Warfare Prayers, by
Robert Abel, a little booklet of extremely powerful prayers
that aim to release us from demonic bondage --whether our own
sinfulness or evil that has come our way as the result of curses or
generational problems. There are prayers against malefice, prayers to create
a spiritual 'canopy' over your home, prayer to bind evil spirits, and
prayers of inner healing! Very popular as a bedside companion.
EXORCIST FROM MADRID DISCUSSES OCCULT, DEMONS, LINKS CLERGY CRISES TO BUREAUCRACY
By Michael H. Brown
Among other things that we discuss at our retreats is the issue of angels and demons. The other night, I spoke with Father José Antonio Fortea Cucurull, a well-known exorcist from the Diocese of Alcalá de Henares in Spain (Madrid). His thesis for a degree from the Camillas Pontifical University was entitled Exorcism in the Present Age. He is also the subject of a book, Interview with an Exorcist. And so he is a man to whom one can direct certain questions.
How often does full possession by demons occur? Who gets possessed? How active -- in our present time, in his opinion -- is evil?
While, from time to time, demonic influence makes its attempt on us all (and while the Church is not currently well-schooled in this aspect, which was such a part of Jesus' ministry; see today's Gospel reading), Father Fortea, in answering the first question, said that there are only about four cases of total possession, whereby a demon has complete control of a body, per year in Spain (this in a nation of forty-five million). "We are speaking of something that is rare," the priest said. Like other exorcists, however, the Spanish priest differentiates between possession and influence or affliction by unclean entities (the latter far more frequent) and is quick to point out that there may be cases of possession itself that never come to his attention. Indeed, Father Fortea, pastor of Saint Mary Magdalene Parish in Anchuelo, on average sees five to ten people who come to see him each day in the belief they are being affected (call this oppression or infestation).
When it is a case of total possession (and not a psychological sickness), the exorcist says the origin is often in the occult -- and that while Europe is far more secularized than the U.S., America has at least equal problems with the demonic because the very belief in the supernatural here (missing in so much of Europe) often leads people into cultism, mediumship, satanism, esoteric science, paganism, pantheism, wizardry, or the New Age, however we label it: the wrong kind of supernatural experience. In other words, the interest in spiritual matters is often diverted to dark regions.
"It's clear that the more people go to witchcraft, the more there will be cases of demonism," says Father Fortea. "It takes a certain level of action. There were less cases in Europe forty years ago. In the Americas, you have such things as Santería [an occult practice especially prevalent in the Miami area]. The great difference between Europe and here is that South America and North America have more faith. Europe is more secularized, and there is a demonical influence -- but in the Americas even good people show a tendency to go to psychic or witches."
"That for the moment is the main difference. I can't say there are more cases of exorcism, but to put the hands through the barrier from this world to the other is something that happens more in this country: there is a clear presence of the occult. Yet you also have more Christianity. Because of their faith, Americans pray more. So I do not say that here you have more cases. I really don't know. Each country has its defects."
One of the most extreme cases the priest has encountered concerned a woman whose deliverance lasted nine years. "She is now normal," recalled Father Fortea last week, during a visit to the U.S. "It was very dramatic because of the screaming. I did not know it was even possible to scream in such a way. There were even some movements of the bed: impossible for a person."
And the cause?
"I can tell you what the demons said. They said it was witchcraft and a cult. But I'm not sure. Demons deceive. There are more cases of demonical influence -- pain, trance, but the demon can't move the body with freedom-- maybe a tremble. Demonical influences are more common. Many times very, very light."
But, yes, sometimes extreme.
Healings have occurred in conjunction with deliverance and exorcism, says Father Fortea -- noting the "grave case" of a man who had a large tumor in his liver that after exorcism disappeared. "It's a shame we don't use healing power more," said the exorcist, who had recently spoken to priests in the Diocese of St. Augustine in Florida and was on to Albuquerque, where we caught up with him. His approach is first to bless a person to see if there is possession. He has invoked saints like Saint George. "Usually I pray in tongues, and really it works," he says. "Demons know what you are saying."
Father Fortea has been called to deliver homes that seemed infested by spirits and recommends frequent praying of the Rosary and use of Holy Water in such instances. Purging a building can take time. "In one case even the bishop went there and it took a while," he said. It often takes persistence (see James 4:7). One subject rarely addressed by the Church concerns spirits of the deceased and whether they can negatively affect the living. Father Fortea described this as a "very mysterious" topic and said there are "different opinions among exorcists." He preferred not to address it in detail, saying it was a subject that can cause fear, and fear is destructive. There can be a link between abortion and demonism, but he is reluctant to discuss this also ("The abortion itself," he says, "is already a terrible tragedy for the woman").
In his mid-forties, Father Fortea says that he does not have a special sensitivity to the presence of evil. His approach is more intellectual. Asked about claims of apparitions, particularly the Blessed Mother, at places such as Medjugorje in Hercegovina, which has divided at least two European exorcists, Father Fortea said that currently "I suspend judgment." He does ardently defend the controversial writings of Italian mystic Maria Valtorta, who wrote Poem of the Man-God, and said he was informed in Rome that she is up for beatification. "People who have attacked her may have a big surprise," he claims. "Her cause was accepted in the Congregation of Saints."
Let us continue to discern. There are so many mysteries! For example, how about the clergy abuse crisis -- particularly in countries such as the U.S.? "Priests in this country are very good -- so why so many cases of abuse?" he responds. "In Spain we have very few cases. I don't know why. Priests are spending too much time with paper in offices and this is a big danger-- bureaucracy. Office work is not pastoral work. To be in front of a computer is not pastoral. They have to return to the simplicity. They should create a commission to study priests in Italy, Spain, and even the Orthodox in Greece on how to function as poor and simple. In Spain, it's unthinkable to close a church because in Spain it is very inexpensive to operate one; in fact, we are opening churches in our diocese; but the more you grow a bureaucracy, the more it eats you; the more you bury yourself in an office, the more you are going away from the ministry of Jesus."
The good news: the number of exorcists in the U.S. is increasing, he noted. "Ten years ago, there were no more than thirty or forty dioceses that had an official exorcist in the U.S. and now it may be double." The bad news: many dioceses remain without one.
It is a simple call to act in the unworldly, non-bureaucratic way of Christ.
When we do, we see healing. We see deliverance. We see freedom from fear, depression, obsession, oppression, even possession (hear the hiss) as well as fear.
It takes close attention to Scripture -- which itself has great power over evil.
If one could watch the ministry of exorcism, says Father Fortea, one would see that "the pages of the Gospel are completely alive in our time."
[resources: Interview with an Exorcist and spiritual warfare books]
[Retreat in South Florida, January 28 and Green Bay, March 3]
[Spirit Daily gift shop]
Fortea's website: "Many priests can tend to be skeptical about the effectiveness of a curse.
Nevertheless, all exorcists are unanimous in holding that curses exist
that, permitted by God, have produced evil effects.
When people come to my parish saying that they are suffering from a curse,
I tell them that, outside of certain exceptions, it is impossible to
verify a diabolic causality; but if in fact they are suffering from a
curse, the only remedy and medicine is to do the following daily:
-pray a mystery of the rosary.
-read the Gospel for 5 minutes.
-speak with God for a few moments.
-go to Mass (on Sundays or even more frequently)
-place a blessed crucifix in the house.
-place a blessed image of the Virgin Mary in the house.
-make the Sign of the Cross with Holy Water once a day."]
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