Friday, January 15, 2010

Exorcism, dessert, and prayer - powerful stuff!

1) DC ‘Hood at St John the Baptist, Silver Spring – Fri, Jan 29, 7 pm. Go ‘Hood!!
2) Please donate to the Newman Center by using PayPal! Click on the “donate” button on the right side of this page. No donation is too small. The students and I would be grateful!
This week at Mass we have been hearing some stories from Mark’s Gospel from when Jesus performed exorcisms. Tuesday’s Gospel (Mk 1:21-28) included the following exorcism that “amazed” all who were there:

“In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are–the Holy One of God!’
Jesus rebuked him and said, ‘Quiet! Come out of him!’
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him”.

At both the noon Mass and the 5:30 Mass, I told the story of an exorcism I attempted to perform right after I was ordained in 2006. It occurred at a house-warming party for friends of mine. I met one of their friends who engaged me in a conversation about faith. He is probably a few years younger than me and might have been raised Catholic, I don’t remember. We began talking about faith and he made some disturbing comments. The more we talked, the more he went on the offensive. He seemed to have no problem at all offending our Lord and one of His priests.

As offensive as he was being, he was even more confusing. He was really all over the place in his attacks on God, faith, and believers. It was very hard to follow his logic. We spoke for a while and he wasn’t drinking that much, so he wasn’t drunk. He was very confused. When I pinned him down on one illogical point, he would make another outrageous statement. This went on for a while. It’s very hard to talk with someone whose philosophical or theological views are so chaotic! I’ve had many of these types of conversations over the years, and they have confirmed for me a theological truth: order (and Truth) is from God, chaos is from the Devil.

My new friend then made an unimaginable comment. He said, “I would rather go to Hell than go to Church and live a life of faith”. I couldn’t believe what I just heard, but then again, I could. The spirit of his contempt for God and all things that are good grew while we spoke, and so this was simply the apex of it. It was the culmination of about an hour’s worth of confusing, evil statements from him. When I heard this come from his mouth, something inside me (I hope it was the Holy Spirit) told me to perform a minor exorcism. So, I raised my hand toward his head, and said, “Evil spirit of chaos, come out of him. In the name of Jesus Christ, come out of him”.

This was in the kitchen of my friends’ home in the middle of a party..! As I was doing this, I bet he was thinking, ‘what are you doing?’ Part of me was thinking, ‘what am I doing?’ It wasn’t long after I finished my dramatic display of supernatural power (!) that he took a couple of steps back and walked away. With the power having gone out, I had to collect myself for a few minutes before hitting the dessert table.

I and my friends have been praying for this man every day since. There wasn’t any news about him until recently. A few days ago, my friend who hosted the party emailed me and said that he has come back to Church! He is dating a young woman and they go to Church together. I don’t know how serious he is about faith, but just the fact that he is going to Church is a huge victory for Grace! One of the main points of my friend’s email was about the power of prayer. It’s more likely about that than about the exorcism. Btw, it was an exorcism, it just took some time to kick in!

God is soooooo good and prayer is soooooo powerful! I invite bloggers to post stories involving the power of prayer.


JesusFreak said...

that's a really cool story!

I was jwing if you believe that certain people have this as something like a "gift". Not necessarily priests, but laypeople too. Almost like this is what they were born/called to do. Idk if this would mean they could see the demons or talk to them or whatever... I was just wondering if this is possible or if the Church believes it.
I hope that makes sense...

Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

I volunteer with a group that councils young women struggling with addiction. It’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. There is one young mother who was addicted to heroine. Talking to her clean and sober, she looks and acts like any other soccer/PTA mom, and no one would ever suspect the kind of hell she’s lived. Her drug use severely scarred her arms and she was ashamed to wear anything that would show her from the elbows down. It may see like a small and vain thing, this concern of hers, but if you knew her story, you’d likely think as I, “Man, she should at least be able to be free of this constant reminder of her errors.” She is really sweet, and I pray for her regularly. A few months ago, after praying for her, something popped into my head. Later, I asked her to see and touch her scars. I said, “Do you realize that these wounds have healed? They aren’t open, infected sores anymore. Maybe God let you have those scars so you can see that you can heal from all your wounds, and also to remember what it actually was from which you healed.” I had this overwhelming sense of God’s mercy and I knew, just knew that she got it too. She recently shared that she wore a sleeveless nightgown to bed, and maybe only her husband and daughter saw her, but that is a big change. God’s mercy is great and He goes to great lengths to extend it to us, but sometimes we need to see it in the unexpected places.

Liesl said...

I think prayer can come in unexpected ways too. There have been times in the past where I'm having an off-day, and then out of the blue, a friend will call me or send me a message to say, hey, I was just thinking about you for some weird reason... and I think these little brief interruptions into our head are God's way of reminding us to think about and pray for others. There have been a couple of times where I will randomly start thinking about a friend from home, and I'll say a little prayer for them right then and there. Later, they've told me that they were having a bad day/week/month and then something clicked and they started to feel calmer... I like to think that little thoughts can help those we care about even if we are far away!

Anonymous said...

i agree; chaos is definately from the devil. in attempts to fight it is true torment; thankfully prayer pulls you out of the mire of fear (false evidence appearing real). i recently read a wonderful book "Angels in my hair" and it has rekindled in my heart that Angels from God are gifts from God to assist us in our daily lives.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts and feelings on faith are chaotic. I want to be part of the Church but every time I try, whether in thought or action, I lapse into extreme negativity. Just yesterday I got fixated on the question of why people assume that God is good and wants to help humankind. I know - the world is full of grace and beauty. But can you deny that for every beautiful thing there is an ugly one; for every act of human kindness there is one of evil? Haiti, addiction, mental illness, child abuse, the Holocaust. When something beautiful happens, we are supposed to thank God. But when evil occurs, they say God did not cause it, the sin of man caused it. Do believers just believe because it helps them feel life has meaning? I just don't see objective truth.

Anonymous said...

9:29 am anon:

"And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God." Aeschylus, the ancient Greek playwright