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Part 4

Chapter 7:The Testmony of a Catholic Psychiatrist
(Dr. F. worked for eight years with the priest exorcist of the diocese)

During my medical studies I had the opportunity in 1974 of meeting with the Charismatic Renewal through a prayer group which had begun a year earlier.
In parallel with my medical studies, I deepened my faith through week-ends of biblical and theological studies, and by training in the discernment of spirits and spiritual counselling.

Once I had become a psychiatrist and was concerned with psychological and spiritual illnesses, I was asked, with the agreement of the bishop to assist a priest-exorcist in his ministry, which was becoming more and more important. The exorcist was on his own in attending to the numerous requests and could rarely speak about it to his brother-priests, who for the most part were afraid of this ministry.
Before telling you of my experience I should like to make certain remarks:

1. It is important that the priest-exorcist should not be alone in exercising this ministry, which must be combined with a great ability to listen and to discern. The help of a psychiatrist is valuable both to elucidate the difficult cases which are part psychological and part spiritual, so that prayer may subsequently be better directed, and also to be able to assess th ministry of the priest-exorcist, who often finds himse very isolated.

2. It is also important in exercising this ministry to be supported by praying communities and intercessors.

3. If it proves necessary to enlarge the team helping the priest-exorcist, for example if there are many demands on him, for the sake of discretion the team should never be too large. Every member of the team should have a certain experience of listening to people; should be trained in the discernment of spirits; should have a regular and deep-rooted prayer life; be well balanced psychologically and know that Christ has triumphed over all the forces of darkness
(Luke 10 17-19; James 4:7;
Revelations 12: 10-12)

4. What is fundamental for me as a psychiatrist is that every human being is made up of a physical, psychological, and a spiritual part, as Paul says in th first letter to the Thessalonians
(5:23). If one of these parts is not developed the person is unbalanced.
Now the good news that Jesus came to bring us is that every person of good will is offered the possibility of liberation and of salvation (and in the etymology of the word salvation there is the word '
health'). Every human being has the possibility, in accepting Jesus as Saviour, of allowing himself or herself to be re-created, to have a change of heart, to have life in abundance, and to find the path to eternal happiness. Who could ever suggest a better future? But this is where the tempter, the father of lies, can make us believe that by going through him we shall find a better way. This is where our sinful condition makes us succumb to snares, and we find ourselves at a dead end, depressed. discouraged, fettered, imprisoned in our bad habits, with a frantic desire for independence, an inordinate pride, with jealousy, hatred, bitterness, suicidal tendencies, a spirit of lust, or a spirit of idolatry leading us to consult seers, clairvoyants, magicians, workers of spells, etc., which is in contradiction to the word of God in Deuteronomy (18:10-12).

The more we turn away from God and are far from the source of Life, the more our spiritual being is sick and fragile, and this will affect both the psychological and the physical parts of our being. But if we leave ourselves in God's hands, he offers us a way of healing, of purification, of sanctification, in order to become more and more like Him
(Genesis 1:26 - "Let us make man in our own image and likeness"). But in order to pass from the image to the likeness we need to let ourselves be moulded during the whole of our life on earth, as Jeremiah says so well in chapter 18:2-6.

My experience as a christian psychiatrist has made me aware of these three dimensions of the human being and not only of the psychological dimension, which by itself is too narrow. Moreover it is important to ask everyone who comes for help about their physical health to detect any cause or causes of his or her present illness or unhappiness. Are the symptoms of physical origin? Are they of psychological origin? Are they of spiritual origin? We need to know this in order to suggest the best treatment to cure the illness Let us take an example: a forty year old woman has presented a depressive syndrome for several months:

1. On the physical level I shall look at the factors which could be the cause of a depression. If this woman has heavy periods with a beginning o fibroids, she may be losing a lot of blood each month and be deficient in iron. This lack of iron cause tiredness, which will get worse each month, causing anaemia with severe asthenia (debility), which could be the cause of a depressive state. This will be treated with a regular dose of iron, an examination of her fibroids and the support of people coming to assist her in her work, in view of her tiredness - this can be a great help for her. A prayer for healing can also help 1 her, on condition that she continues her medical treatment. Moreover, this iron deficiency, giving rise to a psychological depression, also has spiritual consequences. The depression can bring on a' weakening in the spiritual struggle, so that the devil takes advantage of our weakness in order to tempt us. This is true also on the psychological level, where we have less strength to fight against our impulses. Hence the importance in this case of support on the medical, psychological, and spiritual levels.

