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December 6th, 2012

Demons And Exorcisms

Demons and Exorcisms

Generally the demon does all he can not to be discovered. He does not like to talk and tries everything to discourage both the exorcist and the possessed. Experience has taught me that this behavior follows four steps: prior to discovery, during exorcisms, at the beginning of liberation, and after liberation.

I must caution that there are never two identical instances. The behavior of the evil one is most unpredictable and takes many different forms. What I am about to describe refers to the most frequently encountered behavior.

1. Prior to discovery

Demonic possession causes physical and mental disturbances. Therefore the possessed is usually under a doctor’s care, and nobody suspects the true nature of the problems. Often doctors try to cure the symptoms for a lengthy period and try many drugs, always with very limited results. Commonly, the patient goes from doctor to doctor, accusing them of incompetence. Mental symptoms are the hardest to cure; many times the specialists find nothing wrong-although this also happens often with physical illness-and often the family accuses the possessed individual of imagining his problems.

This is one of the heaviest crosses to bear for these “patients”; they are neither understood nor believed. Almost always, after fruitlessly searching for help from “official medicine”, these individuals knock at the door of “healers” or, worse, sorcerers, seers, and witch doctors. In this manner, the problems increases.

Normally, anyone who comes to the exorcist (following a friend’s suggestion; very rarely a priest’s advice!) has already knocked at every doctor’s door and is thoroughly skeptical; many times he has tried sorcerers and warlocks. Often an inexcusable lack of ecclesiastical care in this field is added to the lack of faith or the lack of practice in the faith of these individuals; the result is an understandable delay in turning to the exorcist.

We must remember that even in the cases of complete possession-that is, in cases when the demon is the one talking and acting, using the victim’s body-the demon does not act consistently. He alternates periods of actively (usually called “moments of crisis “) with unpredictable periods of rest. In this manner, with few exceptions, the person is able to function and hold a job or go to school in a seemingly normal manner. The person alone knows the tremendous effort that the performance of these tasks requires.

2. During Exorcisms

At the beginning the demon tries his best to remain undetected or at least to hide the seriousness of his possession, even if he is not always successful. At times he is forced by the strength of the exorcism to reveal his presence at the first prayers; other times more sessions are required before he is discovered.

I remember a young man who, at the first blessing, gave only a mild negative reaction. I thought, “this is an easy one; I will be done after this blessing and a few more.” The second time, though, he became furious, and after that I could not begin an exorcism unless four strong men were present to subdue him.

Waiting for the hour of God

On other occasions, one must wait for the “hour of God”. I clearly remember one person who had consulted several exorcists, including myself, without any indication of an evil presence. Finally, one time the demon was forced to reveal himself, and after that the exorcisms proceeded fruitfully. Sometimes, from the first or second blessing the demon reveals all his strength, which changes from person to person. At times the revelation is progressive; some possessed appear to have a different sickness at each session, giving the impression that every ill in the body must be brought out one at a time in order to be healed.

How Demons react to Exorcisms

The demon reacts in various manners to prayers and injunctions. Many times he tries to appear indifferent; in reality he suffers and continues to suffer increasingly until liberation is achieved. Some possessed individuals are silent and immobile, and, if provoked, any reaction is limited to the eyes. Others fling themselves about, and unless they are held down, they harm themselves. Others wail, especially if a stole is pressed to the affected parts of their bodies, as the Ritual suggests, or if they are blessed with the Sign of the Cross or with holy water. Very few are violent, and these must be held tightly by those who are helping the exorcist or by their relatives.

Demons are very reluctant to speak. The Ritual, very rightly, admonishes the exorcist not to ask questions out of curiosity, but to ask only what is useful for liberation. The first thing that must be asked is the name. For the demon, who is so reluctant to reveal himself, revealing himself is a defeat; even when he has revealed his name, he is always reluctant to repeat it, even during following exorcisms. Then we command the evil one to tell how many demons are present in a particular body. There can be many or few, but there is always one chief, and he is always the first to be named.

When the demon has a biblical name or one given in tradition (for example, Satan, Beelzebul, Lucifer, Zebulun, Meridian, Asmodeus), we are dealing with “heavy weights”, tougher to defeat. The degree of difficulty is also relative to the intensity with which the demon possesses a person. When several demons are present, the chief is always the last to leave.

The strength of possession is manifested also from the reaction of the demon to holy names. Generally the evil one does not and cannot say those names; he substitutes expressions such as “he” (referring to God or Jesus) or “she” (referring to our Lady). Other times he says’ “your Boss” or “your Lady”, to indicate Jesus or Mary. If the possession is very strong and the demon is high-ranking (I repeat that demons keep the rank that they held when they were angels, such as thrones, principalities, or dominions), then it is possible for him to say the name of God and Mary, always followed by horrible blasphemies.

