Saint Thomas Aquinas

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What Exorcisms Can Teach Us

What Exorcisms Can Teach Us
Matthew J. Bellisario 2011

    I have had the rare opportunity to assist in several exorcism sessions. One thing I can tell you is that it can teach you many things about your Catholic faith. God has many ways of getting through to His human creatures, and an experience with preternatural can definitely help to put things into their proper perspective. As I sit back and reflect on my experiences assisting at exorcisms, I realize that they were indeed meant to teach me several lessons that I should take more seriously. As I grind through my daily life I seem to get bogged down in every day affairs. Many times I do not think about the things I say or how I treat people. It seems I am always in a hurry trying to go someplace or accomplish a task I need to get done at work. When cars are in my way I tend to assign an evil motive to the poor guy in front of me who is also probably aggravated to be stuck at the 10 second light that just turned red before he could get across the intersection, because the car in front of him didn’t go fast enough. Throughout the day these and many other things can pull my attention away from God. I am sure many can relate to these types of day to day situations. I am often asked about the things I have experienced during these rituals, so I thought I would share a couple with you in a way that would be constructive.   I asked myself the question, how can experiencing an exorcism, or even sharing my experience of an exorcism help someone? So I came up with four lessons that we can all learn from an exorcism.

    First and foremost exorcisms can teach us humility. Once I witnessed a demon screaming in terror during the Holy Mass, especially as certain prayers were prayed by the priest or certain Scripture passages were read. I also witnessed demons being forced to bow their heads when the host was consecrated at the altar, and they were not happy about it. After the Mass, when the prayer of Saint Michael was prayed, the demons went ballistic. I often wonder why we stopped praying this prayer in the Novus Ordo. At any rate, I certainly had a feeling of great littleness in witnessing these things. Here we have invisible entities far superior in intelligence and power than I, and they were being subdued and tortured by the celebration of the Mass. Humility is a recognition of one’s proper place in the order of creation. We are not the center of the universe, yet at times we all certainly act as if we are indeed the center. We are ultimately dependent on God and our relationship with Him in prayer. Since prayer is a natural offspring of humility, then putting God at the center of our lives will take the focus off ourselves. The demons know who is charge, and so we often need a reminder ourselves. As Padre Pio once said, “The Lord is willing to do great things but on the condition that we are truly humble.”

    Secondly, the exorcisms can give us an increase faith. For example, I actually witnessed Saint Michael force Satan to kiss the crucifix. The priest held the crucifix in front of Satan and told him to kiss the crucifix, to make him show his submission to Christ and His passion on the cross. Satan laughed and mocked the priest for several minutes until the priest asked for the intercession of Saint Michael and the holy angels that stand before the face of God. While the priest was praying the prayers you could literally see the force behind the person forcing him forward making him kiss the crucifix, after which he cried out in total humiliation. Here we see the authority of Christ working through His Church, and His priest. Whenever I see Protestants telling Catholics that they should not venerate the crucifix it literally makes me sick to my stomach, because they are truly imitating Satan. Unfortunately they are ignorant that they are following him. Likewise, many other times we asked the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray for us and the demons screamed in terror when we asked. I saw relics of the Saints that were placed on the body of the person burn the demons, and they shrieked out with pain. Holy water also caused them a great deal of suffering. All of these experiences and many more should let us all know that these things are real. They are not fictitious or mythological tales told to scare people into following the Catholic Church. For those who say Satan and the fallen angels are mere figments of people’s imaginations, I beg to differ. We should be wise and trust what Our Lord teaches us through His one and only Church.

    Thirdly these experiences should motivate us to be more serious about living our Catholic faith. Knowing that these entities are literally hell bent on our destruction should give us pause as to how we go about our day. Do you sometimes get a sudden inclination of anger or depression that seems to come out of nowhere? The demons know our weak areas and they often put suggestions into our minds to get us to sin. Of course we have our own inclinations to start with, and we cannot blame everything on the demons, but rest assured they are working for our destruction. When the prayers of the exorcism ritual that pertain to delivering the person from all anger and hatred were prayed, one of the demons always reacted to it, laughing as if that was his specialty. In experiencing these rituals it seems that each demon that was present fed off of a certain vice. Some were aimed at anger, another at pride and another towards impurity, and so forth. So we should be on our guard against those vices that most easily trap us. We should also be careful in what we do and what we say so we are not cooperating in evil. The priest once asked Satan why he was wasting his time on this person since he knew that he was going to be cast out eventually. The priest said, “Why are you wasting your time Satan, you can be doing your work els-ware, you have plans to over see.” Satan snidely responded, “I don’t have to oversee everything, people are doing my work willingly all over the world.” This stark reality is quite sobering. We do not want to be one of those willing pawns. We need to be serious about our faith. Our souls, and the souls of those around us depend on it.

    There are many other lessons that have been learned, but I will end this article in reference to one of my weakest areas, that of patience. Exorcisms often take many sessions to drive out Satan and his minions. Like Jesus told the apostles, “But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:20) Often times it is a trial in patience for both the priest and the person who is being allowed to undergo the possession. I know that I often times I want things done right away, and yet I see here that God is in charge, not me, not the person being possessed, and not even the priest. I think that many priests who have done exorcisms can attest to the fact that it can be frustrating. We learn that the exorcism’s success lies with the divine providence of almighty God. We are His instruments, nothing more. So in summary, among many things, exorcisms teach us that we are not the center of attention, we need to have divine faith in everything God teaches us through His Church, we should take this faith serious, and finally, that we are to be patient and let God be God. It is my hope that in sharing a few of these experiences with you that you feel somewhat inspired, and to let you know that no, you are not crazy in believing everything God teaches through His One Holy Catholic Church.

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