2. On the psychological level I shall look at the different events which have marked the life of this woman - for example, if she tells me that a few months I ago she lost someone dear to her. In this case there is a depressive state consequent upon a bereavement.

It is therefore important to help her by proposing a therapy which will enable her to mourn this person dear to her. Here again, a friendly support in a trusting. caring environment can help this person to come out of her depression. She may even be able, after some time, to help other people who are going through the same trial. If a little group prays for her at her request, this can hasten her cure without short-circuiting the therapy she is having.

3. But her depression may also be of a demonic spiritual origin. For example, she tells me in the course of the consultation that although she is a christian she consulted a clairvoyant about her future. This clairvoyant predicted that she would divorce when she was about forty. This prediction, although she did not entirely believe it, penetrated her mind progressively and subtly, and this woman became anxious. As she was ill at ease with herself, the depression gradually took hold of her even without her thinking again about the clairvoyant's words. I met this particular case quite recently, and in spite of the fact that the interview showed her the link with this clairvoyant, the person concerned was not liberated. That was when I suggested to her a prayer for deliverance. It was the word of authority spoken in the name of Jesus Christ which freed her from this bondage which had deprived her of her liberty. Straight away she felt better and the depression left her. It was then important to look at the causes which had led her to consult a clairvoyant, in order to avoid a recunence, This is only one example among many that I have personally encountered. The experience we have in France of the formal prayer of exorcism is fairly limited, because cases of possession are relatively rare. We had a person who had signed a pact with Satan in his blood. This is the only case of possession that I have met of a person who had joined a satanic sect. But prayers for deliverance are much more frequent. Most often these have involved bondage affecting people, for example young people, who '
amused' themselves by making tables turn and who as a result of this experience were disturbed and found themselves unable to work, and for whom a prayer of deliverance was necessary. In effect, when a person gives their trust even unconsciously to an evil spirit, that person is in danger, because the spiritual world is a reality (Ephesians 6:12), even if most psychoanalysts today deny the reality of Satan.

To conclude, I should like to say how much this collaboration with the priest-exorcist has made me grow in faith and trust in God, who has overcome the, forces of evil, and has strengthened me in the spiritual combat. I know almost by heart two pages of the Bible that speak of the combat to be waged against the prince of darkness:
Ephesians 6 and 1 Peter 5:8-11. This experience has helped me to submit my work to the Lord every day and to pray for the patients who come to see me. I am often surprised to see how much their difficulties or illnesses improve, even if not all get better.

It seems important today that psychiatrists should know about demonic spiritual illnesses which have the appearance of psychological illnesses, because the treatment of these illnesses does not improve, or very little, through medication or psychotherapy. It is through a prayer of deliverance in the name of Jesus, made with discernment and fact, that such illnesses are healed.

Dr. F.

Chapter 8:Priest-Exorcists' Testimonies

The following testimonies of deliverance and exorcism ministry were all written by Catholic priests who have received the blessing of the bishop for this ministry. All this may be a very new world for some readers, and' they may be tempted to disbelieve what they read. May I plead with them to approach this chapter, indeed this whole book, with an open mind. A major problem in the whole field of spiritual warfare is that many Christians seem to be unable or unwilling to face the facts, to recognise what really is happening. Priests appointed by the bishop for this ministry are not likely to be unreliable reporters.

Mary's Life Transformed

Mary (not her real name) was born in 1958 to non-practicing Catholic parents. She was baptised as a, baby, and attended a Catholic convent school from 1961 to 1969 where she was prepared for her first communion and confirmation. She liked the religious' side of the convent school. In 1969 she was taken elsewhere to live with her father and his girl friend, and Mary lost all contact with the Catholic Church.
Her father's girl friend played with a ouija board, and Mary also became involved with it, acting later sometimes as a medium. This caused disturbances in the home - electrical equipment stopped functioning, arid inexplicable heavy footsteps were heard in an upstairs room. Mary also played with the ouija board with some girl friends, which led to what Mary calls a '
bad experience'. One girl went round breaking mirrors, because in the mirrors she was seeing the face of her departed grandfather.

