Get Behind Me, Satan !

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“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

Anakkara  685512

Kerala  – India

Phone: + 91 4868 253300

email : [email protected]

website :www.marianretreatcentre.org

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.

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