Monday, September 13, 2010

An Exorcist Tells His Story

This is a milestone book on demonology and diabolic possession by Fr. Gabriele Amorth, Rome's chief exorcist. He is also the honorary life president of the International Association of Exorcists, which he founded.

Fr Benedict J. Groeschel, who wrote the forward to this book said: "He [Fr. Amorth] has been very successful in helping a wide range of persons with acute disturbances quite beyond the scope of clinical diagnosis...As a priest rather than a clinician, I recognise in this book the account of an intelligent and dedicated pastor of souls who has had the courage to go where most of us fear to tread"

In this book, Fr. Gabriele Amorth discusses the following issues:

What is possession ?

Possession is when Satan enters and takes over the physical and mental capabilities of a victim, however, the soul and will remains free. Satan acts through the victim without the victim's consent, thus the victim is morally blameless. Satan does not act alone when he possesses an individual. He works side by side with many evil spirits such as spirits of lust, hate, destruction, suicide, revenge, anger, anxiety, desperation, death, torment, etc. Such an example is found in Luke 8:30 the case of the possessed man in the territory of the Gerasenes: "Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" He replied, "Legion," because many demons had entered him ".

Satan's army of evil, torment many unknowing lost souls to the point of destruction of others and of themselves. Today a more favorable climate exists for cases of possession and obsession then ever before. Our world has become a playground of pornography, sex, money, material possessions, drugs, and alcohol. There are so many instruments to spread these Satanic messages such as television, Internet, radio, music, and even the clothing we wear; thus our children are exposed to a multitude of temptations and are wide open to evil. The "predominant" Gods of of this age we live in include money, television, music, and sex. Unfortunately, the "cure"-exorcism, is considered an "ancient" ritual and is snubbed by most religious leaving many victims to suffer indescribable torments, and in some instances, even suicide.

Signs of possession (from the Roman Ritual of Exorcism)

The following are symptoms of possession as represented in the Roman Ritual of Exorcism. In most cases, a victim will have one or more of the traits listed.

* Victim speaks or understands unknown languages without ever studying the language being spoken or heard
* Victim clearly knows things that are distant or hidden
* Victim can predict future events (sometimes through dreams)
* Victim has an intense hatred for holy things
* Victim shows a physical strength far above his age or normal condition

The Extraordinary Activities of Satan Defined - The following is taken from Fr. Gabriele Amorth's second book "An Exorcist More Stories." Fr. Amorth's book is published by IGNATIUS released in 2002. The boundaries between one category and another are not clear-cut, because there is a lot of mingling and compounding of symptoms.

External Pain - deals strictly with physical suffering. This includes the beatings, scourging, and injuries caused by inexplicable pushing, falling objects, and so on, that we read about in the lives of many saints, such as the Curé of Ars. Saint Paul of the Cross, and Padre Pio. These occurrences are not as rare as we may think, and the demon's activity is usually confined to external activity; internal activity, if any, is only temporary and limited to the duration of a particular disturbance.

Diabolic Possession - is the gravest form of demonic activity, which allows a continuing presence of a demon in a human body. The evil symptoms do not have to be continuous but can alternate between periods of crisis and periods of rest. Possession implies intervals of temporary suspension of mental, intellectual, affective, and volitive faculties. Symptoms can include the knowledge of languages unknown to the victim, superhuman strength, and the ability to know the occult or someone else's thoughts. Typically, there is an aversion to anything sacred, often in conjunction with blasphemy. There are also frauds who pose as demoniac; therefore, we need to be extremely wary.

Diabolic Oppression - is a ransom discomfort. We must remember that symptoms and gravity differ greatly case by case. This oppression can strike health, job, affections, relationship with others, and so on. Its symptoms include unexplainable rages and a tendency to complete isolation. Oppression can affect both individual and groups (even very large groups).

Diabolic Obsession- causes an almost split personality. Our will remains free, but it is oppressed by obsessive thoughts. The victim experiences thoughts that may be rationally absurd but of such a nature that he is unable to free himself. The obsessed person lives in a perpetual state of prostration, with persistent temptations to suicide. We must be aware that the temptation to commit suicide is also present in diabolic possession and diabolic oppression.

Diabolic Infestation - In this case, the malefic activity is directed toward places (houses, offices, stores, fields), objects (cars, pillows, mattresses, dolls) and animals, therefore it only indirectly affects man. Origen tells us that the early Christians resorted to exorcisms in these situations.

Diabolic Subjugation - The term indicates a voluntary pact--implicit or explicit---with Satan, by which we submit to the lordship of the demon. There are also involuntary times with the evil one; these cases fall into the preceding categories, especially the most severe: possession.

