Tag Archives: exorcism

How can you tell if someone is demon-possessed?

ROME –  Recognising the difference between a person who is possessed and a person struggling with a mental illness or other infirmity is a vital part of the ministry of exorcism, according to a long-time exorcist and priest.

Father Cipriano de Meo, who has been an exorcist since 1952, told CNA’s Italian agency ACI Stampa that typically, a person is not possessed but is struggling with some other illness.

The key to telling the difference, he said, is through discernment in prayer on the part of the exorcist and the possessed – and in the potentially possessed person’s reaction to the exorcist himself and the prayers being said.

The exorcist will typically say “(a) prolonged prayer to the point where if the Adversary is present, there’s a reaction,” he said.

“A possessed person has various general attitudes towards an exorcist, who is seen by the Adversary as an enemy ready to fight him.”

Fr de Meo described the unsettling reaction that a possessed person usually has, detailing a common response to the exorcist’s prayer.

“There’s no lack of frightening facial expressions, threatening words or gestures and other things,” he said, “but especially blasphemies against God and Our Lady.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between demonic activity and mental illness. From paragraph 1673: “Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.”

In April of 2015, the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy and the Sacerdos Institute hosted a seminar at Rome’s Regina Apostolorum University, specifically aimed at training priests and lay people in spotting the differences between psychological problems and demonic possession.

The conference included interventions from a wide range of experts in the field of exorcism, including practising exorcists, medical professionals, psychologists, lawyers, and theologians.

Fr de Meo also emphasised that not all cases of possession are going to look the same, which is why it is so important for exorcists to go through rigorous training.

“It’s up to the priest serving in this ministry to know how to deal with the case, by the will of God, with love and humility,” he said.

“For this reason, with my bishop’s authorisation, for 13 years, I’ve led a school for exorcists. I’ve tried to especially prepare those who are beginning this ministry,” he said.

However, even though cases of demonic possession are not as common as cases of psychological illness, most people are too unaware and unfamiliar with spiritual realities, he said.

In 2014, the International Association of Exorcists (AIE) called the rise of occult activity a “pastoral emergency.”

“It usually starts out of ignorance, superficiality, stupidity or proselytising, actively participating or just watching,” AIE spokesperson Dr Valter Cascioli told CNA at the time.

“The consequences are always disastrous.”

Father de Meo said that people often turn to “the chatter of magicians and Illusionists” for answers, rather than “the weapons the Lord has put at our disposal.”

While people often seek radical answers or signs, the best defence against demonic possession is a simple and sacramental life of prayer, the priest said.

“It’s absolutely fundamental to get rid of sin and live in the grace of God,” he said.

“The Church, in fact, wants a life of prayer, Not just on the part of the priest but also the (member of) the faithful asking for the intervention of the exorcist, who benefits from the help of family members as well,” the exorcist explained.

The Catechism offers further guidance on how to avoid demonic activity: anything that involves recourse to Satan or demons, or that attempts to conjure the dead or reveal future events, is to be rejected.

From CCC paragraph 2116: “Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honour, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.”

As for the exorcists themselves, it is important to remain humble and to remember that their power comes from Christ, Father de Meo added.

“Regarding spiritual preparation, humility and the conviction that we exorcists aren’t the ones who are going to cast out the demon that’s fighting Christ. We’re called to fight on behalf of Christ.” – CNA/EWTN News

This article was originally published on CNA 17 March 2016.

US bishops publish English-language translation of exorcism ritual

The covers of two publications related to exorcism from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops are seen in this composite photo. “Exorcisms and Related Supplications” is the first official English translation of the rite of exorcism and is available only to bishops and others designated by them. The booklet “Prayers Against the Powers of Darkness” contains specific prayers from the translation’s appendix and is being made available to anyone. (CNS)

The first official English-language translation of the ritual book “Exorcisms and Related Supplications” is available from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the CNS posted on its website on 25 Oct 2017.

Distribution of “Exorcisms and Related Supplications” is limited to bishops, though exorcists, other clergy, scholars and seminary professors also can obtain a copy with the permission of a bishop.

Having it available now in English “should make it easier for a bishop to find a priest who can help him with this ministry,” said Father Andrew Menke, executive director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Divine Worship.

“Given that there’s less facility in Latin than there used to be, even among priests, it opens the door to more priests to do this. Until now, not only did the priest have to be wise and holy, but he also had to have strong facility in Latin,” Fr Menke told Catholic News Service (CNS).

“It makes it easier for a priest who might otherwise be a good exorcist but who would be intimidated by a requirement to use a Latin text. Having it available in the vernacular means he can concentrate on prayer and on the ritual, without needing to worry about working in another language,” he explained.

The translation is from the rite that was revised following the Second Vatican Council. It was promulgated in Latin in 1999 and then slightly amended in 2004. The revised text draws from rituals used by the Catholic Church for centuries.

The USCCB approved the English translation at its 2014 fall general assembly. The Vatican gave its “recognitio,” or approval, of the translation earlier this year.

