Questions for an exorcist?

July 28, 2010 | 37 comments

I’m excited to report that I have an interview in the works with Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, author of the new book Exorcism and the Church Militant (with a foreword by Fr. John Corapi). Since it’s not every day that you get to chat with an actual exorcist, I thought I’d ask: Do you have any questions for Fr. Euteneuer? I might not be able to get to them all, but I’ll do my best.

To give you an overview of Fr. Euteneuer, his work and his book, here’s a fascinating interview he did with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN:

Like a lot of people, until a few years ago I assumed that no rational modern person believed in the devil and that the last serious exorcism probably happened about 500 years ago. I was shocked when I found out that there are still exorcists today; I was even more shocked when I read accounts of exorcisms and it seemed like something real was going on there. After a lot more reading and research, I’ve come full-circle on the issue, and now see it as a valuable and very necessary practice in the Church.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with what an exorcism typically involves, you can read this article where a board-certified psychiatrist and associate professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College talks about an exorcism he attended. And, of course, you can buy Fr. Euteneuer’s book.

Anyway, let me know if you have any suggestions for questions I should ask in the interview!

37 Comments

  1. Joe (Defend Us In Battle)

    Questions I would ask:

    1. How do you respond to Catholic bloggers/religious/etc… that say publishing a book like this sensationalizes a subject that is dangerous and precarious for people to "meddle in?"

    2. There is a quote that says: The devil is a lot stronger than some people give him credit for, and a lot weaker than others give him credit for. That being said, does a book like this tip the scales too much to one side?

    I personally have recently received this book, and have been pouring over it. If you just look at the title of my blog you can understand that I ask these questions not so much out of wanting an ANSWER to satisfy me, but instead because I face them all the time, and I am sure he has as well.

  2. Claire

    I have one question….

    Why does is "seem" that the Church is ignoring this issue and why are more priests trained in exorcism?

    I saw the interview and read the book. Both were excellent, and i highly recommend reading this book.

    I tread warily with this subject because of past experiences with spiritual warfare, and I still won't allow the book or movie "The Exorcist" into my house, but I feel it is vital to learn about spiritual warfare and the need for exorcism priests.

    Great subject, Jen.

  3. Claire

    PS. Is there anything we can do to encourage our Bishops to train more exorcism priests?

  4. Julia

    How do you know the difference between severe mental illness and possession?

  5. Audrey

    Can you become possessed without your consent, without some act of your own will?

    This question came up 'round the dinner table last week.

  6. Anonymous

    Jen:

    Would you please ask Fr. Euteneuer his opinion about occultic tools such as Ouija boards and the dangers that they pose? I personally had a disturbing experience with one years ago. I can't believe they're are sold in toy stores.

    Thank you!

    Jen G

  7. Leah

    Reading over the article you linked, it sounds very similar to descriptions of witch attacks from Salem. Does Fr. Euteneuer believe in those accounts of possession and spiritual attack? How does he think that exorcists should be treated by civil authorities?

    –Leah @ Unequally Yoked

  8. Elizabeth Mahlou

    Good luck with that interview. My brother had a brush with possession years ago. It was pretty scary and lasted about three months. It was something that he said and did that caused whatever was possessing him to flee his body — that and constant prayer by my sister over the phone every night.

    The priest who leads the contemplative prayer group to which I belong is also an exorcist in his part-time for our diocese. I had not known that dioceses had exorcists on staff until I met Fr. Kevin. He also made a CD on exorcism which I found interesting since I know him.

    I am not wont to read about exorcism, either fiction or fact, or watch it, given the real scare we had with my brother. It is dangerous stuff, and it is real, even today. (If it were real 500 years ago, why would it not be real today? What has changed in the spiritual world? 500 years is as one day spiritually.)

  9. Sister Lynn

    Dear Jen,

    This is exciting. The book "hostage to the devil" played alarge part in my faith journey. Anyway, I guess I would want to know …
    how does one know that someone is under demonic influence as opposed to just severely mentally ill.

    Thanks!

    Blessings
    Sister Lynn

  10. Anonymous

    What does he think about the popularity of such television shows as "Ghost Hunters"? Are people putting themselves in danger by pursuing study of the paranormal?

  11. Lenetta @ Nettacow

    How can we protect ourselves (and our children, families, loved ones, etc.) from possession?

    This is a subject that scares the beejeebers out of me, but it is necessary, for sure. Thanks!

  12. Natasa

    I don't have a question but just wanted to say I found both interviews very interesting.
    Never realised that 'The Exorcist' was a Catholic piece, always assumed it was some kind of a sensationalist pseudo-religious book.

  13. The Cottage Child

    Can a person persuade out a demon or rid themselves of a possession (assuming that in moments of lucidity they're aware of it)?

    Does the Church allow/consider the exorcism of non-Catholics or unbelievers by priests?

  14. Brianna

    I would ask: Are prayers in Latin (Church's official language) more effective during an exorcism? Why? And why not Greek or English, etc. Just curious.

