Demonology, Exorcisms, and Hope
One of the more interesting interviews I’ve heard in a long time was done last week on the Patrick Coffin Show. You can find it HERE, or look for it as a Podcast.
The interview was with Adam Blai, a man who has spent his life working in psychology and demonology. He helps train exorcists, and currently does work with the diocese of Pittsburgh. Blai presents a solid view of the Catholic understanding of obsessions, possessions, and exorcisms. The interview is not intimidating or chilling, but rather quite hopeful. He demonstrates time and time again that Christ works best through His Church.
By all means check out the interview. If you don’t have time, here are a few notes…
Possessions are caused by some violation of the first commandment, such as seeking some power other than God. Hmmm... Pachamama rituals anyone?
To truly exorcise a possessed person is a lengthy process. On average Blai says it takes 6-24 months, and sometimes can go on for 20 years. It takes time to unravel all the layers of possession. Possession is very legalistic. If a person does an activity to invite a demon into their soul, the demon will not come out unless the activity is undone (through exorcism).
Movies such as The Exorcist sensationalize things. A real exorcism is much tamer, especially if the people in the room are experienced - the demons won’t waste their time with their usual tricks.
It is never just one demon. Often there can be between 10-100 lesser demons (Blai implied these demons were simply foot soldiers who weren’t that bright). Then there are one or two middle demons controlling the entire possession. If necessary, a high ranking demon will come onto the scene… even Satan, if called down by the priest. Note, that even Satan is under the command of the priest.
Which brings me to the role of the Catholic Church. Blai related that once a priest tried to get a possessed person to sit down, fold his arms, and be quiet. The demons mocked the priest. The priest then went and called his bishop. He asked the bishop, over the phone, for permission to do the exorcism. The bishop consented. The priest then went back into the room and commanded the possessed person to sit down, fold his arms, and be quiet. Immediately the command was obeyed. Demons are powerless in the face of apostolic authority. An exorcism is not some martial arts battle between good and evil forces. Rather, it is like a bug getting crushed by a baseball bat. Christ, working through His Church, will always win.
Which brings up an interesting point on the sacrament of Confession. Anyone involved in an exorcism must go to Confession before beginning. What is confessed is bound by the seal of the sacrament, and even demons cannot use any of this information within an exorcism. The power of Confession is binding.
Blai spoke about yoga and reiki. Both are dangerous, but Blai especially warned about reiki because of how explicitly it calls on spirits to enter a person.
Perhaps one of the more shocking things Blai said involved adultery and fornication. Having relations with someone who is not your spouse, besides being a mortal sin, can bring about possession. Because the act is so unitive, if one of the persons has demons, they can be passed on to the other person. I immediately thought of the mess of ex-Cardinal McCarrick. I can only imagine him passing on demons to his seminarians. Disgusting.
Patrick Coffin asked Blai about his thoughts on the “dare we hope all men be saved” theory. This is a debate I’ve been publicly involved with to some degree. Briefly, von Balthasar, and even Bishop Robert Barron, believe it is possible that Hell be empty of humans. Blai replied to this by saying his experience with exorcisms greatly contradicts this claim. But the main reason Blai believes this theory is wrong is simple: Jesus directly warns that many people choose Hell.
All in all, it was a noteworthy interview, yet one that left a great deal of hope. The keys of the kingdom are clearly in the hands of the Church. The Devil and his demons are powerless. How great it is to be Catholic.