Mary got married in 1976 and later went to live abroad with her husband and three children. In her new country, Mary again had '
bad experiences' in their home, and she discovered that the previous occupants of the house had been spiritualists. Mary had further contact with the occult and she experienced astral and out of the body experiences from time to time. She was told that she was psychically gifted and encouraged to enter further into the occult - she also discovered later that her husband was involved with witchcraft.

On going to live abroad Mary had started practising as a Catholic again; indeed she was active in the Catholic Womens' League and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul - all this alongside her occult involvement!

The marriage broke up. Mary became depressed and twice attempted suicide. She returned to England, and gave up practising as a Catholic because she found a local evangelical charismatic church more uplifting. In 1988 Mary met John (not his real name), a non-practising Catholic, through the Social services. John had earlier for some years been a Catholic seminarian. He was now deeply involved in many forms of the occult, esoteric lodges and Witchcraft. John performed many occult rituals in
Mary's flat, leading Mary more deeply into the occult and he gave her a witches gown. On more than on occasion Mary's life was in danger from John.

Mary asked to see me, and I and two women members of our healing team prayed with her on quite a number of occasions, amongst other things casting out any evil spirits of the occult, witchcraft, spiritualism, depression, and suicide. Another priest who was very experienced in this ministry also exorcised Mary.

Accompanied by the two women members of our healing team, I celebrated Mass in Mary's flat, and we cast out any evil spirits which might be there. We also took away and destroyed her tarot cards, cabalistic charts and occult books, which John had left with her. Mary felt that this greatly cleansed the atmosphere in the flat.

After this Mary no longer felt suicidal, was much less depressed, and felt like a different person. She has become a devout Catholic, attending Mass and our Charismatic Prayer Meeting frequently. Mary started studying in the religious studies department at our local university, where she completed her B.A. degree. Her special study, for which she had the Catholic Chaplain as her tutor, was on exorcism. She is now doing a postgraduate degree in a Catholic faculty, and is training as a spiritual director. She hopes later to be employed in pastoral work of some kind. She especially would later like to help free other people from occult involvement.

There is further good news. John, influenced by Mary, has renounced his involvement with the occult, is regularly practicing again as a Catholic, is now training to be a catechist, and will soon complete a course for spiritual directors.

And to think that quite often I was feeling that in our ministry to Mary we were getting nowhere! O, you of little faith! There is much for which to thank God.


God Can Act Quickly

At one of the New Dawn conferences in Walsingham, I was sitting down in the main tent waiting for a talk which was about to begin, when a lady from a European country approached me for ministry. I was not very pleased, since we had just finished a long tiring session of ministry, so I hoped that a short blessing would suffice, but when she began to tell me her story, I reluctantly felt that I had to suggest that we move to a neighbouring tent where there was more privacy and less noise.
The woman had conceived a child in unfortunate circumstances - not her fault - and the child which was born was seriously handicapped. The woman had taken a strong dislike to the child, and her life was largely a spiritual battle to try to love the child as she did her other children. But despite all her efforts, she found herself hating the child, and indeed sometimes hitting the child, to the point that there had been some talk with a social worker about the possible need for the child to be taken into care to protect it from being harmed by the mother.

I felt there was a demonic element in this problem - there seemed to be a force greater than the mother influencing her. So in addition to praying for inner healing, I cast out any evil spirits causing trouble and cut with the Sword of the Spirit any undue links. Th lady said that she felt as if a lump of rock ha departed from her stomach when we prayed. Th whole ministry took only about ten minutes.

Several months later the same lady came up to me at a Day of Renewal. She had a beautiful smile on her face. She said that since that afternoon in the Walsingham tent she had experienced no problem in loving the handicapped child and that all was now well.