  15. Anonymous

    No offense, but that website seemed a little shady. I know it sought to ground itself in credibility with the mention of the board certified NY psychiatrist, but the links beneath the article were along the lines of:
    "Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection"

    Which, to me, seems like a giant red flag. I don't doubt that there are things in this world that can't be explained, but the content seemed very much the stuff of movies and imagination.

  16. Crowhill

    I would ask him if he has ever seen any convincing evidence for the existence of demons — i.e., something that a skeptically minded person would respect as evidence.

  17. Tres Angelas

    In addition to asking how an exorcist distinguishes between possession and severe mental illness, I also wonder how it is determined that the subject is not simply an evil, manipulative person in his or her own right, without demonic influence.

    Secondly, assuming that the possessions can be verified as authentic, is there proof of satanic involvement? Of course, there are examples of demonic possession and influence in the Bible, including the New Testament; however, I imagine that virtually all religions have their malevolent spirits (usually imaginary).

    In Father Euteneuer's experience, can possessions be taken as evidence of the existence of the devil as understood by Abrahamic religions? As understood and taught by the Catholic Church?

  18. karyn

    How do we protect ourselves and our family from demonic possession? I would assume attending Mass, saying the rosary, receiving the Sacraments, etc. Anything else? Also, why is he anti-Harry Potter? We have read Narnia, Tolkien, and Harry Potter because I like the messages of good triumphing over evil, the importance of working together, and the importance of hope.

  19. Anonymous

    Dear Jen,
    As someone who works with teenagers, I have seen behavior that made me question possession at times, which was later treated as a mental illness. A question I have is if fantasy/video games, especially those that are violent and inappropriately sexual, "open the door" to possession. Also, what behaviors are risky in this sense?
    Thanks for all you do!
    Lisa

  20. Anonymous

    Anon, yeah, I noticed those peculiar links at the bottom, too, but if you look closer, you'll notice that some of the links are just product placements from advert programs like Google. The program finds related stories and topics and places product links there.

    In any case, the article links to the New Oxford Review publication, here:

    http://www.newoxfordreview.org/article.jsp?print=1&did=0308-gallagher

    You'll have to pay $1.50 to read the whole thing. I think it's interesting enough, so I'll be reading the whole thing later tonight, to get scared!

    I'm a Catholic, so I should take these things more seriously, but I admit there's a certain fascination to it, and I don't mind indulging it!

    To atheists: exorcisms have been on the rise and have been exploding in "secular" Europe. The Vatican is having trouble keeping up with demand, so to speak. When the Catholic Church does an exorcism, you KNOW it's legit because they are very, very skeptical and put people through intense scrutiny. They consult professionals in other fields and exhaust every possible natural explanation before going ahead with the exorcism. In fact, the process is so long, that there is a private industry of exorcists and exorcisms charging for their services!

    As the Oxford Review shows, there is a small but interesting contingent of psychiatrists pushing for the "demonic" as a diagnosis.

    There is so much evidence (SO MUCH EVIDENCE, you don't even know!) proving the truth of Christianity that I wonder why there are atheists at all.

  21. Anonymous

    I would like like to know if a devil can take over your dreams and if this is a type of possession or just a sort of molestation (used for lack of a better word)

  22. Kim

    Does he believe that Christians can be possessed by demons? Or only those NOT already in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit?

    Also, what does he do to equip the person to prevent a stronger follow-up attack (Luke 11:24-26)?

  23. Brittany

    I'd really love to ask Fr Euteneuer to elaborate on what he believes about the role of faith in a ritual. He touched on it only briefly in the World Over interview you posted and I think this is something really important that we often lose sight of in the church.

    He said, "The power of the ritual is based on the faith you bring to it." Please draw him out on this! I think it's key even to spiritual warfare in our own homes when we face influences like Harry Potter and vampire fiction. Children are being exposed to this at school and with friends! Young people in the church are sucked in because they've LOST or never experienced faith in the rituals we practice.

    I wrote a blog on Twilight: New Moon when it came out last fall (http://fieryhalo.wordpress.com/2009/11/22/whos-biting/) in response to my friends' fanaticism about the new movie. My friends are church-going Christians that attend my school. From a point of pure logic, however, I can't understand how an interest in darkness can possibly cohabit with a love of light. These films are not just entertainment and, I'd be interested to know if Fr. Euteneuer also believes that the forces of hell are stepping up their game with my generation. As Adolf Hitler (a master of propaganda warfare) said, "He that rocks the cradle, rules the world." We desperately need vigilant parents and I am praying really hard for my friends.

  24. ck

    At the hospital I work for, Reiki is performed on patients without their permission and my attempts to stop this have been futile. Sadly, Catholic sisters are the ones who support the practice. Are the patients being harmed by "energy work" if they have not consented to it?

  25. Anonymous

    I want to know are these rites really necessary? I think prayer is obviously essential here, but something just struck me as not quite right here. I really can't put my finger on it, but it seems to me if someone can be counseled in the Bible and how it applies to their life, find out how they opened the door for the devil/demons to enter, then repent of that sin, the Holy Spririt, not a person, will cleanse them. Through continued repentance, prayer, and keeping doors shut and not giving the devil a foothold the Holy Spirit will continue to cleanse and fix the problem without the need for this "exorcism" stuff. It should be about Jesus and the walk of that person in a Christian life doing the stuff Christians should do. Right?

