“Get Behind me, Satan!” Dare to say this? This is the only language understood by Satan. Neither dialogue nor persuasion is effective against the devil. He will not understand them, but when we command in the name of Jesus Christ, to flee from us, he has to go. Knowing this, James writes: ‘Resist the devil, and he will flee from you’ ( Jas 4:7).
‘Get behind me, Satan!’ We know the context. It was when Peter tried to dissuade Jesus from his life’s mission, that the Lord admonished him in the harshest of words. Jesus knew that any attempt to obstruct a person from pursuing the plan of God is the work of Satan. But why should Jesus address Peter as Satan? Because at that time the spirit guiding Peter was not the Holy Spirit, but the evil counsel of the devil. Apparently, Peter’s words were nothing more than the natural response of a faithful disciple who loved his master. But Jesus wanted Peter to know that there was something supernatural hidden behind his appeal. Only when we realize that the devil can influence us in many ways, all of them equally surreptitious, will we feel the need to cast him out of us. The voice that told Peter to dissuade Jesus from suffering was the same seductive voice that caused the fall of our first parents about which the Church teaches: ‘Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the Church’s Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called “Satan” or the “devil” (CCC 391).
Once the presence of Satan is recognized, the next step should be to cast him out. There is no middle path, except that of living in the company of the devil, but unfortunately this company should stay for all eternity. As for Satan, all his works are directed against the fulfilment of God’s plan for salvation. On the other hand, about Jesus the Saviour we read: ‘The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil’ (1 Jn 3:8). As long as the devil is present in this world and carries out his works, the Son of God also should continue his ministry of destroying the works of the devil. In a previous article about deliverance, we saw that Jesus gave the power to cast out demons to his disciples and through them to the Church, his mystical body. We saw about the apostolic power and anointing passed on through centuries that enabled our priests to exercise the same power and authority that the apostles enjoyed over the forces of evil.
In this backdrop, we are discussing the ministry of exorcism and deliverance as practised in the Church today.. Though it is one of the important ministries entrusted to the Church by the Lord, many view it as a mystery and fail to appreciate its relevance. We know that each and every diocese is supposed to nominate a priest as their official exorcist. Fr Gabriele Amorth, the famous exorcist of Rome once said that people used to come to him from France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany and other countries seeking his help, the reason being the non- availability of an experienced exorcist in their country. Even after decades of this statement from the best known exorcist of our times, the situation has not improved much. Though, of late a revived interest is visible in this subject in Church circles, the number of priests practising it is abysmally low when compared to the number of people requiring their service.
If an experienced priest is difficult to find, you can always contact the episcopal curia and they will be happy to assist you. We appreciate the difficulty in moving out freely and meeting an exorcist in these days of Covid-19 restrictions, even when a priest is available in your country. Also we should admit that in this modern era devil-hunting is not fashionable in certain church circles. Some sections of the Catholic establishment are happier talking about ‘the spirit of evil’ than ‘evil spirits’. This is a gross misreading of the Church’s teachings about Satan and his works.
Fr Garbiele Amorth once lamented about certain people from within the Church objecting to the performance of exorcism unless we were certain that the devil is present in a person. He says: “They say we cannot perform an exorcism unless we know for certain that the Evil One is present. That is ridiculous. It is only through exorcism that the demons reveal themselves. Remember, when we jeer at the Devil and tell ourselves that he does not exist, that is when he is happiest.”
In general terms exorcism means the act of casting out the devil from a possessed man. On the other hand deliverance prayers are used to deliver a person from demonic influences, infestations, manifestations, disturbances or afflictions. Any lay person can say the prayers of deliverance but the ministry of major exorcism should be done only by a priest specially authorised by the bishop. This is important because a priest performing a major exorcism is doing it depending not on his merits, but trusting in the power of the Church over all evil spirits and drawing his authority from it.
Before going further, let us keep in mind that sacraments like Baptism, Confession and Eucharist are effective weapons in getting out of satanic influences. Baptism in itself is a minor exorcism because at that time we renounce everything that comes from the devil. A true Confession and Communion will immensely help us in our fight against the devil. The long version of ‘The sign of the Cross’ (‘By the sign of the cross deliver us from our enemies, you who are our God. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen’) is a simple but effective prayer to free oneself from the attacks of our principal enemy, Satan. Similarly Lord’s prayer contains an invocation to deliver us from the evil. Prayer to Michael the Archangel contains a direct appeal to bind Satan and throw him into hell. Prayer to the Queen of Angels is one seeking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin in our fight against the devil.
