Demonology from a Roman Catholic Perspective


By Adam Blai, M.S.
Email: acb124@psu.edu

 

[Note: I invited this article from Adam Blai, a psychologist in Pennsylvania who works with Catholic authorities in the Roman Ritual of Exorcism of demonic entities.  We share mutual concerns about the rising popular interest in “demonology,” especially among paranormal investigators. – REG]

There is a trend in popular culture, and in the paranormal investigation field, of glamorizing demons, “demonologists” and exorcisms.  There are popular movies, television series, books, and websites all devoted to demons in some form.  Demonology has become the biggest draw at paranormal conferences and meetings.  This is of great concern to those who actually work in this field.  The interest is probably based on the perception that demons are the most “hardcore” or “serious” of the paranormal phenomenon, and therefore it is cool to call oneself a “demonologist.”  Because of this trend, this material is being offered to educate and hopefully correct some of the misguided and dangerous assumptions of the public.

When people use the word ‘demonology’ they usually mean investigating cases where demons may be present or affecting people, or they mean interacting with demons in some other way, such as in an exorcism.  Some people mean simply studying demons as an academic subject without any intended interaction.  The term ‘religious demonology’ implies approaching the subject from a religious framework, usually Christian or Catholic, and implies the person is working for good and is actively working against evil.

This is not a guide on how to be a demonologist

No functional information is provided here about: what a demon exactly is, how they came into being, their names, and their history, how to fight them or how to do or assist at exorcisms. This is not a “how-to” for being a demonologist. This is a broad overview and a set of warnings.

The reality of demons

Demons are real. They are not just people’s imagination or getting worked up and being scared of the dark.  Demons are a very dangerous reality that can destroy your life. You simply will not understand this unless you encounter a demon, whether in a person or as a disembodied entity. Once you do encounter one, your worldview will be forced to accommodate the presence of evil as an objective reality. This will make you feel mentally unstable for at least a short time. And for the rest of your life you will be looking over your shoulder, because you will know that you are probably being watched  because you know the truth of their existence.  You will never be able to go back to thinking of demons as an abstract idea or thrilling possibility: they will forever be a part of your life and may attack you openly and personally because of your choice to step into the spiritual arena with them.

The framework that demons exist in

You need to be grounded in a Christian, preferably Catholic, viewpoint in order to understand demons.  The reason for this is very practical: demons behave in a way that shows us they are defined and bound by the Catholic religious system: 

-         They react with fear and anger to symbols or words related to Jesus, scripture from the Bible, Catholic prayers, and holy objects.  Trying to influence a demon’s behavior on your own (i.e., asking it to stop or telling it you command it to stop) will only get you mocked and physically hurt, or worse.

-      They know when an object has been blessed by a Catholic priest, which causes them to react negatively to it. 

-         They know when blessed objects are near them, even when not in view.

-         If you show a demon a Crucifix and a symbol from a non-Christian religion, it will not be able to look at the Crucifix and will get angry.  It generally will not care about the other symbols.

-         They can read your mind and will know all of your unconfessed sins.  This includes things you have never told anyone in your life and especially which the person the demon is in could never know.  Sins confessed in the Catholic sacrament of confession are not knowable by demons.

-          Persons possessed by demons will almost never go into a Catholic Church voluntarily.

-         When they attack, they are only stopped and driven away by Christian prayers, holy water, and the name of Jesus.

-         The Catholic Church created the Roman Ritual of Exorcism that is used in cases where a person has been possessed by demons, or the Devil.

Some tricks demons use

The perspective of the religious demonologists sometime seems conservative or simplistic.  This is true to an extent, but the reader must understand that this comes from experience.  Here are some of the tricks of the enemy and the conservative stances that result from them.

  1. Appearing to be a helpful or needy spirit/ghost/phenomenon/guide. 

The enemy almost never appears in their true form, they lie and deceive constantly.  We know from experience that many cases of demonic oppression and possession start with a “harmless” or “helpful” spirit haunting or interaction.  They sometimes start with communications with a dearly departed relative or helpful spirit guide, or a pitiful soul that needs your help.  If the demons showed up and looked horrible and menacing you would run the other way and right into a Church.  They suck you in slowly by offering knowledge, playing on your pity, giving comfort or power.  Only when they have a sufficient hold will their true intent (to take you away from God and destroy you) become clear.

This leads demonologists to distrusting “harmless” haunting and spirit communication with “positive” entities. 