    We do not need to be scared or unusually occupied with thoughts of the devil and demons. If one is Christian, then you must believe they exist because God speaks of them in the Bible many times. However, the devil is not God — he is not omnipresent, not all-knowing, and he can't read our mind. We already know the devil's going to lose the war because the Bible says so.

    Pray over your children and families a prayer of protection, make Jesus the center of you and your children's lives.

    I am sorry Jen, but I am wary of this interview. Maybe it's just Raymond Arroyo being distracting. I don't know. He kind of creeps me out.

    I am appalled that the author of the Exorcist was on this show. To me, that is just glorifying evil and not glorifying to God at all. It's a fine line to tread, and that's where those proverbial doors get opened.

  26. Ouiz

    I watched the interview and saw that he said that this sort of ministry is reserved for the priesthood. I would want to ask him what he thought about Protestant ministers and such who cast out demons.

  27. Anonymous

    Can he show skeptics some hard proof that possession really happens? I've seen plenty of video "possessions" and every single one of them can be done by a decent (or sometimes, not so decent!) actor, or else someone with mental illness or epilepsy.

    If demonic possession is that common (and from all the exorcisms that he's done it would seem so), then why isn't the proof readily available? I mean things like: real physical impossibilities, like levitating, sliding up a wall, speaking in ancient languages, moving objects without touching them, showing inhuman strength like lifting a car, etc. All things I've heard happen with the possessed, but have never seen.

  28. Jennie

    I find this topic completely fascinating and completely creepy. Evil is real and present in our world, and I am so careful about what I bring into my home with regards to movies, books, etc, even when it peaks my interest. I never want to unwittingly allow that darkness in. Probably too hyper-vigilant, but a friend was persecuted for about 3 years and it makes you see things differently. I'll be reading your interview, though 🙂

  29. J.

    Someone said — I'm thinking it might have been C.S. Lewis — that the devil's greatest trick is to make us believe he doesn't exist and nowhere is it more evident in this so-called "modern" day than in the area of the demonic.

    Not believing in the demonic in my youth, I played with a ouji board and quickly found out how wrong I was. This danger, as another commentor remarked, can be found in any toy store–no government warning labels required!

  30. Christopher Lake

    For the people who are upset at William Peter Blatty appearing on "The World Over"– the man is a believing Catholic. He makes his faith clear in the interview. His novel (on which the later movie was based) is not a cheap (sick) thrill, run-of-the-mill, horror novel. It is a serious examination of the battle between God (through the Church) and the demonic.

  31. Mary

    In the exorcist's experience which prayers seem to be the most protective from the devil for the ordinary person? Such as the Armor of God or St. Michael Prayers.

  32. ~ Nona

    Re: ouiji boards

    Years ago I played with a board with a friend. Our hands were on the pieces — and they MOVED.

    My companion swore that he didn't move anything. I know I didn't.

    If he was truthful, and I believe he was, something caused the pieces to move.

    I recalled a long-ago warning from my mother: The devil and his minions are always interested in being in touch with us and welcome any opportunity we give them. I think the board was an opportunity.

    The occult is a dangerous avenue because it is well-populated — and not by the Good Guys. Thus, I steer 100% clear of anything remotely involved with the devil, the occult, witchcraft or anything related. Even so, I know the fascination — and still have it.

    Curiously, I knew the late Malachi Martin, the author of HOSTAGE TO THE DEVIL. I asked him many questions but not once did I ask anything about HOSTAGE or demonic possession. I'm not even sure why I didn't.

    Maybe I was still too spooked and fearful….

  33. Anonymous

    Please ask him to address how the virtues and sins of a husband and wife are brought into a marriage and how house blessings and prayers of deliverance (such as Father Amorth's deliverance prayers) can help.
    Also, address how all fortune telling mediums are against Church teaching. And why.

  34. La gallina

    I would want to ask him about Malachi Martin. The claim in his novel Windswept House is that there was an "Enthronement of the Fallen Archangel Lucifer" (a black mass?) held within the Vatican on June 29, 1963 in the Chapel of St. Paul.

    Nona — maybe you know something about this?

    Father Martin predicted the increase of Satanic activity WITHIN the church to cause an increase in sexual abuse within the clergy.

    I've listened to hours of interviews with Malachi Martin. He was an exorcist, former Jesuit, author, Vatican insider. I wish I could ask HIM a few questions, but unfortunately he died in the late 90's.

  35. Catherine Orr

    My daughter’s house has something evil there. Yes we are all sane of mind. Have gone to the Church for help, but they dismiss it.
    Her two small boys, myself and her, have all experienced manifestations of one type or another throughout the years. Events occur in the house and the most recent one has me worried. My 6 year old grandson has told us that he hears voices telling him that he’s stupid, ugly, fat. None of which he is, and have told him that evil ones lie, to call on St Michael. But he told me he saw a bull, black in color with red eyes, striking the ground with a hoof. This has me concerned. Could you tell me the significance of this?
    Thank you for your time.

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