Dear Pope Francis, if you want to translate the finer points of Sacred Scripture from its original Greek, you might ask a Scripture Scholar. This Missionary of Mercy is at your service.
Dear Pope Francis, if you want to translate the finer points of Sacred Scripture from its original Greek, you might ask a Scripture Scholar. This Missionary of Mercy is at your service.
[[ This commentary has been slightly revised and updated with the addition of the Ecclesia Dei response to dubia. ]]
The four matters commented upon here:
The Instruction of 14 December 2000 was approved by the ordinary session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and shown to and approved by Saint John Paul II. This document cites Inde ab aliquot annis, which was also signed by Cardinal Ratzinger while Prefect of the CDF under Saint John Paul II.
Why you should read this post: Because we’ll be seeing lots more exorcisms taking place with all the new exorcists coming on board. This will help you keep your wits about you, knowing what the Church actually says about such things amidst all the various opinions. A couple of generations have gone by with almost no exorcists appointed in the entire Church. This means a loss of experiential wisdom, a risk of sensationalism, a risk of pride in going up against Satan. Let’s take a look at what the Church actually says. I don’t apologize for taking no prisoners. This is too important.
CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
INSTRUCTION ON PRAYERS FOR HEALING 14 December 2000
[Let’s skip right to the disciplinary norms:]
Art. 1 – It is licit for every member of the faithful to pray to God for healing. When this is organized in a church or other sacred place, it is appropriate that such prayers be led by an ordained minister. [Since the distinction is about the place in which this happens, the logic is that it would be inappropriate for those who are not ordained to lead organized prayer for healing in a church or other sacred place.]
Art. 2 – Prayers for healing are considered to be liturgical if they are part of the liturgical books approved by the Church’s competent authority; otherwise, they are non-liturgical.
Art. 3 – § 1. Liturgical prayers for healing are celebrated according to the rite prescribed in the Ordo benedictionis infirmorum of the Rituale Romanum (28) and with the proper sacred vestments indicated therein.
§ 2. In conformity with what is stated in the Praenotanda, V., De aptationibus quae Conferentiae Episcoporum competunt (29) of the same Rituale Romanum, Conferences of Bishops may introduce those adaptations to the Rite of Blessings of the Sick which are held to be pastorally useful or possibly necessary, after prior review by the Apostolic See.
Art. 4 – § 1. The Diocesan Bishop has the right to issue norms for his particular Church regarding liturgical services of healing, following can. 838 § 4.
§ 2. Those who prepare liturgical services of healing must follow these norms in the celebration of such services.
§ 3. Permission to hold such services must be explicitly given, even if they are organized by Bishops or Cardinals, or include such as participants. Given a just and proportionate reason, the Diocesan Bishop has the right to forbid even the participation of an individual Bishop. [This, of course, has historical reference to the one time Archbishop, Emmanuel Milingo, who was forbidden to participate in such things in the Archdiocese of Milan. Milingo was “laicized” / dismissed from the clerical state in 2009.]
Art. 5 – § 1. Non-liturgical prayers for healing are distinct from liturgical celebrations, as gatherings for prayer or for reading of the word of God; these also fall under the vigilance of the local Ordinary in accordance with can. 839 § 2. [All of this should be obvious, but the abundance of disobedience requires that this be reiterated. The cry “We can do whatever we want!” is frequently to be heard, just as Satan’s cry of “Non serviam!” (I will not serve!) is likewise frequently heard. When there is disobedience you can be sure Satan is nearby.]
§ 2. Confusion between such free non-liturgical prayer meetings and liturgical celebrations properly so-called is to be carefully avoided. [In fact, I’ve never even once seen anything that was not confused.]
§ 3. Anything resembling hysteria, artificiality, theatricality or sensationalism, above all on the part of those who are in charge of such gatherings, must not take place. [Jesus doesn’t like hysteria. Really, He doesn’t. Jesus wrought exorcisms with quiet authority. Hysteria is a result of faked authority.]
Art. 6 – The use of means of communication (in particular, television) in connection with prayers for healing, falls under the vigilance of the Diocesan Bishop in conformity with can. 823 and the norms established by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Instruction of March 30, 1992.(30)
Art. 7 – § 1. Without prejudice to what is established above in art. 3 or to the celebrations for the sick provided in the Church’s liturgical books, prayers for healing – whether liturgical or non-liturgical – must not be introduced into the celebration of the Holy Mass, the sacraments, or the Liturgy of the Hours. [Wow. There. They said it. Totally cool. This happened and, I think, happens all the time, especially in Confession. That’s extremely imprudent. People recall the practice of Alphonsus Liguori, but not really. There is never a citation. Anyway, this is the legislation of Church now and it must be obeyed.]
§ 2. In the celebrations referred to § 1, one may include special prayer intentions for the healing of the sick in the general intercessions or prayers of the faithful, when this is permitted.
Art. 8 – § 1. The ministry of exorcism must be exercised in strict [“strict”] dependence on the Diocesan Bishop, and in keeping with [1.] the norm of can. 1172 [which I’ll try to present in another post with a document I presented to some 150 exorcists many years ago, but the idea is that the express mandate of the local ordinary is necessitated for an imprecatory exorcism], [2.], the Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of September 29, 1985,(31) [which we will comment on further below], and [3.] the Rituale Romanum (32) [which will need its own series to comment upon].
