Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Occult on the Rise

As a postscript to my earlier post about the occult, I offer this citation from The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio, 2009, pp. 6-7:
Ironically, while many priests and bishops seem bent on skepticism, the general public has become enamored with the occult, gravitating to new religions such as Wicca. According to an American Religious Identity survey, Wicca grew in America from 8,000 members in 1990 to over 134,000 in 2001. (By 2006, that number was said to have risen to more than 800,000.) Sales of occult and New Age books have also skyrocketed, as has the number of people who believe in angels and demons (according to a 2004 Gallup poll, about 70 percent of Americans said they believe in the Devil). All this coincides with an explosion in the numbers of people who say they are afflicted by evil spirits. According to the Association of Italian Catholic Psychiatrists and Psychologists, in Italy alone, more than 500,000 people see an exorcist annually.

For many years, a small but vocal group of overworked exorcists in Italy, led by Father Gabriele Amorth, has tried to get the Church to take the increasing numbers of people who claim to be possessed more seriously....

[I]n the fall of 2004 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent a letter to the various Catholic dioceses around the world, starting with those in America, asking each bishop to appoint an official exorcist.
I think we Christians (especially those in the pastoral ministry) ignore or marginalize this increase in "the Satanic arts" (per the Small Catechism) at our peril.

5 comments:

Paul said...

"...let Your holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me."

Lutheran Lucciola said...

Interesting that Italy is seeing this more. I'm wondering if what is gaining popularity there is "Wicca", or old school stregheria.

Not that one is less sinful than the other, but the latter usually sees more violent, less subtle attacks.

I would like to ask a serious question on this subject. Is there a difference between spiritual warfare (the aggressive kind that me and my crew of ex-occultists get dealt), and "possession" or needing of an exorcism?

Also, does a person who is baptized become "possessed"?

I was not raised Roman Catholic, so have no idea. I only know what happened/happens to me. I don't think it's possession. Attack, yes sir.

Thanks.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Lucciola:

The Baglio book does a fine job of explaining the various degrees of diabolical attack.

There is certainly a difference between obsession and possession. Obsession is a kind of harassment, or as you say, "attack." Possession is when the demon takes physical control of its host.

Exorcists deal with all levels of diabolical issues. And baptized people can certainly be possessed.

This is a big problem with the occult becoming popular and mainstream. Christians are being drawn into practices that they think are harmless, but which in fact are spiritually perilous.

Thanks for weighing in! I would appreciate any other advice from your experiences you may wish to offer here.

Christian Soul said...

About 15 years ago I was amazed at how may of my female coworkers and their friends were inviting fortune tellers into their homes and having fortune telling/seance parties. It was not just for fun either. Many totally bought into this stuff and took it quite seriously. Not that I think we shouldn't take it quite seriously. Satanic arts should never be dabbled with.

Lutheran Lucciola said...

Thanks, Fr. H.

As of a few years ago, the differences between myself and "Wiccans" were fairly large. Occasionally I check out what is going on in the neo-pagan community on the web and in person. Monday, I cruised through a local occult store to check things out. This place caters to both neo-pagan Wiccans and more black arts or blood magick traditions (my former thing being the latter). I am noticing an interest in darker paths.

Just from my personal experience, Satan does hit more immediately and more fiercely with people in darker traditions. Is this because of cause and effect, or just simply because Satan uses whatever tactics that person can suffer more from? I lean towards the "whatever is more successful" for him answer. But, with people like me it's personal. Very personal with him.

How much does culture play? Probably some too. Whatever works for him.

Now lesser demons, this is a huge area of material. And for years now, I have tried to figure out "who" was real and who was not. And, "who" took advantage of a human's calling for "anyone" to enter.

One example: the elemental spirits are real. Are they demons, or evil? I have no idea. And usually when I get to this point, I remember that I need to focus on my real faith now, being a Christian. So it's about walking this line, of not forgetting where I came from, so that I can possibly connect with others, but not dwelling....to not get caught up again.

I would like to read this book though.