Some of you have seen the classic little booklet, Mary Crushes the Serpent, a sequel to the very popular classic about an exorcism, Begone Satan.
If you haven't read Mary Crushes, it may be worth a peruse. If you have, it may be time to revisit a few items -- fascinating items, when it comes to demonology.
Ironically, the utterances of the devil during exorcism often affirm the power of our devotions.
This of course is not the intention of demons.
But it comes blurted out.
While many Protestants, Evangelicals, and humanists criticize use of icons and statues (perhaps forgetting that God Himself had Moses create statues of angels for the Ark), it's interesting how, in the recollections of an exorcist (upon whose accounts the booklet is based), "I was called to a certain home to which the mother had previously brought a statue of a saint to be used as an ornament in a room.
"At the sight of this statue the daughter became raving mad and, taking a hammer, pounded it into pieces. This action together with previous manifestations of the sort puzzled me and I was tempted to say to her: 'Either you are crazy or you are possessed.'
"One day I was inclined to speak the short form of exorcism over her without telling her what I was doing. After giving her absolution in Confession, I said a few words in Latin against the demon. Suddenly the girl became unconscious and the demon betrayed himself."
No longer could this dark spirit miche into the edge of shadows!
If statues themselves are powerless -- or, worse, evil -- why would a demon lash out at one?
The booklet is subtitled, "Thirty Years' Experiences of An Exorcist Told In His Own Words" (edited by Father Theodore Geiger) and informs us that another telltale sign of possession is a person acting in a way that is entirely opposite of that person's usual demeanor and personality.
Thoughts are turned upside-down.
Such oppression -- attacks -- can happen to all of us.
It's called duress, as well as "temptation."
Of course, the possessed also have an aversion to prayer. But not always: so perfidious are demons that they often hide that aversion in order to remain.
But mainly, it is too difficult for them.
Touch a demonized person with anointed hands, however, and it is usually immediately noticeable -- and for this reason: while trying to hide, the demon cannot contain its pain, causing sometimes forceful contortions, the actual gnashing of teeth (remember Jesus using this term? Luke 13:28), and screams.
Sometimes, under command from an exorcist, demons reveal their "names," in association with a famous person (such as "Hitler" or "Herod" or "Judas" or "Voltaire," says the booklet, for our discernment) that are linked to the evil and havoc they are attempting to wreak.
"I have applied the rite of exorcism to six persons whom doctors declared hysterical and of the neurotic type," said the exorcist. "Medical science did not bring about a cure. Doctors had abandoned the cases as hopeless. The exorcism, however, delivered them from the demons, and with the demons all sickly appearances disappeared."
Is there an exorcist in the house?
Oh, but if only they would help all those thousands in mental wards; if only they would try deliverance. How many would be released as normal members of society?
Let that question remain as an amaranthine one.
The Church itself?
A demon that called itself "Caesar" seemed to specialize in orchestrating persecution -- claims the booklet.
"The forces of hell also try to corrupt the priests," said the exorcist. "The demon who brags about ruining Judas and who parades under that name is planning with his associates to bring about deception, corruption, and destruction of priests."
You have seen those photographs -- often gruesome -- of alleged mystics and stigmatics with unsightly exudations of blood -- crying thick clotting red tears, or bleeding from their limbs in a way that seems less than heaven-sent? Some may be deceptions to start with: cases of demonized folks who have been hoodwinked into thinking they suffer the wounds of Christ while really they are under demonic assault.
But in other cases, said the exorcist, according to the revelations of the demons, Mary "has selected a little army of noble souls who are prepared to suffer everything and to offer themselves freely to God as a holocaust in atonement for souls. She has selected them to fight directly against the demons.
"It is a worldwide battle between the ferocity of the demon and the victim souls' love for the Cross.
"The victim souls endure bodily suffering as well as attacks against the sensitive power of the soul."
Victim souls wrest tortured souls from the "demon's clutches," said the priest, and caused the demons to fly back into the bowels of hell. They are in essence, such mystics, people who have sacrificed their health and comfort to act like a prison for the foul entities until these entities are exorcised and permanently cast down.
That's an insight we appreciate.
Mary leads this fight.
An intense one it is. The Sacred Heart is mentioned as a key in this battle. "On the seventeenth of September the victim soul, while undergoing terrible suffering, again heard the consoling voice of the Blessed Virgin: 'Courage, my child, I am with you. In this way you will win favor of the Sacred Heart of my Divine Son."
The demon was trying to frustrate the plan of the Blessed Virgin by antagonizing the victim soul against it. The Blessed Mother told this soul to go to a place of pilgrimage and make a perpetual vow there. From then on, the soul did not wither under the attacks. Such souls make atonement for offenses of mankind against that Heart.
During the deepest part of exorcism, said the exorcist, there can be signs of the Divine in the possessed person. In fact this happens frequently (we think of the recent movie, The Exorcism of Emily Rose.)
"In the midst of the diabolical manifestations causing terrible physical and moral sufferings, from time to time the victim heard the sweet voice of the Blessed Virgin."
We see thusly how she steps on the head of the serpent.
[resources: Mary Crushes the Serpent]