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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

You write about evil, demons, and deliverance prayer on your website, so how can it be determined if someone is actually possessed? Also, if someone is possessed, is that person morally culpable for sins committed?

Outline of the Answer
• Possession
• Deliverance Prayer
• Moral Culpability

 
Ihe only way to tell for sure if someone is possessed is for a priest exorcist to say an exorcism prayer—from the book of ritual exorcism prayers and preferably in Latin—over the person. If there are manifestations, then possession can be certain. These manifestations can range from common behaviors of possession, such as glaring hatred in the eyes, coughing, screaming, kicking, and vomiting, all the way to extreme behaviors, such as levitations, superhuman strength, or a demon speaking through the person.

If there are no manifestations in response to the prayer of exorcism, then all that can be said is that the person currently shows no signs of possession. 

But, because demons can hide themselves silently from outward detection,[1] it is impossible to say conclusively that any person is not possessed.

 
Deliverance Prayer

If a person complains of troubling spiritual symptoms, such as repeated sins despite repeated confessions, two options should be considered. First, a Catholic psychologist can be consulted to find and resolve the unconscious conflicts behind the symptoms; if the symptoms persist despite psychological treatment, then a priest exorcist should be consulted. Or, a priest exorcist could be consulted directly if no Catholic psychologist is immediately available. In either case, if the priest exorcist finds that no signs of possession are apparent, then deliverance prayer should be pursued.

Furthermore, even if a priest exorcist is not available for consultation, any priest should pursue deliverance prayer in an attempt to help alleviate such troubling symptoms. If deliverance prayer alone does not provide relief, and if consultation with a Catholic psychologist has not been possible or has not been able to provide relief, then possession can be suspected and an exorcist should be consulted.

 
Moral Culpability

When a person commits a sin because a possessing demon controls him or her, then he or she is not morally culpable for the sin. But a demon can “possess” a person as an internal parasite that only tempts, but does not control that person; demons can also oppress a person externally without actually possessing that person internally. In those cases, such a person would be morally culpable for any sins committed as a result of not resisting the demonic influence.

Granted, resisting demonic influence can be very difficult, and that is why deliverance prayer is a necessary, and even compassionate, recourse to be provided to that person. Still, all the sins committed under moral culpability must be repented and confessed, and sincere penance undertaken, with the ultimate goal of stopping the repetition of the sins and living a holy lifestyle.

 


 Back to the list of questions

 

Who wrote this web page?
 

Notes

1. These are called abditi or “hidden demons.” See Interview With An Exorcist, p. 78.

 

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