The following is an excerpt entitled +quot;A Brief Handbook of Exorcism+quot;. It is taken

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The following is an excerpt entitled "A Brief Handbook of Exorcism". It is taken from Malachi Martin's 1976 classic work on the subject of possession and exorcism called, "Hostage To The Devil". Among other things, the 477 p. book also contains an in depth analysis on the recent possessions of 5 "ordinary" Americans. For further information on the subject, the reader is invited to consult the book. It is published by Perrenial Library of New York. Note: Italicized words are represented through use of 'single' quotation marks. "A Brief Handbook of Exorcism" ______________________________ The recent vast publicity about Exorcism has highlighted the plight of the possessed as a fresh genre of horror film. The essence of evil is lost in the cinematographic effects. And the exorcist, who risks more than anyone else in an exorcism, flits across the screen as necessary but, in the end, not so interesting as the sound effects. The truth is that all three - the possessed, the possessing spirit, and the exorcist - bear a close relation to the reality of life and to its meaning as all of us experience it each and every day. Possession is not a process of magic. Spirit is real; in fact, spirit is the basis of all reality. "Reality" would not only be boring without spirit; it would have no meaning whatsoever. No horror film can begin to capture the horror of such a vision: a world without spirit. Evil Spirit is personal, and it is intelligent. It is preternatural, in the sense that it is not 'of' this material world, but it is 'in' this material world. And Evil Spirit as well as good advances along the lines of our daily lives. In very normal ways spirit uses and influences our daily thoughts, actions, and customs and, indeed, all the strands that make up the fabric of life in whatever time or place. Contemporary life is no exception. To compare spirit with the elements of our lives and material world, which it can and sometimes does manipulate for its own ends, is a fatal mistake, but one that is very often made. Eerie sounds can be produced by spirit -but spirit is not the eerie sound. Objects can be made to fly across the room, but telekinesis is no more spirit than the material object that was made to move. One man whose story is told in this book made the mistake of thinking otherwise, and he nearly paid with his life when he had to confront the error he had made. The exorcist is the centerpiece of every exorcism. On him depends everything. He has nothing personal to gain. But in each exorcism he risks literally everything that he values. Every exorcist must engage in a one-to-one confrontation, personal and bitter, with pure evil. Once engaged, the exorcism cannot be called off. There will and must always be a victor and a vanquished. And no matter what the outcome, the contact is in part fatal for the exorcist. He must consent to a dreadful and irreparable pillage of his deepest self. Something dies in him. Some part of his humanness will wither from such close contact with the opposite of all humanness - the essence of evil; and it is rarely if ever revitalized. No return will be made to him for his loss. This is the minimum price an exorcist pays. If he loses in the fight with Evil Spirit, he has an added penalty. He may or may not ever again perform the rite of Exorcism, but he must finally confront and vanquish the evil spirit that repulsed him. The investigation that may lead to Exorcism usually begins because a man or woman -occasionally a child -is brought to the notice of Church authorities by family or friends. Only rarely does a possessed person come forward spontaneously. The stories that are told on these occasions are dramatic and painful: strange physical ailments in the possessed; marked mental derangement; obvious repugnance to all signs, symbols, mention, and sight of religious objects, places, people, ceremonies. Often, the family or friends report, the presence of the person in question is marked by so-called psychical phenomena: objects fly around the room; wallpaper peels off the walls; furniture cracks; crockery breaks; there are strange rumblings, hissess, and other noises with no apparent source. Often the temperature in the room where the possessed happens to be will drop dramatically. Even more often an acrid and distinctive stench accompanies the person. Violent physical transformations seem sometimes to make the lives of the possessed a kind of hell on earth. Their normal processes of secretion and elimination are saturated with inexplicable wrackings and exaggeration. Their consciousness seems completely colored by the violent sepia of revulsion. Reflexes sometimes become sporadic or abnormal, sometimes disappear for a time. Breathing can cease for extended periods. Heartbeats are hard to detect. The face is strangely distorted, sometimes also abnormally tight and smooth without the slightest line or furrow. When such a case is brought to their attention, the first and central problem that must always be addressed by the Church authorities is: Is the person really possessed? Henri Geslaud, a French priest and exorcist who works today in Paris, stated in 1974 that, out of 3,000 consultations since 1968, "there have been only four cases of what I believe to be demonic possession." T.K. Osterreich, on the other hand, states that "possession has been an extremely common phenomena, cases of which