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SpiritDaily ^ | September 26, 2003

Posted on 09/26/2003 6:30:07 AM PDT by NYer

Most of the time, Father James LeBar, one of three official exorcists in the New York Archdiocese, and based near Poughkeepsie, is at a desk working at a psychiatric hospital, or conducting other priestly tasks. But when he's called, he goes where he is needed to cast away the devil and his demons in the time-honored fashion -- indeed, very much like in the movie, he says.

"The Exorcist is about the most accurate portrayal of what can happen at an exorcism that I have ever seen," Father LeBar told Spirit Daily yesterday. "There were some Hollywood embellishments, to be sure -- but the story itself was correct, except that they changed it from a boy to a girl to protect the identity."

We have written about that before. Indeed, three years ago, we interviewed one of the priests involved in the case that spawned the blockbuster movie [ see story]. Is there more of a need for exorcism and deliverance than there was when the movie was released, or, say, twenty years ago?

"Yes," says Father LeBar after contemplating the question for a moment. "I think it's a number of things. Since there wasn't much attention paid to these problems for years, they built up. Some of the problem has been caused by society, some is from other problems. But perhaps now, with the proliferation of public evil, people are looking at things differently."

Is the Church addressing issues more than it did back in the 1970s and 1980s? "I think so," says Father LeBar. "I get calls from bishops now and again to help." He comments that there was one year that 25 exorcisms had to be conducted in the archdiocese, while, another year, there were only two.

Are all the people who need full-blown exorcism ministered to? We'd have to say that's highly unlikely. In our experience, deliverance is necessary more frequently than is addressed. But that's our opinion. "The charts would be erratic," says Father LeBar. "Because many dioceses don't have an exorcist, sometimes they call me and when the bishop gives me permission I go and help other bishops somewhere else."

The old ritual called for the priest to fast three days, but that's no longer a rule. Fasting helps because there can be intense manifestations. Father LeBar says he has seen phenomena similar to what was portrayed in The Exorcist. Father LeBar says evil spirits react strongly to the Name of Jesus, and to the Archangel Michael. "Besides those, the demon does not like to hear the name of the Blessed Virgin. There are strong reactions. Sometimes there are no reactions from the devil because he is trying to make you go away; we invoke all the saints in the litany of saints at the beginning and usually there's not much reaction there. But in the prayer itself when we pray the Rosary or invoke the intercession of Blessed Mary to help us, this invariably gets some kind of reaction, and St. Michael sometimes and I invoked St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars, several times. The devil was not happy with that."

Father LeBar says he has not read the Harry Potter books and so has no discernment of what effect they can have, but the exorcist says that he now finds many children in need of deliverance. "There are more, yes," he comments -- adding that at times a demonic presence will follow a family's genealogical line. But it's tough to predict who and when the devil will attack. "I have had cases where the children of families have been attacked and times when they were not involved at all in the same family. There's no set pattern. The devil would not let us make a pattern." 

Why him? Why was Father LeBar, originally from The Bronx, chosen as an exorcist?

"Who knows," replies the priest, who is now 66. "In 1973 I joined the Office of Communications for the archdiocese and one of the tasks given me was to look into the cult problem -- Unification Church, Hare Krisna, all that -- and around 1987 and 1988, there began to be inquiries about devil worship and satanism.

"And so that came into my sphere and we looked into it and determined that there were satanic cults and people who dabbled in it and possession by the devil.

"In 1988 and 1989 I had the first cases. With Cardinal [John] O'Connor's help, we were able to help the people, and finally a few years later, he decided that we needed our own exorcists. I was appointed along with four others."

Now there are three. There have been criticisms that some dioceses have none -- that the intellectualization of the Church has quashed belief in the devil in certain regions. But Father LeBar says he hasn't had problems with bishops. "For the most part they have been very helpful and cooperative when a case appears in a diocese," he says. "Sometimes they call me, sometimes they appoint somebody themselves. I have never been turned down flat by any bishop."

Is there a distinction, we asked, between demonic and satanic possession?

