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Tips to know when someone is Demon-Possessed

By May 22, 2016 33 Comments

Recognizing the difference between a person who’s possessed and a person struggling with a mental illness or other infirmity is a vital part of the ministry of exorcism, according to a long-time exorcist and priest.
Father Cipriano de Meo, who has been an exorcist since 1952, told CNA’s Italian agency ACI Stampa that typically, a person is not possessed but is struggling with some other illness.
The key to telling the difference, he said, is through discernment in prayer on the part of the exorcist and the possessed – and in the potentially possessed person’s reaction to the exorcist himself and the prayers being said.
The exorcist will typically say “(a) prolonged prayer to the point where if the Adversary is present, there’s a reaction,” he said.
“A possessed person has various general attitudes towards an exorcist, who is seen by the Adversary as an enemy ready to fight him.”
Fr. de Meo described the unsettling reaction that a possessed person usually has, detailing a common response to the exorcist’s prayer.
“There’s no lack of frightening facial expressions, threatening words or gestures and other things,” he said, “but especially blasphemies against God and Our Lady.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between demonic activity and mental illness. From paragraph 1673: “Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.”
In April of last year, the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy and the Sacerdos Institute hosted a seminar at Rome’s Regina Apostolorum University, specifically aimed at training priests and lay people in spotting the differences between psychological problems and demonic possession.
The conference included interventions from a wide range of experts in the field of exorcism, including practicing exorcists, medical professionals, psychologists, lawyers, and theologians.
Fr. de Meo also emphasized that not all cases of possession are going to look the same, which is why it is so important for exorcists to go through rigorous training.
“It’s up to the priest serving in this ministry to know how to deal with the case, by the will of God, with love and humility,” he said.
“For this reason, with my bishop’s authorization, for 13 years, I’ve led a school for exorcists. I’ve tried to especially prepare those who are beginning this ministry,” he said.
However, even though cases of demonic possession are not as common as cases of psychological illness, most people are too unaware and unfamiliar with spiritual realities, he said.
In 2014, the International Association of Exorcists (AIE) called the rise of occult activity a “pastoral emergency.”
“It usually starts out of ignorance, superficiality, stupidity or proselytizing, actively participating or just watching,” AIE spokesperson Dr. Valter Cascioli told CNA at the time.
“The consequences are always disastrous.”
Father de Meo said that people often turn to “the chatter of magicians and Illusionists” for answers, rather than “the weapons the Lord has put at our disposal.”
While people often seek radical answers or signs, the best defense against demonic possession is a simple and sacramental life of prayer, the priest said.
“It’s absolutely fundamental to get rid of sin and live in the grace of God,” he said.
“The Church in fact, wants a life of prayer, Not just on the part of the priest but also the (member of) the faithful asking for the intervention of the exorcist, who benefits from the help of family members as well,” the exorcist explained.
The Catechism offers further guidance on how to avoid demonic activity: anything that involves recourse to Satan or demons, or that attempts to conjure the dead or reveal future events, is to be rejected.
From CCC paragraph 2116: “Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.”
As for the exorcists themselves, it is important to remain humble and to remember that their power comes from Christ, Father de Meo added.
“Regarding spiritual preparation, humility and the conviction that we exorcists aren’t the ones who are going to cast out the demon that’s fighting Christ. We’re called to fight on behalf of Christ.”
Photo credit: www.shutterstock.com.
This article was originally published on CNA March 17, 2016.
This Article was written by Catholicnewsagency.com

33 Comments

  • Tom Rafferty says:

    It’s amazing what the mind can do if one believes in personal evil entities: http://www.livescience.com/27727-exorcism-facts-and-fiction.html I’m waiting for an unbiased evaluation of these phenomena by scientists before I accept that this is anything other than a delusion.

    • Mperez says:

      That’s exactly the weakness the devil counts on, ignorance , a blind eye, and doubt. Sounds like your in already in trouble. Be careful . You have no protection so that would make you more vulnerable.

      • Tom Rafferty says:

        How do you know there is a supernatural realm, let alone demonic creatures?

        • Rey says:

          If you live a life of prayer and open your heart to the Lord, All your doubts will be gone.That’s whats wrong with us humans, after acquiring a bit of knowledge we tend to pretend to know everything and demand an explanation on everything. Your doubt in the power of the Lord Jesus is telling me that a super natural being (demon) is indeed at work and real. It has been celebrating for sure from being succesful in bringing you away from the Lords Unconditional love. Cast your doubts aside, I tell you that Jesus has been knocking on your door, you dont have toonly know but listen and feel.

          • Tom Rafferty says:

            You said, “If you live a life of prayer and open your heart to the Lord, All your doubts will be gone.” Perhaps, but it will be a delusion as the result of indoctrination. Such mind games will not work on a science-based thinker who KNOWS there is no evidence for a God, let alone the Catholic variety of such.

