02 November 2008

Tales of the Unexplained

Rod Dreher recounts his experience with an exorcist in Louisiana in the 1990s:
Shelby Kelly, housewife, grandmother, exorcist's assistant, stands next to a small grove of saplings, nervously crossing and uncrossing her arms, at times pressing her palms flat against the sides of her head. She is short of breath. She is shaken. A dream she'd had the night before told her a child was murdered on this spot. That killing, she believes, has something to do with a curse placed on this property, the curse Mrs. Kelly has come to help lift this steamy October afternoon.

"It's here. This is the place. This is it," she tells the Rev. Mario Termini, the official exorcist of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, who awaits her directions. Father Termini and his two other assistants, Florence Delapasse and Mike Dupre, will perform a Mass of deliverance to free the land from what they believe is demonic oppression.
Read the rest of the account here.

On a related note, here is an old post of an article written by a skeptical journalist who witnessed an exorcism firsthand--and came away a believer. Fr. Jose Fortea, the exorcist (trained by Fr. Gabriel Amorth, chief exorcist of Rome) and subject of the article, has written the most exhaustive compendium of demonology in the Catholic Church: Summa Daemoniaca.

In an interview, Fr. Fortea discusses Satan's greatest triumph:
To make us believe that he doesn't exist. Indeed, after the 60s, many theologians said he was a symbol, and this has been a great success because, of course, all the ministry of exorcism disappeared from Europe almost totally. Only in Rome did it remain in a continuous, and even daily, manner.
And, appropriately enough for All Souls Day, Fr. Fortea explains on his website what some term "ghosts":
Ghosts are apparitions of people who are in Purgatory. These apparitions have characteristics which are always the same and very different from infestations:

-the soul appears in human form.
-it does not say anything.
-it appears in a menacing and terrifying manner.

It never moves objects nor makes any noise. When it appears it just stares, in a very unfriendly way, and then just disappears.... It disappears if masses and prayers are said for its soul. These apparitions are ways of calling our attention so that prayers be said for it.
I have very little difficulty believing any of this; I've known people in exorcism ministries who have told me of their own harrowing accounts, and I've been subject to sufficient otherworldly experiences to know that this is all very real. In fact, I am often puzzled by Catholics who do not believe such things take place; was Christ just pretending when He spoke of Heaven, Hell, demons, angels, and all that has to do with the otherworld? If the Devil is mere symbol, then perhaps the Eucharist is mere symbol, too? And the priest is not truly invested with any real authority to act in the name of Christ? And the sacrament of penance does not really absolve, but is just a place to find emotional catharsis and feel warm and fuzzy all over afterwards?

Perhaps we should simply take Christ at His word...