§ 2. The prayers of exorcism contained in the Rituale Romanum must remain separate from healing services, whether liturgical or non-liturgical. [Get it? It’s not to be done. No direct commands to Satan in any kind of healing service. That ends about 99% of healing services.]
§ 3. It is absolutely forbidden to insert such prayers of exorcism into the celebration of the Holy Mass, the sacraments, or the Liturgy of the Hours. [And no matter how clear and repeatedly this is said, there will be people who will try to find loopholes. Read it: “Absolutely forbidden.” It is absolutely wrong. Nefas est! And, Fathers, to be explicit to the max: DO NOT DO THIS IN CONFESSION].
Art. 9 – Those who direct healing services, whether liturgical or non-liturgical, are to strive to maintain a climate of peaceful devotion in the assembly and to exercise the necessary prudence if healings should take place among those present; when the celebration is over, any testimony can be collected with honesty and accuracy, and submitted to the proper ecclesiastical authority. [One might find examples of the correct way of doing this in Lourdes.]
Art. 10 – Authoritative intervention by the Diocesan Bishop is proper and necessary when abuses are verified in liturgical or non-liturgical healing services, or when there is obvious scandal among the community of the faithful, or when there is a serious lack of observance of liturgical or disciplinary norms. [This is a reprimand to Bishops for not fulfilling their role of governance. In my experience, this is because those very bishops were happy to have such abuses take place, thinking that this was the nice thing to do].
The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved the present Instruction, adopted in Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered its publication.
Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, September 14, 2000, the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross.
+ Joseph Card. RATZINGER
+ Tarcisio BERTONE, S.D.B. Archbishop Emeritus of Vercelli
CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
Letter to Ordinaries regarding norms on Exorcism
INDE AB ALIQUOT ANNIS – 29 September 1985
Your most Reverend Excellency,
Recent years have seen an increase in the number of prayer groups in the Church aimed at seeking deliverance from the influence of demons, while not actually engaging in real exorcisms. These meetings are led by lay people, even when a priest is present.
As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has been asked how one should view these facts, this Dicastery considers it necessary to inform Bishops of the following response:
1. Canon 1172 of the Code of Canon Law states that no one can legitimately perform exorcisms over the possessed unless he has obtained special and express permission from the local Ordinary (§ 1), and states that this permission should be granted by the local Ordinary only to priests who are endowed with piety, knowledge, prudence and integrity of life (§ 2). Bishops are therefore strongly advised to stipulate that these norms be observed.
2. From these prescriptions it follows that it is not even licit that the faithful use the formula of exorcism against Satan and the fallen angels, extracted from the one published by order of the Supreme Pontiff Leo XIII, and even less that they use the integral text of this exorcism. Bishops should take care to warn the faithful, if necessary, of this. [“the faithful” – this speaks to individuals. The next paragraph speaks to groups. But in this paragraph 2 one sees that individuals even privately are absolutely forbidden to use the exorcism prayer from Leo XIII or anything extracted from it. That’s clear and strong. Priests generally are included, except for those who have the “special and express permission from the local Ordinary”. Disobey and you will get yourself in trouble. Disobedience is a sign of Satan’s presence. Disobedience is an open invitation to Satan to do his demonic worst.]
3. Finally, for the same reasons, Bishops are asked to be vigilant so that – even in cases that do not concern true demonic possession – those who are without the due faculty [priests included] may not conduct meetings during which invocations, to obtain release, are uttered in which demons are questioned directly and their identity sought to be known. [Priests without the due faculty still insist that because of the language in this paragraph they can still address Satan directly, so as to “bind” him, or some such thing, as if this were not an exorcism when, clearly, as a direct command to Satan, it is the very definition of an exorcism. Let’s just say it: forcing Satan with direct commands to answer questions and to reveal their identity is the very definition what is to go on in an exorcism, those direct commands being exorcisms is and of themselves in the larger exorcism or, in this case, with malicious deceit, the larger “deliverance” (which is actually an exorcism done in disobedience.]
Drawing attention to these norms, however, should in no way distance the faithful from praying that, as Jesus taught us, they may be delivered from evil (cf. Mt 6:13). [Exactly right. One may ask our Heavenly Father to rebuke Satan, as did Saint Michael himself. And this is how Jesus, the very Son of the Living God, told us all how to pray. Why is it that people think Jesus’ advice should be despised as worthless, or think themselves better than Saint Michael? I think that many have been misled, and that many think that they have to have power by way of doing exoricms, even to the point of disobeying the Church to do this. But such disobedience is to make friends with Satan.] Finally, Pastors may take this opportunity to recall what the Tradition of the Church teaches concerning the role proper to the sacraments and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the Angels and Saints in the Christian’s spiritual battle against evil spirits. [Indeed, Confession is so very important. But don’t do exorcisms in Confession.]