Yet, there will be instances where we need the assistance of an experienced exorcist. If your efforts to find an exorcist from your own diocese do not meet with success, then try it from another diocese. If that too doesn’t work, we would suggest you contact the nearest Catholic retreat centre. Admittedly, the number of retreat centres doing exorcism and deliverance service are less and the possibility of finding them near to your place will be still lesser. Many retreat centres are out of bounds to the faithful these days. Even among those which are still open, many do not have priests empowered and willing to face the devil head on. We can feel the pain of those who are struggling to come out of demonic attacks, but are not able to find an exorcist priest.
To help them, we are happy to share the details of Marian Retreat Centre, a Catholic retreat centre in India, where the ministries are led by Rev Fr Dominic Valanmanal, a diocesian priest and an accomplished preacher.
Marian Retreat Centre
Kerala – India
Phone: + 91 4868 253300
email : [email protected]
Fr Dominic Valanmanal has been active in this field for more than two decades and has preached the gospel in around a hundred countries. Before the Corona virus compelled them to curtail their regular programmes, the Marian Retreat Centre used to conduct One Day Grace Anointing Convention on each first Saturday. Nearly twenty five thousand people from different countries thronged the centre every first Saturday. Of them a good number came to get a special deliverance and binding prayer from Fr Dominic. Now the programme is being conducted online. You can watch it on youtube channel ‘FrDominicValanmanalOfficial’. A powerful deliverance session is an integral part of the Grace Anointing Convention and retreats conducted by Fr Dominic.
In the meantime, we would suggest you find out the details of priests performing exorcism in your country and share the details with us. It may seem unbelievable, but the reality is that the number of persons in need of the service of an exorcist is much higher than we can imagine. Your efforts in this direction will definitely help them. We would be happy only to share the details you provide with our readers for their benefit. Always remember that if there exists a kingdom of God, there exists a kingdom of Satan as well. The difference is that those who are with God know that they are with God, but those who are with the devil often do not know where they are.
Imagine a time when the devil is in direct confrontation with God. Imagine a situation where his influence is visible in every walks of life. Think of the volley of falsities unleashed by the devil to dissuade us from the path of salvation. Now stop imagining and come to the realization that this time has already come upon us. Yes, we are living in an environment, where everything is being controlled by the ‘god of this world’ as St Paul calls the devil. John warns us; ‘The whole world lies under the power of the evil one’ (1 Jn 5:19).
Realize that one way or another, we are prone to the vicious attacks of this invisible enemy. More importantly, demonic activities are on the rise. It is not solely because the devil has upped his game, but more people are willing to play it. Sins of flesh,rampant pornography, substance abuse, occult, and living in a state of mortal sin are all giving the devil an easy entry point.
We cannot take chances and getting immediate deliverance from the influence of the devil is of paramount importance. Jesus could realize the presence of Satan in Peter. This is why he commanded Satan to get behind him. Paul could realize the presence of the devil in a slave-girl even though she was giving true testimony about Paul and Silas! It needs the discernment coming from the Holy Spirit to distinguish the kind of spirit operating in a person. It is sad that now many among us, including priests, underestimate the danger of the devil. While they do trust in the salvific powers of Jesus, who died to free us from Satan’s bonds, they forget that the Lord never told us to underestimate the devil’s power. He never told us to stop fighting him. As such, any prudent Christian, for that matter any person, should be vigilant to the looming danger of satanic influences in their lives, be it in the form of evil presence, simple disturbances, manifestations, infestations, afflictions or possession. The cure is one and the same. Get a priest who, with the power and authority of the whole Church behind him, can command the devil to get out of you. The devil should have nothing in common with us because we are the children of God.
May the Almighty God keep us all safe from the devil, who is ‘prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’. May the Holy name of Jesus Christ, ‘the only name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved’ be our weapon in the fight against Satan. May the precious blood that Jesus shed for us, be our protection and may the Holy Spirit fill our hearts after being cleansed of all evil spirits.