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3 Exorcists Share Insights on Sin, the Occult, and the Might of Jesus Christ
By Patti Armstrong
Like a houseguest who can’t take a hint, the devil fails to leave after the welcome mat is pulled in. He is simply not someone that should ever receive an invitation.
In my recent article on the demolished house believed to be a site of demonic activity, Zak Bagans, host and executive producer of the TV show Ghost Adventures, admitted during an email interview, that he may be suffering lingering effects of the evil he set out to capture on video. Ever since wrapping up the filming a documentary at the house in Indiana last month, he has suffered from a persistent, unexplained physical illness. I said I’d pray for him and gave him the phone numbers of two exorcists. Zak said he is Catholic.
I shared with him that Msgr. John Esseff, an exorcist for the diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania for over 40 years, once told me that he had to take over a case when the exorcist came down with the same mysterious illness as the person he was trying to help. When I asked Msgr. Esseff how he protects himself from attacks, he said that he always prays prayers for spiritual protection.
After telling this story with Zak, I asked him if he wanted me to send him some prayers for protection. He did. I hope he’s doing better, but personally, I think it’s foolish to go in after evil spirits for entertainment.
Just Don’t Go There
According to Fr. Patrick, an exorcist for his diocese and also a parish priest who needs to remain anonymous, God is infinitely more powerful, but no one should flirt with evil. Over the years, he has had people come to him after experiencing problems stemming after dabbling in the occult. Fr. Patrick often speaks to his high school youth group about the dangers of the occult. One student called him after he went away to college.
“I'm so glad I got a hold of you; you were right,”’ the student told Fr. Patrick. “We were messing with a Ouija board last night and in the morning, I woke up with scratches all over my back.’” Fr. Patrick told him to go to a priest to confess and renounce what he had done. He kept in touch with the student for awhile but lost contact and assumes there were no further problems.
“God warns us against it [the occult] in the Bible,” Fr. Patrick said. “There’s nothing good that ever comes from it,” he said. “It’s a dimension you have no control over. Evil wants to convince you that you will have control over it, but you won’t. It’s always a mistake.”
Fr. Vincent Lampert is the designated exorcist for the archdiocese of Indianapolis. He was trained in 2006 at the North American College in Rome. While studying there for three months, he assisted on over 40 exorcisms with longtime Italian exorcist Father Carmine De Filippis.
In spite of all the authority invested in him by the Church, Fr. Lampert cannot help anyone who is not willing to develop a relationship with Jesus. “There’s no magic involved,” he said. “I bring in the power and glory of Jesus Christ, but most of the time, people treat us like magicians. They want us to fix the problem but they want no skin in the game.”
According to Fr. Lampert, faith in God is becoming less relevant in the world and at the same time, the occult is being portrayed as fun and entertaining. “Then, when they encounter evil, they don’t know were to turn,” he said. “You can’t close the door on your own. Christ is the door. You have to ask Christ to help you.”
Evil can cause demonic vexation, [attacks on thoughts and exterior lives] and lead to a very destructive life. Fr. Lampert said that people wanting relief need to grow in faith. “If they are not going to change anything about their life, then throwing holy water at them and praying will do nothing,” he said. “They have to be willing to pray and draw closer to God.”
Faith is the Key
A young man once came to Fr. Lampert because his girlfriend was being attacked by evil. “The boyfriend had burned sage because he heard the devil doesn’t like sage,” Fr. Lampert said. “but it didn’t help. I told him, ‘The problem is that you put your faith in the sage, not in Jesus Christ.’”
“I don’t think the devil has upped his game,” Father Lampert said. “I think people today are more apt to play his game.” According to him, there is a direct correlation with less religious faith and more involvement in the occult. “People can invite evil in, and then, without the component of faith, there is nothing to protect them.”
Father Lampert has personally performed only five exorcisms, because they are rare, but he receives 10-12 calls a week from people seeking help from demonic harrassment, many from outside his diocese and half of them non-Catholic. “I try to connect them with someone in their own area and with a church community,” he said. Otherwise, Fr. Lampert will not help. To explain his decision, he referenced Matthew 12:43-45, where an unclean spirit leaves a person but comes back and finds the house empty, so it brings seven other spirits more evil than itself. In this way, he said the exorcism prayers could end up hurting the possessed person, if the demon returned with seven more demons.
Faith is the key to life, according to him, and with faith, we need not fear evil. “The power of God is greater than the power of evil,” he said. “I don’t carry a bag of tricks with me, I bring the power and authority of Jesus Christ that he has given to his Church.”
If we stay away from the occult, go to Mass, have faith in God, and pray, Fr. Lampert explained that we are protected and even a curse will bounce off us. “The devil is already on the run if you are going to church and especially if you are receiving Communion.”
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