Some believe, I know not why, that demons are talkative and that, if they are present during an exorcism, the demon will publicly denounce all their sins. It is a false belief; demons are reluctant to speak, and when they talk they say silly things to distract the exorcist and escape his questions.

Father Candido’s experience

Father Candido was exorcising a handsome young man who was possessed by a great beast of a demon. Trying to discourage the exorcist, the demon said: “Can’t you see that you are wasting your time? This one never prays. He goes around with… and does…” and there followed a long list of ugly sins. At the end of the exorcism, Father Candido fruitlessly tried to convince that young man to make a general confession. It was necessary almost to drag him into the confessional, where he hastened to say that he had no sins to confess. Then Father Candido asked, “But did you not do this and such?” Dumbfounded, the poor man was forced to admit his transgressions.

The Ritual suggests asking other questions dealing with the length of time of possession, the motive, and similar topics. I will mention later how we must behave in case of spells and what questions to ask. Let us not forget that the demon is the prince of lies. He freely accuses one person or another to foster suspicion and enmity; his answers must be sifted carefully.

I will say generally questioning the demons is not of great importance. For instance, often when the demon sees he is losing strength, he gives one date as the day of his departure but then lingers on. An experienced exorcist such as Father Candido was often able to guess not only what kind of demon he was dealing with but also often even his name; therefore he did not ask too many questions.

In cases of strong possessions the demon might speak voluntarily to discourage the exorcist. Many times I was told, “You cannot do anything against me!” “I will throw you out of bed.” Then, confronted with my answers, he would fall silent. For instance, when I say, “I am enveloped within the mantle of our Lady. What can you do to me?” or “The Archangel Gabriel is my protector; try and fight him!” or “My guardian angel watches over me so that I won’t be touched; you cannot harm me”, the demon remains silent.

– – – Taken from ‘An Exorcist tells his story’ written by Fr. Gabriele Amorth 

July 15th, 2012

Confession Explained Video

Confession Explained video clip is given right above. Please play it. It is the full version which is 6:07 minutes long.

Download the Confession Explained video

Right-click on the above download link and select “save target as” or “save link as” to save the video to your computer.

The above confession video answers the 3 popular questions which most Catholics and Non-Catholics have in their minds. They are:

1. Why do Catholics confess their sins to a priest?
2. Where is that in the Bible?
3. Would Jesus approve?

Confession = Reconciliation

God gave this special privilege to forgive the sins of others to the descendants of the Apostles i.e. the bishops and priests of today. Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on his disciples and told them “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:23)

They hear our sins and forgive them in HIS name and also gives us a penance. Penance has to do with repenting of sins already forgiven by God through the grace of the sacrament of confession. Penance is for our benefit. We repent by practicing the opposite virtue of the sins committed to strengthen ourselves against the temptation to sin. And prayer – turning back to God – is one of the best ways to repent and turn away from sin.

Check these related articles for more info on the sacrament of reconciliation:

Why Should I Confess My Sins To A Priest

Reconciliation – Confession

Will God Forgive My Grave Sins?

January 19th, 2012

Why Should I Confess My Sins To A Priest

Sacrament of Reconciliation

Years ago when I was occasionally talking about religion with friends who were not Catholics, they used to say. “It must be awful to have to tell your sins to a priest”. Of course going to confession may not be easy most times. On the other hand I am glad that there is the sacrament of reconciliation when you feel you need it.

Why does the Catholic Church have this sacrament?

Jesus established seven sacraments for His followers. Confession is one of the seven sacraments administered by the Catholic Church. In the case of confession the institution occurred on Easter Sunday when Christ first appeared to the apostles after his resurrection. Breathing on them he said; “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20; 22-23).

We understand from the Scripture that Jesus spoke clearly that He had authority to forgive sins and by virtue of His divine authority He gave this power to men to exercise in his name (Mathew 16; 19-20). Jesus established this sacrament, out of His great love, knowing that even after baptism we could still have to deal with the reality of sin. Thus a sinner who is repentant about his/her sins receives pardon and peace and is restored to the fullness of grace with God. Catholics believe that the sacraments are an outward sign of an inward grace. In this case the outward sign is the absolution and forgiveness of sins, that the priest grants to the penitent. The inward grace is the reconciliation of the penitent to God.

Reconciling of man to God is the purpose of confession. When we sin, we deprive ourselves of God’s grace. In the sacrament of confession, grace can be restored to our souls and we can once again resist sins.

