Thursday 7 May 2015

CASE STORY: When lack of charity fails a priest

When I was a student-priest in Bari, Italy, after mass at the Church of St Joseph in Bari Vecchia, a middle aged lady accompanied by a helper approached me for a blessing. She was elegantly dressed and mild in her manners. While giving her a simple blessing, I clearly noticed a kind of shivering reaction on her part as I was imparting it. I did not dare to ask her about it. She inquired if I can visit her in her apartment and give a house blessing. I willingly answered yes, not knowing that I was in for a terrible surprise of my life.

After classes, I went to her house which was along the main road of Corso Vittorio Emmanuele. The facade of the apartment was impressive. I knew then by simply looking from the outside where she lives, she belongs to a wealthy family. I rang her door bell and she answered through the intercom. When I introduced myself she opened remotely the door. Coming in I was greeted by a spacious and stupendously looking sala. She asked me to seat near where she was. She seemed to be praying when I rang the door bell as on the table is a prayer book, a rosary, holy water, and holy bible. She offered me something to drink, but I declined. At that time she was alone, as the household help was already off. She asked me to pray over her first before we start blessing the house. I agreed. I greeted her in italian with the Lord be with you and she responded And with your spirit. I laid my hands over her and then immediately she came into a trance. This startled me and I became anxious. It has been a while since I last saw a person do this. So I gave the Dominican Blessing. During the entire short prayer-blessing, the woman was snarling in a very low earthly voice, as if there was a man inside her. I have finished the blessing and she was still in that trance-like state. I did not know what to do at that point. Luckily I had a pamphlet copy of the Prayer of Pope Leo XIII Against Satan and his apostate angels in italian inside my prayer book. I immediately went to recite the prayer from beginning to end. I was certainly terrified of what was happening. The woman's head started to twitch as the voice coming out of her was snarling with an obvious voice of a man but sometimes it was high-pitched almost porcine like. Every time I would make the sign of the cross over her as indicated in the exorcism prayer, she would scream as if in agony. And whenever I would sprinkle holy water on her, her body would be shaking. When I finished the exorcism prayer she was out of the trance. And I was meanwhile all sweaty and cold at the same time.

She asked me what happened? I was surprised that she did not know nor remember anything except that she asked me to pray for her. From the moment I laid hands on her for the prayer up to the the time she got out of the trance state, about 20 minutes have passed. I wanted to excuse myself and leave that very instant. But I promised the lady that I would bless her house, I had to honor my words. However, it was providential that she said it was late and I should be going back to the convent. She suggested that we do the blessing of the house next time. I told her that if she wants, I could come back the following evening for the blessing. She was grateful and said yes. I hurriedly left the house and went back to the convent. While walking briskly home I was trying to digest what just happened. I wanted to tell some of the dominican fathers in the convent the story but I wondered whether anyone would understand or even believe me. I decided not to tell anyone at least for the time being.

The following evening, I came to see her again. I saw her praying the rosary and she motioned me to allow her to finish her prayers. I nodded. Her eyes were closed while praying, but I could see that she was breathing heavily as if in agony for every Ave Maria she was saying. And at certain times there was that low growling voice. After her rosary, she again opened her eyes and asked me if we can now bless the house. I said we could. I opened the Book of Blessing and started to pray, she started to snarl again with the low guttural voice. And every time I would go to a pray in a particular part of the house and sprinkle holy water I seem to hear a growl coming from her. We moved around the house --the sala, the kitchen, the bedrooms, the toilets, again that eerie reaction. It was really getting into me and I was also getting afraid. At one point she asked me to bless the veranda and she opened the doors to the spacious balcony. We were about three floors above ground. My mind was then thinking what if she pushes me off? So instead of going to the veranda directly I prayed the prayer blessing a few feet from the veranda and just sprinkled holy water from a distance.

After the blessing she offered me some refreshments and she started to tell her story. They had an RTW boutique in the city which was flourishing. They had agents who sell their merchandise elsewhere. Now these agents would of course remit the money to them at regular intervals. The question is, what if they do not? What if they would fail to pay or become dishonest? So the proprietor, went the way of the sorcerers. They would go to occult practitioners and pay them to cast a spell or a curse on their agents so that they would not defraud them. They instructed the sorcerers to send spells but not death spells. This malevolent practice went on for more than twenty years. And with the spells of the sorcerers they were able to manipulate things so that it would favor them in their business and increase their fortune and wealth.

