|Father Gabriele Amorth, Rome's Former Chief Exorcist|
Amorth's second book was his effort to provide a service to the enormous interest generated from his first book. Initially, Amorth planned to make the second book a series of cases with his commentary, but soon realized that he needed to expand on topics that were not covered in the first book. Not only has Father Gabriele added new topics to his second book, but included several cases which are in his words, "fundamental for understanding the subject matter." Each chapter begins with its own topic and concludes with an actual case. In addition to his own vast experience, Fr. Gabriele also draws from the experience of other exorcists.
In An Exorcist More Stories, Amorth sets the tone immediately in his second chapter, Wanted: Exorcist, by asking the question, "Why, today, is there such a high demand for exorcists?" He answers the question by including a few reasons, such as: the demon being more active today, the incidence of demonic possession has increased, and the frightening decline in faith coupled with a growth in superstition. Amorth cites many factors to the growth in superstition: the media which not only promotes pornography, but spiritism, the occult and oriental rituals. In addition, there are certain types of gatherings, subliminal messages in satanic rock music, horoscope reading in newspapers and more. A statistic that Amorth refers to from the March 1991, Perugia congress, Magic, new Religions and the Esoteric it Italy, that more than 12 million Italians have visited magicians, sorcerers, card readers etc. (13)
In the chapter on Satan in Action, Amorth makes an important point on how many have come to disbelieve in the presence and existence of evil. To illustrate this point, Amorth begins this chapter with a scripture quote, "While men were sleeping, his enemy the devil, God's enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat" (Mt 13:25). Amorth's comments on this quote by stating that, although this is true in every age, it seems to ever more alarming how it is that much more prevalent in today's society because, "...[W]e refuse to believe in the presence of weeds, much less in the existence of the enemy; the devil." (57) Such a situation is alarming indeed. Without any belief in the presence of the enemy, no spiritual battle is fought and many succumb to the demonic deceptions and traps. All this can lead to becoming victimized with extraordinary diabolical activity which Amorth details in both his first and second books.
Father Gabriele attributes part of the problem of disbelief due to the reluctance of modern Catholic clergy to deal with the realities of evil, which he states is a result of, "...[A] lack of formation, lack of experience and widespread doctrinal errors." (57) This is in sharp contrast to the Church's Magisterium which has provided unchanging biblical-theological doctrine about Satan and his activity. Amorth goes on to mention that in support of the Magisterium's teaching on the topic of evil, there are eighteen texts issued from the Second Vatican Council, three speeches from Pope Paul VI and twenty two speeches from Pope John Paul II. The mention of these documents is an encouragement and opportunity for both the clergy and the laity, to better inform ourselves and further our understanding. Of these documents, Fr. Gabriele has included the full text of Pope Paul VI's November'1972 general audience catechesis on Satan. Below is a excerpt of that catechesis which high lights the importance of understanding evil:
Jesus also calls the demon "murderer from the beginning", "father of lies". He is the sophisticated seducer of man's moral balance. He is the evil and cunning charmer who knows how to infiltrate everyone's individual psychology. He finds the open door and comes in: through our senses, our imagination, and our concupiscence---what today we call fomite. Again, through utopian logic, disordered social contacts, bad friends and bad wordly ideas, [he slips] into our actions and introduces deviations that are all the more deadly because they appear to conform to the physical or psychological and instinctive structure of our person: this is why temptation is so seductive. These structures run deep and influence our personality. He takes advantage of our fabric, our makeup, to enter our psychology subtly. (p.68)Pope Paul VI's general audience text is still relevant today as it was when given in 1972. In addressing the needs of the Church, Pope Paul VI identified and focussed on the "combat against darkness." He had asked the ever important question, "...Why do we not speak about it anymore? We do not speak about it because we lack a visible experience. We believe that what we do not see does not exist." (65) Pope Paul VI expanded his thoughts from this initial question and stated later on in the text, "We should rediscover the chapter of Catholic doctrine that deals with the demon and with the influence that he is able to exert on individuals, communities, entire societies, and events. Instead, today we seldom think about it." (68) The point is clear, that due to the invisibility of the fallen angels, their existence and presence in the minds of many, ceases to be a reality. The disbelief and inability to recognize evil, clearly points to a lack of faith and understanding. This is perhaps one of the most dangerous aspects of today's society, because we do not realize the battle is being waged against us.
After having reviewed both of Fr. Gabriele's books for my posts, I could not help but reflect on how so many of the causes that led the need for exorcisms, actually exists right here in my local community. With Woodbridge being a predominantly Roman Catholic community, you have to wonder how could such evil be tolerated and accepted. Is this not an indication of our disbelief in the presence and existence of evil? Do we not recognize the "weeds among the wheat" or do we dismiss altogether that the weeds even exist? It only begs the question, do we really understand our Catholic faith? Or is it also a matter of apathy and our unwillingness to do something about it? If so, Edmund Burke's quote, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing," definitely identifies part of our problem.
As a resident of Woodbridge since 1978, I have witnessed the influx of new age and occult elements into my community, which have contributed to the development of a "culture of death." On our main streets, we have boldly advertised "psychic readings," dedicated yoga shops, yoga classes in health clubs, tattoo parlours and tarot card readers/fortune tellers. One can only imagine what else may exist that we do not see in front of our eyes but are done in secret, such as the use of ouija boards, seances, and more. Father Gabriele notes many of these occult and New Age elements are the beginning of a process that can eventually lead to demonic possession. Some are more dangerous than others. For some, it depends on the level of involvement of the participants. Of course, overlying it all is God's permission, as nothing happens without God's permission. One thing is for certain, occult and New Age elements are incompatible with Christianity and as such, should be completely avoided.
Accompanying the decline of our Catholic faith has been a proportionate lowering of our spiritual guard. As each successive generation fails to fully transfer the Catholic faith to the next, knowledge, devotion, understanding and interest wanes considerably. The fact that the aforementioned evil elements exist in Woodbridge is "proof positive" of the absence of God in the hearts and minds of many of the residents. If the opposite was the reality, then very few if any, would patronize yoga shops or attend yoga and tai-chi classes, receive reiki treatments, go to fortune tellers, mark their bodies/face with tattoos, buy and read occult books like Harry Potter or New Age material like Deepak Chopra and support the growth of many other "weeds."
It is up to us here in Woodbridge as to what we are going to do about it. We can begin by better informing ourselves on the occult, New Age and any other evil elements in our community. When we are armed with the truth, we can cut through the world's lies and deception and inform others of the dangers in our community. Part of the reason for today's post is to do just that, to bring awareness to others. If we continue to allow the "weeds" to grow with the "wheat," can we reasonably expect to yield a plentiful harvest?
Let us unite in prayer all that we endeavour to do, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, that she may intercede for us, correct and complete what is lacking in our own efforts and present it to Jesus in a manner that is pleasing and acceptable to Him.
May God have mercy on us all.