Since the inception of our website, the two most requested articles from our Archives are "Physical Dimensions of Spiritual Warfare" (Dec. 1994) by Bobby Jindal and "A Case of Demonic Possession" (March 2008) by Dr. Richard E. Gallagher. It hardly seems coincidental that the commonality between these two articles is that they both address cases of possession by the devil and attempts at exorcism. This topic rarely fails to pique the interest of Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
One is, at first blush, inclined to dismiss the popularity of these two articles as being the result of the same type of voyeuristic curiosity that led to the success of such sensationalistic exploitations of this intense spiritual phenomenon as the Hollywood films The Exorcist (1973) and its various sequels, and The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005). While interest in the former article was to a great extent driven by Mr. Jindals rapid rise in the U.S. political realm and the seemingly willful mischaracterizations of his faith and his writing (see the previous New Oxford Note), we consider the latter to be as un-sensational a treatment of the subject as possible. In fact, Dr. Gallagher discusses at length the many types of "counterfeits" of demonic possession.
Upon further consideration, we see in the enduring popularity of these two articles a more reaching need. As many NOR writers have taken pains to note, mention of sin, evil, and the reality of Satan and Hell is rarely made from the pulpits of the modern Church. Given that ours is a militant faith, and our battlefield is the spiritual realm, have our leaders not left us foot soldiers ill-equipped to win our daily confrontation with evil? How are we to defeat an adversary if we are unable to recognize him and his deceptions? Catholics have an intense hunger for proper catechesis on how to "fight the good fight."
It also seems little coincidence that the number-one religious bestseller in Italy in 2000 was a book titled The Deceiver: Our Daily Struggle With Satan. It has been translated into English and is available from Roman Catholic Books (www.booksforcatholics.com; 970-490-2735). The author, Fr. Livio Fanzaga, writes, "Many are quiet about the enemy, as if he does not exist. The militant character of the Church life is forgotten, but not for this do the enemies of man sleep. They are fiercer than ever. Against man, who is unarmed and unprepared for battle, their task has become easier than ever. The danger for souls is very grave." Who are the enemies of man? They are "our flesh, the world and the devil."
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