  • Doug says:

    Very revealing and well stated. This is a topic that should be, but is not, taken seriously in today’s culture.

  • Nishad Shally says:

    Faith and Conviction in our Lord makes things possible because if we’re aware that there is a happiness in Faith while deriving these demons out in the name of The Father Son and Holy Spirit

  • sueduh says:

    Hi Patrick. Based on the fact that you read the article, must mean that you have an interest in the topic. Many people condemn or belittle the power of prayer, until they have exhausted all hope and throw their hands up to God and plead for his help. This is a form of prayer. Punishing a priest for praying is kind of like punishing a doctor for practicing medicine. Both are helping people. I just said a prayer for you, Patrick and hope you have a nice day. Peace.

    • Tom Rafferty says:

      How do you know that prayer works? How do you know that there is anything supernatural? Not idle questions.

      • sueduh says:

        It’s a great question, Tom. I know by faith that prayer works, I had a quintuple bypass at 51 years old (3 years ago). I selfishly went on Facebook to ask friends and family for prayers and good thoughts for me and for the team operating on me. I went in thinking everything was going to be fine – but there were complications and I was on life support. When I finally came to – 2 days later, i was overwhelmed by a feeling I never had before and its hard to explain – just a “knowing” that everything was going to be ok and I would come out of this (even though my family who visited me with all of the tubes and wires coming out of me knew it was a very grave situation) …I had a very calming feeling and an acceptance of whatever comes next. I would say it was a sense of peace. Come to find out I had been anointed with oils (we used to call it, last rites) by a priest while I was unconscious. I also found out later that my family and friends had requested prayers for me in their churches and on facebook and my thoracic surgeon also told me that he had unashamedly said a prayer for me as well . I was the beneficiary of the power of prayer and it has never left me. I pray for everyone, whether they ask me to or not. It can’t hurt, right? Faith is supernatural. Change the word prayer to “thoughts”. People are always asking to send good or positive thoughts for one thing or another. I just pray for them instead. I’m so sad for people who think there is nothing to look forward to after death. How painful that thought must be. I have faith – that after this life, there is another life that we can’t even begin to imagine! I wish you peace and happiness all the days of your life.

        • Tom Rafferty says:

          First of all, I am glad you are doing well. That said, think about how you answered. You answered “I know by faith that prayer works.” I am not surprised by your answer, if fact I expected it. Have you educated yourself regarding probability, how the brain works to create cognitive bias, and how the brain responds to lack of oxygen to create the experience you had? Everything you experienced can be explained through natural processes. I wish you well in the future.

      • Nobody “knows” that prayer works, nobody “knows” there is anything supernatural.And nobody “knows” that prayer does not work, and nobody “knows” there is no supernatural.
        The believer in God must use faith to tell the story to his or her heart of who they are.The believer in no god must do the same.
        But you my friend have the most impossible negative to prove in the history of thought.lol
        What I find perplexing is the effort you put into forums that do not reflect your beliefs, by a subtly scoffing of the forums believers.You must know that believers find your beliefs as ignorant and in the dark as you find ours.But I have no temptation to go to your forums and question your beliefs with subtle questions of doubt. Your attempt to proselytize your beliefs are as annoying as the proselytization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
        The power of doubt destroys the construction of faith.Doubt destroys construction of hopes edifices of heavenly thoughts .Sometimes I wonder if I believe in God, and the stories, or rather do I hope they exist. Both to me are holy.
        If you were given the power of a god, would you give eternal life to mankind?
        Do you find anything holy Tom?

    • sueduh says:

      Thank you Patrick – I will continue to pray for myself and others and it does offer amazing benefits.

  • sueduh says:

    Thanks Tom, and of course you expected that answer – the name of this site is catholicsay. 🙂 I’m just wondering why you are here. Are you looking for answers, or trying to dispute the beliefs of others by trying to apply science, where science has no basis?. If it’s answers you’re looking for – I hope you find them, if you’re trying to turn believers into doubters – you may be on the wrong website. There are still many things unknown to science. Mysteries. Why is there more matter than anti matter, what is dark energy, whats at the bottom of a black hole, why can’t we cure all diseases? Maybe science doesn’t have an answer for everything. One day we will all know the answer to all mysteries in the universe, but you have to believe. Of course you may have already been in deep thought and perceive the answer is 42. 🙂

    • Tom Rafferty says:

      sueduh, I am on this site mainly to challenge the thought process of theists in general, and Catholics in particular. I was a very devout Catholic myself until well into middle aged. I was exposed to the application of my skepticism (I had been a skeptic in all but religion) to religion via the internet. I now see the harm from religion that you don’t and am trying to get others to at least fully understand the thinking of atheists, thus, lessening society’s stigma of us. Deconversion from Catholicism would be a bonus. If you are curious, here is my blog: https://understandrealitythroughscience.blogspot.com/. Peace.

