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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

A Glimpse In the Life of an Exorcist in the 19th Century Provides Us a Real Look at Spiritual Warfare

"Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils: freely have you received, freely give." (St. Matthew 10:8)

Warning: This post contains material that is deeply disturbing.

From 1870-1906 an exorcist toiled, anonymously, somewhere in Christendom. He wrote a journal of his experiences to keep the local Bishop abreast of what he was seeing and hearing. Upon his death in 1906 the completed journal was submitted to the local Archdiocese. 28 years later the Bishop approved its publication after the Holy Office declared that the work was "highly praiseworthy" and that it "contained nothing contrary to the teachings of the Church."

This was the Holy Office of Pope Pius XI. These were not modernists. If they say something is worth publishing, we should pay attention. Please do not send me e-mails admonishing me for "trusting demons." I trust the Holy Office.

The work is known as Mary Crushes the Serpent. It is 56 pages long. You can find a free PDF version floating around online, or you can buy a copy from Amazon for $6. Please note that "Begone Satan" is from a different exorcist - it is a story of an Iowa exorcism that was the basis for the Hollywood movie in the early 1970's.

What struck me, first, was how serious the demons were. I find it hard to take seriously the stories of modern-day exorcists that make demons sound like cartoonish characters with little intelligence or depth, speaking banal platitudes that sound like they came from the keyboard of some bored suburbanite. 

To put it mildly, that is not the case here. An example: 

The demons plan to harm the Church with every means at their disposal. I reminded Satan during an exorcism that it is not within his power to destroy the Church by quoting: "The gates of hell shall not prevail against her." "We know that," the demon answered coldly, "but we will persecute her as much as it is in our power to do so." (pp. 20)

The exorcist goes on at length about how he always commanded a sign that the demon has really left the person. Most often the demon scratched underneath the person's skin, with three nails, images to leave his mark, or a mark commanded by the priest, before departing. The story of a 12-year-old girl who wrote in blood an agreement selling her soul to a demon in return for trivial things, and being possessed for decades, was especially irksome.  

The exorcism of Annaliese Michel makes a lot more sense after reading this book. It was hard to read the transcript of that exorcism and take it seriously, with demons screaming "I AM HITLER! I AM NERO! I AM NAPOLEON!" etc. The book provides an answer to this seemingly bizarre behavour:

"It seems they have a predelection for such names or persons through whom they have evidently and successfully injured the Church. In this time they have imitate generals of war who often bear the name of the battles wherein they gained their decisive and glorious victory. There is a demon by the name of Judas, a demon by the name of Elizabeth of England, a demon by the name of Voltaire....very likely they are the demons who succeeded in harming the Church through these historical characters."  (pp. 10)

In short: individual demons gloat at the conquests of famous people in history that they have corrupted and try to make their power known by adopting that human personalities name. That makes sense.

Ah, the Judas Demon. 

The anonymous exorcist makes it clear that this is a demon that he struggled against mightily. It is a powerful demon that corrupts priests, taking its name from corrupting Judas the Apostle, one of the 12 first priests.

This Demon is a problem. A campaign organized by the Church to root it out, diminish its power and guard against it in the future is badly needed. He has badly damaged the Church and corrupted many consecrated souls away from God.

Please keep in mind that this was written before 1906 and think about what has happened in the Church over the last 60 years, especially with the sexual abuse scandal:

The forces of hell also try to corrupt priests. The demon who brags about ruining Judas and who parades under that name is planning with associates to bring about deception, corruption and destruction of priests. Their one aim against priests is to make them traitors. (pp.21)

And, finally...

He takes the future into consideration: "There will be many apostates," he said, "and I will use your priests to erect my own church."

Sobering. Prescient. Real. Dangerous.

The priest who wrote this book explained how the presence of "victim souls," people who are willing to accept suffering to help the Blessed Mother convert sinners to God, is essential for the defeat of these plans. But who is willing to suffer now? Who wants to bear that Cross?