This case prompts in me two reflections. Firstly, the importance of not being in too great a hurry in ministering, even when you are tired. I could easily have made excuses for only spending a couple of minutes with the lady - the talk was about to begin, etcetera ... The second reflection is the thought that there are many people needing and waiting for a brief prayer of deliverance, but there is no one there to say that prayer. How great is the need to develop the deliverance ministry in the Catholic Church!


A Pact with Satan

This case concerns a girl, aged between 16 and 17, who had been adopted by excellent Catholic parents. She was one of three adopted children in a family of six; the other three were born to the parents themselves.

The parents made contact with a priest friend because they were concerned by the changes they had observed in the girl's behaviour. She was no longer able to receive Holy Communion, and began leaving the celebration of the Eucharist at the moment the distribution of Communion began. Finally she refused to attend Church altogether. She became a cause of very manipulative disruption in what had been a normally peaceful home.

The priest who interviewed her for the first time discovered that she had previously had some strange experiences: when she looked at the crucifix in the church it seemed to become deformed, and she felt a compulsive desire to destroy the sacred species. It was because of these feelings that she did not want to go to church. Following this, she was filled with fear on meeting a certain priest, whom she had met for the first time on going to a conference with her parents, because when she met him, his face seemed to become deformed as she looked at him.

The priest who first interviewed her then passed her on to me. I asked the parents to take her to a doctor. They did this and he declared her normal: both physically and mentally fit. In spite of this the same problems continued and she was referred back to me.

As a trained counsellor, I started to counsel her and at this point discovered the deeper causes of her present state. She had, approximately nine months before, made a pact with Satan. This involved giving herself over completely to Satan. She had never read anything about such a procedure - only heard it discussed at school because of films other colleagues had seen and talked about.

She found she was able to have 'out of the body experiences' and felt she was disappearing (this never happened in any other person's presence). Moreover, in her own bedroom she carried out a form of devotion to Satan at night.

At this point I discussed the case with another priest - with experience in deliverance. We decided to pray with her. Our decision proved to be the beginning of a process of discernment.

We prayed with her a second time - she had agreed to come only at her parents' request, and also because she was beginning to be paralysed with fear, which was interfering with her living any kind of normal life style. This second experience proved more revealing. We addressed her in several languages during prayer and she replied in all these languages although she could only speak or had studied English. We decided that we needed the Bishop's authority to deal with this, I and he gave permission for a formal exorcism, using the old Latin Ritual.

We prepared for this by three days' fasting. We had the help of two religious sisters, since we were dealing I with a young woman. We had permission to carry the sacred species on our person, as protection and also to bless the young woman at the appropriate time.

At the very beginning of the exorcism she attacked my fellow priest and removed the pyx from his inside pocket in an instant. Thank God nothing by way of desecration happened. She also, at the beginning, revealed the thoughts in his mind, which at that point were negative towards her.

During the exorcism, which took two attempts, the girl revealed through a very stentorian voice information which afterwards she could not remember. She had lapses of memory - she entered into periods of great confusion and disarray - she levitated, and at times, although slight, could barely be contained by four of us. Her blasphemy, profane language. and lying about people were atrocious. The final straw was when she appeared for the first time to be totally deranged mentally. However, during a time of prayer we discovered she was still under the control of a spirit of falsehood and a spirit of turmoil.

Finally the young woman was released. She became very repentant, has left it all behind her, is now married and has two young children. Last time we met she looked radiant and was attending Church regularly with no further difficulties.


An Unusual Case

A local General Practitioner whom I had never met before telephoned me one day. An experience with a person who had visited him in his surgery had suggested something of the paranormal. The doctor, a believer, a good Christian man, suspected an evil presence, The incident that aroused his suspicions was as follows.
The doctor had asked this person to read Ephesians 2 whilst she waited. When she touched the bible it caught fire. The imprint of five finger tips darkened, charred and entered the bible to a depth of approximately twelve pages. I saw that bible, and as always in the case of the very extraordinary, I turned to disbelief - although I am very conscious of the power of Satan. Later that evening, I expressed my, disbelief quite openly to the people concerned with the whole incident. However, I started to pray for discernment and guidance. To my amazement, whilst driving to a meeting I turned on the radio in the car, and what I heard was the American folk tune - '
The devil came down from Georgia and the flames came out from his fingertips.' How strange the ways GodI speaks to us!

