New book, The History of Exorcism. See the Books Section.
New book, The History of Exorcism. See the Books Section.
There is no way to properly prepare to work against demons from a web site. Work for God against the demonic should be done with consultation and under the approval of your ordinary, with access to mentorship from experienced people. These topics are covered more fully in my pastoral manual for exorcists, which is free upon request to any Catholic priest in good standing.
By decree of a United States Bishop on August 4th, 2010 (The memorial of Saint John Mary Vianney) I am a peritus of the Roman Catholic Church in exorcism, with expertise and experience in "...psychological sciences, exorcism and demonology (particularly Christian demonology) and for assistance and witness during actual exorcisms..." The appointment is given ad nutum episcopi . The title peritus (latin for expert) is normally given to laity experts in a particular area so that they can advise Bishops and Cardinals.
I am an auxiliary member of the International Association of Exorcists, a Roman Catholic organization founded by Fr. Amorth and others. My web site is my own and I do not claim the authority of the association.
I've helped at a number of national conferences for various diocese to train priests in deliverance and exorcism, as well as religious demonology. I've taught a continuing education course for clergy on demonology, deliverance, and exorcism. I've consulted on cases for a number of diocese in the United States and had the blessing of working with many world class experts in this area. Finally, I've assisted at dozens of solemn exorcisms, many house blessings, and other deliverance prayer sessions. Demonic infestation
is when demonic entities either try to scare with typical “ghost” tricks or entice with spirit communication and eliciting sympathy. The infestation is usually a result of some kind of invitation, either by the current residents or a previous one, or from a curse or spell cast by a practitioner of black magic. The goal of the infestation is to increase awareness of the spirit, increase interaction with it, and finally start to control the life of the victim, or victims. Once some amount of relationship is formed and additional free rights have been given the infestation turns mean, violent, and controlling.
A common trick of the demonic is to appear as the “ghost” of a loved one, sick child, or some positive figure such as a “wise spirit guide” or holy angel. These types of infestations often have their origins in spirit communication such as the use of "spirit boards", séances, or other divination techniques. The apparently helpful or needy spirit will press for more and more communication and interaction, and then obedience.
Some of the phenomena can include:
- tapping or knocking noises on the walls or floors
- the sound of footsteps on floors or stairs
- disturbances in electronic equipment like digital clocks going backwards, appliances turning on or off, lights turning on or off
- the sound of voices or animal sounds in the walls, rooms, or outside
- fluids or other things appearing on walls or floors
- bad odors with no natural explanation
- black shadow clouds that look like smoke but don't dissipate
- small black shadows on walls or floors that move with no natural cause
Many of the specific complaints of demonic infestation are explainable. Look for natural explanations in the home or environment, including:
- Animals in the home or walls
- High electric fields from power transformers or bad wiring (these can cause hallucinations)
- High levels of Radon gas (a radioactive gas that comes from the earth into the basements of many homes that may cause hallucinations at high levels)
- Old or defective wiring
- Malfunctioning heating or air conditioning
- Neighbor's activity
You need to verify the phenomenon the client has complained of and document it in some form. Photos, video, and sound recordings can be very useful. I am NOT suggesting the use of "EVPs" (electronic voice phemonon) to "talk" with spirits. If you determine that there are no natural explanations for the phenomenon you observe you should move to attempting a resolution to the phenomenon.
Resolution of demonic infestation generally involves these steps:
- Talk with the people about the nature of demonic trickery so they will no longer be deceived into thinking they are helpless, that it is a ghost, it is their friend, or warrants their sympathy.
- Talk with the people about their religious beliefs and spiritual life. Find out if they have been involved in the occult or other religious or spiritual activities that can invite the demonic in. If they have help them renounce this and confess it in the sacrament of reconciliation. Remove all objects and books associated with the occult from the home.
- Help them understand that the foundation of their spiritual life is essential for any lasting help to be achieved.
2. Clear out the evil spirits
- Remove any possibly cursed objects or occult books and paraphernalia.
