...

    Spirits at work, OTOH..between being on a WWII military base where numerous accidents happened, probable ancient Indian burial ground, and coworkers who are Wicca, New Agers, Hindu, and other assorted assorted religious flavors, I'm sure restless spirits abound..


  6. Melody—Umm, urban legends can be tricky. This one is meant to scare you into using a bit of common sense at railroad crossings. The stories resonate with us because they have a grain of truth in them—it's not like there are never accidents at crossings, after all. A quick web perusal brings up the school bus story with its child ghosts in several states. In most of the stories, the spectral children actually push vehicles off the tracks, sometimes even leaving little hand prints on dusty bumpers. They say drivers can put their cars in neutral if they want to experience being “rescued”--apparently the little ghosties are complete morons who can't tell when someone is really in trouble or not. I think it's just bunk. For sure only an idiot would put a car in neutral on railroad tracks just to check for ghosts. I do believe in ghosts and hauntings though. Due to my own family's (mild) experiences, I would never discount others' experiences. Some people suffer terribly from this stuff, and it doesn't help the general atmosphere that occult practices increased by leaps and bounds over the past century or two. I think that what we call ghosts can actually be one of several things. But here's the bottom line: God knows exactly where each one of us is—quick or dead. And our guardian angels that He gave to us never leave us unless they must abandon us to hell. We will know our angels in heaven and they stay with us until we get there, even throughout our stay in purgatory. As for the child ghosts: If they are real, they are not “trapped in time,” their souls are outside of it, going through purgation—and your prayers for them are exactly what they need and want. If they are not real but an urban legend, your prayers will be applied instead to real souls in purgatory—prayers are never wasted. If they are a demonic deception, your prayers will give your guardian angel “ammo” while they bolster your courage, and again, will benefit the Holy Souls. It's not the worst thing to be stuck on earth for a while—earth will pass away and any souls “stuck” here (if that is what is actually happening) will be purged of every imperfection. The worst thing would be to be dead and not be able to leave hell.

  7. A couple of posts here have reminded me of an accident that happened to some children:

    I drove past the site earlier this year, and the Padre I was with told me the story.

    We had driven to and through quite a few a states, and at every location where little shrines with crosses and flowers marked an accident scene with fatalities, we said a Hail Mary for the souls involved.

    This is the worst school bus crash in U.S. history.

    There are no crosses with flowers to mark the site, because a man with a specific religion other than Catholic, with lots of money and lawyers threatened to sue the State if it allowed a shrine for the children at that site.

    Some people in America hate the cross of Jesus Christ so much, they will use every ounce of strength and all their resources to deprive those little souls of a shrine in their memory.

    I do not mention his religion as speaking truthfully about Jews is not permitted in American.

    So I won’t mention his religious affiliation.

    They sad part of this story?

    Those were innocent little school kids that never did anything to anybody, and not one good Christian has stood up to defend a Catholic shrine in their memory.

    I hope their souls are resting in peace, and that the bloglodites here remember them in their prayers this All Souls Day.

    Ave Maria, Purissima!


  8. Pablo--we are currently having the same issue here in Utah with the American Atheists who vehemently oppose the large memorial crosses for state highway patrol officers who have sacrificed their lives while on duty.. The crosses are paid for by the troopers association so no tax dollers were spent, but all of them are on public land..these are fairly large crosses, not the small memorial that family members will put along roadsides...


  9. Why can't the guy just oppose the cross because he's a jerk, not because he's a Jew?

    What do you think about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

  10. And this is from the Wikipedia article about the crash:

    "On Interstate 71, the crash site is marked with a highway sign erected by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC). Even twenty years later, memorial items such as crosses and flower arrangements are placed at the site by families and friends."

    And the bus was a church bus carrying children belong to an Assembly of God youth group, so that may explain why there is no Catholic shrine.

    Where did you hear the story about this nefarious, evil Jew?

  11. “…And this is from the Wikipedia article about the crash…”

    “…I drove past the site earlier this year, and the Padre I was with told me the story…”

    Padre always trumps wiki in Catholicism.

    I would like to recommend the SSPX’s Third Order to you:

    Mrs. Elizabeth Wilson
    SSPX Third Order
    PO Box 268
    Watkins, CO 80137

    You might find like minded people there.

    You should be very happy once you join.


  12. I liked the Exorcist because it was a movie about a priest in a crisis of faith. unfortunately, the sensationalized exorcism and special effects eclipse this powerful message. If you recall, Fr. Karras was essentially a modern man of science- extremely reluctant to believe in diabolical possession or anything spiritual. Eventually, he is empowered by his faith, bravely confronts evil, and fully embraces the powers of priesthood.

    Also, Fr. Karras takes the evil (the demons) upon himself and sacrifices himself in order to save Regan. The christian influence in this dramatic ending needs no explanation. Fr. Marrin's death is also akin to martyrdom, as he dies so that Regan might be saved.

    I also thought the movie portrayed priests in a very positive light- certainly more positive than they are usually portrayed in the media or movies today.

    Thank God for our priests!

  13. No, Pablo, it is a FACT that it was an Assembly of God Church bus. There is no record anywhere of an evil Jew blocking a Catholic shrine form being built, and people DO put up crosses there (I found another site where some of the victims families and friends were writing about it).

    Just because a priest relates a story does not mean it's true.

    And no, I have no interest whatsoever in associating with the SSPX. Benedict XVI is holy enough for me, I don't need to start following fake bishops who imagine they are the sole bearers of Tradition.

  14. "...blocking a Catholic shrine form being built..."

    All crucifixes are Catholic.

    Even the ones in heretical Protestant Churches.

    The cross belongs to Holy Mother Church; to give money to any Church outside of Her is to sin.

    That is a Catholic belief many do not clearly understand.


  15. Who is donating to Protestant Churches, and how does that answer the question?

  16. "...evil Jew..."

    We should not call anyone evil.

    "...I have no interest whatsoever in associating with the SSPX. Benedict XVI is holy enough for me, I don't need to start following fake bishops who imagine they are the sole bearers of Tradition..."

    The Holiness of the Pope has zero to do with the Bride of Christ.

    We have had good Holy Fathers and bad Holy Fathers.

    Holy Mother Church remains without stain.

    To be against the SSPX is to be against Holy Mother Church.

    The Holy Father has not declared them anathema; he has held several years of talks that a problem caused by the Freemason hi-jacking of Vatican Council II be resolved.

    And don't support Protestant positions by condemning what the Pope approves, and wishes to resolve.

    God has granted many graces to the SSPX.


  17. I meant to say that the pope is Catholic enough for me.

    I will not support the SSPX and their illicit bishops.

    I don't need to go through all the reasons, but I will be in union with Benedict XVI (and he is a great pope, as was John Paul II), my local bishop, and my parish priest.


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