Of courser there is no way to properly prepare a person 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.
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 who is the chief exorcist for the Vatican. I work with others to further the education of clergy in the United States. My web site is my own and I do not claim the authority of the association.
I've helped put on 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 attended a number of trainings, including the one at the US Bishop's conference in 2010.
I've consulted for a number of diocese in the United States and had the blessing of working with many world class experts in this area.
I've assisted at dozens of solemn exorcisms, many house blessings, and other deliverance prayer sessions.
Religious tests for the presence of demons
Since demons generally don’t manifest when priests and investigators are present it can be difficult to know if a person is really experiencing preternatural problems. Religious tests are essentially using religious activity to force a reaction from the demons that reveals them. Religious tests have to be done in a way that the client is aware and approving of their use, but unaware of when they are used. This is done so as to avoid faking by the client type who merely seeks attention.
Some religious tests for infestation might include:
- Saying deliverance prayers in your mind while walking through the home.
- Sprinkling holy water.
- Reading the Bible out loud (psalms works well).
- A house blessing
- The blessing of the threshold
- Saying deliverance Prayers out loud, or with the client.
- Hanging blessed holy objects or symbols in plain view in problematic rooms.
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. These could include:
- Having the client 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 often causes manifestation or an attack on the oppressed victim either during the blessing or as soon as the clergy leaves.
Testing for possession can be dangerous and won't be described here. Please seek the counsel of experienced clergy.
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.
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 Ouija boards, séances, or other divination techniques. The apparently helpful or needy spirit will press for more and more communication and interaction. As they gain a psychological foothold in the person’s life they become more demanding and ultimately controlling and threatening.
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 human figures that stand or move about
- black clouds that look like smoke that move about 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. 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 client 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 client 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 the person understand that the foundation of their spiritual life (the Sacramental life) is essential for any lasting help to be achieved.
- 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.
- If it is judged wise say mass in the home.
- Immediately after the house blessing have the blessing of the threshold done (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 throughsuicide.
This process can involve:
- Affecting the lower faculties of the victim, 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.
- 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. See the wes bite www.nightterrors.org for more information on sleep disorders.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Demonic possession is rare. For every ten serious house cases you might see there may be one case of claimed possession. In some diocese there seems to be more cases of possession going on than in others.
Demonic possession is when the demons completely take over the lower faculties of the body (the physical body and the emotions). 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. 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.
Deliverance, Simple Exorcism, and Solemn Exorcism
Deliverance work is praying for, or requesting, intervention from Heavenly sources to remove evil affecting a person, or the effects of evil. Deliverance prayers can be said by laity or priests and they are used for situations where a person is being oppressed by evil forces, often demons. Deliverance prayers should be led by a priest with some experience in this area. Deliverance prayers should not be used where demons are actually manifesting in a person, except with permission from your ordinary.
Deliverance work is commonly done with a small group of people praying over or for an individual. The individual usually sits quietly and prays along with the people to have the negative influences removed from their life. Deliverance work is sometimes done for physical ailments, inner healing of traumatic memories, etc.
Deliverance prayers can also be said in a home where demonic infestation is taking place. If during deliverance prayer it becomes apparent that the person is possessed the process should be stopped and the case should be referred to the local ordinary. Trying to use deliverance prayers on a possessed person will usually only anger and inflame the possessing demon and make the situation worse. Trying to use deliverance prayers on a possessed person will very likely put you in serious danger and probably wont free them.
A Simple Exorcism for priests and laity was defined by Pope Leo XIII and can be used on locations or situations where the activity of the devil is suspected. Simple exorcisms are included in many prayers, blessings and sacraments. The simple exorcism should be used with great caution when it comes to people because it includes not only petitions for intervention but commands to the evil to depart. A Simple exorcism should never be used on a person except with permission from the ordinary. It can be used as a test of whether a person is possessed only with permission from the ordinary and this should be done by someone with some experience because once the demon takes over the body you need to know how to handle that situation.
A Solemn Exorcism is a formal ritual of the Roman Catholic Church that commands the evil in a person’s body to depart and not return. A solemn exorcism can only be performed by an ordained priest who is given permission by his Bishop (or Ordinary) to perform the Ritual. The solemn exorcism carries the weight of Christ’s Church behind the command. Lay demonologists would never use the Roman Ritual of exorcism.
Dealing with the possessed outside of solemn exorcism.
- It is preferable to have family members of the possessed present at all times, particularly if they are of the opposite sex from you. If the demon comes forward and attacks you this could be interpreted wrongly later when the demon disappears or family members walk in.
- Words related to God or the Church are often not heard by the possessed. They might also become garbled in their perception. It is distressing to the possessed person to see a person’s lips moving but not be able to understand or hear what they are saying.
- Asking the possessed person in their human state about spiritual or theological issues could cause the demon to come forward and manifest in the person.
- If the demon manifests and attacks you, use minimal force to restrain the victim and be as gentle as possible. If they are truly possessed they will have as much strength as the demon wishes to create, so you may get hurt. Their strength is always limited by God, particularly when we act in faith, charity, and obedience. If we move as a mortal ego against the demon (not relying on God but challenging the demon ourselves) we may experience more of their strength and be harmed.
- If the demon manifests and talks to you do not answer its questions. Do not question it outside of the appropriate interrogation at the appropriate time. Do not respond if it taunts you. Do not react if it talks about your sins or secrets.
- If the demon manifests and you have no other choice ask for intervention from Jesus to subdue the situation until the appointed prayer session against that demon. There is not way to predict and control every situation when dealing with demons, we need the guidance and protection from God as we dynamically respond to each moment.
Dealing with backlash and spiritual attacks
“Then he went on to describe the double vision. It was not like seeing another table beside the real table or another wall beside the real wall. It was not a vision of eyes or a hearing with your ears or a touching with your hand. It was another level of reality. An exorcism sharpens your awareness of that reality, he said. You know what stands behind and around and beneath and above all that is visible and tangible. The intertwining cords of spirit appear everywhere. Good and bad spirit. Beauty and ugliness. Holiness and sin. God as a tremendous majesty. Personal evil is a formidable force. Nothing escapes those cords.” (Hostage to the Devil, page 454)
“No one who, like me, conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human beast, and seeks to wrestle with them, can expect to come through the struggle unscathed.” -Freud
Demons are a very dangerous reality that must be approached from a deep and solid spiritual basis. You simply will not understand this fully until you encounter a demon, whether in a person or disembodied. Once you do encounter one your world view will be forced to accommodate the presence of evil as an objective, personal, reality. This may make you feel mentally unstable or overwhelmed for at least a short time. You will never be able to go back to thinking of demons as an abstract idea or thrilling possibility.
It is very important to monitor the effects of working with demons and negative situations on yourself. People that work in direct human services are aware of this need to take breaks from the work and have colleagues to talk with, exorcists need to do the same. One priest used the analogy of radiation: if you are in a house with preternatural evil in it, it is like being exposed to radiation. You will not know the radiation is there or that you are being dosed with it, you only become aware sometime later when the effects are felt.
Spending time in stressful situations where there could be human and/or preternatural negativity can be damaging to you. Look for signs of stress: difficulty with sleep, increase or decrease in eating, loss of interest in the fun things in life, etc. If you are getting stressed or feel like your reactions are causing you to be biased, then take a break.
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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