How does one become possessed ?

Below, Fr. Amorth explains that there are four principal causes that may cause one to fall victim to these evils.

Pure Divine Permission
Clearly, nothing happens without divine permission, but God never wills evil, suffering, or temptation. He gave us freedom and allows the existence of evil, but knows how to turn it into good. When he gives the demon his permission to torment us, he does so to strengthen us in virtue, as in the biblical example of Job, as well as of many blesseds and saints. We must keep in mind that diabolical harassment in itself has nothing to do with the state of grace of its victims.

Subject to a Curse
Here, too, the victim is innocent, but there is culpability on the part of whoever casts and/or commissions the curse. By the word curse, I mean the intention of harming others through demonic intervention. This can be achieved in many ways: malefice (or spell), binding, evil eye, malediction, and so on. The matter is serious, but we need to be on guard against misconceptions. By their nature, curses lend themselves to all sorts of abuses, especially when we consider the current escalation in the number of frauds, suggestions, manias, and more.

Grave Hardening of Sin
Judas Iscariot is the classical Gospel example. The many individuals who abandon themselves to sexual perversions, violence, and drugs fall into this group. The heinous crime of abortion aggravates this situation; its terrible repercussions are clearly seen during exorcisms, because to liberate a victim who is guilty of abortion usually requires a very long period of time. Due to the current devastation of the family and the laxity of morals, the repercussions that stem from the scourge of abortion are much more common than in the past. When we take all these factors into account, we can understand why the number of individuals stricken by evil ailments has multiplied.

Proximity to Evil Places or Persons
This includes attending spiritualistic session, dabbling in magic, or consulting magicians, witch doctors, and some card readers; also, practicing the occult, belonging to satanic sects, or practicing in rites that climax with black masses, and so on, put us at great risk.

To this category we can add the influence of mass media, such as pornographic shows and violent horror movies broadcast by many TV stations. We witness the effects of the widespread presence of rock music, culminating in satanic rock performed in what we could easily refer to as "churches or rock", such as stadiums, parks, and discothèques. We should not be surprised that, today, there is an explosion of these activities: a decline in faith life is directly connected to an increase in superstitions. I will not tire or repeating that members of the clergy have done nothing to oppose, or at least warn against, all these evils, because they are completely ignorant even of what the Bible explicitly says on the subject. This forth category has greatly contributed to the increase in evil ailments in the last decades, especially among the young.

[This is taken from An Exorcist More Stories, also by Fr. Gabriele Amorth, published by IGNATIUS PRESS]

Who can perform and exorcism ?

In the early church (according the Early Church Fathers) the casting out of demons was widely accepted and exorcism could be performed by anyone. Why then has this practice changed? It has been found that in severe cases if the one who is casting out the demons is not experienced or grounded in faith and does not have sufficient spiritual protection it can be harmful for both the victim and the so called exorcist. We find in Matthew 17:20-21 a case in which the apostles could not cast out a demon from the epileptic demoniac. Jesus rebuked them for not being prepared and told them only through prayer and fasting could this demon be cast out.

Before Vatican II the exorcism prayer was part of the Baptismal rite. Why? In the days of the early church there were many pagans coming into the church. Part of the long preparation for these pagans coming into the church was exorcism on Holy Saturday before Easter.

Around the third century, Pope Cornelius was the first to make the exorcist a minor order (See on Internet about this). He announced that an exorcist could be a priest, deacon or in the subdiaconate. The minor order of exorcism has since been dropped by Pope Paul VI in 1972. He did not believe there was a need and it was obsolete.

From the Commentary of the Code of Canon Law

Canon 1172 - (1) No one can perform exorcisms legitimately upon the possessed unless he has obtained special 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.

An exorcism is a sacramental by which "the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion. The canon pertains to solemn exorcisms observing the Rite of Exorcism of the Roman Ritual, not to the simply exorcism that are part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or the baptism of infants.

One of the praenotanda to the 1998 Rite of Exorcism (n13) has completely reordered this canon. There are significant differences between the new law and the canon.

An exorcist is to be a priest (sacerdos) not a presbyter (presbyterus) as in the canon, which means bishops as well as presbyters may be appointed exorcists.

The priest must have specific preparation for this office.

"For the most part" (plerumque), the local ordinary who appoints the exorcist should be the diocesan bishop, which implies that the vicar general and episcopal vicar should not do it without a special mandate, except in a case of need when the bishop cannot be reached.

The exorcist, whether appointed to the stable office of exorcist or ad actum, is to fulfill this ministry under the direction of the diocesan bishop.

Source: The Church and Exorcism.

In pages 32-35 Fr. Gabriele Amorth teaches us how to protect ourselves from any of the above:
  • Prayer
  • Sacraments
  • Alms giving and Charity
  • Leading a Christian Life
  • Forgiving offences
  • Fidelity to God
  • Fear of sin - "the basis of our strength"
  • Intercession of Saints, especially the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Intercession of Angels, especially our guardian angel.

These are what other Christians believe about dealing with demons:

Demons: evil spirits, angelic beings who joined with Satan in his rebellion against God in the kingdom of heaven (Rev. 12:4)

Demon oppression: mild to severe harassment by evil spirit(s) resulting from the opening of some door(s) to Satan's influence.

Demon possession: the condition in which one or more evil spirits inhabit the body of a human being, taking complete control of it at will and expressing his (or their) personality through that body.

Symptoms of demon oppression (caution: some of these may simply be the result of unconfessed sin or unconquered sin habits in the life of the believer)

1. abnormal, irrational fear

2. abnormal, irrational anxiety

3. abnormal, irrational loneliness

4. severe and/or persistent depression that is not physiologically induced

5. lack of self-control

6. aimlessness; the feeling that life is void of any purpose or meaning

7. conflicts with authority figures

8. violent, reckless behavior

9. loss of the fear of God

10. outbursts of hatred

11. selfish ambition, especially an appetite for power

12. irrationality; inability to detect or correct contradictions or other fallacious reasoning

Open doors to demon oppression:

1. indulgence in occult music, literature, art, dancing, etc.

2. possession ( known or unknown) of occult records, tapes, books, pictures, charms, tools, games, etc.

3. grudges against God and others

4. poor self-image

5. rebellion against authority

6. dating relationships or close friendships with demon oppressed or possessed people

7. sexual immorality with demon oppressed or possessed people

8. authority figures acceptance of Satanic influence

9. seeking or giving consent to occult power or occult revelation

10. fascination with occult power, occult revelation, or psychic phenomena, in general

11. rejection of what is know and understood to be true

12. participation in false religions or cults

13. wrong use of drugs and/or alcohol

14. wrong use of herbs

15. escapism through thrill- seeking ,science fiction, soap operas, or some other addicting hobby/activity

16. hedonism; an absorbing pursuit of entertainment and/or body pleasure

17. fascination with violence, especially violence devoid of justice; sadism and/or masochism

18. prolonged or persistent jealousy

19. bad temper or stubbornness

20. pornography

21. fascination with UFO phenomena; attempts to contact extraterrestrial beings

22. prolonged sleeplessness

23. meditation on anything other than God's revealed truth

24. chanting or other cultic/occult forms of worship

25. any contact with demon oppressed or possessed people that threatens the demon(s)

Symptoms of demon possession:

1. intense, maniacal delight in wielding power

2. total incapability of submitting to any but demonic authority

3. filthy, uncontrolled swearing without provocation, even toward total strangers*

4. irreverent, vile, lewd comments about members of the Godhead; comments attributing gross sexual immorality to Jesus*

5. sustained supernatural strength or intelligence beyond that which might come from adrenalin or some other physiological source*

6. irrationality to the degree that even the simplest spiritual truths are beyond comprehension

7. intense, highly disturbed reaction to the mentions of Jesus' name and Jesus' blood shed on the cross for man's sin*

8. possession of supernatural, occult power(s) e.g. ability to foretell future events, to levitate tables or other objects, or to travel outside the body, etc.

9. wild, unnatural facial contortions

10. presence of two or more distinguishable, coherent personalities, personalities capable of expressing themselves simultaneously (may include emergence of strange voices, dual or multiple voices, and/or unnatural conversations)*

11. unexplainable, uncontrollable terror especially in the presence of Christians whose faith is strong* (this terror arises either from the demon's fear of being cast out or from the possessed person's fear upon being cruelly threatened by the demon(s)

12. extreme violent, reckless behavior, e.g. throwing knives, playing with poisonous snakes, etc.**

13. severe, persistent depression, despondency and/or temptations to commit suicide**

14. total lack of self- restraint, especially in sexual behavior; uncontrolled sexual advances

15. extreme disregard for physical appearance and/or physical well-being**

16. intense loneliness, even in the midst of warm, compassionate fellowship* conclusive evidence of possession **

The demon's goal is to get the possessed person to kill himself and/or others before he or they act on the opportunity to be saved and become Christ's.

Open doors to demon possession by:

1. holding on to deep-seated grudges against God and others

2. giving consent to occult power or revelation, e.g. going to a fortune teller, having an astrological chart or forecast made, etc.