      • sueduh says:

        Good Morning Tom. While I can appreciate the fact that you have a passion and are driven by a seemingly sincere desire to make, what you believe would be, a positive change in the way that catholics think – I truly doubt you will deconvert anyone on this site. Catholics, by and large, do not go out of their way to blatantly change the minds of anyone (even though we are called to evangelize) – we leave that to the Jehovah Witnesses 🙂 We don’t dislike atheists or any other group of people. You were a devout baptized catholic, so you know how we work. Prayer and fasting are ways that we try to change the hearts and minds of those who have not accepted Jesus. Many of us try to lead by example instead of words and rhetoric (Pope Francis and Bl.Mother Teresa – 2 “current” examples). We set up food pantries, orphanages, schools, hospitals. We go to poor countries and treat the sick, shelter the homeless and comfort the dying. We visit prisoners and bring them hope and pray with them. We do it as an act of love and treat everyone as a brother or sister in Christ. It’s much easier for a cradle catholic to abandon their church than it is for those of other faiths to convert to catholicism. Those are the people I truly admire. Apostasy on the other hand, comes with a huge warning and unless repented prior to dying, will involve an eternity of pain and suffering. I don’t want that for you. I will continue to pray for you and hope that you reach out to God with your last breath. He gave us free will and loves all of his children, even those who have renounced him.

        • Tom Rafferty says:

          Well, you certainly have the dogma internalized. I will not argue with you. However, since you hold your religious belief by faith and not by science/evidence based thinking, how do you verify the truth of Catholicism from any other denomination of Christianity, or any other religion for that matter? After all, there are thousands of denominations of Christianity, let alone other religions, and all claim to have “The Truth.”

          • sueduh says:

            I don’t know claim to know all that much about other non Judeo-Christian religions, but I do know something about Christianity. As a former catholic, I would have thought that you would have a fundamental knowledge of the history as well. For the sake of time, I cut and pasted this bit of history from a place you would be familiar with – the internet 🙂 “The Roman Catholic Church is the oldest and original Christian Church, therefore, the beliefs and teachings of the Church were directly passed onto the leaders of the Catholic Church by the apostles. The Catholic Church began with the teachings of Jesus Christ, around 1st Century AD in the province of Judea of the Roman Empire. The Catholic Church is the continuation of the early Christian community established by Jesus and no modern Christian Church can make that claim. By the end of the 2nd century, bishops began congregating in regional synods and to correct doctrinal and policy issues and by the time the 3rd century came around, the Bishop of Rome (Pope) served as the decisive authority, kind of like a court of appeals, for problems and issues the bishops could not resolve. This is identical to the Bible’s teaching. In Exodus 18 we see where the children of Israel brought their disputes to Moses and Moses settled those disputes. However, it also shows where leaders appointed by Moses also worked to settle disputes.
            The Catholic Church remained the only Christian Church until the East-West Schism of 1054, which caused medieval Christianity to split and become two separate branches. The greatest division, however, came during the Reformation from 1517-1648, led by Martin Luther.”
            Therefore – other christian denominations started with the same “truth” also known as Jesus Christ – but splintered away due to differences in doctrine developed over time by people who wanted to reform the church or add their own views. Henry VIII wanted a divorce, but the pope would not allow it – so he broke away, burned down the monasteries and forced the british catholics to align to the newly formed Church of England, the Anglican Church. Christ gave the sacrament of the Holy Orders to the 12 Apostles and that lineage remains unbroken in the catholic church.

          • Tom Rafferty says:

            I didn’t ask for a history lesson, I certainly know what the Catholic Church teaches. In fact, I taught it from the elementary through high school level and almost went into a teaching order. What I am asking for is this: how do you know that the Catholic Church is TRUE and divinely-inspired, and not just like all other religious myths?

          • sueduh says:

            Apologies Tom, it wasn’t meant to be a lesson as I am far from qualified to teach, It was a reply to your question “how do you verify the truth of Catholicism from any other denomination of Christianity, or any other religion for that matter?” My question to you in response to “how do you know that the Catholic Church is TRUE and divinely-inspired, and not just like all other religious myths?” is, how do you know it’s not?

          • Tom Rafferty says:

            I don’t know it’s not. I only know that there is insufficient evidence to convince me that there is any interventionist God, let alone the Christian/Catholic variety. This is science-based thinking, not dogma-based thinking. The religious are the ones making the claim that there is a God, thus, they have the burden of presenting sufficient evidence. No religion has done so.