They are basically the same thing, asserts the expert. And this is the time of year, leading up to Halloween, that there is special activity. There is also an upswing, he says, on other satanic holidays.

Do curses exist? Yes, he says. People can call down evil on somebody else. But just as quickly, we can dismiss those curses in the Name of Jesus.

TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Current Events; Ecumenism; General Discusssion; History; Moral Issues; Prayer; Religion & Culture; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: exorcism; exorcist
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There is the temptation to see him as in the movie: dressed in black, Holy Water and stole and prayer book at the ready, standing in front of a mist-enshrouded house. Wasn't that the image in The Exorcist?

1 posted on 09/26/2003 6:30:07 AM PDT by NYer
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To: american colleen; sinkspur; livius; Lady In Blue; Salvation; Polycarp; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; ...
And then there is Fr. Malachi Martin, a former Jesuit priest, who performed exorcisms for 30 years. Fr. Martin is now deceased.

The dark shadows of skyscrapers are falling across New York as an elderly white-haired priest leaves the reassuring comfort of his home and heads through the streets towards the apartment block where the others are waiting. He walks quite slowly, carrying a small black case filled with the essential paraphernalia of the ritual he is about to perform. The room has been prepared to his precise instructions: cleaned, sprinkled with holy water, and stripped of movable objects. Of those now gathered inside, only the priest - his face drawn and solemn - has any idea what to expect. Or rather, what to expect. After 30 years as an exorcist, Father Malachi Martin has learnt to recognize the natures of the demons he pursues. They may be ingenious or stupid, coarse or charming, brazen or craven. Hell, it seems, is no place for stereotypes. "I need to know who they are," the Irish-born priest says softly. "I need their names - and their stories."

An Article on Exorcism

2 posted on 09/26/2003 6:37:38 AM PDT by NYer (Pax et Bonum)
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To: NYer
Father Martin cites David Berkowitz, the 1970s New York serial killer, as a classic case of perfect possession. "I met him in his cell, at his request," says Father Martin. "He confessed that he had been, for many years, a member of a Satanic coven. This was the source of his evil."
Why isn't this a violation of the seal of confession?
3 posted on 09/26/2003 7:01:53 AM PDT by eastsider
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To: dansangel
4 posted on 09/26/2003 7:20:50 AM PDT by .45MAN (I am what I am because of what I am!)
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To: NYer
I love spirit daily. I'm not even catholic LOL! I loved Malachi Martin. Have you ever read his book about possession I forget his name.
5 posted on 09/26/2003 7:22:52 AM PDT by abigail2 (Refuse to do business with companies that are bilingual...)
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To: eastsider
He might be using the verb "confess" in a manner not referring to the sacrament.
6 posted on 09/26/2003 7:23:35 AM PDT by Pyro7480 (“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid" - Benjamin Franklin)
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To: fabian
7 posted on 09/26/2003 7:26:44 AM PDT by abigail2 (Refuse to do business with companies that are bilingual...)
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To: eastsider
Interesting question. Father John Hardon has a wonderful theological program called "Eternal Life," one of the series within the program is a set of tapes called: The Truth About the Angels. It is a marvelous teaching tool. One of the tapes discusses Satan and posession. It is not a tape for the feint of heart. It is chilling and ought to be listened to in the company of others and in, in my opinion, easy reach of a rosary and a crucifex as help and reminder. V's wife.
8 posted on 09/26/2003 7:26:50 AM PDT by ventana
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To: Pyro7480
You're probably right, considering that Berkowitz is Jewish ...

I'm not much of a coffee drinker, but the cobwebs in my brain need a little shaking this morning.

9 posted on 09/26/2003 7:29:16 AM PDT by eastsider
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To: eastsider
"Why isn't this a violation of the seal of confession?"

Probably, as mentioned above, because Berkowitz is not Catholic, so he cannot participate in the Sacrament of Penance, which, in the Catholic Church requires an initial reception of the Sacrament, similar to First Holy Communion.

