Sunday 5 April 2015

Torturing the Demons

Seeing a person being harassed, oppressed, vexated, or possessed by an unclean spirit is never an easy thing to look at. Perhaps no one would really be accustomed to it no matter how a seasoned exorcist they are like the great names of Gabriel Amorth, Francesco Bamonte, Antonio Fortea, or even here locally with Fr. Jocis Syquia. And although I have been only in the second year in this ministry, every case I encounter is a new case. Some of the tormenting demons might be familiar but the reaction of the human person to them is profoundly different each time. Looking on how the human being suffers even it be their fault, one is simply moved with compassion especially seeing how the unclean spirits torments them without mercy. Perhaps this is also one of those reasons why many priests would not want to venture into this ministry. Seeing so much pain and suffering, and walking a person to get out of such misery and enslavement can be taxing to a priest who needs to look after other duties and pastoral work. But how can one say no when the Lord brings a person to you to be ministered to, to show His love to them concretely, like that of looking for that one lost sheep?

As one sees how the demons torture a person, one cannot be emboldened to threaten it with torture as well. The rubrics of the Rite of Exorcism (Wellers, Vol II. 1952) instructs the exorcist:
16. "Let the priest pronounce the exorcisms in a commanding and authoritative voice, and at the same time with great confidence, humility, and fervor; and when he sees that the spirits is sorely vexed, then he oppresses and threatens it all the more."
17. "He will pay attention as to what words in particular cause the evil spirits to tremble, repeating them more frequently. And when he comes to a threatening expression, he recurs to it again and again, always increasing the punishment."
It would take some time before an unclean spirit reacts to the prayers. In some cases as early as less than 15 minutes, others beyond. But once, they react, then the exorcist knows that the prayers are weakening them. And he should not stop in the prayers until he sees them sorely vexed. How does that really look like? It takes on several forms, at times suddenly the unclean spirit talks mocking the prayers, or the demoniac stares at the exorcist, at times it blasphemes because of the prayers, at times it becomes a show-off. But whatever it maybe, the unceasing confident and trusting prayers have an effect on it. Grace is never wanting to those who ask in confident and trusting faith in the Almighty.

One thing that is simply amazing to see is how they react to particularities in the prayer, especially in the mysteries of the Christian faith. Every demon has its personality and weakness. Not everyone reacts in the same manner. But there is common agreement among them. They often would blaspheme and curse to no end when they hear the words of the prayers that has something to do with "man being made in the image and likeness of God or of Christ". They simply abhor those lines. Often this is where the fireworks happen like when the possessed sticks their tongue in and out like a snake, or move in a slithering fashion, or hurting themselves by pulling their hair, or scream or howl like an animal, curse the body, says cuss words, act lasciviously, or reveal the hidden sins of the possessed if they have not repented of it or confess it, or threaten that they will never leave because this human being they possess is theirs, etc. All these to show how they abhor that reality of man being made in God's own likeness. Some demons would even say why they hate man. They would reveal that it is because of the plan for man that they rebelled against the Most High. That God is giving man something more than the angels, something more than those of the seraphims, who are the highest of all the angels.

These same demons that would often in great anger and hatred reveal their envy of man's supernatural destiny, would in many cases be also reacting to the line in the Prologue of the Gospel of St. John: "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth" and any part of the prayers that has something to do with the Incarnation. This part tortures them a lot because they saw how their scheme backfired. There were demons who would laugh heartily and mockingly and triumphantly at that part of the prayer that tells of man's deception, of man falling, of man sinning and disobeying God. But then suddenly change their reaction to utter frustration when something directly related to the Word becoming man is mentioned. The demons reveal that the reason for the temptation of Adam and Eve was to prevent the Incarnation. By tempting that our first parents to want to be like God, then the Incarnation would not be needed, God would not become man, and man would not be made higher than the angels. And they succeeded in that aspect of man falling. But they never knew that God would still be made man and this time around the Incarnation would be redemptive. And they hate that so much, that some demons would go on a tantrum. Repeating that part of the prayer over and over vexes them immensely. And many would shout and scream: "No!" It is torture for them to hear how the Almighty was able to accomplish what He intended to do from the beginning.