abound in the history of religion." The truth is that official or scholarly census of possession cases has never been made. Certainly, many who claim to be possessed or whom others so describe are merely the victims of some mental or physical disease. In reading records from times when medical and psychological science did not exist or were quite undeveloped, it is clear that grave mistakes were made. A victim of disseminated sclerosis, for example, was taken to be possessed because of his spastic jerkings and slidings and the shocking agony in spinal column and joints. Until quite recently, the victim of Tourette's syndrome was the perfect target for the accusation of "Possessed!" : torrents of profanities and obscenities, grunts, barks, curses, yelps, snorts, sniffs, tics, foot stomping, facial contortions all appear suddenly and just as suddenly cease in the subject. Nowadays, Tourette's syndrome responds to drug treatment, and it seems to be a neurological disease involving a chemical abnormality in the brain. Many people suffering from illnesses and diseases well known to us today such as paranoia, Huntington's chorea, dyslexia, Parkinson's disease, or even mere skin diseases (psoriasis, herpes I, for instance), were treated as people "possessed" or at least as "touched" by the Devil. Nowadays, competent Church authorities always insist on thorough examinations of the person brought to them for Exorcism, an examination conducted by qualified medical doctors and psychiatrists. When a case of possession is reported by a priest to the diocesan authorities, the exorcist of the diocese is brought in. If there is no diocesan exorcist, a man is appointed or brought from outside the diocese. Sometimes the priest reporting the exorcism will have had some preliminary medical and psychiatric tests run beforehand in order to allay the cautious skepticism he is likely to meet at the chancery when he introduces his problem. When the official exorcist enters the case, he will usually have his own very thorough examinations run by experts he knows and whose judgment he is sure he can trust. In earlier times, one priest was usually assigned the function of exorcist in each diocese of the Church. In modern times, this practice has fallen into abeyance in some dioceses, mainly because the incidence of reported possession has decreased over the last hundred years. But in most major dioceses, there is still one priest entrusted with this function -even though he may rarely or never use it. In some dioceses, there is a private arrangement between the bishop and one of his priests whom he knows and trusts. There is no official public appointment of exorcists. In some dioceses, "the bishop knows little about it and wants to know less" -as in one of the cases recorded in this book. But however he comes to his position, the exorcist must have official Church sanction, for he is acting in an official capacity, and any power he has over Evil Spirit can only come from those officials who belong to the substance of Jesus' Church, whether they be in the Roman Catholic, the Eastern Orthodox, or the Protestant Communions. Sometimes a diocesan priest will take on an exorcism himself without asking his bishop, but all such cases known to me have failed. It is recognized both in the pre-exorcism examinations and during the actual exorcism that there is usually no one physical or psychical aberration or abnormality in the possessed person that we cannot explain by a known or possible physical cause. And, apart from normal medical and psychological tests, there are other possible sources for diagnosis. However rickety and tentative the findings of parapsychology, for example, one can possibly seek in its theories of telepathy and telekinesis an explanation of some of the signs of possession. Suggestion and suggestibility, as modern psychotherapists speak of them, can account for many more. Still, with the diagnoses and opinions of doctors and psychologists in hand, it is often discovered there are wide margins of fluctuation. Competent psychiatrists will differ violently among themselves; and in psychology and medecine, ignorance of causes is often obscured by technical names and jargon that are nothing more than descriptive terms. Nevertheless, the combined medical and psychological reports are carefully evaluated and usually weigh heavily in the final judgment to proceed or not with an exorcism. If according to those reports there is a definite disease or illness which adequately accounts for the behaviour and symptoms of the subject, Exorcism is usually ruled out, or at least delayed to allow a course of medical or psychiatric treatment. But finally, reports in hand, all evidence in, Church authorities judge the situation from another, special point of view, formed by their own professional outlook. They believe that there is an invisible power, a spirit of evil; that this spirit can for obscure reasons take possession of a human being; that the evil spirit can and must be expelled - exorcised - from the person possessed; and that this exorcism can be done only in the name and by the authority and power of Jesus of Nazareth. The testing from the Church's viewpoint is as rigorous in its search as any medical or psychological examination. In the records of Christian Exorcism from as far back as the lifetime of Jesus himself, a peculiar revulsion to symbols and truths of religion is always and without exception a mark of the possessed person. In the verification of a case of possession by