Saturday, October 23, 2010

*BEST OF DTB #32* The Catholic Defender looks at demon possession

A couple of days ago I was watching on the Discovery channel, a story of the original exorcist.

The story is actually based on a boy from St. Louis taking place in 1949. I use to have a video on the subject but this episode was an update that had been recently documented.

From this presentation, it gave both sides of the commentary, those who believe it to be fact and those who tried to give a humanist answer to the symptoms of the boy.

This is a subject that is rarely seen in our day and time. With modern medical evaluations, demon possession is not high on the list for diagnosis. I think most people would categorize the subject as "superstitious" or "medieval".

If you have seen the movie, "The Exorcism of Emily Rose", this issue is debated in a dramatic court scene.

A Catholic Priest is standing trial for the death of a young woman who was demonically possessed. This movie is unique in that it presents the Catholic Church in a favorable light as you watch the movie. The woman in which the movie was based actually becomes seen as a heroine for God.

That was something I really enjoyed about the movie. Pope Paul VI was quoted by the Catholic Magazine "Immaculata" from a book they produced called "The Devil and Exorcism" (April 1974) saying, "show the devil to Christian souls as he really is, and his ugliness will not attract them; hide the devil and in ignorance they will follow him. The devil has been hidden too long. Not by the Church but by those who have little faith or no faith in the supernatural. The power of the devil weakens as soon as his pretenses are exposed".

St. Paul sees this problem as very important as he states, "Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for because of these things (sin) the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient. So do not be associated with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them" (Ephesians 5:6-11)...

In an age when the supernatural is being explained by humanist reasoning, you can certainly loose the devil in the details. I see a bigger problem than demon possession, something I will call "demon oppression".

This is where a person is not demon possessed physically, but a person becomes so blind to the truth that they can't see the gospel. It is bondage from personal ignorance or willful refusal to follow God. We consent to this when we turn our back on God and willfully choose to walk away from God.

Demon possession we can see the biblical accounts throughout Jesus public Ministry. Matthew 17:14 -20 says, "When they came to the crowd a man approached, knelt before him (Jesus), and said, 'Lord have pity on my son, for he is a lunatic and suffers severely; often he falls into fire, and often into water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him'. Jesus said in reply, 'O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him here to me'. Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured. Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, 'Why could we not drive it out'? He said to them, 'Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have the faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you".

St Mark (Mk 9:29) adds Jesus saying, "This kind (demonic possession) can only come out through prayer".

Jesus gives the Catholic Church this power and authority to cast out demons as a sign of His presence, "These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages" (Mark 16:17).

Acts 5:12-16 shows this is what the Apostles did, "Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles. They were all together in Solomon's portico. None of the others dared to join them, but the people esteemed them. Yet more than ever, believers in the Lord, great numbers of men and women, were added to them. Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them. A large number of people from the towns in the vicinity of Jerusalem also gathered, bringing the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits, and they all were cured".

These signs and wonders were becoming known throughout the area. Acts 19:13-20 gives an interesting account of those who wanted to imitate the authority of the Apostles: "Then some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those with evil spirits, saying, 'I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches'. When the seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish high priest, tried to do this, the evil spirit said to them in reply, 'Jesus I recognize, Paul I know, but who are you'? The person with the evil spirit then sprang at them and subdued them all. He so overpowered them that they fled naked and wounded from that house. When this became known to all the Jews and Greeks who lived in Ephesus, fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in great esteem. Many of those who had become believers came forward and openly acknowledged their former practices. Moreover, a large number of those who had practiced magic (the occult) collected their books and burned them in public. They calculated their value and found it to be fifty thousand silver pieces. Thus did the word of the Lord continue to spread with influence and power".

It is interesting to note that the boy from the documentation on exorcism on the Discovery channel had an Aunt who introduced him to the Ouija Board where they spent hours seeking the spirits of the dead. The family were not Catholic, but they were Lutheran who through their traumatic experience converted to the Catholic Faith.

A good question has been asked of me about non-Catholic groups and some of them such as Pentecostals believe in demonic possession. Just as the demons messed with the Jewish sons of Sceva, they play havoc with those who cast out demons from these groups, yet the individual in question has more demons or are left in the false doctrines of those influencing exorcisms.

Sometimes this itself can be confusing when you see people no longer bound by alcohol, cigarette, or drug addictions. False doctrines also come from demonic instructions.

As Catholics, no one should attempt to speak with demons or cast them out unless you are authorized by the Catholic Church to do so. Each Diocese should have a Priest appointed to do such work, though the incidence of demonic possession has been greatly decreased.

The Devil casts out his many webs of deception so that people place themselves under demonic instructions (1 Timothy 4:1) hence, "demonic oppression". People are lured by the fascination with the Occult or any false philosophy. Today, we have many voices out wanting to sell a "product" that sells, sex, the Occult, Secular Humanism, Indifferentism, Modernism are powerful heresies of our time. My Rock is founded from Christ who is the Master Builder. He established the Church upon the foundation of St. Peter and the Apostles. This is the only safe ship to pass on stormy seas!
The Catechism reminds Catholics to put all their faith totally in God:
“2110 The first commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; irreligion is the vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion.”

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