          • sueduh says:

            A great philosopher, theologian, proponent of natural theology and saint once said “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” Peace out.

          • Tom Rafferty says:

            Thomas Aquinas. I can’t challenge philosophy, as there is no way to verify a claim from a philosopher or theologian. It is a good tool for organizing reason, but to understand reality, – – -. Thanks for the respectful conversation. Have a great day.

          • sueduh says:

            🙂 Thanks Tom, you too.

          • sueduh says:

            Hi Patrick – You really didn’t give me any room to engage with you. You answered all of your own questions in the way that suited you, leaving me no need to respond. You do come off a bit condescending as well, which is kind of off-putting and made reading your entire comment a bit of a drudgery, to be honest.
            Our priest encourages reading the bible and not just in a bible study, but it is not only the bible that is important – Sacred tradition along with sacred scripture and the Magisterium make up the foundation of the catholic faith. The bible has never adversely affected my faith. I do read it by myself.
            For catholics, the primary purpose and value of the old testament is to prepare for the coming of Christ. The ancient world was very violent as the OT shows. God is just and merciful – even though his people may not be – which is why in his infinite love he sent his son into this world to be sacrificed in order to offer us salvation.
            There was an eternity of pain and torment or “hell” before Jesus came. By Christ’s death and Resurrection, Jesus opened heaven. Prior to that time all who died went to “hell”; however, the just went to a place in hell referred to as “the Bosom of Abraham,” where they would be comforted. The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) seems to indicate that there were two parts of hell. Both Lazarus and the rich man died and went to hell, but Lazarus was comforted in the bosom of Abraham while the rich man was in a place of torment. The two parts were separated by a great chasm.
            Don’t worry Patrick – I just prayed for you, too – and there’s nothing you can do about it. No take backs! 🙂

          • Tom Rafferty says:

            I agree with Patrick 100%. My approach to believers is just briefer. I ask a few questions and, if the person is firmly invested in the unsupported dogma, then I bow out. Thanks for what you do, Patrick, I just lost my taste and patience for what you are doing. ?

          • sueduh says:

            You have a Get out of Hell free card – but you have to use it before you die. His name is Jesus. Accept him instead of denying him. That’s the free will we were given. God does not demand that we worship him. I’m confident that when the time comes to make such a decision – you will choose him. When you do – I’ll see you in heaven. 🙂
            Patrick, I am not a scholar nor do I pretend to be. I have a high school education. I know what I know. There is no way I can match wits with you. You’re very informative, but how do I know you’re right? How do you know I’m wrong?
            What’s your story – why do you hate the thought of God and have no tolerance for those that love and seek him? Why do you invest so much time denying Gods existence? You seem to be very negative and self serving? Are you your own higher power? Do you have any love in your heart? What happened in your life that scarred you? I know you don’t care, but I hope you find peace.

  • sueduh says:

    Thank you and God bless you too Leonard, I just did the same for you.

  • sueduh says:

    Nice to hear from you again Patrick. Some need evidence to believe, others rely on faith (belief without proof). A blind man can not see the stars in the sky, but because you tell him they are there – he believes, although he could never prove it for himself. Basing belief on evidence is fine, it just means that you are taking someone else’s word that there is evidence, even though you did not discover it for yourself. How is that any different than faith? It just implies that you have faith in science instead of faith in religion. You may have faith to believe that God does not exist – although there is no conclusive proof. I know the parable well, but what it means to me is that everything we have comes from God and we are to be good stewards of those resources. What better way to multiply the God given resources we were have been entrusted with, then to share the Word of God with others.

  • Kathy Donohue says:

    Did I ever tell you what happened behind home? There use to be a field, now it’s apartments. When it was fields there was a small fire one evening. The next day I found a few rosary’s pulled a part. In the field was a Cross badly bent. Next to it was a Star of David also bent big time. A few prayer shawl’s were by them burnt in places. There was another statue in fine condition. In the center was a Bible burnt so bad I could tell what language it was is and if I

  • Lee Meili says:

    Patrick, you are correct if people are honest with themselves they will see that we can not find TRUTH in something that is FAITH based. Truth has caused many conflicts. I don’t know I’d there is a God or not, but I hope my ability to love will move on! That’s my definition of heaven. No one ever gets sick of love. I agree with you in what Billy Graham said! 🙂 we have some information in quantum physics that is interesting regarding our body. You might google it. I also agree with you when it comes to Hell that is a man made control mechanism. In Fact, St Augustine said it was a fable in one of his writings. Christianity is adopted the pagan religion of Mirthra the official religion of Rome before Constantine legalized it. I hope for an afterlife, but I don’t think we have a clue to figure out the mind of God. Take care!

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