Friday, 28 January 2011
Exorcism and the Church Militant
“Satan is normally ‘hidden’ … but nowadays he is walking tall in powerful structures of sin like abortion, pornography, sex slavery, rapacious greed and terrorism,” writes pro-life leader, Catholic priest and exorcist Reverend Thomas J. Euteneuer in his new book, Exorcism and the Church Militant.
The devil, says the President of Human Life International, “flexes his muscles” with “pernicious ideologies like radical feminism and ‘pro-choice’ extremism, the militant homosexual movement and the aggressive mass media which is the ministry of propaganda for Satan and all his works and all his empty promises.”
Father Euteneuer has conducted exorcisms in several dioceses around the United States and spoken to thousands of people on the subject.
In the newly released book, Fr. Euteneuer warns: “Never in all of history have we seen evil promoted so effectively and the true good so roundly mocked and rejected as in this age of extreme technological prowess.” He explains, “the difference between the modern world and past generations is that Satan has a greater ability to use groups and institutions for increasing his wicked reach into human life and society.”
Far from hidden, suggests the exorcist, “Nowadays, objective evil is displayed out in the open air with impunity, celebrated in the public forum and strategized in plush board rooms.”
Fr. Euteneuer presents the case that “the devil’s spiritual warfare on our flocks will intensify as the years proceed and that all Christians, but especially priests, will have no choice but to engage more deeply in the spiritual battle for souls.”
“The devil now,” he warns, “arrogates to himself the right to control the totality of human existence even in so-called free societies: from manipulating the very act of creation (in vitro fertilization, cloning, Human Genome); to the authority over life and death (abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia); to the definition of human sexuality and marriage (birth control, divorce, homosexual unions); to the very prospect of human annihilation (nuclear war, genocide and the impending New World Order). “
Along with Exorcism and the Church Militant, Father Euteneuer is also releasing Demonic Abortion, the first of two companion works. This 120-page booklet is a meditation on the evil nature of the abortion industry, from the perspective of a priest and exorcist who has been fighting in the pro-life trenches around the world for well over a decade. With a release date of July 7, 2010, Demonic Abortion is now available for pre-order.
HERE IS THE INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK:
Introduction (minus footnotes) to Exorcism and the Church Militant
Draw your strength from the Lord and his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. Our battle is not against human forces but against the principalities and powers, the rulers of this world of darkness, the evil spirits in regions above. You must put on the armor of God if you are to resist on the evil day; do all that your duty requires, and hold your ground. (Eph 6:10-13)
Ergo, draco maledicte et omnis legio diabolica, adjuramus te per Deum + vivum, per Deum + verum, per Deum + sanctum… Vade, satana, inventor et magister omnis fallaciæ, hostis humanæ salutis. Da locum Christo, in quo nihil invenisti de operibus tuis; da locum Ecclesiæ uni, sanctæ, catholicæ, et apostolicæ, quam Christus ipse acquisivit sanguine suo.
The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church has been commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ to fulfill a most dramatic mission; it is perhaps the most dangerous and exhilarating of missions ever entrusted to men. It is the mission of saving souls.
This mission cannot be accomplished without entering into conflict with “the world, the flesh and the devil.” It is not a mission for the fainthearted or for those who wish to take the wide road to heaven. It is the path of warfare, of spiritual battle. And although we know that Our Lord has fought that battle before us, and won, every age of the Church must take up arms anew and fight it until the end of time. Let it be said with certainty that those who embrace wholeheartedly the Church’s mission to save souls will live a difficult life, one full of challenges and at times real sorrows, but, at the same time, a life imbued with immense blessings that accrue only to those who risk everything for Christ. It is for those who “fight the good fight” for souls in hand-to-hand combat with the devil that this book is written, to support, encourage and strengthen them in their conflict with the forces of evil arrayed against man’s salvation. Theirs is the work of the Church Militant.
The Real Power of Satan
In today’s day and age, Satan is growing exponentially more powerful due to the enormity of human sinfulness, and the Church must confront his power either willingly or unwillingly. Satan is normally “hidden in the dark sea of human sin and error,” like Leviathan of the Old Testament, but nowadays he is walking tall in powerful structures of sin like abortion, pornography, sex slavery, rapacious greed and terrorism. He flexes his muscles in the massive diffusion of errors and sinful practices like the doctrines of myriad false religions, pernicious ideologies like radical feminism and “pro-choice” extremism, the militant homosexual movement and the aggressive mass media which is the ministry of propaganda for Satan and all his works and all his empty promises.
Never in all of history have we seen evil promoted so effectively and the true good so roundly mocked and rejected as in this age of extreme technological prowess. Although evil has existed since the dawn of time and manifested itself to the world, the difference between the modern world and past generations is that Satan has a greater ability to use groups and institutions for increasing his wicked reach into human life and society. No longer is evil just practiced in the haunts of cemeteries, seedy parlors and hidden covens. Nowadays, objective evil is displayed out in the open air with impunity, celebrated in the public forum and strategized in plush board rooms. Whole industries and power groups are dedicated to its promotion and dissemination, and sometimes the sheer power of these industries of immorality defies imagination. They target the younger generations with an immense seductive force, and the young are almost entirely unequipped to deal with this tyranny of sin due to unparalleled attacks on faith, marriage, family and innocent human life in modern times. Not only do young people not know the truth about their salvation; they don’t even know that they don’t know it.