Church authorities, this "symptom" of revulsion is triangulated with other physical phenomena frequently associated with possession -the inexplicable stench; freezing temperature; telepathic power about purely religious and moral matters; a peculiarly unlined or completely smooth or stretched skin, or unusual distortion of the face, or other physical and behavioural transformations; "possessed gravity" (the possessed person becomes physically immovable, or those around the possessed are weighted down with a suffocating pressure); levitation (the possessed rises and floats off the ground, chair, or bed; there is no physically traceable support); violent smashing of furniture, constant opening and slamming of doors, tearing of fabric in the vicinity of the possessed, without a hand laid on them; and so on. When this triangulation is made of the varied symptoms that may occur in any given case, and medical and psychiatric diagnoses are inadequate to cover the full situation, the decision will usually be to proceed and try Exorcism. There has never been, to my knowledge, an official listing of exorcist together with their biographies and characteristics, so we cannot satisfy our modern craving for a profile of, say, "the typical exorcist." We can, however, give a fairly clear definition of the type of man who is entrusted with the exorcism of a possessed person. Usually he is engaged in the active ministry of parishes. Rarely is he a scholarly type engaged in teaching or research. Rarely is he a recently ordained priest. If there is any median age for exorcists, it is probably between the ages of fifty and sixty-five . Sound and robust physical health is not a characteristic of exorcists, nor is proven intellectual brilliance, postgraduate degrees, even in psychology or philosophy, or a very sophisticated personal culture. In this writer's experience, the 15 exorcists he has known have been singularly lacking in anything like a vivid imagination or a rich humanistic training. All have been sensitive men of solid rather than dazzling minds. Though, of course, there are many exceptions, the usual reasons for a priest's being chosen are his qualities of moral judgment, personal behaviour, and religious beliefs -qualities that are not sophisticated or laboriously acquired, but that somehow seem always to have been an easy and natural part of such a man. Speaking religiously, these are qualities associated with special grace. There is no official training for an exorcist. Before a priest undertakes Exorcism, it has been found advisable - but not always possible or practical - for him to assist at exorcisms conducted by an older and already experienced priest. Once possession has been verified to the satisfaction of the exorcist, he makes the rest of the decisions and takes care of all the necessary preparations. In some dioceses, it is he who chooses the assistant priest. The choice of the lay assistants and of the time and place of the exorcism is left to him. The place of the exorcism is usually the home of the possessed person, for generally it is only relatives or closest friends who will give care and love in the dreadful circumstances associated with possession. The actual room chosen is most often one that has had some special significance for the possessed person, not infrequently his or her own bedroom or den. In this connection, one aspect of possession and of spirit makes itself apparent: the close connection between 'spirit' and 'physical location'. The puzzle of spirit and place makes itself felt in many ways and runs throughout virtually every exorcism. There is a theological explanation for it. But that there is some connection between spirit and place must be dealt with as a fact. Once chosen, the room where the exorcism will be done is cleared as far as possible of anything that can be moved. During the exorcism, one form of violence may and most often does cause any object, light or heavy, to move about, rock back and forth, skitter or fly across the room, make much noise, strike the priest or the possessed or the assistants. It is not rare for people to emerge from an exorcism with serious physical wounds. Carpets, rugs, pictures, curtains, tables, chairs, boxes, trunks, bedclothes, bureaus, chandeliers, all are removed. Doors very often will bang open and shut uncontrollably; but because exorcisms can go on for days, doors cannot be nailed or locked with unusual security. On the other hand, the doorway must be covered; otherwise, as experience shows, the physical force let loose within the exorcism room will affect the immediate vicinity outside the door. Windows are closed securely; sometimes they may be boarded over in order to keep flying objects from crashing through them and to prevent more extreme accidents (possessed people sometimes attempt defenestration; physical forces sometimes propel the assistants or the exorcist toward the windows). A bed or couch is usually left in the room (or placed there if necessary), and that is where the possessed person is placed. A small table is needed. On it are placed a crucifix, with one candle on either side of it, holy water, and a prayer book. Sometimes there will also be a relic of a saint or a picture that is considered to be especially holy or significant for the possessed. In recent years in the United States, and increasingly abroad as well, a tape recorder is used. It is placed on the floor or in a drawer or sometimes, if it is not too cumbersome, around the neck of an assistant. The junior