- Have the house thoroughly blessed and possibly have a simple exorcism performed on the premises. - Possibly say mass in the home.
3. Fortify the family and home spiritually
- After the house blessing do the blessing of the threshold (Epiphany blessing of the threshold) to resist the demons coming back into the house once expelled by the prayers and blessings.
- Place a blessed religious symbol in each room in plain sight.
- Encourage the person to develop a positive relationship with God and to strengthen their spiritual life.
Be aware that the process of infestation, either the lie of a “good ghost” or the instilling of fear through noises, often leads to the deeper problem of demonic oppression.
Demonic oppression is when the demonic problem becomes personal and interacts in a more focused way with one victim. The goal of demonic oppression is to put strain on the victim emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually causing them eventually to “give in ” and accept more complete control from the demons. If a demonic infestation took the form of a helpful spirit that pretense is generally dropped while things progress. At some point the demonic have enough of a hold on the person's life, mind and soul that they can afford to let the truth be known: they want to destroy the victim and have their soul damned, usually through suicide (of course suicide is not a guaranteed damnation but the Devil seeks that end for people).
This process can involve:
- Affecting the emotions and the body. This can take the form of depression, withdrawal from friends and family, anger issues, scratching or biting the body, speaking in the mind of the person, beatings from disembodied spirits, and other forms of assault. This is done to wear the victim down emotionally and isolate them from people that care about them. Of course not every case of depression is demonic.
- Affecting the thoughts of the victim. This can take the form of paranoia, distrust of others, irrational beliefs, intrusive thoughts that seem to come from somewhere else. This is done to wear the victim's sense of reality down and eventually make them more vulnerable. This could be normal psychosis, which needs to be ruled out.
- Affecting the sleep of the victim. The victim is often bothered by nightmares of a demonic nature, disturbed in their sleep so they get little rest, or waking to see things in their room. This is done to wear the victim down and make them fatigued. Of course sleep disorders need to be ruled out by a sleep study.
- Causing the victim to “hear voices”, either in their head or in the room with them. The voices often encourage the victim to do negative things and avoid positive people. It is important to be sure these voices are not part of a mental illness or side effect of a medication or physical disease.
- Taking over the victim's body in some limited way. The demons speak and interact with the victim's body as if it were their own to some extent. In oppression usually the victim does recall what happens during these episodes as it is not full possession. These are usually very brief periods of time and only in sever oppression cases.
- Causing the victim to experience negative things when the perceive holy things (not being able to hear the words of someone praying, seeing scary images superimposed on holy images, etc.)
- Distorting the victim's perceptions. This includes sometimes not perceiving words associated with God, such as Jesus, prayer, Church, Holy, etc.
- Touching the victim in various ways.
- Causing writing or occult symbols to appear on the victims body in raised welts. The religious tests for oppression can be more difficult since the demonic manifestation generally has moved to the client's experience only, or near them.
Tests for demonic oppression could include:
- Having the person apply holy water to their head before sleep, while they ask God to protect them from demonic dreams or influence in their sleep.
- Placing blessed holy symbols and objects in their bedroom to see if it stops attacks. - Doing a thorough house blessing.
- Others that won't be covered here in the public.
Depending on how far the oppression has gone it can be hard to communicate with the victim in a normal way. They may appear distant or “spaced out” when you talk about God or prayer. It is good to ask if they are hearing voices when they seem to not pay attention to what is going on around them. Always have a full medical work up done to be sure the symptoms are not medical or simply psychiatric.
The resolution of demonic oppression is often the same as infestation with deliverance prayers used in addition to the steps outlined above. It is possible to learn through attempts at intervention that what looked like oppression is transitory possession or full possession. Be prepared. There are many forms of deliverance prayers, most not approved as formal prayers of the Church. I would advise you to ask your ordinary what prayers they wish you to use. The person must renouce the legal rights they gave to the relationship with the demon, and if they are from an ancestor renounce those on their behalf.
Demonic possession is rare. By rare I mean there may be one or a few cases going at any one time in a major city. There are diocese that have more, and some that have less.