 Hearing prayers offered in English also can benefit the person seeking an exorcism, said Father Menke, who noted he is not an exorcist.

“The first and foremost reason for an exorcism is to rid the person of the demon. And whether the person understands what’s being said or not is irrelevant on one level. They just want to be free of this oppression,” he said.

“But at the same time, exorcists have told me that for some people it can be a big help to hear words that they understand, words that are consoling, words that remind them of the power of Christ over the demons. There’s a certain confidence that comes from hearing these words,” he said.

For others, hearing the exorcism rite carried out in Latin can be consoling in its own way, Fr Menke added, because the person “knows this is the prayer of the church.”

Ultimately, it is the exorcist who chooses which language to use during the rite.

The main part of the book is the rite of major exorcism, and it also includes an introduction outlining criteria for its use. The text affirms the reality of evil in the world and more so affirms the sovereignty of Jesus to overcome any and all evil.

Under canon law — Canon 1172 specifically — only those priests who receive permission from their bishops can perform an exorcism after proper training. Bishops automatically have the right to perform an exorcism and can share that authority with other priests.

While most of the book is for the use of exorcists, it also contains an appendix of prayers that anyone can use, offering familiar as well as little-known prayers, invocations and litanies. Titled “Supplications Which May Be Used by the Faithful Privately in Their Struggle Against the Powers of Darkness,” the collection of prayers will be particularly helpful for a person before or after an exorcism, as well as for family and friends who wish to pray for them.

But Fr Menke said the prayers in the appendix can bring comfort to anyone who prays them, whether or not an individual is undergoing an exorcism.

The appendix has been printed in a separate booklet, “Prayers Against the Powers of Darkness,” offered for sale by USCCB’s publishing arm.

“The book is meant to facilitate a very reflective kind of prayer,” he said. “It’s not something you read like prose. It’s meant to be a meditative, patient, trusting, quiet sort of prayer.”

Some sections of the booklet are arranged so that one prayer appears on a page, giving the user a chance to reflect on one thought or image of God’s healing power.

Repeatedly reflecting on the prayers can be part of the healing process for a person troubled by demons, Fr Menke said, because in many cases the rite must be performed several times “before the person finds definitive healing.” – catholic herald

Why the devil hates Mary – especially during exorcisms

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Italian priest Sante Babolin said that Satan is behind several recent attacks in various parts of the world against the Virgin Mary, noting that she is a powerful advocate for him during exorcisms.

“In my experience – so far I have performed 2,300 rites of exorcism – I can say that the invocation of the Most Holy Virgin Mary often provokes significant reactions in the person being exorcized,” he told Mexican weekly Desde la Fe on 28 Apr 2017.

Father Babolin, who also taught at the Gregorian University in Rome, said that “in face of the failure of the onslaught by non-believers, now, in order to offend and confound the Catholic people, the Virgin Mary, whom the devil hates, is being attacked.”

Desde la Fe noted the recent events of the Spanish drag queen Borja Casillas, who masqueraded as the Virgin Mary and mocked her in a performance, as well as a woman who dressed up as the Virgin Mary and simulated an abortion during a protest in Argentina.

The Italian exorcist said that “as proof of this hatred” of the devil toward the Mother of God, “while I was insistently invoking the Most Holy Virgin Mary, the devil answered me: ‘I can’t stand That One (Mary) any more and neither can I stand you any more.’”

Fr Babolin also noted that “the Second Vatican Council declares that Mary, daughter of Adam, in accepting the divine message, became the Mother of Jesus, and embracing with her whole heart and without the hindrance of any sin the saving will of God, consecrated herself totally, as the servant of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son.”

The priest pointed out the passage in the book of Genesis – which is evoked in the Rite of Exorcism – where God says to the serpent that “she will crush your head.”

In this ritual, he said, the exorcist says to the devil: “Most cunning serpent, you shall no more dare to deceive the human race, persecute the Church, torment God’s elect and sift them as wheat (…) The sacred Sign of the Cross commands you, as does also the power of the mysteries of the Christian Faith (…) The glorious Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, commands you; she who by her humility and from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception crushed your proud head.”

Fr Babolin also said that “the strongest reactions” of the devil during the exorcism occur “when references are made to her apparitions.”

Because of this, he frequently pronounces the name of Holy Mary with her titles of Lourdes, Fatima or Guadalupe. In the latter case, he said, “I use this formula: ‘Holy Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Queen of Tepeyac.’”

The exorcist warned that “the instrument the (the devil) normally uses to trap us is money, since it offers the possibility of satisfying the impulses that converge in pleasure and power.”

Satan “subjugates us to himself manipulating the truth and offering us his dazzling light, showing us his version of ‘freedom’ and promising us the instant gratification of our whims.”

“As far as interpersonal communication, the sense of sight overtakes the sense of hearing; and consequently the image over the word; that is to say, desire precedes reflection,” he said.

Fr Babolin encouraged Catholics to denounce attacks on the faith as well as to organise and participate in prayer events, pray the Rosary, and participate in Masses at places where offenses were committed. – CNA/EWTN News

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