In the Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours, every so often we encounter the lines from Revelations 12: “for the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before God day and night.”
The complete context is from Revelations 12:9-11:
The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:“Now have salvation and power come,and the kingdom of our Godand the authority of his Anointed.For the accuser of our brothers is cast out,who accuses them before our God day and night.They conquered him by the blood of the Lamband by the word of their testimony;love for life did not deter them from death.”
The full meaning of labeling the devil as accuser (satan in hebrew) did not come to me in a profound manner until I myself have experienced it during an exorcism session.
There is this case of a man, successful in life with a profitable business. He practiced a grossly split kind of Christianity; to be exact a syncretistic type. Religion and faith are simply convenient things for him. He goes where it is profitable and convenient. He practices pagan rites if it would give him luck and he could have a glimpse of the future, and if this means controlling his destiny and people. He calls himself catholic but it has nothing much to do with his life. As long as it does not interfere with his ambitions then he would go with the motions of it. He has a Catholic father who is non-practicing, and according to him is for all intents and purposes already a non-believer. His mother is a superstitious practicing follower of a non-Christian religion. This man had a loose moral life, where women were seen as commodities that are attracted to money and power. He even made a pact with the devil in order to bolster his hold on wealth, success, and power. There was no heart in him as he said they were trained and taught that this would be a hindrance to success if they would develop a compassionate, understanding and gentle disposition. His iniquitous life-style, uncontrolled passions, and openness to occult and satanic practices made him a good candidate for demonic possession. And that was exactly what happened.
The story of his conversion will require a different segment. What I want to share is that part of the exorcism where the devil’s target of his slander was me and the assisting priest, and later the lay-volunteers.
This was my second ministry schedule with the spiritually afflicted, but his third session over-all. The first one was with Fr. Jocis, and that turned out to be all screaming and violence. Then the next was with me. That turned out well as we were able to extract the chief demon’s name during the exorcism and there was significantly less violence. I did not use the name he gave during the exorcism prayers as this may be a lie to fool us. The team and I needed time to discern if the name given is indeed the possessing demon. Considering the past life of the spiritually afflicted we were not surprised that he gave us the name Ashmedai, Aeshma. These are variant forms of the same demon of greed for power and lust named Asmodeus. We have encountered this malevolent spirit in several instances already. We therefore considered that session good and requested that an immediate follow-up pray-over be made.
Now during the second pray-over. There was something different that happened, a first in my experience. The first one was the spiritually afflicted, after a lengthy series of minor exorcism prayers and closing of chakras done by Fr. James, a very young exorcist-priest in-training from the Diocese of Kalookan, and in the middle of the major exorcism prayers presided by me, suddenly started begging for a pause. I thought at that time perhaps he needed to go to the restroom, because he said: “Father, let us have a shit-break, please.” So I stopped. I did not immediately noticed that he was in a trance state. One of the lady lay-volunteers called my attention: “Father, please continue praying. Do not stop.” I proceeded, realizing that that was a delaying tactic on the part of the demon. I continued the latin exorcism prayers, commanding it to tell its name. It responded in a very low voice but the name was unintelligible, it sounded like a foreign tongue. So I repeated the command, and out came Ashmodai, another variant form of Asmodeus. I did not immediately use that name to command it, because it may be another trick, so I repeated the command a couple of times, “In the most powerful name of Jesus Christ, I command you unclean spirit, dicas mihi nomen tuum.” Each time the demon in agony repeated Ashmodai.
I followed it up with Exorcism Prayer I which is directed against the spirits of iniquity. The demon begged me to stop and allow him to talk. I did not listen but continued in the prayer. It then said: “Father, let us dialogue. I have something to say.” I did not mind the pleading but continued in prayer. There is no room for talking to the demon in dialogue. He is a master of deceit. You cannot outwit him in your own strength. Seeing that I am unmoved, it then said: “I have something to say Father. Do you think that you are better than us? You are a miserable sinner. I know your sins, Father. I know all your sins.” I did not listen to him but continued praying. The young priest assisting me was becoming visibly uneasy. This was also his first time to encounter such a talking demon. My fault was that I did not stop the demon from talking. I did not know how. I was trying to focus on the prayers. And since the paragraph of the exorcism prayer was long I thought then that in finishing it, it would stop talking and be expelled. At that time, how I wished Fr. Jocis was there with us so that he could have coached us on what to do.