priest colleague of the exorcist is usually appointed by diocesan authorities. He is there for his own training as an exorcist. He will monitor the words and actions of the exorcist, warn him if he is making a mistake, help him if he weakens physically, and replace him if he dies, collapses, flees, is physically or emotionally battered beyond endurance - and all have happened during exorcisms. The other assistants are laymen. Very often a medical doctor will be among them because of the danger to all present of strain, shock, or injury. The number of lay assistants will depend on the exorcist's expectation of violence. Four is the usual number. Of course, in remote country areas or in very isolated Christian missions, and sometimes in big urban centers, there is no question of assistants. There simply is none available, or there is no time to acquire any. The exorcist must go it alone. An exorcist comes to know from experience what he can expect by way of violent behaviour; and for their own sakes, possessed people must usually be physically restrained during parts of the exorcism. The assistants therefore must be physically strong. In addition, there may be a straightjacket on hand, though leather straps or rope are more commonly used. It is up to the exorcist to make sure that his assistants are not consciously guilty of personal sins at the time of the exorcism, because they, too, can expect to be attacked by the evil spirit, even though not so directly or constantly as the exorcist himself. Any sin will be used as a weapon. The exorcist must be as certain as possible beforehand that his assistants will not be weakened or overcome by obscene behaviour or by language foul beyond their imagining; they cannot blanch at blood, excrement, urine; they must be able to take awful personal insults and be prepared to have their darkest secrets screeched in public in front of their companions. These are routine happenings during exorcisms. Assistants are given three cardinal rules: they are to obey the exorcist's commands immediately and without question, no matter how absurd or unsympathetic those commands may appear to them to be; they are not to take any initiative except on command; and they are never to speak to the possessed person, even by way of exclamation. Even with all the care in the world, there is no way an exorcist can completely prepare his assistants for what lies in store for them. Even though they are not subject to the direct and unremitting attack the priest will undergo, it is not uncommon for assistants to quit - or be carried out - in the middle of an exorcism. A practiced exorcist will even go so far as to make a few trial runs of an exorcism beforehand, on the old theory that forewarned is forearmed - at least to some degree. Timing in an exorcism is generally dictated by circumstances. There is usually a feeling of urgency to begin as soon as possible. Everyone involved should have an open schedule. Rarely is an exorcism shorter than some hours - more often than not ten or twelve hours. Sometimes it stretches for two or three days. On occasion it lasts even for weeks. Once begun, except on the rarest of occasions, there are no time outs, although one or other of the people present may leave the room for a few moments, to take some food, to rest very briefly, or go to the bathroom. (One strange exorcism where there was a time out is described in this book. The priest involved would have preferred one hundred times going straight through the exorcism rather than suffer the mad violence that caused the delay.) The only people in an exorcism who dress in a special way are the exorcist and his priest assistant. Each wears a long black cassock that covers him from neck to feet. Over it there is a waist-length white surplice. A narrow purple stole is worn around the neck and hangs loosely the length of the torso. Normally, the priest assistant and the lay assistants prepare the exorcism room according to the exorcist's instructions. They and the exorcee are ready in the room when the exorcist enters, last and alone. There is no lexicon of Exorcism; and there is no guidebook or set of rules, no Baedeker of Evil Spirit to follow. The Church provides an official text for Exorcism, but this is merely a framework. It can be read out loud in 20 minutes. It merely provides a precise formula of words together with certain prayers and ritual actions, so that the exorcist has a preset structure in which to address the evil spirit. In fact, the conduct of an exorcism is left very much up to the exorcist. Nevertheless, any practiced exorcist I have spoken with agrees that there is a general progress through recognizable stages in an exorcism, however long it may last. One of the most experienced exorcists I have known and who was in fact the mentor of the exorcist in the first case related in this book, gave names to the various general stages of an exorcism. These names reflect the general meaning or effect or intent of what is happening, but not the specific means used by the evil spirit or by the exorcist. Conor, as I call him, spoke of 'Presence', 'Pretense', 'Breakpoint', 'Voice', 'Clash', and 'Expulsion'. The events and stages these names signify occur in nine out of ten exorcisms. From the moment the exorcist enters the room, a peculiar feeling seems to hang in the very air. From that moment in any genuine exorcism and onward through its duration, everyone in the room is aware of some alien 'Presence'. This indubitable sign of possession is as unexplainable and unmistakable as it is inescapable. All the signs of possession, however blatant or grotesque, however subtle or debatable, seem both to pale before and to be marshaled in the face of this 'Presence'. There is no sure physical trace of the 'Presence', but everyone feels it. You have to experience it to know it; you cannot locate it spatially - beside or above or within the possessed, or over in the corner or under the bed or hovering in midair. In one sense, the 'Presence' is nowhere, and this magnifies the terror, because there 'is' a presence, an 'other' present. Not a "he" or a "she" or an "it". Sometimes, you think that what is present is singular, sometimes plural. When it speaks, as the exorcism goes on, it will sometimes refer to itself as "I" and sometimes as "we", will use "my" and "our." Invisible and intangible, the 'Presence' claws at the humanness of those gathered in the room. You can exercise logic and expel any mental image of it. You can say to yourself: "I am only imagining this. Careful! Don't panic!" And there may be a momentary relief. But then, after a time lag of bare seconds, the 'Presence' returns as an inaudible hiss in the brain, as a wordless threat to the self you are. Its name and essence seem to be compounded of threat, to be only and intensely baleful, concentratedly intent on hate for hate's sake and on destruction for destruction's sake. In the early stages of an exorcism, the evil spirit will make every attempt to "hide behind" the possessed, so to speak - to appear to be one and the same person and personality with its victim. This is the 'Pretense'. The first task of the priest is to break that 'Pretense', to force the spirit to reveal itself openly as separate from the possessed - and to name itself, for all possessing spirits are called by a name that generally (though not always) has to do with the way that spirit works on its victim. As the exorcist sets about his task, the evil spirit may remain silent altogether; or it may speak with the voice of the possessed, and use past experiences and recollections of the possessed. This is often done skillfully, using details no one but the possessed could know. It can make everyone, including the priest, feel that it is the priest who is the villain, subjecting an innocent person to terrible rigors. Even the mannerisms and characteristics of the possessed are used by the spirit as its own camouflage. Sometimes the exorcist cannot shatter the 'Pretense' for days. But until he does, he cannot bring matters to a head. If he fails to shatter it at all, he has lost. Perhaps another exorcist replacing him will succeed. But he himself has been beaten. Every exorcist learns during 'Pretense' that he is dealing with some force or power that is at times intensely cunning, sometimes supremely intelligent, and at other times capable of crass stupidity (which makes one wonder further about the problem of singular or plural); and it is both highly dangerous and terribly vunerable. Oddly, while this spirit or power or force knows some of the most secret and intimate details of the lives of everyone in the room, at the same time it also displays gaps in knowledge of things that may be happening at any given moment of the present. But the priest must not be lulled by small victories or take chances on hoped-for stupidities. He must be ready to have his own sins and blunders and weaknesses put into his mind or shouted in ugliness for all to hear. He must not make excuses for his past, or wither as even his loveliest memories are fingered by ultimate filth and contempt; he must not be sidetracked in any way from his primary intention of freeing the possessed person before him. And he must at all costs avoid trading abuse or getting into any logical arguments with the possessed. The temptation to do so is more frequent than one might think, and must be regarded as a potentially fatal trap that can shatter not only the exorcism, but quite literally shatter the exorcist as well. Accordingly, as the 'Pretense' begins to break down, the behaviour of the possessed usually increases in violence and repulsiveness. It is as though an invisible manhole opens, and out of it pours the unmentionably inhuman and the humanly unacceptable. There is a stream of filth and unrestrained abuse, accompanied often by physical violence, writhing, gnashing of teeth, jumping around, sometimes physical attacks on the exorcist. A new hallmark of the proceedings enters as the 'Breakpoint' nears, and ushers in one of the more subtle sufferings the exorcist must undergo: confusion. Complete and dreadful confusion. Rare is the exorcist who does not falter here for at least a moment, enmeshed in the peculiar pain of apparent contradiction of all sense. His ears seem to 'smell' foul words. His eyes seem to 'hear' offensive sounds and obscene screams. His nose seems to 'taste' a high-decibel cacophony. Each sense seems to be recording what another sense should be recording. Each nerve and sinew on onlookers and participants becomes rigid as they strive for control. Panic - the fear of being dissolved into insanity - runs in quick jabs through everyone there. All present experience this increasingly violent and confusing assault. But the exorcist is the one who rides the storm. He is the direct target of it all. The 'Breakpoint' is reached at that moment when the 'Pretense' has finally collapsed altogether. The voice of the possessed is no longer used by the spirit, though the new, strange voice may or may not issue from the mouth of the victim. The sound produced is often not even remotely like any human sound. At the 'Breakpoint', for the first time, the spirit speaks of the possessed in the third person, as a separate being. For the first time, the possessing spirit acts personally and speaks of "I" or "we", usually interchangeably, and of "my" and "our" or "mine" and "ours". Another very frequent sign that the 'Breakpoint' has been reached is the appearance of what Father Conor called the 'Voice'. The 'Voice' is an inordinately disturbing and humanly distressing babel. The first few syllables seem to be those of some word pronounced slowly and thickly - somewhat like a tape recording played at subnormal speed. You are just straining to pick up the word and a layer of cold fear has already gripped you - you know this sound is alien. But your concentration is shattered and frustrated by an immediate gamut of echoes, of tiny, prickly voices echoing each syllable, screaming it, whispering it, laughing it, sneering it, groaning it, following it. They all hit your ear, while the alien voice is going on unhurriedly to the next syllable, which you then try to catch, while guessing at the first one you lost. By then, the tiny, jabbing voices have caught up with that second syllable; and the voice has proceeded to the third syllable; and so on. If the exorcism is to proceed, the 'Voice' must be silenced. It takes an enormous effort of will on the part of the exorcist, in direct confrontation with the alien will of evil, to silence the 'Voice'. The priest must get himself under control and challenge the spirit first to silence and then to identify itself intelligibly. As in all things to do with Exorcism of Evil Spirit, the priest makes this challenge with his own will, but always in the name and by the authority of Jesus and his Church. To do so in his own name or by some fancied authority of his own would be to invite personal disaster. Merely human power unadorned and without aid cannot cope with the preternatural. (It is to be remembered that when we speak of the preternatural, we are not speaking about what are known as poltergeists.) Usually, at this point and as the 'Voice' dies out, a tremendous pressure of an obscure kind affects the exorcist. This is the first and outermost edge of a direct and personal collision with the "will of the Kingdom," the 'Clash'. We all know from our personal experience that there can be no struggle of single personal wills without that felt and intuitive contact between two persons. There is a two-way communication that is as real as a conversation using words. The 'Clash' is the heart of a special and dreadful communication, the nucleus of this singular battle of wills between exorcist and Evil Spirit. Painful as it will be for him, the priest must look for the 'Clash'. He must provoke it. If he cannot lock wills with the evil thing and force that thing to lock its will in opposition to his own, then again the exorcist is defeated. The issue between the two, the exorcist and the possessing spirit, is simple. Will the totally antihuman invade and take over? Will it, noisome and merciless, seep over that narrow rim where the exorcist would hold his ground alone, and engulf him? Or will it, unwillingly, protestingly, under a duress greater than its single-track will, stop, identify itself, cede, retire, disappear, and be volatized back into an unknown pit of being where no man wants to go ever? Even with all the pressure on him, and in fullest human agony, if the exorcist has got this far, he must press home. He has gained an advantage. He has already forced the evil spirit to come out on its own. If he has not been able to until now, he must finally force it to give its name. And then, some exorcists feel, the exorcist must pursue for as much information as he can. For in some peculiar way, as exorcists find, the more an evil spirit can be forced to reveal in the 'Clash' and its aftermath, the surer and easier will be the 'Expulsion' when that moment comes. To force as complete an identification as possible is perhaps a mark of domination of one will over another. It is of crucial interest to speculate about the violence provoked by Exorcism - the physical and mental struggles that are so extreme they can bring on death. Why would spirit battle so? Why not leave and waft off invisibly to someone or someplace else? For spirit itself seems to suffer in these battles. Time and again, in exorcism after exorcism, there occurs that curious thing to do with 'spirit' and 'place', the strange puzzle mentioned previously in connection with the room chosen for the exorcism. When Jesus expelled the unclean spirits, those spirits showed concern for where they might go. In record after record, as well as in several exorcisms recounted in this book, the possessing spirits wail in lament and questioning pain: "Where shall we go?" "We too have to possess our habitation." "Even the Anointed One gave us a place with the swine." "Here... we can't stay here any longer." Evil Spirit, having found a home with a consenting host, does not appear to give up its place easily. It claws and fights and deceives and even risks killing its host before it will be expelled. How violent the struggle probably depends on many things; the intelligence of the spirit being dealth with and the degree of possession achieved over the victim are perhaps two one could speculate about. Whatever determines the actual pitch of violence, once the exorcist has forced the invading spirit