The 21st century is a moral and spiritual battlefield of such immense proportions that no era of human history will have ever seen a war like it. Satan is using the cumulative force of this world’s sinfulness to re-define life as we know it. Now, this war is not just against trained combatants. It is total war against all that is sacred and natural. It is a war against humanity itself, something unseen before in all of history with the possible exception of atheistic Communism.
The devil now arrogates to himself the right to control the totality of human existence even in so-called free societies: from manipulating the very act of creation (in vitro fertilization, cloning, Human Genome); to the authority over life and death (abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia); to the definition of human sexuality and marriage (birth control, divorce, homosexual unions); to the very prospect of human annihilation (nuclear war, genocide and the impending New World Order). Nothing escapes the rebellious forces of hedonism and secularism in their violent march through our world. They creep into the fabric of our lives and families like a vapor until they have poisoned the entire environment and make everyone believe that their toxicity is “normal.” If the measure of a war’s ferociousness is the number of casualties, the modern war to exterminate souls is unprecedented in the history of humanity; it is nothing short of history’s worst nuclear holocaust in spiritual terms.
Malachi Martin, in the 1992 preface to his book, Hostage to the Devil, said that “ritualistic Satanism and its inevitable consequence, demonic Possession, are now part and parcel of the atmosphere of life in America….such pervasive cultural desolation is the most fertile ground one could possibly imagine for the causes of Possession to take root and flourish in almost unimpeded freedom.” It must be kept in mind that such a frightening observation was made at a time before the advent of the Internet, the massive diffusion of New Age beliefs and the Harry Potter books and movies. Martin’s observations suggest that this evil is so all-encompassing that only the authority of God Himself, borne and administered by the Church, is adequate to meet this challenge.
The Authority of the Church Militant
We know from our catechism that the whole Church of Christ is not confined just to this earthly realm. The battle against Satan has already been won in heaven and purgatory, and only in this earthly realm is the devil allowed to work. God, in His Mercy, certainly has not abandoned us to the forces of evil, though. There is one spiritual force on earth that can counter the hubris of Satan and his apostate angels and conquer them. That force is the “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church,” which, in my opinion, has been singularly unprepared for and unengaged in the hard work of spiritual warfare since the Second Vatican Council. By this I mean that if the institutional Church on earth were ever to train its members to be spiritual combatants and aggressively apply its great authority against the power of evil in this world, the evils mentioned above would simply not be able to exist in their potency or scope. As it is, the Church has yet to seriously enter the battle and become what it is called to be, namely, the Church Militant.
The hour is late, Satan’s forces are already assembled, and the Church’s army and its officers must stir for battle. The trumpet call of Christ our Commander beckons. Souls are at stake, and the devil’s only real hope for victory is that the Church will sit this one out. The devil certainly “knows that his time is short” and would be much shorter should the Church of Christ ever take the call to spiritual warfare seriously. When our Lord healed a paralytic by forgiving his sins and restoring him to health, the Gospel said that “a feeling of awe came over the crowd, and they praised God for giving such authority to men.” Indeed, that spiritual authority has been given to the men of the Church for the protection, sanctification and saving of souls — it only has to be used.
Goals of this work
First goal: to communicate a proper understanding of exorcism
The transformation of exorcism into a popular cultural phenomenon in recent decades has led to a major distortion of both the Church’s mission to expel demons and the power of the devil. A main concern of this present work is the taking back of this important pastoral ministry of the Church from the realm of the internet, movies and tabloids and placing it back in the hands of priests where it belongs — the true officers of the Church Militant.
Exaggerated pop images of exorcism falsely define people’s understanding of the Church’s ancient ritual that is meant to liberate victims of the devil from these very deceptions. Popular movies like The Exorcist (1973) and The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), while containing some truthful elements, have done very little to present a correct picture of exorcism itself. These movies and others, for the sake of sensationalizing the power of the devil, present the Church and her priests as being the underdogs in a fight against the devil and oftentimes as weak or reluctant combatants. While there are certainly moments of heroism depicted in these movies, the devil is shown as powerful and tantalizing, sort of like one who always seems to have the upper hand against the Church. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Exorcists are never in a position of subjugation to the evil one during the course of an exorcism, nor is the devil ever entertaining and enthralling like he is portrayed in the movies. He is pure evil, and that is never lost on the one who has to face him down in a possession.
A correct understanding of exorcism can also divest many people of a dangerous fascination with the occult. No sane person who truly understands the nature of demons would be fascinated with them or their works. Due to its mysterious nature, exorcism will never be totally removed from popular distortions or fear, but priests can assure that the Church’s rightful patrimony is understood by the faithful and people who need sacramental assistance against demons. The priest’s work is to fortify Christians to “reject Satan and all his works and all his empty promises.”