3. craving and seeking after occult power or revelation, e.g. taking e.s.p. tests or other psychic aptitude tests

4. possessing and/or using occult tools, charms, books, music, souvenirs, etc.

5. having parents or other close authority figures open doors to Satan's influence

6. blaspheming the Holy Spirit; i.e .repeatedly and consistently rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit as He reveals truth and convicts of sin

7. grossly and habitually rebelling against authority

8. habitually participating in gross sexual immorality

Closing doors to demon oppression and possession by:

1. Examine your life for any and all open doors.

2. Repenting of opening those doors (except in the case of #25), and confess as sin the opening of doors by your authority figures.

3. Taking action to demonstrate repentance and to purify your life, including the following:

a.) Release resentment/grudges against God and others, and seek forgiveness of those you have offended by your resentment.
b.) Repudiate and renounce any and all occult involvement; seek forgiveness of those you have offended by it; totally destroy all books and other objects connected with it.
c.) Get back under the authority of your parents, husband, pastor, elders, boss, teachers, and/or others against whom you rebelled; again, seek forgiveness wherever necessary.

4. Ask Jesus Christ to take complete control of your life with His will supreme, not your own. Dedicate your heart, soul, mind, and strength to be used for His glory, for the fulfillment of His purposes.

How to be set free from possession: With an intense effort of your will, seek the help of God and of strong, mature Christians. Attempt to communicate your desire to be set free.

Casting out demons

1. Make sure the possessed person encountered truly is possessed. Seek confirmation.

2. Exercise empathic repentance first, closing any open doors to demon influence in your own life.

3. Get not only the consent of the possessed person, but also that of his/her key authority figures, to cast the demon(s) out (Luke 11:24-26).

4. Enlist the help of five or more physically and spiritually strong Christians.

5. Do NOT lay hands on the possessed person, except as necessary to prevent bodily harm.

6. Identify the demon (or each demon, in cases where there are more than one) by asking him to give his name.

7. In the name of Jesus and by the power of His shed blood, command the demon(s) to leave.

8. Watch for deception--Remember: there may be more than just one or two.

9. In cases where a demon is particularly stubborn, engage in group fasting and prayer (Mark 9:25-29).

10. Carefully and diligently lead the person through each step of closing doors to demon oppression/possession (given above). Remember that bringing the person to salvation, to the indwelling of God's Spirit, is the only prevention for further demon possession (Mark 9:25-29).

11. Stay close to the new convert and help him get involved in a solid program of discipleship in fellowship with other believers.

If you need help pertaining to cases of demonic possession or oppression, please contact a deliverance prayer group in your area listed in this worldwide directory.

Please post your comments.



Lorie Smith said...

I've read this book. Its fantastic. Tells you from direct experience the causes of demonic possession / oppression and what to do. Fr. Gabriele Amorth doesn't mince his words. He says that we should have at list one exorcist for each diocese. Currently most priests don't even know how to perform an exorcism or don't believe in the existence of the devil. Sad.

Joel said...

Wonderful book. I wish my parish priest would read this.

DL said...

There is a part 2 of this book - An Exorcist: More Stories. Great insights by Fr. Gabriele Amorth. Worth a read.

Gilbert Wong said...

Anyone can exorcise a demon. Just call on the name above all names, the LORD Jesus Christ. He has defeated all demons and the devil and they tremble at his name.

Terry S said...

I have suffered all my life from Emotional Problems, I then went to Mental Health Professional, I am a Cradle Caholic,but after sevesal years, and Hit Bottom from Alcoholism,I gave my life to Jesus Christ, and was free instantally, form Alcoholism, but still had Emotional Problems, then I went to a Church that believe in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit prayed for Me and lead Me through the Deliverance of satan hold on me,I was free to fight the devil, it took several years but I still have Spiritual Warfare and live in Victory in Jesus Name,the greatest Adocate in Helping Me is Saint Benedict, I found Him by the leading of the HOLY SPIRIT,I wear His Medal and promote Devotion to him whenever I can, He is a Special Advocate, against the devil and a Most Holy of all Saints.

Dr. Simon Francis said...

I've read Fr. Gabriele Amorth's books - this one, and the other one on exorcism. In these books he shares his personal experience in dealing with people who are possessed, oppressed etc. He also explains the Church's view on this matter. A must read for those who are interested in this subject, especially this book.

Quentin Feresai said...

Dr. Simon Francis, I recommend you read fr malachi martin's book too.

Post a Comment

Please use a name or a pseudonym when posting a comment.