American popular culture likes to sensationalize that which is…cultish. Such is the case with a ritual known as Exorcism: entertainment for some, a deadly serious religious Rite for all knowledgeable Catholics. (There aren’t as many out there as people might think.) In this time of waning belief in God, and religion, so too is the occult enticing. Things like Ouiji boards, and other pagan practices that call forth the dead and spirits.
It might SEEM like innocent fun, but sooner or later somebody will get infested, and furniture will move across the room.
According to two American exorcists, Fr. Vincent Lampert of Indianapolis and Fr. Gary Thomas of San Diego, that inverse we are experiencing in the world today – belief waning, occult infestation rising – is the primary reason their services are being sought out by Catholics and non.
According to Fr Lampert of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, it is not the Church that is demanding more exorcisms but people.
“We’re gaining all sorts of knowledge,” he says, “but there’s still that emptiness within us that is being filled with addictive behaviour such as drugs and pornography.
“There’s a line in the Old Testament that says when one grows in knowledge one also grows in despair. The decline in faith goes hand in hand with the rise in evil.”…
In the past 10 years, Fr Thomas has performed 50 to 60 exorcisms. Sometimes he gets requests for exorcism from outside the US, recently from Turkey, but most commonly from India and Africa.
“I am a full-time pastor and this is a very intense ministry. Almost every free night that I have is taken up with exorcisms,” he says.
While addictive habits and interest in the occult do attract demons, one of the other reasons exorcism is sought out is actually the demise of mental health care in the United States. It is not widely known, but before any exorcism is conducted the subject goes through an intense discernment process to determine if the problem is really demonic possession, or that the person needs psychiatric or psychological help.
“I could conduct one or two exorcisms a week for demonic attachment (as opposed to full possession). People could be quite functional but once they get into a sacred arena, such as a church, or participate in some element of parish, they’ll begin to manifest or they’ll begin to get sick or they’ll begin to show other kinds of signs that something is amiss. And it’s my role and my team’s to discern what it is. Is it something psychological?”
So the three reasons exorcism is on the rise:
- Rise of occult experimentation in the midst of waning faith
- Sinful habits that invite demons in
- Mental health system in disarray.
As it happens, the exorcists estimate that 1 in 5,000 requests for exorcism is based on an actual demonic possession. Usually, the subject isn’t really infested, but demons can be around bugging people. (Happened to this writer.) In the cases where the subject really IS infested, a strict protocol is maintained – including the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) – as a number of exorcisms are usually needed to cast all of the demons out.
There’s a lot more information that the source article in the UK Independent. The last three popes have been especially supportive of rebuilding the exorcists. While there are only about 50 in the United States, there are now hundreds world-wide pretty much all trained by the same priest, Fr. Gabriel Amorth of Rome.
Personal note: this writer attended Sunday Mass one weekend at the local Cathedral. It was the five p.m. and most of the people there in the pretty packed church were under 40. During the Consecration, when the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass actually happens, and everyone is dead silent, a woman called out in a nasty voice a string of profanity that is probably still hanging in the air. No one moved. The profanity stopped as soon as the chalice was elevated. The only thing I could figure at the time, was that the person was possessed.