Sunday 26 April 2015

CASE STORY: The dangers of playing with spirits

Way back in 1995 when I was just a few months old in the holy priesthood, I was the vicar of Santo Domingo Parish in Quezon City. In one sleepy Saturday afternoon, there was a sudden rush of people to the church because of a case of five children from nearby Tatalon area allegedly being possessed by unclean spirits. By a strange plan of the Almighty, I happened to be in the parish office and members of the family of the victims came asking for help. I told them to bring the children to the altar of Our Lady of the Rosary. They said they already did and the children are there screaming and convulsing. I was terrified of that situation back then. I simply did not know exactly what to do. I went back to the convent to see if there would be any senior priest who could help or instruct me on how to deal with this crisis. Fortunately, the Father Provincial then, Fr. Quirico Pedregosa Jr, OP, was in the snacks room. I knew he is involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Ministry and indeed his presence was certainly God-sent. I narrated to him the story while we both audibly hear the commotion in the church. I was hoping and praying that he would tell me that he would take care of it and spare me of the horror. But he did not. He simply told me to respond to it. I told him, "Father, how could I?" I wanted to vehemently protest that I am simply a neophyte priest, without any training or real experience on this matter. However, Father Provincial's response struck a chord in me. He said: "Your are a priest now. Remember that." I was petrified at first at his answer and took me a few seconds before I realized what he was saying. I passed by the view deck of the church located on the second floor of the convent to see the people at the side chapel where they brought the children. I saw the victims foaming at the mouth, cursing, convulsing. Their relatives where all crying. One asked: "Nasaan na ang pari?" (Where is the priest?). I recognized the man who approached me at the office, he was the one who responded: "Parating na." (He will be here.)

If only I could simply wake from this horrible daydream. But it was not a dream. I looked at the miraculous image of Our Lady of the Rosary of La Naval de Manila and I uttered a prayer. I told her: "Blessed Mother, please do not abandon me. I am a miserable sinner. I am no one. Please help me." With that, I went to my room, donned my Dominican habit and proceeded to meet the people. When I opened the gate going to the ground floor nearest the chapel area, I could hear the children shrieking in terror all the more. My heart was beating so fast, I wondered whether there was blood really pumping in my veins and arteries as I felt at the same time clammy and cold. When the people saw me, one shouted: "Andito na si Father!" (Father is here). I did not minister to the children at the side chapel of Our Lady as there were so many people around including tabloid reporters. I told the parents: "Bring them to me at the back-altar." And they followed. People accompanied them. There were curious lookers, and yes there were the reporters. I motioned the sacristan to lead the parents and the children to the baptistry area and bring me holy water. A handful of burly men helped carry the children to the place. According to those who carried the children, they were uncontrollable as they seem to possess extraordinary strength beyond their age.
I pleaded with the reporters to give the children and parents some privacy and allow me to pray and help them. But they insisted. I then have to strongly say no. But they countered that people have the right to know about these things. So I bargained in these words: "Do you know the gospel story where the Lord Jesus sent the legion of demons from a demoniac to a herd of swine?" They responded: "Yes!" So I added: "Then that is what I am going to do. Since you insist on knowing if the demons indeed possessed the children or they are simply delusional, I will send the demons to you." Of which they cried out: "No, Father. Please don't." Sensing their apprehension I then said: "Go away then. And allow me to minister to them in prayer." They left albeit grudgingly.
I went to the children who were still convulsing and foaming at the mouth, screaming, and pale ashen-faced. I faced the big crucifix and prayed in silence from my heart. "Lord, please heal these children. Rebuke the unclean spirit and cast them away. Glorify your name in them O Lord Jesus." Then I faced the children. I took hold of the holy water aspergillum from the sacristan, and while sprinkling holy water on them, I said in a commanding voice: "Unclean spirit, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command you to leave these children immediately and never return to them." We heard a final shriek and then all the children fainted. In a few minutes color returned to their faces and they woke up all well. I called each one of them and as they made their confessions and I them gave them the sacramental absolution. Afterwards, I blessed them and their parents and warned them never to play with the occult again.
What happened exactly to these kids? The children ages 6-12 were a mixture of siblings and cousins. They played with the spirit of the glass using makeshift paperboard patterned after the now common ouija board. It was supposed to be all for fun at first and they were amused that the glass was moving. Believing that they were able to control the spirit that they conjured, they called on it several times in succession for a number of days. On that afternoon that they were possessed, they played with it for the last time. When they were about to release the spirit in a ritual that they themselves concocted, the spirit refused to leave but continued on tracing words on the board. According to the kids themselves, the spirit traced on the board the words: "Di na ko alis. Sama na ko inyo lagi nyo kong tawag." (I am no longer leaving. I will join you because you always summon me.) Terrified with what they read, they simply flipped the glass, thinking that the spirit will just vanish and leave them alone. However, it did not leave but entered the most vulnerable among them --the six your old boy. They said that the boy entered the house as if in a trance, and got a big kitchen knife with which he attempted to hurt his companions. The other four kids ran in terror but the young boy was stronger and faster than them. When the adults saw what was happening they all took hold of the horrified kids hoping to get an explanation. But once the adults took hold of all five of them, all of them entered into a trance-like state and exhibited the symptoms that made the parents bring them to Santo Domingo Church.
1. No matter what spirit questors say, spirits cannot be controlled nor contained. Only the Almighty God has the power to control, contain, and cast them out in a real way.
2. These occult games like the spirit of the glass are very spiritually dangerous games. They open the player to very clear demonic influence and attack.
3. Every priest by virtue of the sacred ordination is given by Christ through the Church the authority to expel unclean spirits in emergency cases like this, all for the good and salvation of souls.