The following day I agreed to see the person~ concerned. She refused to talk to me although she had consented to be brought to see me, nor did she look me in the face, and I was unable to help her. A couple of weeks later she rang and asked me to call at her house. It was she herself who reported this time that a neighbour's prayer book caught fire in her hand.

The history behind this story had its basis in, frightening unforgiveness. I learned a great lesson through this case of how unforgiveness can open the door to Satanic forces. It is like the house swept clean for the devil's entry and return.

Towards the end of a retreat about a year later this good lady was finally delivered from demonic forces. However, the exorcism was long and involved a lot of patience. She is now very well.


The Power of the Mass

Demonic presence in people's homes is an unfortunate reality. We have had to deal with this many times. The following case happened to a very religious young family, husband, wife, and baby. Typical disturbances after they bought the house and went to live in it were: the inexplicable moving of household goods, the hiding of household possessions including keys to doors, the movement and overturning of furniture. Worst of all, household goods moved noiselessly and in an instant from one room to another: for example a washing machine moved suddenly to another room, and bed clothes moved from one room to another. Having blessed a room we moved next door and found the bed linen had moved there before us.

These manifestations required a formal rebuking of the forces of evil. I and another priest were engaged with this case for at least six months. Our investigations involved enquiries about the history of the family who had owned the house previously. There was in that family a history of severed relationships, terrible divisions, particularly between two brothers. While we didn't quite know exactly what was the real source of the dispute, since we were not able to meet the former occupants, nevertheless we had some necessary facts, which included a curse, Possibly some occult involvement, also unforgiveness.

The little baby seemed to detect when there were beings around in the house other than humans. Its little eyes followed around and mused on some kind of Presence with a variety of body language expressions unusual for a little child. To fully overcome this presence, after many times praying in the house, we celebrated a Mass there. It appears that after the celebration of the Eucharist, and special prayers of protection for the little baby, the hideous an mischievous presence disappeared.

It seems that here was an example where the forces of evil were so entrenched in this house that it took lot of prayer, patience and endurance to continue
the fight until peace was restored to this young family. The long history of disturbance was ended and the family resumed their peaceful and happy life.


Animals can be Involved

Approximately fifteen years ago I was called to a house with the following two year history of' interference. The family had lived in the house for: many years before without anything untoward, happening. Four children had been born in the family. After a break of ten years a fifth was born. When he reached the age of eight strange things, began to happen to him and the house. The child woke at night with something biting him - the actual bites were visible on his whole body, then vomit began to appear on the inner walls of the house. Later, things would fly through the air - including knives and scissors. The situation was so unbearable that the family doctor, having been consulted, accused the 17 year old brother of being responsible. However, that soon became a non-starter when things continued to happen in the absence of the 17 year old from the home. Ministers of other churches, and also a medium, had been called to the house. Ultimately the story reached television and radio.

When I was approached, I was reluctant to be involved because of the publicity. However, I decided to co-operate when the family guaranteed my anonymity. I blessed the home and performed a silent deprecatory exorcism. Three days later the lady of the house reported that things were worse. This time objects were flying all over the place, including when I was in the home. However, although they called my attention to it, I didn't see a green basin floating in the air which was visible to other members of the family.

Again I blessed the house, prayed with the father and mother, and I prayed quietly for a while for discernment. The family had a beautiful St. Bernard dog tied at the foot of the stairs. Into my mind during prayer came the words - "you have prayed with the family but not with the dog". I proceeded to ask questions about the dog. It had been as a puppy the cause of great family division, over who was the original buyer, etcetera. I felt that I should pray over the dog and command the evil to depart. The dog, normally very quiet, went berserk, growled with the most dreadful moans, and after defecating on a beautiful carpet, became quiet again. And so ended the saga, and peace returned to the family and home. The dog had been the instrument of dissension and appeared to carry some kind of evil presence into an otherwise lovely family. One remembers the case in the gospel of the evil spirits who entered the pigs.
The long history of disturbance was ended and the family resumed their peaceful and happy life. However, obviously evil spirits entering animals is relatively rare.


