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  • Msgr. Stephen Rossetti

Exorcist Diary #114: The Grace of Discernment


Rodin, Auguste: The Thinker



An old exorcist once told me, "Pray for the gift of discernment to do this ministry. You'll need it." Discernment is a daily task for an exorcist..

Again today, I sifted through many requests. A woman from the midwest USA said her son was ritually abused by Satanists at the age of five and is now possessed by Satan himself. She complained about her three previous exorcists.... It all sounds unlikely.... no, we won't take this case. A middle-aged woman complained that she was possessed by demons that were put into her by public officials but she couldn't complain to the police because they were "in" on it...Paranoid. Again, no. I received an email full of loose associations and bizarre reasoning claiming possession by a demon... Major thought disorder. No.

But then one caught my eye. The person sounded fairly sane. She had a long list of unexplained illnesses. She tried many doctors and none of them knew what was wrong. She had recently come back to the practice of her faith. Previously she had been involved in the occult but eventually realized her mistake. Now, when she tries to receive communion she gets ill. She finds it increasingly difficult even to walk into a church. Hmmm. Maybe.

This last one bears a closer look. We will ask for much background information. Subject the person to a psychologist's eye. Then set up an appointment, to include praying over her. A possible case of oppression, perhaps even possession. We will note how she reacts to the prayers. We shall see.

I feel bad turning away many desperate people. But they likely don't need an exorcism, despite their protestations. I remember another old exorcist saying, "If someone tells you categorically they are possessed, they are probably not. But if they act truly surprised at their bizarre symptoms, they just might be."

God grant me the wisdom to discern and the grace to help and to heal where I can.

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