I take the opportunity to express my deepest respects,
Your most esteemed in Christ,
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
At this point, some quote Father Amorth (an old friend), in An Exorcist: More Stories, 189-90 (translated from a book going back to January 1992 in Italian, by the way…), to say that…
official exorcisms are not allowed [by non-exorcists]; they are reserved exclusively for the exorcist. The same holds true for the exorcism of Leo XIII, even though it is now part of the public domain. The private use of such exorcisms is another matter; at least, this is how I understand the above-cited document.
“At least, this is how I understand…” he says tentatively.
But, let’s see if the much later document of “Ecclesia Dei” in 2015 has anything pertinent to say about anything private:
Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei
Pontificia Commissio “Ecclesia Dei”
Prot. N. 153/2009 – 26 June 2015*
[…] Thank you for your letter of 9 June 2015 [an instantaneous response], in which you submitted two dubia regarding the use of the Rituale Romanum of the Extraordinary Form (which is in fact the editio typica dated 1952).
In relation to the first dubium, namely “is a priest allowed to publicly and / or privately use the Exorcismus in satatam et angelos apostaticos (the so-called Exorcism of Leo XIII) found in Title XII of the 1956 Rituale Romanum without express permission of the local Ordinary”, this Pontifical Commission would respond as follows:
In relation to the second dubium, namely “can a deacon validly confect blessings which are not expresse jure permitted to him in the 1956 Rituale Romanum”, this Pontifical Commission would respond that regardless of the question of validity, it is clear from Can. 1169 § 3 that the faculty granted to a deacon to confect a blessing must be expressly conceded. Now, it does not appear that any such faculty has been granted to deacons by Church authority as regards the use of the blessing rites contained in the 1952 Rituale. Such concessions indeed exist in the 1984 De benedictionibus, but these are given on a rite-by-rite basis, and therefore only pertain to those particular rites referred to and laid out by that liturgical book, without any influence on the rights to use the blessings of the 1952 Rituale.
[…] + Guido Pozzo – Secretary
[*This 2015 letter was published years later in 2018 on the internet only in pdf form by Rorate. The transcription and interlinear commentary is mine].
Finally, just to end on a literary / film analogy, here’s a bit about power that was meant for good being corrupted into that which is evil. What do we become with fake authority? This is just a few seconds long:
Be careful, my fellow priests.
The other night, coming back from the day-off, very near the hermitage, I once again encountered a magnificent Timber Rattler. Screech! Sassy the Subaru’s brakes work most excellently. Out on to the road I popped with telephone camera in hand. I kept about eight feet away as he was ready to spring into action. I took a couple of pictures, and then a car came. I put Sassy into gear and carefully, deliberately, exaggeratedly drove around our snake friend, hoping the crowd in the car behind me would take note of the nice snake and drive around this wonder of nature. Instead, they very slowly and deliberately drove over him, thinking they had accomplished something.
And this is exactly why some exorcisms fail: because of pride, because of attacking Satan directly under one’s own (lack of) wherewithal, in one’s own name, not in the Holy Name of Jesus, but still thinking one has accomplished something.
This is a mind-game with Satan on his own terms, on his own turf. He will be happy to make one think that he has been thrown out, only to come back in a more insidious way. Jesus Himself speaks of this kind of stupidity. This is a seven-fold failure, a perfect fail.
We must go about our entire lives not with self-absorbed mind-games, not with self-referential ways and means, not with the darkness and blindness of pride, but instead through grace received in humility, we are to walk in the presence of Jesus, who is Himself our Savior:
There’s a huge difference. It’s the same with authority, which one must have:
Again, the exorcist who works under his own authority may seem to have great success baiting him into thinking that he is right to buck the authority Jesus Himself gave to His own Church. The disobedient exorcist may think he is himself most charitable, a martyr of charity. No. Satan will come back in more insidious ways, destroying peoples’ lives all the more effectively.
The upshot in our own lives: We are not to attack Satan directly. We are not to attack sin directly. Yes, we are to make a firm purpose of amendment, avoid occasions of sin, get out of an occasion of sin should we find ourselves in such, all the normal, traditional things. Yep.
BUT! But we are NOT to make it all about us, about how powerful and great we are, because we not that. Instead, we are to call on Saint Michael, on our guardian angels, and do this with humility. We are to be humbly thankful to Jesus for coming into this fallen world to grab us and bring us to heaven, because, wow, it’s so obvious we need saving and it’s He that is our Savior, NOT us. The person who says: “I’m doing well now!” is the person who will fall almost immediately. We cast out Satan and sin by Jesus drawing us into friendship with Himself, by being in humble reverence, thankful, in friendship, before Jesus, confident of His love for us, of His immediate care for us.
Jesus said that we cannot, will not enter the kingdom of heaven if we are not like little children before our heavenly Father. Little kids don’t count on themselves to be saved. They look with confidence to others, and in the cases above, to Jesus. Jesus saves us from Satan. Jesus leads us into a true life of prayer, to walk in His presence, even in the most trying of circumstances. Thank you Jesus.