A Case of Witchcraft

I had been invited to a high level conference of. academics, dealing with the study of magic and witchcraft phenomena. Specialists had come from different European countries. Personally, I was to speak about magic phenomena in our day.

As I came out after giving my talk, a member of the audience approached me and said: "What you have been talking about corresponds exactly with what I am going through. I am a priest, and this is what happened to me:

"I was in a mission in a large African town. I had built several houses to make a children's village, with a team of black workers from that country. Then I received the gift of a considerable sum of money from an international organisation. With this money I engaged a second team of workers from another tribe. When the work was finished, the second team said to me: "
Father, don't sleep in these houses, you will see, you will be ill, look ..." They lifted some tiles from the floor and showed me some 'fetish' objects. They unstuck some paper and showed me other bizarre objects. "Father, these are objects consecrated to the devil. They are furious against us because we are from another tribe and you have employed us. They have taken revenge and they want to kill you."

As a good European rationalist I didn't take any notice, smiling patronisingly to myself.

The following night I slept in that house, or rather I didn't sleep at all. I was tormented by all sorts of images and mad ideas and was so ill at ease in my body that I found it impossible to sleep. After a few sleepless nights I became tortured by the wish to commit suicide.

I was taken to hospital, where they succeeded in preventing me from committing suicide. On the other hand, all the analyses were in order and the psychological tests revealed nothing.

I had to be repatriated. For years in France I went from one clinic to another without result. I was accepted into a home for sick priests, where they couldn't find anything. Now I am in a home for aged and infirm priests and I recognise myself in the signs that you have indicated."

I was very tired, as I had just had an operation. I had to lie on a bed to make a long prayer of deliverance. He was very shaken and prayed with me with all his soul. I wasn't able to release him that evening. The next day we began again at length, and finally he was released.

He was able to leave the home for aged and infirm priests and, having recovered the strength of his youth, he left again for a far-off mission. He has been working there for four years. His deliverance was definitive and he had no need of further intervention.

An Old People's Home

It happened in an old people's home in Yorkshire., There was a matron, and a staff of younger people. I remember there were three men among them who were not given to imagination or to praying. But there was an atmosphere of jumpiness among them after the phenomena which I am about to relate. They cared for perhaps a hundred residents.

We set up a meeting to hear about the situation. There was the local Catholic priest, and myself - the recognised priest in the diocese for this kind of ministry. Also present were a lady Methodist minister and a retired Anglican priest.

We heard these facts: first, there was an old-time nanny and two children from a century ago, who were so frequently seen about the place that the residents thought they were part of the establishment. The children used to come sometimes to their rooms and visit. Less frequently there appeared a monk and a nun from some previous age.

These restless visitors were not idle or harmless. Their favourite trick was to tamper with the fire-fighting equipment, causing anxiety and expense. There were, times when the extinguishers were visibly interfered with by some unseen hand. Very often they were found dry. even after having been serviced.

In one of the rooms the unfortunate person to whom it was allotted, though well up to that point, became ill and died unexpectedly. This happened on three occasions in that room. When an attendant touched the wall in one of the rooms he felt a strong vibration and had great difficulty in getting his hand away.

Another young man was terrified when as he walked home he felt that he was being followed by a menacing ghostly presence on many occasions.

So we arranged for a time we could go into the home when all the residents would be having their tea in the dining room. We first spoke to the staff, all of whom were aware of something quite unusual and disturbing, but not all aware of the power of Jesus Christ. We did not want to be mistaken for some kind of witch-doctors! We then set out and went through the building praying for the faithful departed, and claiming each room for Christ, by anointing with blest oil, and using holy water. Perhaps this took about an hour. We arranged for Mass to be offered, though not on the premises. Some time later the local Parish Priest informed me that the disturbances had totally ceased.

We learned two historical facts, though there was some uncertainly about the first: that there had been a monastery and/or convent on the site in medieval limes. The second was that a family home built later on the site had been destroyed by fire.


Copyright © 1997 Benedict M. Heron OSB

This Version: 24th October 2001


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