All demons are filthy, unclean, and all will attempt to tempt man to be like them. But some demons have more connection to the sins of the flesh specifically of lust and anything that is connected to sexual impurity and perversion than others. And one immediately recognizes them because they react to anything in the exorcism prayers connected to the Immaculate Virgin Mary. They react specifically to that part Imperat tibi natus ex Virgine (He who was born of a Virgin commands you.) of Exorcism Prayer II and that of the Exorcism Prayer of Pope Leo XIII: Imperat tibi excelsa Dei Genitrix Virgo Maria, quae superbissimum caput tuum a primo instanti immaculatae Conceptionis in sua humilitate contrivit (The most excellent Virgin Mary, Mother of God, commands you, who in her lowliness crushed they proud head from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception). And when one encounters an unclean spirits that reacts so strongly with the mention of the Virgin Mary, in her purity, in her humility and obedience, then the best way to torture the unclean spirit is bombard it repeating this portion over and over and over again. Some exorcists like Fr Franceso Bramonte, to vexate the demon further, would command it to explain how the Immaculate Virgin crushed Satan's head, or how the various mysteries of the faith related to the Virgin Mary like the Immaculate Conception, the Annunciation, the Assumption, the Queenship of Mary vanquished them completely. Often they would refuse as this would be a recognition of their defeat. But the force of the command compels to reveal the truth. In many instances after this proclamation they immediately leave the possessed because they are terrified with anymore commands to speak the truth. In fact this was how  St. Dominic de Guzman was able to expel the demons in one of the Albigensians. He forced them to tell why they fear Our Blessed Lady so much. In many instances, I myself used this method. When the demon curses me for praying to Our Lady, or says cuss words when I mention the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary; I torment it by calling on the Blessed Mother even further, and threaten it by repeating the words of the exorcism that refers to her.

Perhaps the most difficult of all unclean spirits to cast out would be that of vain glory and pride. Their reaction is diverse. It seems that the demon of vain glory would talk a lot at the beginning and then be silent towards  the end when it is cornered and weakened. While the demon of pride would be very quiet and then start to be very noisy towards the end when it is already severely debilitated. Either way their reaction to the imperative exorcism prayers (command prayers) are very similar, they can withstand it. It shows you how strong kind of demon they are, unbending; very similar to the people they possess, unyielding, vain glorious and proud. It would take multiple sessions of exorcisms before they start to bend. It would take great courage and humility on the part of the possessed to lodge these demons from their souls. They would need to practice mortifications, alms-giving and real works of charity. They have to observe well what their reactions towards these humblings works are. For if they start to be proud or vainglorious when they are able to accomplish these "penances" then they have to modify things again. They have to learn and practice sincere gratitude to others and to God. And to learn to praise others for work well done, and to give praise to the Lord, always. Meanwhile, during exorcisms, the demons of vain glory and pride react more to the supplicatory prayers to the Almighty. The supplicatory prayers, in the Ritual, precede each and every imperative exorcism prayer. It beseeches the Almighty to be the one to rebuke, bind, expel, curb the power of the unclean spirits. Only when weakened do they react to the imperative exorcism prayers. Their reaction is the most dramatic one to my opinion. When severely weakened, they talk and ask for a compromise. If the exorcist would not listen, they would attempt to derail the unceasing prayers, by threatening the exorcist and those assisting him of revealing their sins. If they could not get away with those threats, they would do some astonishing feats like bizarre body contortions and levitation. If they could not do those because they are being impeded by very powerful sacramentals used on them, they would curse and blaspheme.

However, the command that they pay homage to God the Father, to God the Son, to God the Holy Spirit, to the Word made Flesh, to Jesus of Nazareth, to the Lamb who was slain, trips them off. And when the exorcist unites his prayers with those of the Angels and Saints in heaven in their triumphant praise of God in the continuous acclamation "Holy Holy Holy Lord God of host. Heaven and Earth are filled with your glory, Hosanna in the Highest..." they would continue to resist it and simply say "No! Stop it!" And blaspheme God's holy name. But this is a sign of their utmost powerlessness in the midst of all that divine glory that it once beheld when it was still part of the angelic hosts in heaven. And when they are commanded to kneel and humble themselves before the divine presence and to worship Him, they would resist with all their might, but they know they are defeated. Hence,  either they would oblige or leave rather than suffer such humiliation in the presence of human creatures. I find the proclamation before the unclean spirit of Philippians 2:9-11: "For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father"; to be a real power house that tortures them. For they are then commanded to give glory and kneel before Jesus Christ, true God and true man, and to give glory to God the Father. The command breaks them for the truth cannot be denied that they are completely under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.