O.K. My bad. I combined details from the Gospels of both Mark and Matthew in which event of the “Dog-Woman” is recounted. This is like a mortal sin for Scripture Scholars, but, hey, it’s just a daily homily by which we are in awe of Jesus and we are introduced to this amazing woman. Lots of Scripture Scholars deny her existence anyway, so, what do they care. They deny her because they are deathly afraid of her, lap-dogs that they are. And this is long for a weekday homily, but no one has complained so far. Usually, though, they are not this long. It’s just that this is one of my most absolute favorite women of the Gospels. She is just so pure of heart and agile of soul, such good friends with Jesus.
I didn’t mention this in the homily – I was really overtime already – but it needs to be said. The Apostles at the time would rather that her child continue to be sacrificed to Satan rather than it be delivered from Satan. And if, after listening to this homily and considering that fact, and if you tempted to cynicism against the successors of the Apostles, then also take in this fact: this most incredible wonderful woman did not ever hold the dark idiocy of the Apostles against themselves. She recognized and dealt with it in solidarity with Jesus who was trying to teach them a lesson through her, with her. She’s totally my absolute heroine. I say “Thank you” to her across the centuries, from earth to heaven, “Thank you!”
O.K. This is a long homily, I admit it. I’m passionate about the topic because, well, you’ll find out. I edited out one example, heh heh heh. My prerogative. Sorry. The picture is where some of this took place. Yikes!
In the Gospel today, in the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel, we see the whole town gathered around Jesus as he cures their illnesses and exorcises demons. That seems nice. Jesus is popular. He shrugs this off. This is not His purpose. But we’re amazed at His enthusiasm.
Preaching about this today, I spoke of His purpose in establishing the Kingdom of God by disestablishing the kingdom of Satan. But it’s not just about exorcism. You have to know that exorcism infuriates Satan and his minions. Jesus is targeted now by Satan like never before. Jesus is baiting Satan to do this. After Judas is possessed at the Last Supper, it will all end with all of hell broken out against Jesus on Calvary. Satan was baited by Jesus to do just this. Now Jesus stands in our place, the innocent for the guilty, taking the brunt of everything Satan has and, in this way, having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. And then Jesus rises from the dead to bring us to life. Hah!
You would think that Satan, so very extremely intelligent, would not allow himself to be baited by Jesus. But there it is. Baited. However intelligent, Satan has no wisdom. So he continuously frustrates himself. His punishment in Genesis is not that he crawls on his belly, but rather, literally, with all due historical philology, he writhes along on his writhingness. This is the very image of being frustrated. Intellectual frustration on a spiritual level is the worst suffering there can be.
Maybe I’ve fixed the audio so that it’s a little louder / clearer…
There’s those who need exorcism and then again, those who really need exorcism.
On the top of the obelisk in Saint Peter’s Square (the obelisk which had in fact marked the spot where Peter himself was crucified), one will find a cross. The cross is placed there to demonstrate that the Lion of the Tribe of Judah has conquered the pagan Pelagianesque Promethean idiocy of Satan and his followers. Jesus, having been killed in the battle even as He broke the power of Satan, is now the last one standing, bearing the wounds of slaughter upon Himself, but standing, risen from the dead, as John sees Him in his vision reported in the Apocalypse.
The Lion of the Tribe of Judah looks ever so much like Satan, who, like a lion, is ever on the prowl for the destruction of souls. The bronze serpent held up by Moses looked ever so much like the saraph serpents that were killing the children of Israel in the desert. Jesus looks ever so much like the guilty sons of Adam as He hangs on the cross.
But I’ll tell you this, the smirk I see on the face of Jesus below is the same smirk I see in the picture of the lion above. Jesus means to make us conquer with Him. He’ll bring us through it. He sees what “it” is. We don’t. Thank goodness. We just have to look to Him, follow Him as we shoulder that cross without looking at it. I mean, look at that smirk:
We can ask Jesus to get over ourselves, that we not take ourselves and our weakness and darkness and temptation and feeling a million miles away and left behind so seriously. Jesus takes us seriously. He wants us to take HIM seriously. Take up that cross, He commands us, but… but… BUT… Come follow me! He commands us. It’s about Jesus, not about us whimpering about ourselves. When we stop being preoccupied with what we think of ourselves we might just see Him working in our souls; we might just begin to have the joy of the Holy Spirit in seeing that Jesus’ love is stronger than our weakness, stronger that our temptations, stronger than our thinking we’re a million miles away and left behind, stronger than death. All that rubbish is what He came to save us from, which we brought on ourselves in original sin and whatever else we might have done. He forgives. Really, He does. He loves us.
No more mind games of Satan! Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah has conquered!
O.K., O.K., I’ll have to start putting up my exorcism series once again…
P.S. I recorded my homily yesterday, but didn’t put it up because, alas, I didn’t actually record it: I’ll have to get to know the recorder a bit better to use it with ease! Maybe today I’ll be able to do it. It makes me try to be better. That’s a good thing I’m sure.
P.S. Oh! Did Saint Helen actually find the Cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Yes, she did. I did some pretty heavy research and investigation when I lived in Jerusalem. Beyond a shadow of any doubt, yes, she found it, and we have it. Maybe I’ll be able to write on that later today.