  1. Convincing you that they will give you life/health/power/money/fame/sex/etc. 

  The enemy often takes advantage of weakness or misfortune: they come when you are sick, bankrupt, depressed, or swollen with pride.  They offer to fix your problems or elevate you above others.  The trick comes later: when you are at your peak they tear it all down so that you suffer the most intensely.  The enemy can lift you up, but only so that your fall is harder.

This leads demonologists, or those that understand this, to eschew fame, undue attention or power.

  1. Tricking you into letting a “spirit” enter your body. 

The enemy has many tricks for convincing you to let a spirit into your body. Using your body as a tool to “free” or “remove” a spirit or demon from a haunted location is a bad idea.  There is always an act of free will involved in letting a demon enter your body; you just might be unaware that it is a demon.  Your permission might be given in response to a deception, but the door is opened nonetheless.  You should never assume that you can get something out once you let it in.  If someone advises you to channel spirits, use your body to transport a spirit, or use your body to remove a spirit from a location you need to say no.  We have seen and read many cases of possession that started in these ways.

This leads demonologists to be stubbornly against any form of admission of anything into the body.

What is required to engage in Religious Demonology?

There are a number of requirements for religious demonology, including some basic factors that must be present in the person and in their life.  Without all of these you are putting yourself, your loved ones and your co-investigators in grave danger.

  1. First and foremost, the religious demonologist must be called to the work by God, not by their own choice. If you want to be a demonologist, that  is a problem.  No rational person says they want to interact with pure evil and put their sanity, their physical life, and their soul at risk when they don’t have to.  People in the work are called into the work and guided to the people and situations that train them.  God is in charge from the beginning to the end. If you are meddling because you want to be cool, you want to be thrilled, or you are going to defeat evil, you will either be corrupted by evil, driven insane, or dead soon enough.
  1. Everyone functioning along with a demonologist must also be called to do so.  There can be no bystanders or curious onlookers; they are open to being attacked and their presence is a major weakness that will be used against those present.
  1. You must have special supernatural protection and intervention from God in order to survive, remain sane, and be effective in religious demonology. It is not the human person or the priest  who drives a demon from a person’s home or body. It is not the human will that makes a demon stop throwing objects around the room or causing horrible thoughts and pains in the people there. There is no personal power or authority in humans: all intervention, protection, and authority come from God on a moment-by-moment basis. You might be free from sin and close to God one moment and be covered in sin and vulnerable the next. If you meddle with demonic forces without the special protection that comes from a calling from God, and without living in a way pleasing to God, you will know it from the outcomes of your interactions with the demonic. If you see yourself depressed, isolated, suicidal, homicidal, obsessed with demons, thinking you are powerful or in control of demons, or working for evil, there is a problem.
  1. You must be under legitimate Church guidance and authority.  Along with a legitimate calling from God naturally come the contacts, friends, and guidance from people with decades of experience in the work.  It should come as no surprise that you cannot learn how to function as a religious demonologist from any book or website.  Doing so and thinking you have any real knowledge or understanding is folly.
  1. You must understand what it means to give your life to God and surrender your physical life to the will of God. Without giving up your life to God’s will, not your will, you will feel fear and intimidation in situations where you might die.  This cannot happen as death is a real possibility in this work and that reality cannot be used against you to intimidate you or control you. If you are afraid to die in God’s service, the demons will know -- and you will be crushed by your fear.
  1. You should be of a mature age. It is unhealthy for a developing mind and soul to interact with the demonic realm.  Once you cross the line into knowing the reality of demons you will go through a psychological and spiritual crisis where you must come to terms with your new reality.  This can be very challenging for any adult; the young forming mind is generally not equipped to handle this successfully.  Better to live a normal happy life when young and leave this topic for later in life.
  1. The work must be done as an act of charity.  You cannot mix any selfish motives into the work: fame, bragging rights, monetary compensation, social power, or other benefits.  This must be work for good, for God, not for you in any sense.  To do this for selfish reasons puts you in an arena with a supernatural force way beyond your comprehension with little or no protection.

The sincere hope in sharing this information with the public is to increase safety and educate people on unsafe practices and some of the deceptions of the enemy. 

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Adam Blai is a practicing Roman Catholic and a psychologist. His professional experience has been in outpatient, forensic, and educational settings. He has taught at Penn State University as well as Gettysburg College. He functions as a demonologist assisting at exorcisms, treating family members of the possessed, as well as the possessed themselves. He also determines if demonic activity is present at locations and confronts the demonic in both human and disembodied form when necessary. His training with the Church and others is ongoing, as there is always more to learn in this field.  For questions, comments, and permission to post or reprint this article, contact Adam Blai at acb124@psu.ed.