After Exorcism Prayer I, I immediately followed it with Exorcism Prayer II which is directed against the spirits that enslave the passions, emotions, and desires. The demon was still talking and talking, emboldened perhaps for sensing that I am starting to be unable to focus. I repeated many times the command “Imperat tibi Deus! Imperat tibi Deus Pater! Imperat tibi Deus Filius! Imperat tibi Deus Spiritus Sanctus! Imperat tibi Jesus Nazarenus!” (God commands you! God the Father commands you! God the Son commands you! God the Holy Spirit commands you! Jesus of Nazareth commands you!) But internally I was a bit anxious, the demon perhaps sensed it and took advantage of the window. The demon continued, “How dare you expel us. You were once under our power and influence. We know your sins. Remember…”
I was not minding him nor listening. I was praying. Silently I asked the Lord Jesus to cover me completely with His Most Precious Blood. I asked the Blessed Virgin to hide me immediately under her mantle of maternal protection. The demon was blurting out words, “Remember when you were a teenager, you were under our power. How dare you now expel us? When you enjoyed the filth you did and were in.”
The lay-volunteers had the presence of mind to use the sacramentals of holy water, blessed salt and blessed oil and apply them to the mouth of the possessed, this helped but the demon was in the mood to talk. So one of the lay-volunteers, seeing me a bit distressed because she observed my voice cracking and my hands shaking, used the under-skirt of the miraculous image of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag, which we were already using in our ministry as a mantle to curb demonic activity in the possessed, to cover the mouth of the demoniac. That stopped me from hearing the words from the demon, but he still kept on talking, albeit like a mumble. I remembered Fr. Jocis commenting once that he prefers a silent although violent and show-off demon than a talking demon. Because a talking demon is a powerful demon since it can distract you while praying by its non-stop chatter.
The demon continued in his tirade against me: “You cannot expel us! We have been here for so long!” With all these accusations, I was praying. But I was wondering whether my prayer was being heard by the Lord at all. Suddenly, I was losing confidence. I then proceeded with Exorcism Prayer III, directed against the occult spirits. The young priest, Fr. James already went to take a seat to pray at one corner. But with all the blabbering of the demon, the poor priest could not concentrate. So he covered his ears with his stole so that he would not hear anything. A lady lay volunteer took his place. The demon continued: “You were filthy. Filthy! Remember that woman? How you desired her?” That statement woke me from my paralysis. It was a big jolt for me, “Woman? What woman?” I realized the demon was inventing things. He did not see my sins at all. How could he, I have already repented of the sins of my youth, I surrendered it all to the Lord to be forgiven in the cleansing Sacrament of Reconciliation. God has forgiven me a long time ago. And every time I would remember the follies of my youth, I would surrender them again to the Lord so that His mercy would shine on me and heal the wounds in my memory and to bless those whom perhaps I have wronged.
Now I realized, the demon was simply confecting what he was accusing me in particular. Yes, he knew human frailty. Yes, he knew in general the feebleness of youth. Yes, he knew man’s favourite sins, all of them. For after all he is the author and father of sin. But he could not see the sins that God had already absolved. How can the devil see, it does not exist. What the demon was trying to do was to force me to remember something he can use against me. That was why he insisted on the word: “Remember?…” Then he would stop as if waiting for me to react. But since I was not remembering anything at all because I was exerting effort to focus on praying, he was putting images in my head by his words, trying to catch me with what would be my reaction or what would I remember. I regained my composure and confidence. I remembered suddenly that rebuke of the Lord to Peter as he was sinking: “Oh man of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31) I thought I was already strong in faith for after all facing demons in exorcisms and the manifold reactions require faith. But the Lord was telling me, “Do not trust in your own strength. Trust in me alone.” So at the middle of the exorcism prayer I stopped.
Taking hold of myself, I prayed the Hail Holy Queen. The lay-volunteers and Fr. James joined me. At the end I said: “Grant that we may praise you O Sacred Virgin. And grant us strength against your enemies.” And with complete confidence and boldness in the power of Christ, and the sacred priesthood He has called me to, I said to the demon: “In the name of Jesus Christ, be silent!” And immediately, the demoniac stopped talking. He knew I have authority against him. I continued the exorcism prayer and it was very clear that the demon was in torment. The possessed started to shout and then vomited. A clear sign of expulsion. The demon is weakening extensively.
