Fr Dwight Longenecker on Demonic Posession and Exorcism: So What?
What we do with our bodies affects our souls. Matter matters.
Fr Dwight Longenecker weighs in on the growing interest in exorcism caused by The Rite: 'Demonic possession and exorcism remind us that the smug, materialistic and atheistic world view which secular education and the media portray as 'reality' is not big enough. In other words, there are other worlds. There is a reality that is beyond and beneath and within and without what we thought was reality'.
The Gargoyle Code is must reading as we approach the forty days of Lent
GREENVILLE, SC (Catholic Online) - (Editor in Chief's Note: With the recent release of "The Rite", reviewed by Randy Sly here, interest in this area of exorcism has been growing rapidly. I am happy to present another article by my friend, Fr. Dwight Longenecker which treats the subject well. I also highly recommend one of Fr Dwight's books, The Gargoyle Code. As we move closer to the forty days of Lent where we are invited, with the whole Church, into a protracted battle with the world, the flesh and the devil, the "Gargoyle Code" is a must read. It can be purchased here. - Deacon Keith Fournier)
Based on real characters and events, The Rite is Hollywood's latest exorcism movie. The film shows the vivid horror of demonic possession and the radical cure of exorcism. It is dramatic and horrifying stuff, and must make any viewer pause for thought. Is demonic possession real? If it is, then so what? What does it matter? What does it prove?
First of all, demonic possession of the sort we see in the movies is very rare. Exorcists tell us what we suspected all along, that most cases of demonic possession can be explained by mental and emotional illness. However, the mental health professionals admit that there are some cases that have no other explanation than that some sort of malevolent unseen entity takes over the personality of the possessed person, and that the only remedy is exorcism.
Demonic possession and exorcism remind us that the smug, materialistic and atheistic world view which secular education and the media portray as 'reality' is not big enough. In other words, there are other worlds. There is a reality that is beyond and beneath and within and without what we thought was reality. Demonic possession and exorcism remind us that science can only answer questions in the material realm, but that there is also an invisible realm. If you like, there is more to it than meets the eye.
The phenomenon of demonic possession and exorcism show us clearly that this realm operates according to different principles. Apart from the spiritual wisdom of the ages, this realm remains uncharted territory for us. We are strangers there--lost on the edge of the vast dark land where there is no foothold. All is unexpected and bizarre. When we stare into this realm we stare into a darkness that is not empty--an abyss that is thronged with beasts.
This should shake us up. Suddenly the supernatural is real, and furthermore, demonic possession and exorcism remind us that the invisible realm and the invisible realm are connected. Physical bodies are infested by an immaterial personality. Bizarre and horrifying physical symptoms are displayed. The possessed transmogrifies into a beast. They growl and howl like beasts from beyond. They vomit putrid, frightening and disturbing objects. They blaspheme and rage and whimper and spit. They fly across the room and display preternatural strength. The invisible is made visible and it terrifies.
But if this is all true--and believe me it is true. Then, we must adjust our understanding of reality. We must live day by day as if the invisible realm is real, and that it connects every day with the physical realm. Furthermore, what we do in the physical realm affects the spiritual realm. This is why the Catholic Church has always taught that gluttony and drunkenness and sloth and sexual sin matter. What we do with our bodies affects our souls. Matter matters.
This is also why the sacraments matter--because it is through the sacraments that each and every day that there is a transaction between the physical and the spiritual realms. Every day the simple stuff of bread and wine are transformed into the body of Christ, every day people are baptized in water and so baptized into Christ. Through physical realities we are plunged into the spiritual realm, and through the participation in these mysteries heaven and earth are met. The physical realm is, if you like, possessed by heaven.
Every exorcist says these are the ultimate answers to the horror of demonic possession--that to banish the diabolical we welcome the divine, and that instead of being possessed by evil Spirits we yield ourselves simply and wholly to the Holy Spirit--which is the Spirit of Christ the Lord.
For further writings on the subject of demon possession see Fr Longenecker's blog post, The Problems of Possession Fr Dwight Longenecker is parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary parish and chaplain to St Joseph's Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina. Visit his blog and website at www.dwightlongenecker.com
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Exorcism, The Rite, The Gargoyle Code, demonic, posession, Fr Dwight Longenecker, exorcist, deliverance, supernatural, demons
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