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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 

December 5th, 2012

Sow Your Interests In The Good Land

Sow Your Interests In Good Land

Sow your interests in the good land, that you can reap a bountiful harvest.

Jesus always read the signs of the time to speak to the people around him. He could distinctively and clearly explicate the situations, irrational rituals and burdensome traditions through his thought-provoking parables. He used to mesmerize the crowd, pronouncing each word authoritatively, unfurling the dark spots that remained untouched for years. More so, triggering the lot through parables loaded with challenges and queries which provoked them to ponder and prune the unessential aspects of religious life.

Sowing your interest means, directing your life prudently and meticulously in the right way as per your choices. One has to consider this: decisions and choices are absolutely OURS. Blaming others or getting disturbed over the failures are mere waste of time. Hence, one has to orient one’s interests and sow in such places that would bring about a return of a hundred fold.

The Parable of the Sower

The Parable of the Sower (Mt: 13:1-8) is one of its rare kinds. Recline on a chair for a few minutes and contemplate, suppose you were a sower and the seeds are your interests. Where would you sow? If you would sow your interests on the bare surface of a road, won’t people think of you as an insane person, because sowing the seeds (interests) on a path (a mean work) an undertaking that is detrimental to God and to the society) is ascribed as immaturity. There isn’t any possibility for its growth for God’s spirit doesn’t rest on such works. At least the seeds on the path were useful to the birds of the air, but interests and energy invested on mean works are neither helpful to the sower nor to anyone on the earth.

God has given us the freedom to execute our interests productively, but what happens to most of us? Unessential aspects of the world seem to us more essential (priorities are driven away). Material things and unproductive pleasures sway a person for a few minutes, hours, days etc but they may have ill-effect on him/her for the rest of the years (sometimes, for the rest of life). But happiness will hover over us when we put our hands to pursue worthwhile things.

There are some people who are ambiguous about everything that happen around them, even anticipating calamities on the auspicious days. They are skeptics by thinking, inhaling pessimistic oxygen. They are the ones who consciously sow their interests on a rocky ground. They know that there is depth in the soil and no growth is possible, yet willingly they would dive in only, to be doomed. Perhaps, there is need to introspect and ask ourselves: Are we also one like them? Blaming God for the inconvenience and discomfort that we make in our lives?

Our choices shape our future

Our choices play a vital role in our lives. Our choices shape our future. As the adage goes; you are the architect of your life. If our foundation is strong, what comes over it would remain strong. If our interests like foundation are placed on the right place with the concomitant requirements no calamities could over-power it.

On the flip-side are people with thorny characters who always remain thorn in others flesh. Just as thorns which choke the plants from growing, so also persons of this character become a stumbling block in others lives. They neither grow, nor allow others to grow. For them the motto, ‘together to the top’ seems ridiculous and absurd. If one has to sow their interests in the midst of these people (ground), they would harvest a bumper crop yielding HUNDRED FOLD OF GRIEF AND SORROWS. Let us sow our interests in a fertile ground and God himself will escort us a hundred fold harvests.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, today we offer all our desires, goals, knowledge and our interests. We accept our limitations and believe that you can do wonders with our interests than what we can. Inspire us, talk to us and guide us into the right path, so that we may sow our interests on the fertile ground and reap the fruits. May our lives inspire others, shower your torrential blessings upon us that we may vibrate your life and love to others whom we meet in our day today life. This we ask through Christ our Lord, AMEN.

– – – written by H. Infant Vinoth SVD

December 4th, 2012

Is It Possible To Pray Always?

Pray Always

A Church in England; the priests of the nearby parishes are summoned for a priestly gathering, prayer, sharing and reflection. “Pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17) – it was the subject of their talk.

How could one pray without ceasing? As we are engaged in many responsibilities, is it possible to pray always? How come we are able to perform our duties well, while always in prayer?

The discussion grew serious on the subject. At last the president of the meeting, an old learned priest concluded; “this subject is very complicated and confusing. So let us submit these issues as a thesis in the next meeting. Basing on that we will continue our discussion…”

Hearing this, the woman who had been serving the tea exclaimed; “Oh my God… why another meeting to understand the meaning of this Word of God? How simple is the advice of St. Paul?”

“If it is too simple, explain to us the meaning;” said the priest.

She responded with calmness; “How long had I been praying without ceasing. As I open my eyes in the morning, I would thank the Lord for the good day. Seeing the Sun rising, I would pray, Jesus, Sun of justice, rise in the sky of my heart. When I take the tea, I would pray, come Holy Spirit and quench the thirst of my soul. As I clean the room, I will pray for sanctification in my life. As I cook the food I will remember my Lord becoming bread and wine for me. Seeing my children I would reflect that we are the children of God and contemplate on His providence. The vision of river, plants and streams make me think of the greatness of God who created them. What I do and what I see are prayers for me.”

As they heard this, they thanked the Lord that these mysteries are hidden from the wise and revealed to the simple.

There may be many who studied a lot on prayer and consumed their life without sincerely praying at least once in life. Though we have many commentaries and dictionaries of Bible in our shelf, we may not find it serious to reflect on the Word of God.

We have many notebooks and piece of papers filled with thoughts and reflections which we have accumulated through years. Without putting them into practice, we are running after new ones. New books, new CDs and new meditation techniques… When are we going to live them? Is our life a failure in our pursuit after the intoxicating effect of knowledge without recognizing the flaw of our souls? Do not forget the old notes while going to attend the new retreats.

Do not forget the old striking Words marked in your Bible and go in search of the new ones. God will bless you.

Prayer: Lord, deliver us from the intoxicating effect of knowledge, grant us the wisdom to put into practice what we have already acquired. Amen.

– – – written by Benny Punnathara

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