A follow-up meeting was, of course, necessary about the most welcome impromptu get-together of some of us priests during which we discussed how to go about setting up a ministry for exorcising priests and bishops. Priests who would find themselves discussing such a thing seriously always find themselves in Continue reading
“Coincidentally,” a number of priests made their may to this most remote mountain parish a while back, some independently, some coming in pairs, some from out of state, some from overseas. The idea, inspiration if you will, was voiced concerning what many of us have been thinking for years, that there should be a group of priests and bishops dedicated to confession, spiritual direction and… and… the exorcism ministry, all exclusively for the benefit of priests and bishops. Whenever this kind of “coincidence” takes place, for we did not plan this, I think that it is a plot, plan if you will, of guardian angels. You have to know, guardian angels are spectacularly our very best friends and are our co-workers and so, and most importantly, co-workers of Jesus. Their Queen is the Immaculate Conception, Jesus’ good mom. For what more could we wish?
But is this possible? Yes, I say. But I am a bit intimidated by what happened between Jesus and Judas and Satan. Judas is lifting up his heel against Jesus at the Last Supper forcing the irony of Genesis 3:15 upon himself, even as Satan enters into him, even as Jesus says to “him”, “What you going to do, do quickly.” To whom was Jesus speaking? Was it Judas or Satan or both? I say that it was Satan to whom Jesus was speaking, though Judas was the willing accomplice. After all, when Jesus soon thereafter met Judas in Gethsemane whereupon Judas gives Jesus the kiss of death, Jesus called him “Friend.” Jesus was trying to save Judas right to the last moment. Jesus does not exorcise Judas, not at the Last Supper, not in Gethsemane. Why not? Because Judas was not willing. You can’t exorcise someone who is purposely in cahoots with Satan. Why bother? It’s possible only if you have willing clientele.
Is is my experience since the early 1990s that priests who are believers are eager to submit themselves to an exorcism, knowing clearly that Satan is on the prowl seeking the ruin of souls, particularly the souls of priests and bishops upon whom so much depends for the salvation of souls. What I’m saying is, there would be plenty to do.
It is things like this which “just happen to happen” which make me think – again – that I need to republish my series on exorcism, some 40 articles if I remember.
There are, of course, various considerations, such as confidentiality. Yikes! Can you imagine a parish saying: “How come we got to get the possessed priest?” Or how about a Diocese and its presbyterate: “Our bishop is possessed. So that gives me permission to do whatever the hell I want to do.” Yes, fallen human beings throw themselves under the bus with their own self-made irony. It happens all the time. This works the same way with Confession: “He must really be a sinner going to confession like he does,” when the one going to confession is about the only one who is going to go to heaven.
But there are other pitfalls. I can just see it now. There would be those bishops who, with the typical demonic, self-congratulatory, self-referential CYA modus operandi, forever forbidding all due process for priests, send the inconvenient priest (often just a believer) off for evaluation to those evaluation centers which are fully guilty of having raped priests with plethysmography with the full knowledge of the bishops, still not having apologized for this and so still literally not giving a damn (and they should be careful of that), and who then send them off for an exorcism and, regardless of the outcome, use that fact with their request to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith that such a priest be dismissed from the clerical state (laicized). That’s likely, even probable.
So, such an exorcism ministry would have to be something which is done completely off the record. There are some exorcists who need a continuous mandate expressly given instead of every time asking the bishop for express permission. There are some things even bishops shouldn’t know! Imagine a bishop trying to figure out what to do with an insurance company which recommends against assigning a priest undergoing an exorcism to a parish! As one civil Judge, a believer and a gentleman, told me the other day about all such things CYA, such a modus operandi is diametrically opposed to evangelization, diametrically opposed to the goodness and kindness of Jesus. And, just to say, by the way, if a priest or bishop is harassed by Satan, that doesn’t mean at all that they are bad and evil or otherwise to be shunned or mistreated. Indeed, it might well mean that the priest or bishop is mighty holy like, say, Pio of Pietrelcina (poor Agostino Gemelli), John Marie Vianney, Paul of Tarsus and, don’t forget, He who bore the brunt of all of hell broken out on Calvary, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, who rose from the dead, victorious, the Conqueror, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.
In this most famous painting, Satan and/or the Anti-Christ is/are pointing to the martyred Dominican friar (not pictured here) laying just below them, he having gotten an axe to his head. The Anti-Christ is getting some advice from Satan. Depending where you are standing, you might not just be able to see Satan behind the Anti-Christ, and you might be tempted to think that it was Jesus you saw before you. But, no, just someone possessed by Satan. “But it looks like Jesus!” So? Get over it. That’s always our excuse, analogously, with any sin: “But it seems like it’s nice!” So? Get over it. That’s living life on the level of a mind-game with the world, the flesh and the devil, and we will lose that mind-game every time. The only thing that cuts through the mind-game thing is Jesus’ Love which is also His Truth which is also His Justice (but is still His Love!). If you’re going to have any fear, do not fear the one who can kill you. No, no. Fear Him who can throw body and soul in Gehenna, and the only one who can do that is the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, for He will come to judge the living and the dead and world by fire. Having said all of that, pray for all exorcists and those to whom they would wish to bring the Lord’s mercy. I put it that way since not all are like Padre Pio. Yikes! Hail Mary…
“We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader” (Daniel 3:38).