Demonic possession is when the demons completely take over the body. They can never take over the free will of the person, though while using their body they can certainly do things with it that that person wouldn't want to do. The periods of time when the person's body is not under their control can be rare, frequent, or constant. When the person is in control of their body they usually hear the demons talking to them (and each other) in their head, threatening them and giving instructions on what to do or not do at all times. The person's ability to actively ask for help will likely be severely curtailed by threats and punishments.
Resolution of demonic possession can be a complex and dangerous process and while it also involves education, casting the evil spirit out, and fortification afterwards, the details can't be summed up here. Please work with your ordinary and the priests or experts they approve you to consult with.
This letter was issued from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and provides some additional guidelines on exorcism:
Inde Ab Aliquot Annis
On The Current Norms Governing Exorcisms
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
September 29, 1985
Translated by Father Gabriele Amorth, Exorcist of Diocese of Rome
Prot. no. 291/70; ASS 77 (1985): 1169-70; EnchVat 9, nn. 1663-67
For some years there has been an increase in the number of ecclesiastic gatherings which seek liberation from demonic influences, even though they are not properly and truly exorcisms. These groups, even when a priest is present, are led by lay persons. Since the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has been asked what ought to be thought about this, this dicastry is of the opinion that all other ordinaries should have the following response:
1. Canon 1172 of the Code of Canon Law declares that no one is able to legitimately undertake exorcisms of the possessed unless expressed and individual permission has been obtained from the ordinary of the place (section 1). The canon also establishes that this permission ought to be conceded by the ordinary of the place only to priests who are distinguished in piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life (section 2). Bishops are, therefore, strongly urged to see to the observance of these norms.
2. From these prescriptions it follows, therefore, that no member of the Christian faithful can use the formula of exorcism against Satan and fallen angels, extracted from that which was made law by Leo XIII, and even less are the able to use the entire text for exorcism. Bishops are to bring this to the attention of the faithful as it is deemed necessary.
3. Finally, for the same reasons, bishops are asked to be vigilant that -- for even cases in which true diabolical possession is excluded, diabolical influence nevertheless seems in some way to be revealed -- those who do not have the required faculty not serve in the leading of meeting where, in order to gain freedom, prayers are used which dignify demons by directly questioning them and in searching to make known their identity.
The announcement of these norm, however, ought not to keep the faithful from praying that, as Jesus taught us, they might be delivered from evil (cf. Mt 6:13). Finally, pastors ought to avail themselves of this occasion to recall what the tradition of the Church teaches about the proper function of sacraments and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels and the saints in the spiritual fight of Christians against evil spirits.
May I take this occasion to convey my great feelings of esteem for you, remaining your servant in the Lord, Joseph Card. Ratzinger, Prefect
Translated to Italian by Father Gabriele Amorth, Exorcist to the Diocese of Rome in his Exorcist Tells His Story, [American Edition], Ignatius Press, San Francisco (1999), (translated into English by Nicoletta V. MacKenzie), pp. 189-90
Comments from Father Amorth Concerning Inde Ab Aliquot Annis
The above-cited letter warns against any direct dealings with demons and states that their name should not be asked by those who have not been granted the specific faculty to do so. The Acts of the Apostles report a particularly fitting event ... (of the consequences of acting without faculty to do so in the story of the Seven Brothers --Acts 19:11-20). (from An Exorcist: More Stories, [American Edition], Ignatius Press, San Francisco: (2002), (translated into English by Nicoletta V. MacKenzie), pp. 189-90 )
I will now explain some of that is forbidden and what is required, according to these guidelines (of Inde Ab Aliquot Annis).
• First, official exorcisms are not allowed; 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.
• We must avoid addressing the demon directly and to find out his name and -- I add -- anything else. All other considerations aside, a direct dialogue with the demon can be dangerous to anyone who dares to initiate it without the due authorization of the Church, and therefore without her protection.
At the end, the document reminds one of the importance of prayer, the sacraments, and the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the angels, and the saints.... (from Exorcist Tells His Story, Ibid, pp.190-91)
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