to identify itself, and sustained the first wordless bout of the 'Clash', and then invoked its formal condemnation and expulsion by the Exorcism rite, the immediate result is generally a struggle tortuous beyond imagining, an open violence that leaves all subtlety behind. The person possessed is by now obviously aware in one way or another of what possessed him. Frequently he becomes a true battleground for much of the remainder of the exorcism, enduring unbelievable punishment and strain. It is sometimes possible for the exorcist to appeal directly to the possessed person, urging him to use some part of his own will still free of the spirit's influence and control, and engage directly in the fight, aiding the exorcist. And at such moments no animal pinned helplessly to the ground struggles more pathetically against the drinking of its life's blood by a voracious and superior cruelty. The very nauseous character of the possessed person's appearance and behaviour appears to be a sign of his desire for deliverance, a desperate sign of struggle, evidence of a revolt where once he had consented. Increasingly what had possessed him is being forced into the open, all the while protesting its victim's revolt and its own expulsion. The violence of the contortions and the physical disfigurement of the possessed can reach a degree one would think he could not possible withstand. The exorcist, too, comes in for full attack now. Once cornered, the evil spirit seems able to call on a superior intelligence, and will try to lure the exorcist on to a field boobytrapped and mined with situations from which no human can extricate himself. Any weakness in the religious faith that alone sustains the exorcist or any fatigue will allow the exorcist's mind to be flooded with a terrible light he cannot fend off - a light that can burn the very roots of his reason and turn him emotionally into the most servile of slaves desperate to be liberated from all bodily life. These are only some of the dangers and traps that face every exorcist. His pain is physical, emotional, mental. He has to deal with what is eerie but not enthralling; with something askew, but intelligently so; with a quality that is upside down and inside out, but significantly so. The mordant traits of nightmare are there in full regalia, but this is no dream and permits him no thankful remission. He is attacked by a stench so powerful that many exorcists start vomiting uncontrollably. He is made to bear physical pain, and he feels anguish over his very soul. He is made to know he is touching the completely unclean, the totally unhuman. All sense may suddenly seem nonsense. Hopelessness is confirmed as the only hope. Death and cruelty and contempt are normal. Anything comely or beautiful is an illusion. Nothing, it seems, was ever right in the world of man. He is in an atmosphere more bizarre than Bedlam. If, in spite of his emotions and his imagination and his body - all trapped at once in pain and anguish - if, in spite of all of this, the will of the exorcist holds in the 'Clash', what he does is to approach his final function in this situation as an authorized human witness for Jesus. By no power of his own, on account of no privilege of his own, he calls finally on the evil spirit to desist, to be dispossessed, to depart and to leave the possessed person. And, if the exorcism is successful, this is what happens. The possession ends. All present become aware of a change around them. The sense of 'Presence' is totally, suddenly absent. Sometimes there are receding voices or other noises, sometimes only dead silence. Sometimes the recently possessed may be at the end of his strength; sometimes he will make wake up as from a dream, a nightmare, or a coma. Sometimes the former victim will remember much of what he has been through; sometimes he will remember nothing at all. Not so for the exorcists, during and after their grisly work. They carry nagging doubts and bitter conflicts untellable to family, friend, superior, or therapist. Their personal traumas lie beyond the reach of soothing words and deeper than the sweep of any consoling thoughts. They share their punishment with none but God. Even that has its peculiar sting of difficulty. For it is a sharing by faith and not by face-to-face communication. But only thus do these men, seemingly ordinary and commonplace in their lives, persevere through the days of quiet horror and the nights of sleepless watching they spend for years after as their price of success, and as abiding reminders that, once upon a time, another human being was made whole, because they willingly incurred the direct displeasure of living hatred. - End - About The Author: Malachi Martin, a former Jesuit professor at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, was trained in theology at Louvain, specializing in the Dead Sea Scrolls and intertesta- mentary studies. He received his doctorate in Semitic languages, archeology, and Oriental history. He subsequently studied at Oxford and at the Hebrew University, concentrating in knowledge of Jesus as transmitted in Jewish and Islamic sources. Among the many exorcists of personal acquaintance was the re- doubtable Father Conor, who figures importantly in the first case in this book ("Hostage To The Devil"). Dr. Martin is also the author of "The New Castle", "Jesus Now", "Three Popes and the Cardinal", "The Encounter", "The Scribal Character of the Dead Sea Scrolls", and "The Pilgrim".


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