One day, by the mercy of God, the proprietors both husband and wife attended a life in the spirit seminar. There they were converted, they recognized their evil ways, and repented of their sins. They asked the occult practitioners to remove the curses and told them that what they were doing was evil. No sooner had their conversion been when retaliations started to come in with great vengeance. The husband was suddenly diagnosed with cancer, and their daughter as well. The son also developed what seemed to be marble sized cysts in many parts of the body. A year after, the husband succumbed to cancer, and a few months after the death of the husband, the daughter also died from the disease. It has been about two years since those most unfortunate events when I met the woman. By that time the son is already fifty years old and unmarried. The boutique was barely surviving. And the woman is suffering these bouts. Whenever she would attend holy mass, she would have great difficulty going to church. She would suddenly fell ill, she would be blind and deaf. She would force herself to go to church even in great pains because she accepted that these things probably happened as a kind of punishment for the evil they brought to others. Her relief would only come when she receives holy communion, then her ears would pop and she could hear again, and her eyes would open and she could see. This misery would repeat daily but she finds comforts that going to holy mass and receiving holy communion alleviates her sufferings.

She has gone to an exorcist before a couple of times, according to her. The visit and the pray-overs did help but her calvary remained. And it was with great difficulty not only in arranging a schedule with the exorcist but that every time they would go, some accident would happen to them. Either the car would have engine trouble in the middle of the highway, or they would figure in an accident, not serious, but vehicular accident nonetheless. She continued her story by saying that the sales of the merchandise in their boutique had dramatically gone down and that they are near bankruptcy. The people they loaned money to, never paid back. They are unable to sell any real estate that they possess which would help buoy their financial status. What is strange is that they were told by some customers that there is a very tall dirty man blocking entrance to their boutique. However, the owners have not noticed anyone at all. Could it be a demon perhaps? Then they have this rest house by the beach which friends and relatives often visit during the summer. That was when life was still smiling at them. Now, they wanted to sell it but nobody seems to want to buy it even at a very low price. They have received reports that every time a prospective buyer would come to take a look, the place would look very filthy and run down. Then there is that stinking smell of something rotting inside the house. When the owner would go and visit it, the place looked totally in order. Nothing of what was being reported. They had the wall tore down to find the source of the stink but they found nothing. They had the wall repainted and necessary repairs made but there simply was no prospective buyer. Everything seems as if heaven has been shut off on them. All these she could not understand. So she asked a priest and was told to offer as penance all those that are happening to her, and trust in God's mercy and compassion. However, she was already near despair as she said that all their savings are depleted and to maintain the current house and properties, as well as pay all the utilities and bills they would need to sell their antique furniture, heirlooms at that.

I felt pity for her but I could not do anything except listen to her travails and aches. I promised to pray for her and her family. And I said goodbye. The lady asked if I would go and visit them again. I said yes. And I left. When I met an orthodox priest friend one Sunday afternoon, I told him my experiences. He was alarmed at the strange things that I saw. He warned me never to go alone as one never knows what can happen. According to him, I may be putting my life in danger as I do not have the necessary training. I realized that he was right and therefore never went back. I avoided every instance of going to visit them. There was that time that I would see the son cross the street, I know he saw me and he knows I saw him, but I would evade him and go on a different direction. 

I was afraid, I was terrified. I left and never returned. I was like a shepherd who ran away. I prayed to the Lord that He be the one to take care of them, for I could not do it with an excuse that I am young and inexperienced. But years later I realized, what I lacked was faith and genuine charity. The Lord brought them to me to minister to. I have forgotten that He would not have arranged the situation that I meet the woman if God did not intend that I minister to her, so that He can heal them. I failed in this aspect because I was afraid for my own safety. Had I known then what I have learned now, I would have been able to do more for her and her family. Clearly it was a case of retaliation for them. A curse was sent them by the occult practitioners with whom they disassociated themselves with and told that their craft is from the evil one. All the paranormal activities, all the blocking of blessings were signs of an evil cloud hovering over them. It would take awhile for complete liberation but there was no shepherd to walk with them. I prayed that the Lord have mercy on them, notwithstanding my own cowardice and lack of charity.