It has been too long since my last book (How to Pray the Rosary and Get Results), and I am pleased to announce a new book is here!
The new book is titled Handbook of Exorcism and Deliverance, and it’s a book I’ve been meaning to write for some time!
In this book, I not only discuss some of my issues with both exorcists and new-school occultism, I also try to explain best practices when going about assembling your team, diagnosing the demonic, interviewing a potential energumen, investigating a case, the process of exorcism, and aftercare. To accentuate, I include stories of worst practices such as the ones below:
A Story of Worst Practices
We’ve just established that exorcists have wide discretion, because of “other signs.” In some dioceses this is balanced by the bishop requiring a psychological evaluation or jumping through other hoops before giving permission for the exorcism, while in other dioceses the bishop gives his exorcists blanket permission. Among the Independent Sacramental Movement, many Deliverance ministers, and what we’ll here call “Independent Exorcists,” oftentimes the individual exorcist has full discretion to make an on-the-spot decision.
I would like to share with you something that happened to an online friend of mine, who posted his story in response to a Facebook post I wrote about “deliverance prayer done wrong” in August of 2019. I post the comment here, the only change being redaction of names:
There’s been a great increase of exorcists in the Novus Ordo Catholic church. The things they say are often shocking and ridiculous. I knew the official exorcist for the Archdiocese of [REDACTED] (we stopped talking about 3 years ago). We met by chance, and actually became friends. Things changed when he learned I practiced Catholic magic, and I casually mentioned I felt I had some natural empathic abilities. He then became convinced I was possessed, and my Tourette’s syndrome was a manifestation of demonic presence. I allowed him to perform “deliverance prayers,” he and his “prayer team.” He used tons of Latin prayers, holy water, oil, relics of saints…trying to make the demons manifest. Nothing happened. He concluded it must be a very serious case for the demon to resist all his efforts. He then had an official form from the Archdiocese. An actual “consent to formal exorcism” form I had to have signed by me, him, and a witness. He told me to buy a pair of handcuffs, as my right hand would be cuffed to my left ankle as “the exorcism would turn violent.” ALL THIS WITHOUT ANY SIGNS OF POSSESSION as outlined in the traditional Rituale Romanum. No medical or psychological examination required. Apparently no express permission from the Archbishop required either. I asked him if this was normal procedure, and he said yes, it’s how exorcists operate in the US. Sorry for the long story.
I spoke with this gentleman further in private, and I believe his story. Furthermore I owe him a debt of gratitude for posting what happened to him, because this incident teaches us a lesson about what not to do.
The first mistake this exorcist made, was assuming possession based on Tourette’s syndrome (a condition which causes the individual to curse at inappropriate times), a belief in some measure of empathic ability, and an admission of practicing magic. To what extent does any of this coincide with the three signs we just discussed?
The next mistake was to assume “possession, yes!” without first referring this man to someone trained in psychology and diagnosing mental disorders. In other words, when the ritual tells us “let the exorcist not easily believe,” he did the opposite and refused to entertain any doubt.
Yet another mistake this exorcist made was doubling down too hard on the “absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence” schtick. When the demon didn’t present itself after multiple attempts at provocation, he didn’t stop and think “oh well, maybe I was wrong and nothing’s here.” No, instead he thought “this is a serious case and that demon’s resisting my efforts!”
This exorcist’s biggest mistake, though, boils down to two words: self delusion. At every stage of the process, he deluded himself into believing there was a demon there, and the demon must be very strong in order to resist his best efforts. Yet the reality was that he destroyed a friendship while acting crazy and screaming into thin air. (pp. 97-99)
And here’s another worst practice story, from pages 123-124:
Worst Practices: Listening too Much
I would like to share with you the story of a Sedevacantist bishop who fancied himself both a “licensed ayurveda practitioner” and a “Catholic exorcist.” In 2009 he wrote a 75-page Pastoral Letter on the True Religion describing an exorcism case he worked. I quote it below:
In the case that We are speaking of, there was the soul of a young woman who died in the 1960s. Her death appeared to be a suicide, for she had hanged herself. However, in reality, the young woman was, herself, possessed by a number of demons, who, taking control of her body, had actually hanged her, without her consent.
The demons then waited, and seized her soul immediately as it began to depart from the body; and had been forcing the soul of this girl into other bodies, ever since. God permitted this to happen, for God knows everything – past, present, and future. During the course of the case, it was learned that the young woman was never baptized. Therefore, after We had expelled the diabolical entities, We had the soul of the young woman come up to the front of the possessed person’s body, and We baptized her, after which, she immediately departed. (pp. 47-48)
The bishop offers this as evidence of the necessity of water baptism for salvation, but an experienced exorcist can see where he went wrong. In the first place, he was too eager to believe that a dead human was possessing this woman. In the second place, he did not go back to his theological training which says only living people may be baptized. This leads us to the third place, where he committed the sacrilege of baptizing what he believed to be a dead person.
Now, my first impression when reading this passage was to compare this with the Mormon practice of vicarious baptism on behalf of the dead. Yet what this bishop did cannot fairly be compared, as the Mormon practice is to have a living person receive baptism by proxy for a deceased individual, whereas this bishop (in his own mind) baptized a dead person directly.
This is why the exorcist should not be eager to believe the entity, and should always check the entity’s “revelations” against established theology, because this is an example of how dogmatics can provide road signs against going astray.
As for this bishop, let’s take a look at where he is now. After crashing and burning at a large congregation in Massachussetts, he moved to the Pacific Northwest where he held a “mail-in conclave” declaring him “Pope of the Roman Catholic Church” in late 2011, after which he has issued “encyclicals” and continues to believe in papal claims to this day.
Could the entities have gotten to this man? You decide!
There are a lot of things that can go wrong (and be done wrong) during an exorcism. That’s why I share these stories. Not to shame the exorcists involved, but because part of the exorcist’s job is to be aware of others’ mistakes so as not to repeat them.