There was a time when the Halloween season had me very cautiously flipping channels. I never knew when one of the cable movie stations would be airing "The Exorcist" and I didn't want the horrible images of a possessed young girl rattling around in my head. Now that I am older and more wiser in my spiritual life, this movie is of little consequence to me. The whole subject of demonic possession is fascinating but one that should be approached with extreme care and caution. Truly, the only thing we need to know is that evil does exist in our world and the best way to overcome it is to engage in a life of prayer, especially through devotion to Mary.
Some folks get a thrill out of being scared out of their wits. Read enough about exorcisms and it's hard not to be both curious and afraid. But it's important to remember that there are people in this world who do not even believe in the devil yet do his dirty work for him every day by living a life of grave sin. Possession of one's soul holds a much worse fate, one of eternal damnation, than does physical possession. Again, the best way to overcome vice is through prayer, especially the Rosary.
The chief Vatican exorcist, Father Gabriel Amorth, once said that every Hail Mary is like a hammer blow to the devil's head. Lay people should never, ever attempt to engage the devil in any way and only a priest who has the permission of his bishop can attempt an exorcism. However, praying the Rosary is something all of us can and should do every day. St. Michael is also a most powerful advocate in our battle against evil. In fact, a well-known exorcism took place in Philadelphia many years ago and what finally exorcised the demon was placing a blessed statue of St. Michael by the possessed boy's bedside.
So, as fascinating as this subject is, it's best to occupy one's mind with holy thoughts, such as prayer, spiritual reading and especially reading about the lives of the saints. One other caution. At this time of year in our city, it's commonplace to see guides dressed in colonial garb leading tourists on a "ghostwalk" through historic cemeteries. Of course the hope is to actually encounter a ghost. Well, be careful what you wish for, because you may get it and when you appropriate something that doesn't belong to you, you go down a dangerous path. You don't know what you might awaken and what spiritual harm it may bring to you. Evil needs your cooperation. Don't offer it a portal into your body or soul by engaging in seances, palm readings, Ouiji boards and other activities that are in direct contradiction to our faith.
Thanks to Father Z and his blog for inspiring me to write about this.