We should understand that the reason is this:
“You kill the prophets and stone those sent to you” (Luke 13:34).
We do it all the time. In fact, we kill Jesus:
“I shall send my beloved son; maybe they will respect him” (Luke 20:13).
Look: the very streets are flowing with blood. They have been for thousands of years. And we ask, “Where have all the prophets gone?”
We congratulate ourselves as “men of consensus” in ganging up against those who speak prophetically and incisively with truth and charity, who are, therefore, “boring,” and safe to attack in conformity with the lowest common denominator of middle of the high road of moral superiority of ever so subtle and therefore cute and to be congratulated cynicism, praising those in a round-about-way who murder the prophets because, actually, we’re afraid that we’re otherwise to be the next to be attacked.
And then, when nobody’s looking whom we are afraid of, we praise the prophets of the past but never of the present, and build their tombs and say that they were really nice guys, you know, so as to get the praise of the other audience before us at the moment.
“You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets” (Matthew 23:29-31).
If we want prophets, let’s first of all tell the truth to ourselves about ourselves and then tell that to God. Let’s admit that we ourselves are the most damned of sinners, we ourselves having crucified the good and kind divine Son of the Immaculate Conception with our own sins, and so begging our Lord for forgiveness before we ourselves go straight to hell, meanwhile praying for all, yes, including the Holy Father, the Cardinals, the Bishops and Priests. Our war is not against flesh and blood, but against the fallen angels, and we do not battle them directly, but call on the name of the Lord Jesus, who Himself faced all of hell broken out on Calvary, that is, in every Sacrifice of the Mass to which ourselves go. By the way, pray for exorcists. Hail Mary…
The irony is excruciating: extreme intelligence, infused, angelic, coupled with an utter lack of wisdom. This is Satan’s punishment forever.
In an exorcism, the idea is to make Satan admit his utter lack of wisdom in front of the exorcist, who is incomparably Satan’s intellectual inferior. Such an admission is all too much for Satan, at which point he simply leaves, which, of course, is the admission!
It’s rather simple how this works. Satan stomps on someone loved by God not because Satan cares about bothering us, but because Satan hates God; this is Satan’s way to demonstrate his hatred of God to God. Then, hopefully, the person ends up turning to God all the more, which is rather frustrating to Satan: such a person became closer to God because of the occasion provided for this by Satan.
Satan sees this countless times, but continues to do his work of hatred all the same even though the torment of the frustration increases all the more. This is a hatred and darkness we had better not be with for all eternity. Much better to go to heaven. There is no middle way. No compromise. In the end, there is only heaven or hell. Choose life!
By the way, the artwork above is a bit modern, a bit non-scriptural. The flaming fiery sword is held by the cherubim at the end of the Garden of Eden account, not by any archangel like Michael, though, of course, all those who are with God wield this sword. The sword is meant for Adam and the children of Adam, to turn their arrogant grasping for the fruit of the Tree of the Living Ones unto a humble reception of the fruit of the Tree of the Living Ones. To use this “turn-whatever-comes-at-it-into-its-contrary-sword” on Satan is terribly sarcastic, as Satan can only become more frustrated. That, mind you, is good art. The fiery bit is God’s love, and that love is provided to Satan, but it is precisely this love which makes him suffer, as he rejects such love. His frustration is ineffable. Such a sword of ardent love, of truth, cannot be put in any sheath, but is always drawn, always at work with good effect in those who accept it’s purging effects in all humility.
Why bother putting this up? Because today it seems that we think that God won’t do whatever it takes to get us into His love, which includes providing us with His love, which brings with it the purging effects of its ardent flame, which brings with it a torture as intense as being crucified to this world so as to live for Jesus, so that we might carry about His death within us that His resurrection might be manifested. Some think that this is mean and cruel. But it is not. This torture, if you will, does bring with it an interrogation more ferocious than anything ever provided by the ISIS crowd, as ferocious as Jesus asking: “Do you love me, Peter, more than these?”
Yes, Jesus does interrogate, and it seems like the very fires of hell are cast at us inasmuch as we resist such fiery love. Peter was grieved to death, death of himself so as to live for Jesus. Is that not, then, love which is provided by Jesus to Peter? Yes. It is. With all that torture, with all that interrogation, with all that… that… that… fiery love! Not so bad after all! Unlike with Satan, we can receive the fiery love of God with all its truth within us.
Saururus cernuus, lizard’s tail, water dragon… Not out of its habitat on this steep path up the mountain near the hermitage, as this portion of North Carolina is officially listed as a world-class rain forest with, in fact, twice as much rain fall as the average rain forest. The forest floor is always soaking wet. I guess it’s the configuration of the mountains catching all the rain coming up from Gorges National Park, which acts as a kind of funnel.
This rather demonically named flower might seem an odd choice to give to the Immaculate Conception. But think of it this way: the flowers are mocking the fall of Satan, who fell from the heavens like lightning, which is enough to make her smile. :-)
Coming across this fine specimen while hiking up the mountain was rather good timing, as I was on a mission. On my long trip yesterday (today, really: got back about 1:00 AM, and “long” meaning just a few feet short of 500 miles), I hiked back a package of demonic paraphernalia that I had been requested to burn.