The demon started to talk again. This time it was targeting Fr. James. It started: “Fr. James, I know your sins, Fr. James.” But before it could continue, I ordered it again: “Be silent demon. I command you in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, be silent!” The demon did not talk. I continued with the exorcisms and then the Praecipio. Adjuring it to tell me its name. “Dicas mihi nomen tuum. Tell me your name demon. The Most High has already judge you and you are vanquished. In the name of Him who conquered you by His obedience until death on the cross, I command you tell me your name.” The demon said in a very low voice “Hasmoday”. It is another variant of Asmodeus. Then I proceeded with Exorcism Prayer I from the Revised Rite of Exorcism. The demon started talking yet another time. This time the attack was on the three lay lady-volunteers. The demon accused them: “I know all your sins. You woman, you eat like a pig!” We did not know who it was referring to. But I stopped it before it talked further. “Silence, demon, in the name of Him who exiled you out from His holy presence.” I commanded it: “Praise and glorify Him!” The answer was immediate and defiant: “No!” I retorted, “Worship His Holy and Glorious name!” And it shouted: “No!” Then in unison we said the angelic praise: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts. Heaven and Earth are filled with your glory, Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the Highest.” We repeated it a few times and in each time, the demon simply shouted: “No!” Then I went to pray out-loud the Te Deum (You are God), a prayer of praise to God.
After the Te Deum, I took that opportunity to rebuke the demon with its lies. “You dared accuse us of being unworthy of the Almighty’s love and grace. Yes we declare that we are most unworthy. But He has loved us when we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). You call us miserable sinners. And we do not deny it and we openly confess our sins before Him.” And I started and the team joined in, “I confess to Almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters that I have greatly sinned in my thoughts, in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do. Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, all the Angels and Saints, and you my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord Our God.” Emboldened now by the silence of the demon, I added: “We declare that we are always in need of God’s mercy for we are miserable sinners." "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.” We repeated the Jesus Prayer about twenty times. And the demon was infuriated. “How dare you accuse us? We are truly unworthy of Him who loved us to the end. But He died for us so that those who will put their trust in His name may have life everlasting"(John 3:16). He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). And He calls us each day to partake of His supper. Of which in gratitude we respond, Lord I am not worthy but only say the word and I shall be healed (Matthew 8:8).” And because of these truths, the possessed gave a loud moan followed by a continuous vomiting. Indeed the demon was terribly weakened.
I looked at my watch, it was nearly 1:30 p.m. The afflicted entered into a trance about 11:15, we had to finish the session as another patient is coming at 2:00 p.m. I told Fr. James, who was still at the corner recuperating: “Fr. James, please pray the holy rosary.” As he was praying the rosary, the demon blurted out in a threatening voice: “Fr. James, stop praying!” I told Fr. James: “Do not stop praying.” I continued with the last paragraphs of the Exorcism Prayer. The demon threatened Fr. James anew of revealing his sins. So I commanded the demon: “Be silent, demon. Christ the Lord has already judged you and you are vanquished!” Then fully aware that the demon fears the holy rosary so much, I brought out my rosary from my pocket, and the rest of the team as well. And we joined Fr. James in the last decade of the rosary. Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you… The possessed was simply motionless but saying "No! No! No!" in a whimper. After the Glory be, I immediately followed it up with the Dominican Litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Protectress of Dominicans. And it was at the end of that wonderful litany that the afflicted came out of the trance.
The battle is not yet over, but it is already a victory at all fronts. Perhaps another session a week after. It would be a wonderful gift and sign from the Lord if the afflicted would be freed by Easter, the glorious feast of the triumph of the Saviour over sin, death, and the devil.
At the end of the session, we were tired. But consoled. Our Lord and Our Lady did not fail us. They would not; for after all we embraced this ministry of charity in obedience to the Lord. However, it made me think deeply, if we priests of the Most High and the members of the team who have regular access to the saving grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation can be accused by the devil by tapping into our memories; how much more those who never ask God’s mercy, those who never approached the Sacrament of Reconciliation but excuse themselves for not availing of the sacrament? How terrible would the attack be during that moment between life and death, when the devil accuses us of our past crimes? He who does not know God’s mercy will fall certainly into despair and the Devil will collect his booty. What a terrible moment that indeed would be? Lord have mercy on us all.