By Priam F. Nepomuceno
MANILA, Oct. 28 (PNA Features) – Contrary to popular big screen portrayals made by film makers depicting evil men as the devil’s favorite preys, the good and faithful adherents to the Church’s teaching are also fair game when it comes to demonic possessions.
Father Charlie (not his real name) explains that demons and other malignant spirits are not too scrupulous when picking out their intended victims.
“Even those who are considered good can be possessed; even those who are faithful in their religion. Some people say only sinners are prone to demonic possession. But we are all sinners. Even if you are a priest or a cardinal or one of they say ‘God’s people’, you are no different because we are all sinners,” he points out.
“Some people become prone to demonic possession as they practice activities that entice evil spirits to enter them like those cult members who practice devil worship,” Father Charlie adds.
Roman Ritual indicators as possible signs of demonic possession include: speaking foreign or ancient languages of which the possessed has no prior knowledge; supernatural abilities and strength; knowledge of hidden or remote things which the possessed has no way of knowing, an aversion to anything holy, profuse blasphemy, or sacrilege.
The priest also admits that the Roman Catholic Church still does not know how evil spirits pick their targets.
“We do not know the reason behind a devil’s choice to inhabit somebody. But it’s his (devil) choice. Good or bad, it’s the same for a demon,” he says.
“Demons are like spirits, they roam the outside world and also the inside. We cannot see them but they have manifestations,” the priest adds.
Father Charlie also says that possessions are generally accepted by the Church as Jesus Christ, the Messiah, cast out demons from persons possessed, besides healing the sick and raising the dead, during His time on earth.
The priest is referring to Matthew 8:16, which specifically states that Jesus “cast out the spirits with His word, and He healed all that were sick,” and Mark 1:24 which states that “spirits expelled were allowed to express their recognition of Jesus as the Holy One of God.”
Bishop Eric (also not his real name and a member of a major Protestant community) says that their congregation also believes in demonic possessions as it is written in the Bible.
“We believe in demonic possession because even Jesus himself drove out demons according to the Bible. There is a scripture there that said Jesus performed exorcism and cast out demons that possess humans which is a clear manifestation of the subject matter,” he adds.
Bishop Eric points out that good and bad persons are all fair game to demons and malignant spirits.
“Even if you are faithful or religious, it does not matter to the devil, because he will possess whoever he wants. And besides why bother controlling those he already controlled when he can go into the ranks of the faithful and do his damage there,” he further states.
According to Bishop Eric, persons who dab too much at the “occult and spirit world” are at high risk as they often encounter evil or malignant entities during their researches.
He also advises people interested in the “black arts” to refrain from doing so as their souls can be captured or possessed by the devil.
“Demon and other malignant spirits are attracted to persons doing unholy work,” Bishop Eric notes.
POINTS ON POSSESSIONS
Father Charlie also clarifies that not only demons can possess and take control of the human body and mind but also those called “unclean or evil spirits”
“Evil spirits are entities who existed ever since the world began. They are also capable of entering and controlling the human mind and body. They are attracted by evil deeds and works,” he points out.
“And when there are evil spirits, there are also demons as both are attracted by violence and ungodly works,” Father Charlie adds.
Exorcism is defined as “the practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person they possessed,” while the individual performing the rite, often a priest or a person graced with special powers or skills, is called an exorcist.
Exorcists may use prayers and religious materials, such as set formulas, gestures, symbols, icons, amulets, etc. The exorcist invokes God to actually perform the task.
In general, possessed persons are not regarded as evil in themselves, nor wholly responsible for their actions. Therefore, exorcism is generally thought more as a cure than as a punishment.
The Catholic Church revised the Rite of Exorcism in January 1999, although after the chief exorcist of Rome complained it seemed to not work as well as the traditional Rite of Exorcism in Latin, was allowed again as an option.
The act of exorcism is considered to be an incredibly dangerous spiritual task; the ritual assumes that possessed persons retain their free-will, though the demon may hold control over their physical body, and involves prayers, blessings, and invocations with the use of the Document Of Exorcisms and Certain Supplications.
Other formulas may have been used in the past, such as the “Benedictine Vade retro satana.”
A test which is often used to determine whether a mental disturbance is psychological or spiritual in nature is to pray over the person for the healing of the affliction and throw holy water on him/her. If the person reacts violently or uncharacteristically in response to prayer in the name of Jesus, it is often taken as a good indication that the affliction is demonic in nature.
Father Charlie says that he personally witnessed an exorcism ritual while studying at a seminary in Australia.
He declines to give exact details but says that his professors were successful in driving the malignant spirit out.
While not conducting any exorcism rites of his own, Father Charlie says that he has been called a few times to bless and pray over a house or apartment haunted by evil spirits.
Despite admitting that the Episcopalian Church has no written procedure on exorcism, Bishop Eric says that the ritual should always be conducted faraway from other people as possible.
“They should be placed in an isolated room or a place away from the public. If the person possessed is a man, the exorcist should be also a male. If the victim is a woman, then the one doing the exorcism should also be a woman. A member of the family should be always present during the exorcism,” the bishop adds.
HOW TO AVOID DEMONIC POSSESSIONS
Bishop Eric says that heartfelt prayer, strong faith to God and fasting are the best defense against demonic possessions.
“As written in scriptures, the apostles told Jesus that they cannot cast out the demons that came back to a person who was possessed before. Jesus asked what could be the problem, then He identified the absence of fasting could be the reason,” the bishop states.
Another reminder is to refrain from doing activities that might make the devil set his sight on you like delving too deeply on the spirit world and attempting to communicate with souls of deceased persons.
Father Charlie also says that “a strong faith on the Almighty is the best defense against attacks of the devil.”
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