Unlike my invitation concerning tattered old Mass vestments which I’ll happily burn for anyone, do not send me anything related to the demonic in the mail for me to burn. Just, no. Get an exorcist from your own diocese to do the necessary for you. Again, with just one match to a little section of a waxed vegetable box, and while praying to Saint Michael the Archangel and, of course, to the Immaculate Conception, who crushes the head of Satan with her humility, the flame begins to do its work:
And then the conflagration:
On the trip, I also took the opportunity to make a general confession to another Missionary of Mercy, who was in the area where I was visiting. We plotted some things for the remainder of this year of mercy and solved, of course, most every problem in the Church and the world. Very refreshing, leaving me with a great deal of joy before the Lord.
And yes, I had a chance to catch up with the neighbors and, yes, Laudie-dog took a nap in the hermitage lazily keeping a half-open eye on the flames in the wood stove. And all is well at the Shire. But, I know, the Shire is not everywhere. There is Mordor. So, back into the fray…
“Your adversary, the devil, is prowling about like a roaring lion searching for someone to devour: resist him, strong in the faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9).
The other night I had a visit from one of Satan’s minions. I woke with a start instantly to recognize the most evil presence truly like a lion, not visible, though I didn’t even look in that direction, though having my eyes wide open. I quietly said my prayers with trembling voice:
That’s all it took for such a minion to be thoroughly disgusted with me and leave forthwith. Just like that. Just that quick. I went right back to sleep.
I can describe the disgust… It’s like he was certain that it would be a matter of course to come into this little rectory, and, just like he did with Judas, take possession of me as he might do to anyone else in this world. My little prayers, I must say, were said with the most eager childlike trust I could muster in my trepidation. That’s what disgusted him. And the disgust increased with every invocation until fear forced him away. Asking one’s guardian angel to smack down one of Satan’s minions is like asking an invincible warrior to go into battle. They need only make a move and the enemy runs away.
But note that I didn’t even have to use an exorcism, not imprecatory, not deprecatory. I just asked Jesus, Mary and my Guardian Angel for help. That’s something all of us can do at any time, anywhere. You don’t have to be an exorcist to ask for help. Remember that even when an Exorcist takes up an exorcism in an imprecatory or deprecatory manner, he is nevertheless throughout this exercise calling on Jesus and Mary and hopefully also his guardian angel.
And this is what it means to be fortes in fide, strong in faith: a childlike trust in Jesus, in His Immaculate Mother, in our guardian angels, not trusting in ourselves, but in them. Simplicity. Not being in control, but looking for security to the Holy Family. That doesn’t mean that I am not otherwise a knucklehead! All praise to the Lord.
I could tell many stories like this, one more frightening than the other, going way back to when I was just a few years old. At that time my brother and myself had common experiences, that is, both in frequency and together, verifying that I wasn’t just making it all up about Satan’s machinations.
Satan hates us because he hates Jesus. Jesus loves us. Satan attacks us to offend Jesus. Otherwise, Satan couldn’t care less about us. Imagine hell: Satan beating on us continuously in order to manifest his hatred of God. Don’t be afraid of Satan. Just turn to Jesus and Mary and your guardian angel.
Holding my phone camera to the passenger side window of Betsy the Nissan pickup. See the side view mirror. That’s straight down about 500 feet. You have to know that the trees here are abnormally tall, often 75-100 feet, with White Pines easily growing to 130 feet. The purple stole you see in the reflection of the window is extra long, which I had made specifically for exorcisms. It has the JPII Cross and M. Here’s the same place looking ahead:
And here’s a close up of where not to put your tire: just air for 500 feet.
A car passed at this curve and I overheard, “Don’t be scared!” I love it.
Before this point, there’s this, most of the way down, but still two miles so steep there’s a mandatory truck info pull off at the top and a number of emergency truck ramps on the way down.
Meanwhile, Betsy the Nissan Pickup was overheating repeatedly. That was fixed by my neighbor when I met him in town. Thanks!
On the way back, there was this, worse than ever. You know it has to just collapse and avalanche down hundreds of feet into a reservoir sooner than later. It seems to have a foundation of sand over slippery bed rock.
Oh, and the exorcism? That went very smoothly, thanks be to God and Saint Michael the Archangel. I still have to resurrect the series of on exorcism, 40 some articles as I recall.
Sometimes my outings bring me to places where I wish I had a dog for protection, like if I break down (that happens quite a bit). Some of the places are really remote. The rescued puppy might not cut it in some of the more difficult situations that I had to hesitate to go into but did. We had some small dogs, and some bigger ones when I was a kid. I know, I know, I should just trust, right?
Anyway, what if I did have a German Shepherd that rode along on these trips, and stayed in the bed of the truck chained from a shoulder harness to the center of the back of the cab with enough leeway to put their nose to the wind, I wonder if that would work, like at a supermarket. Someone said that people steal dogs around these parts for illegal dog fight gambling. And there is, in fact, a lot of that. I wonder if there are lockable leashes for just such a scenario. The orange dog is going to be shipped up to Connecticut for… um…
Update: There’s pretty heavy traffic from the high places zeroing in the more controversial posts I’ve put up about Pope Francis. Here’s one of special interest:
VINDICATED: See great comments and links…
Most Holy Father, Vicar of Being-Surprised-by-the-Holy-Spirit,
Thank you for teaching us how to be surprised by the Holy Spirit. I speak about your homily on this subject at length: Brilliant spiritual direction of Pope Francis.
