|Anthony Hopkins in The Rite|
The Catholic News Agency has an article on it's website of an interview with a trainee exorcist, who never imagined himself doing exorcisms when he first became a priest. It was something that must have been inspired by Our Lord Himself, for he says that when he was consecrating the bread and wine during Mass one time, he prayed the following:
“At the moment of consecration of the precious blood I asked the Lord to shower his blood upon the youth and to help any young men who may have a vocation to the priesthood.”
The instant reaction of one 13-year old boy shocked the young priest, “he fell backwards and started growling. And I thought, ‘I wasn’t expecting this!’”
I don't think anyone quite expects an overt manifestation like that. I had my own experience of overt diabolic activity many years ago when I was still dabbling in New Age stuff. I had the thought that an old building, such as the one I was wandering through at the time (the old Grace Bros Building in Sydney city, no longer standing) must have a lot of "energy" in it that might be felt if one opened themselves up. Stupidest thing I ever did, and I've done some stupid things, but this beat everything else. Once I gave the ascent, I felt a rushing at me from everywhere. The pressure on me was amazing, especially the pressure into my head. I immediately changed my mind and yelled out an internal no and it stopped. But I had an immense headache and I was physically sick for two days. Even now, just remembering it, I feel like I have to remain closed to whatever it was, because that capacity to open in that way is still there.
“It is not the devil or the exorcist who is at the center of this but a person is suffering a lot and who is in need of certain liberation through Christ.”
Confession, confession, confession has worked for me - it's the greatest protection against the devil. I think most (hopefully all) demonic influence beyond that which we are normally allowed to experience was removed last year after a Catholic retreat I went to. Thankfully, I was never actually possessed, though I could have been. It was so close.
As for correct terminology, is it a demon or a devil? “Demon comes from Greek, devil comes from Latin, either is okay,” he explained. What you are dealing with “are fallen angels who were created good.”
The early Church Fathers, including St. Jerome and St. Augustine, speculated that these angels rebelled “because of the revelation to them of God’s plan of incarnation” and their “repulsion at the notion that God, who is pure spirit and infinite, should become a man.”
For this reason, the priest observed, they have a “fascination with physicality” and “making people suffer.”
“So once the rite begins, normally he starts to manifest himself in the suffering person different ways - violence, changing of the face, changing of the voice is different,” he said, recalling recent exorcisms.
“He just wants to intimidate, but you basically have to ignore him and say ‘Hey, I am the one giving orders around here, buddy,’” he laughed.
I can just imagine our resident atheists disbelieving that this sort of thing is possible.
The demon’s angelic knowledge, he said, also means they are aware that God only permits their diabolical activities to bring about the salvation of people through “expiating suffering.”
“These suffering people are becoming saints (by) the offering of their sacrifices” which God then receives and “blesses large parts of the Church around the world.”
“When you remind the Devil of that it makes him furious,” because he knows he is losing and hence “he wants to get what he can, while he can. If he can’t win these peoples’ souls, he wants to at least make their lives miserable.”
Expiated suffering is the hardest thing to explain to people. Even thought it's difficult, it really does make you stronger as well. Seriously.
The American exorcist-in-training explained that the causes of demonic influence vary from case to case and the impact of participating in evil practices also changes with each case.
But one factor that seems to be a common foundation for people coming under the sway of the Devil is “deep wounds in their lives and, above all, in their family,” particularly where “parents have made really bad choices” and in doing so “have invited evil influence into their home.”
He lists such things as “marital infidelity, abortion, doing things that break the family apart.”
“What is the family?” he asked rhetorically, “A family is an icon; it’s an image of the blessed Trinity, and so the devil hates the family.”
Same-sex marriage is one of the ways that the devil can attack the family. You add same-sex marriage to cohabitation, infidelity and divorce, and you get total confusion as to what the family is. The devil must be very pleased today with NZ and the same-sex marriage bill that has been drawn from the ballot!
Related links: American exorcist in training shares his experience ~ Catholic News Agency
Prayer and Suffering ~ Fr. John A. Hardon, The Real Presence Association