What is sin?

The Church defines sin as a deliberate turning away from God and God’s goodness. Sin is before all else an offense against God. At the same time it damages communion with the Church. In some ways it is really hard to commit sin, because sin involves making a conscious decision to turn away from God. So most of the times the weakness makes us fall into temptations.

Since God is love and wills only what is ultimately good, He continues to call us to conversion. St Peter’s conversion after he had denied his Master three times bears witness to the expecting Father and his love and mercy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes this sacrament as the sacrament of conversion, the sacrament of penance, the sacrament of confession, the sacrament of forgiveness and the sacrament of reconciliation.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation

It is felt that this is also a sacrament of compassion. God has given freedom for all to love Him and His creation. When we sin, we misuse that freedom. But we can repent and turn back to God. Through His death Jesus rescued humanity to the Father. Jesus continues to dwell within the Church and continues to help us.

Absolution is part of the great mystery of salvation. It does not work like a magic, but it is amazing to realize how extraordinary God’s redeeming love for the humans really is. The God we encounter in the sacrament of reconciliation is the God of compassion. In the battle against sin God is on our side. It does not mean that God is pleased by sin. It means that, because of an overwhelming love for us, God reaches out even further to meet us when we need our creator most.

When it comes to sin, we can be sure that God is not vengeful or spiteful but merciful and forgiving. This is very clear from the behaviour of Jesus. How He dealt with sinners whom He encountered. Luke tells us the story of a sinful woman who sought out Jesus. When He was eating in the house of Simon, the Pharisee, this woman showed up. She was uninvited. Because she had a bad reputation, she was considered a terrible sinner, but Jesus welcomed her in. Simon was outraged that Jesus was associated with this kind of woman. But Jesus knew of her sorrow for her sins and her humble heart which desired healing. Jesus said to Simon “her many sins are forgiven, hence she was shown great love (Luke 7; 47).

For confession, a good examination of conscience is needed. We have to examine how we failed in the love of Jesus. Repentance is the recognition that we have strayed from the right path hurting Jesus and our neighbours. When we confess we are not telling God something he does not know already. We have to pour out the ugly sins to the priest who alone can provide us with the peace of absolution. Accepting a penance from the priest and completing it is a proof of our true sorrow. It is a way of expressing our sincere sorrow and to turn back to God.

Read more on Confession

There was a time when the number of communicants was very less when compared to the large attendance in the church for Mass. The Vatican II documents say that the faithful achieve a more perfect participation in the Mass when, with proper dispositions, they receive the Body of the Lord sacramentally in the Mass, in obedience to His words “take and eat” . The faithful are encouraged to receive Communion in the Mass to live joyfully and gratefully by the strength of this heavenly food. (Eucharistic Mysterium) As a result almost all participants receive communion, these days.

St Paul clarifies that “only after examining ourselves (that is after confession) we shall eat the bread and drink the cup. Whoever therefore eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord” (I Cor 11; 27).

Sometimes we put off this sacrament of reconciliation or avoid it altogether because we don’t have big sins or there may be some hesitation or nervousness on account of an impression that our faults and sins may get leaked. In this connection it is stated that the Church will never violate the seal of confession. According to the code of canon law 9831, The sacramental seal is inviolable and so is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason.

In this connection I would like to mention that the Prime Minister of Ireland threatens that legislation would be enacted in the Parliament to make the Church reveal the confessional secrets if and when the Govt. wants. The Archbishop of Ireland has already told that no one can interfere with the rules of the Church in such matters and that the Church opposes all such threats.

Advocates of Confession

It may not be right to end this article without mentioning the two famous catholic priests who spent their lives declaring the importance of confession. St John Maria Vianney of France, the patron of the parish priests (1786-1859) was known for spending more than half of his day in the confessional. The faithful came from afar to the small city of Ars to pour out their hearts and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness for their sins. It is said that once devil told him “If there were three such priests as you, my kingdom in France would be ruined.”

Another famous person was Padre Pio of Italy (1887-1968). He had the stigmata on 29th September 1918 which remained for 50 years till his death. When daily he woke up at 4.00 am to say Mass, hundreds of people were already waiting for him for confession. His principal activity was hearing confession. He was famous for possession of knowledge about others’ thoughts and had the gift of bilocation, that one is presenting himself in two places at the same time.

Let us hope that more and more Catholics will receive the sacrament of reconciliation to renew themselves and to be nearer to God. Now I hope you all have a clear idea on why should we confess our sins to a priest in the sacrament of confession.

– – – written by K. C. Thomas

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