The organization of the chapters in this book is meant to introduce people to the diverse dimensions of exorcism. Through a discussion of the nature of Christ’s high-priestly ministry of exorcism, the nature of the demonic forces that afflict men and the rightful authority of the Church over evil, readers will understand better the theological and pastoral dimensions of exorcism. Furthermore, I have made every attempt to rely on only the most reputable sources on exorcism from the tradition and modern writings that are tested and orthodox. I pray that this work will become a resource for many in their fight against the forces of evil.
Second goal: to motivate priests
Exorcism is best understood in the context of evangelization and the care of souls, and, as such, is the proper office of ordained Catholic priests. As such, the second purpose of this work is precisely to help Catholic priests recognize that exorcism is a normal and very important form of pastoral ministry in the care of souls. In times to come, priests will be increasingly called upon to expel real demons from truly demonically-afflicted individuals who have, in one way or another, fallen into the seductions and empty promises of the master deceiver.
Occult influences have been unleashed into our modern world like the emptying of a demonic Pandora’s Box of unclean spirits. The popularity of the New Age movement, the rise of Satanism as an organized and institutionalized force, the flood of satanic video games and Heavy Metal music, the massive diffusion of occult terminology and images through the immensely-popular Harry Potter series and other youth-targeted entertainments, like the rash of modern vampire movies, assure that Catholic priests will be very busy in the next decade.
To aid priests in a proper understanding of the nature of exorcism, one chapter explains how exorcisms are actually conducted, which may help to take away some of the mysticism or fear related to a ritual that any priest can perform (with the proper authorization). I also attempt to provide some clarity in the nebulous area of differences between the ministries of exorcism, deliverance and healing and some practical rules for discernment of ambiguous cases. Chapter 7 will show priests that exorcism is a truly pastoral ministry, worthy of their engagement, and will give them principles and best practices for helping their parishioners discern the presence and power of evil in their lives. It concludes with some of my personal recommendations for resources on spiritual warfare and discernment which will be helpful to any priest wishing to give people guidance and direction in these matters. The bibliography included at the end of this book will be a resource for information on exorcism and deliverance.
This book is essentially for priests, but it may be read with benefit by any lay person who is interested in spiritual warfare. It offers only one priest’s point of view but has been written after fairly extensive consultation with other priests in the ministry and attempts to be as comprehensive as possible on the subject while keeping the text relatively short and readable. I have organized six of the seven chapters in a short question and answer format to facilitate the book’s use as an ongoing reference source, and not just something that is read from cover-to-cover. The detailed Index and Table of Contents are given for this same purpose.
As in all things related to faith and morals, I submit my views on these matters to the final judgment of the Church’s Magisterium and welcome any feedback and correction from priests, more capable than I, who are involved in this ministry. We can all benefit from further fraternal dialogue on these matters. It is my thesis that the devil’s spiritual warfare on our flocks will intensify as the years proceed and that all Christians, but especially priests, will have no choice but to engage more deeply in the spiritual battle for souls. There is no time like the present to begin the training.
A Note on Terminology
A final note on terminology: in this work I use the word “exorcism” to speak about something very particular, albeit complex. Exorcism is often confused in religious and secular parlance with “deliverance” (which is defined more distinctly in Chapter 5), but in this book, the term “exorcism” will always mean what the Church means by it: namely, a rite for expelling demons from persons who are possessed, authorized by a bishop and limited by canon law to the ministry of priests. Solemn exorcism has a long historical development and practice and a theological grounding in the Tradition of the Church. It should also be understood that this work only deals with “exorcism” as it applies to the Roman Catholic Church. There are other expressions and understandings of exorcism in the Eastern Church and Protestant churches which I do not attempt to illuminate in any systematic way in this work.
In this work, I am also very careful about the term possession which often gets used to describe demonic infestations of a lesser severity. Too-liberally labeling demonic activity as “possession” creates the unfortunate impression that the devil has more power over us than he actually has. The term “possession” will apply to those individuals whose bodies and faculties are judged by the Church to be fully or near-fully taken over by demonic forces and who lose most or all of their freedom to fight the evil one on their own. They need the help of the Church, and it is these afflicted individuals who are the proper subjects of the Church’s ministry of solemn exorcism.
Finally, according to custom and general usage, I usually refer to the devil and his minions with masculine pronouns rather than to try to encumber the text with neutral pronouns which attempt to describe spiritual beings as genderless. Since Scripture and Tradition generally refer to demons with masculine pronouns, that will be sufficient enough reason to do the same in this work.
St. Michael, Patron of Exorcists
May St. Michael the Archangel, heaven’s exorcist angel, defend us in our battles against “the principalities and powers, the rulers of this world of darkness,” help us minister to the many souls who are immersed in the devil’s darkness, and draw us into the reign of Light of the true Shepherd of our souls, Jesus Christ.
Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer
Human Life International
I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas