Can we still believe in the devil?
Father Jean Regis Fropo
“Father, all this talk of the devil is medieval – surely you can’t still believe in him!
In the 21st century with all science has taught us, we can’t believe these myths any longer.”
Not to mention the fact that even many Christians no longer believe in the existence of Satan and hell, which is eternal separation from God. There is a veritable conspiracy of silence on this subject, even in the Catholic Church.
‘The devil’s greatest deception is persuading that he doesn’t exist!’ said Charles Baudelaire.
So then he has free rein to do evil: he sows confusion in people’s minds, stokes up resentments and hatreds, stokes up quarrels and divisions and pushes those who fall into his traps to despair and suicide. He leads people to sin, tries to turn them away from God, from obedience and love of Him. Satan wants to make mankind his ally in his own rebellion against God and Jesus Christ.
What I am going to tell you is not only the result of theoretic study. Since I began my exorcism ministry seven years ago, I have seen almost two thousand people, most of them victims of the innumerable traps of the devil. I cannot tell you that I have seen the devil face to face, but I have heard him on several occasions, and I have seen an invisible but very real world of darkness, violence, hatred, oppression, and suffering; it is extraordinary, and I was not expecting it! Satan is a tormenter! In seven years, I have been involved with about twenty cases of ‘possession’.
Here are a few examples:
A woman who consulted mediums, went to faith healers (magnetism), chose her medications by means of a pendulum suffered from migraines, stomach aches, and fits of anger and aggression.
Another dabbled in spiritualism and automatic writing heared inner voices that tormented her day and night.
A young physiotherapist who learned Reiki in order to be more effective in her therapy was violently attacked at night by a terrifying presence.
A man who practiced yoga for two hours a day and transcendental meditation was troubled by nightmares and insomnia.
A young man who was an active homosexual and drug user was obsessed by images day and night and fell into a deep depression.
However, there are also physical and mental problems that are psychological or psychiatric. I have come across many of these cases and I always refer them to a doctor. These problems can have combined mental and demonic origins.
Some of you will no doubt have seen the ‘Exorcist’ films made in 1973 and 2000, or ‘the Exorcism of Emily Rose’ produced in 2006. There is an element of truth in these films, but there are also errors and excesses. My ministry does not have very much in common with this sensationalist cinema, instead it is a wonderful work of accompaniment, listening, reassurance and consolation leading to liberation and healing, carried out not in an atmosphere of fear, but in trust and hope that it is Christ who is victorious. He is the powerful one, the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for our sins and rose again to give us eternal life.
‘The prince of this world is coming, (Jn 14:30) but he is already condemned’ (Jn 16: 11)’
Let us open the Gospel at Mark 9: 14-29: the epileptic demoniac (Mk 9:14-29)
Sometimes we hear people say that the demon, the devil, or Satan referred to in Holy Scripture is only a means of expressing the mystery of evil, a figure of speech, or a myth. They say that it was a way in which the mentality of the time understood illnesses that could not be explained in those days.
The demon, the devil, Lucifer, the fiend or Satan mentioned in Holy Scripture, is not a mythical or symbolic figure, nor even a personification of Evil or sin: demons are fallen angels. The Fathers of the Lateran Council (1215) defined as dogma – and therefore an article of faith – the existence of demons as spiritual creatures created good, but who became evil through their own rebellion (Denz428). The sin of the demons is rebellion, pride and jealousy.
‘It is through the jealousy of the devil that death entered the world.’ (Wis 2:4)
‘God did not spare the angels who sinned, but gave them up to the dark abyss of hell, (2P 2:4)
Jesus made a clear distinction between illness and possession (Mt 10:7)
CCC Scripture witnesses to the disastrous influence of the one Jesus calls “A murderer from the beginning”, who would even try to divert Jesus from the mission received from his Father. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” 1 Jn 3:8 ‘The whole world is subject to the devil’s power’ I Jn 5:19 CCC391-395
‘ Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient snake called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring – those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus (Ap 12: 7-9, 17).
Saint Paul: ‘For our struggle is not against flesh and blood…’ Eph 6:10-16
The Second Vatican Council
15 references to the devil
For a monumental struggle against the powers of darkness pervades the whole history of man. GS37
CCC: Fallen angels 391-2. Jesus and the temptations of the devil: 538-40, 566, 2119; Exorcisms: 517, 550, 1237, 1673; Jesus and his power over demons: 421, 447, 539, 550,566, 635-6, 1086, 1780; Freedom: 2850, 2853-4; The origin of evil: 397, 413, 1707, 2583, 2851; Mankind’s war against demons: 407, 409. (43 articles)
Pope John Paul II General Audience 20 August 1986
This is the great certainty of the Christian faith: “The prince of this world has been judged” (Jn 16:11); “The Son of God has appeared, in order to destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn 5:19), as St. John bears witness. It is therefore the crucified and risen Christ who has revealed himself as that “stronger one” who has overpowered “the strong man”, the devil, and has cast him down from his throne
The Church shares in Christ’s victory over the devil, for Christ has given to his disciples the power to cast out demons (cf. Mt 10:1; Mk 16:17). The Church uses this victorious power through faith in Christ and prayer (cf. Mk 9:29; Mt 17:19ff.), which in particular cases can take the form of exorcism.
Let us be clear:
- Demons are spiritual creatures, beings with intelligence and will. They were created good but became evil through their radical and irrevocable refusal of God and his Kingdom of love. Satan works through men to lead them into rebellion and the loss of the blessed eternity that he himself has lost.
- Satan’s power is not infinite. His power is a spiritual one with influence over the material world, but it is limited by God. Divine permission of diabolic action is a great mystery, but ‘We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him’ (Rom 8:28).
- The action of demons can be exercised in various ways and with variable intensity: Through temptation, he can increase the intensity of our cravings and our natural concupiscence (1 Jn 2:16). We are all subject to this kind of temptation: they are part of the spiritual combat. He can exercise a substantial ‘hold’ over those who partake regularly in serious disorders or who have knowingly entered into a pact with the devil. He encourages vices and the seeds of vices within us. These are called demonic ‘bonds’. He exercises his action over our senses, our imaginations, our passions and our sensory feelings. He cannot penetrate into the ‘fine point of the soul’, our ‘heart’, this throne and sanctuary of our being where God alone may enter. It is possible for a person to be be ‘possessed’, be in a state of grace and fight a hard spiritual battle.
- according to the degree of the devil’s hold, there may be ‘oppression’, ‘obsession’, or ‘possession’. This is rare but not overly so. (20 cases in 7 years).
- A person may be subject to a serious grip of the devil without being morally responsible for it. In this case they can be the ‘victim’ of a ‘demonic contagion’ through their family, their environment or acts of violence they have been subjected to. They can also be the victim of a ‘spell’ or a ‘curse’. These cases can be very painful to bear.
- Baptism offers protection that is strong but not absolute. The unbaptised are more vulnerable to the action of demons.
Satan has only hatred and contempt towards humanity; he is jealous of the eternal happiness that God has promised them and that he has lost. His only goal is the ruination of their souls, to make them lose the inheritance of eternal life. Those who do not believe, no longer believe or no longer pray distance themselves from the Church and the sacraments become very vulnerable to his action. The devil ‘prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour; resist him, standing firm in the faith’. (1 P 5:8)
But the devil fears true Christians united to Jesus and Mary, those who are fervent in faith and prayer, in a living union with the Church.
What are the problems and injuries one can suffer as a result of demonic action?
- Aversion to the sacred and opposition to the theological virtues of faith, hope and love Doubts, lack of hope in God, discouragement, rebellion, blasphemy; abhorrence of prayer, the Word of God, and of entering a church. Sensitivity to holy water, relics, and the invocation ‘O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.’
- Physical and mental problems Physical sensations, physical pain, temporary paralysis, headaches, extreme cold or burning, cysts, tumors, shaking, insomnia, nightmares, obsessive thoughts, involuntary movements, tics, relationship problems, violent outburst of anger, and aggression towards loved ones. Do you hear voices that you alone hear? Do you have the feeling that you are being watched, even when you are alone? Do you think someone had touched you? Do you see shadows, people who are not there physically? Repeated failures in work and in relationships.
- Strange goings on in the house: sounds of footsteps, banging, dust clouds, smells. Objects that move or disappear. Failure of electrical equipment, car breakdowns. Strange objects appearing in the house (pillows, mattresses). Dead animals.
What practices does Satan use to turn mankind away from God?
Superstition, occult practices, spiritualism, astrology, horoscopes, pendulum, tarot, automatic writing, hard rock music, certain violent martial arts: Chi Kung, Krave Maga etc.
Consulting spiritualists, witches, witch doctors, mediums, faith healers. Active practice of yoga, transcendental meditation, tantric initiation, shamanism etc; belonging o sects, especially Freemasonry.
Certain vogues involving young people: Goth, Marylin Manson, satanic groups, the world of piercing, tattoos, and talismans.
‘Alternative’ therapies or parallel medicines that propagate the notion of ‘energies’ (cosmic, astral, universal): Reiki, applied kinesiology, tai chi, chi cong, reflexology, biofeedback, anthroposophy (Weleda products, Bach flower remedies) etc.
Vies: alcoholism, drug dependency, gambling, money, sex, active homosexuality, pornography and perversions.
NB: Many young people today are mediums without knowing it!
In France, it is estimated that there are about 40,000 seers, mediums, magicians and shamans: as many as there are GPs. I have lost count of the number of people who have been abused by these charlatans, witches, faith healers, and so on. They have paid a lot of money and their sufferings have not diminished, quite the contrary! When true faith decreases, various ‘beliefs’ and credulity increase! Young people and even children and honest family men watch porn on the internet and become bound up with evil spirits.
The difference between simple deliverance prayer and a prayer of exorcism
Deliverance prayer is used for ‘demonic bonds’ that one might call ‘weak’. It is up to the exorcist priest to discern between the problems that the person is experiencing and the seriousness of the ‘entry points’. I always begin with a prayer to ‘sever the bonds’ and simple deliverance. If during the course of this prayer there are significant ‘manifestations’, that means that it is necessary to go on to exorcism (which often has to be repeated several times). Any priest can carry out deliverance prayer.
NB: The text of this lecture is detailed enough to give people general information and precise references. Depending on what will have been said by the other speakers, I will lay aside during my talk what has already been mentioned elsewhere. Usually, I do not go beyond 40 minutes. (Fr Jean-Régis Fropo, Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France).
‘90 Questions for an exorcist priest’ Healing demonic oppression.
JR Fropo Emmanuel