Anything an individual might reveal in a "confession" in such a case would be free to be disclosed. The only "seal" might be a request by the confessing individual that the person he tells not reveal what is confessed, which could be observed or broken by the person who hears such a confession, depending on the importance of the material.

10 posted on 09/26/2003 8:13:36 AM PDT by redhead (Mom said you're not the boss of me)
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To: NYer; Hermann the Cherusker; sitetest; Polycarp
Great post. BTW, back when I was working as a psychiatric social worker and doing mental health status exams on the streets and in bars, apts, ect, I took the time to buy and read Msgr. Corrado Balducci's "The Devil, alive and active in this world."

It is indespensible to anyone working in the Mental Health field and, I think, a must for any layman - especially these days.

11 posted on 09/26/2003 8:17:34 AM PDT by Catholicguy (MT1618 Church of Peter remains pure and spotless from all leading into error, or heretical fraud)
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To: NYer
Thank you.

IMO, this is a subject we all should know far more about than we do. For our own safety and protection if nothing else.
12 posted on 09/26/2003 8:48:39 AM PDT by Desdemona (Kempis' Imitation of Christ online!
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To: eastsider
Berkowitz was a Jew who was talking to a priest in conversation (not in a sacramental way between priest and penitent) and "admitted" that he was in a Satanic coven.

Also, at that time I think Fr. Martin was layasized.
13 posted on 09/26/2003 8:55:02 AM PDT by Coleus (Only half the patients who go into an abortion clinic come out alive.)
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To: NYer
What does anyone think of Charismatics who expell demons as this guy does, his uncle is the president of Steubenville university?

Casting out demons, by means of deliverance

The Older Brother Returns: Finding a Renewed Sense of God's Love and Mercy

14 posted on 09/26/2003 9:11:19 AM PDT by Coleus (Only half the patients who go into an abortion clinic come out alive.)
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To: Coleus
"Sometimes there may be a sigh or a cough or some expression of a spirit leaving," he writes.

Does this count?

15 posted on 09/26/2003 9:23:16 AM PDT by NYer (Pax et Bonum)
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To: NYer
There is also an upswing, he says, on other satanic holidays.

Good Friday? Bastille Day ;-)

16 posted on 09/26/2003 11:25:37 AM PDT by Romulus
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To: Coleus
Frankly, I'm disturbed by the Catholic Pentecostals and their entire history of derivation from Protestant Holy-Rollers. There symptomatic behavior (speaking in "tongues", ecstasies, etc.), is a classical manifestation of demonic possession. When I observed them once at Mass at Steubenville, I found them to be a bunch of terrifying freaks - with their bizarre behavior during the minor elevation (everybody starts crying out in unintelligible tongues). It reminded me of the noise I heard on a tape of an exorcism being performed. If it is not the Evil One at work, self-suggestion seems to be the other method.

Any movement that begins in violation of some of the basic premises of Canon Law, such as Canon 1258 in the 1917 code, is certainly suspect.

Unsurprisingly this movement tends towards cultish behavior, as at the Mother of God community outside Washington, DC.

It is impossible that Catholics should be able to receive special extra Sacramental graces from heretics.

Good critical article demolishing this new Montanism here:
17 posted on 09/26/2003 12:09:48 PM PDT by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: Romulus
Bastille Day ;-)

ROTFLMAO, I wish I had thought of that.

18 posted on 09/26/2003 12:11:54 PM PDT by NeoCaveman (Wesley Clark is to Eisenhower, what a Yugo is to a Ferrari)
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To: abigail2
thanks for the ping abigail2...I think some degree of posession is unfortunately very common.
19 posted on 09/27/2003 12:35:21 AM PDT by fabian
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To: Hermann the Cherusker
Ditto on the pneumatic apocalypse of "charismatic" cults. It's not Catholic. The giddy emotional phenomena which derive from fringe Protestant sects should be avoided.
There has been a great deal of Protestantization creeping in from sources within modern American culture. Some Catholics seem to be getting confused and modelling their religious behavior on the pop customs of fringe Protestantism.
20 posted on 09/27/2003 8:01:00 AM PDT by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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