The foot washing bears an example par excellence of the Church as a field-hospital. Holy Father, I was surprised, and rejoiced. The conclusion of my surprise is that the event of the foot washing is about the need for Continue reading
Father Candido’s cause is now in its first stages with assistant postulators now being delegated. While I have received no miracle attributable to him, nor can I recall details of any conversation with precision, I think my comments here are, nevertheless, of some importance regarding his heroic virtue. For the sake of completeness, I think I must mention that I was involved with the exorcism ministry off and on in one way or another through the decades in half a dozen countries around the world since the time I met up with Father Candido. I relate what I remember in the context in which I came to know him.
When I was but a young seminarian in Rome (early 1980s), my spiritual director, a Texan and co-sufferer of a certain situation, an unstoppable force of electric energy and ironic humor totally dedicated to Jesus, pretended to be so flummoxed after about a year and a half after coming to know more accurately my being a “mystery wrapped in an enigma”, that he made a show of deciding that he had better send me to a friend of his, another spiritual director, one who could take care of the more – How to say it? – difficult cases. As it turns out, he was merely leaving Rome, returning to glorious Texas.
“Do you know of Father Candido?” he asked, almost as if accusing me and ready for any response. “No,” I answered in such a way that was equally a challenge, implying: “This had better be good.” Immediately and against all rules of decorum, he stood on his head and explained that if I did this, with blood rushing to my brain, I might be able to think for once in my life. He then popped back on his feet and, after going into a humorous round of how terribly ignorant I was with my not knowing that I lived very near Father Candido’s home at the Scala Santa, he convinced me that I needed to be dragged along to Jesus by this extraordinary exorcist. It did not escape me that he was sending me to an exorcist. We said our goodbyes and he went off to the airport.
The Holy Stairs were already familiar to my knees, and when arriving to the upper floor, I would sometimes notice a commotion, thinking this to be annoying, but I ignored this in favor of getting back to my studies. But now I was on a mission to follow that tumult so as to meet up with the peaceful priest inside the maelstrom. Being peaceful includes, of course, that same exuberance of ironic humor totally dedicated to Jesus which I had met with my previous spiritual director. I could clearly see this with his witty responses, sometimes dead serious, full of compassion, sometimes funny, sometimes said with a humor so very dry that it would further desiccate the driest British humor, throwing some of his more inappropriate interlocutors into stammering and then silence. His blessings, his granting of appointments on the fly, the occasional immediate “special blessing”, perhaps for an ongoing case, all while on his way to do a more extended exorcism, provided with me a snapshot of sacerdotal availability to sheep who otherwise seemed to be without a shepherd. It was in the midst of just such chaos that he acceded to my request for an appointment. After having a long chat with me in the parlor of the Passionist residence to the left of the Scala Santa, he agreed to be my spiritual director. We had some sessions together for about half a year, and I felt terribly guilty in stealing time he didn’t have in the first place. He was so over-extended. The only description I am able to apply to this and all that I saw with his flock is: “heroic availability for Jesus.”
Meanwhile, my seminary was insisting on an even more rigorous schedule for spiritual direction, something difficult to realize in the real world with real people. I was grilled on this point many times by the Rector, who didn’t like outsourcing spiritual direction, though he allowed it. I think that in my case the Rector simply didn’t like it being said that one of his seminarians was seeing an exorcist. Politics being what they are in seminaries, I said my thanks to Father Candido and eventually found another spiritual director, still out-of-house, but a great priest in every way who could see me more frequently.
While all this was going on, I was brought to see what Father Candido’s old student was up to in a church near the Scala Santa, Father Gabriele Amorth. How that developed over the years brings many stories in its wake, but there is one thing Father Amorth recounted to me about Father Candido that I would like to bring to the fore. He’s written of this incident with Father Candido in less detail elsewhere (see the pertinent section below the page break), but I would like to add an observation to what he said.
In brief: in the early years of his ministry, Father Candido and his fellow exorcist dug up a cursed object the whereabouts of which they had learned during an exorcism. When they found it they didn’t bless the thing nor did they pray at all. They destroyed it. But the moment Father Candido touched the thing his stomach became terribly afflicted, so that he was bedridden for months with incapacitating pain which continued to disrupt his ministry severely for some ten years (and, if I remember correctly, never quite left him). Father Candido had admitted his lack of prayer as an error on his part for the sake of his student. I find that humility to be inspiring. But even more, and this is what I wanted to say: Father Candido did not give up on this ministry; he did not abandon the souls put into his care; he carried on in the very best way he could for sake of the establishment of the Kingdom of God among us. I have met by now I think well over a hundred exorcists. Of all of them, I would call Father Candido’s perseverance heroic virtue.
Here’s the story in Italian, recounted by Father Amorth: Continue reading