Reflections of a Priest Who Was Demonically Obsessed
The voice said to me: “Will you offer your life as a sacrifice for…[name of person]…?” These words I thought I heard while kneeling before a statue of our Blessed Mother. I had never heard Our Lady speak before – and what just happened to me seemed to be accompanied by a sense of peace. My answer was “yes.” Simple and unequivocal. I then immediately heard: “You have two years.” It was as if time stopped for a moment – and then a “realization” that I had only two more years to live…and I believed this.
A little background: I am a Roman Catholic diocesan priest who has been ordained less than ten years. I have struggled with depression throughout my life before going to the Saint Michael Center. This story is not about my depression. It is about what hid behind my depression and helped to fuel it. This story is about the role that the demonic played in my life and priesthood. I write this as a priest for other priests. This story is about what brought me to the Saint Michael Center.
Strangely, thinking that I had only two years to live did not seem to scare me or frighten me. It was calm around me and one that I had never experienced before. I would later come to believe, and be told by an exorcist, that this “voice” was the work of demons. Hearing voices was not something common place for me. I never lived my life assuming that I was having visions or that the angels and saints appeared to me and spoke to me. What was really going on was many years of self-reliance and self-focus due to the sin of pride coming to fruition in a very ugly manner.
This pride emanated from a place of interior woundedness – one that was personal to me and that I had held onto since childhood. However, even though decades had since gone by, I now suffered from intense interior shame and self-hatred that I worked to hide from myself. I dealt with it by projecting a picture of confidence and capacity that ultimately led me deeper into the sin of pride until I came to the point of being convinced that I was actually hearing the Blessed Mother speak to me. The demons were now using the effects of my own sin and pride against me – and I was in so deep now that I was now completely blinded to it.
This was a pride that I had established myself. There was never a time in my life when I thought that I was being tempted by the devil, like a cartoon where he is on one shoulder and an angel on another, I just assumed that I had depression, dealt with it poorly, and the life I knew was the result. What was actually happening is that demons were enticing me to continue and perpetuate my feelings of despair, resentment, frustration, and grudges. The demons did not light this fire, but as I look back now, they were furiously at work to make sure that it did not go out. What I had assumed was normal was actually demonic. I had become so prideful, that the demons could hide their pride within my own, and at the time in which they perceived I was most likely to fall, use their sin and mine against me.
Blessed be the Divine Mercy of God, for even though the demons began to actively use my own pride against me it was only allowed to happen according to the hidden counsels of God and the decrees of Divine Providence. This was not something that was even remotely obvious to me at the time, only after much healing and liberation. I was at this point, basically blinded. Blinded to the work of demons within my own self-hatred and pride. Blind to the reality that within this very deeply-rooted pride, demons had been at work to “destroy my priesthood.” In time I found myself sitting before two exorcists at the Saint Michael Center having the Solemn Rite of Exorcism prayed over me – first occasionally, then weekly, and finally, daily. My life had become unmanageable, I was suffering from extreme fatigue, erratic behavior, becoming more and more alienated in my relationships, and suffering from an interior isolation that was making daily duties of the priesthood heavy and resentful. My bishop had contacted the Saint Michael Center because he and the personnel director had determined that they could not in good conscience put me in another assignment.
As I prepared to speak with my bishop about my future as one of his priests, I could not understand the reason that the bishop had chosen to remove me from my assignment. I could comprehend that there was a reason but what the reason was I could not comprehend no matter how hard I tried. I could also perceive that my bishop would not act in the manner that he had unless he knew something that I did not, but I could not figure it out. This bothered me. I concluded that because I was unable to discern what I had done that led to these circumstances, the only way that I could ever assure the bishop that whatever happened would never happen again was to no longer serve as a priest if the bishop determined this was best.
Only after I was at the Saint Michael Center and was prayed over with the Rite of Exorcism was I told that my inability to perceive my effect on others, my saying one thing but doing another (and not being aware that I was doing it), was actually a very subtle form of manifestation of a demonic obsession. It was not a “common” manifestation or a flashy one but was a very real sign of the demon’s presence. The demons had been using my own depression, my way of thinking, and way of relating to others against me. The Evil One was aiming to destroy my priesthood – first by depression and now by getting me to believe that I should cease to be a priest because I was not able to be aware of how I impacted others.
About two months after I arrived, a shift occurred. As the two priests began the solemn Rite of Exorcism, I could feel myself recede into the “background” and then something else came to the forefront. My eyes were closed (and I felt unable to open them). My mouth opened and my tongue came out and began to make movements around my face – and I was not the one moving it. Until this time I had simply felt exhausted every time the Rite was done, but nothing else ever happened in the sessions with the priests. This time was different. This demon was finally exposed and could no longer hide. The work of the demonic was finally out in the open.
In the sessions following and during the in-between times I experienced temptations and intense feelings of hatred for the priesthood, the diocese, and my bishop like I had never experienced before. There was a difference though; until now I had been filled with self-hatred, self-loathing, and hatred for the injury that I perceived was done to me. Now these feelings were still there, and they became more intensified, but there was a clarity – these they were not mine, they were the demons: the demons hated the priesthood, the demons hated my diocese, the demons hated my bishop. There was a new kind of heaviness that seemed to constantly flood my mind with thoughts like: “Your bishop does not care about you. He never checks on you. Why don’t you just switch dioceses. You already know these priests from…[name of other diocese]…have already said that their bishop would take you. Do you really think you will ever be able to be a priest again back home? How many priest friends do you even have left? You have never had an assignment that has gone well.” These thoughts were vicious, heavy, ugly, and seemed to constantly flood my mind, especially at night, and caused many nights of insomnia.
On the flipside, there was also a major difference that had begun to occur. The accusatory tone of the thoughts were similar to thoughts I had in the past but now it was not me saying, “My bishop does not care about me, my bishop never checks on me, I will never be able to be a priest at home again…” etc. The personalization was gone, and therefore so was the demon’s ability to hid behind it. Over the next month and a half these would continue but gradually lessen and become weaker. One of the hardest parts was having these thoughts while praying before the Blessed Sacrament or offering the holy Mass. I came to realize that God wanted to deliver me, and he wanted me to fight with Him! Saint Augustine said it best, “God, who made us without our help, refuses to save us without our help.” God wanted to save me, and He wanted me to fight with Him! I had always given into the demons; God wanted to save me and use me to help cast out the demons while glorifying Him.
I also began to realize that my priesthood is a gift from Jesus Christ and our Blessed Mother because it is Jesus’ humility on the Cross that saved me and His love of His wounded heart for His people and priests that is the source of my priestly vocation, not my own sense of accomplishment! I began to pray to Mary, saying, Mary, Mother of my Priestly Vocation help me to be a priest like Jesus your Son. Mary, Mother of our diocese, please pray for and sanctify with Jesus your Son our bishop and priests. Continually giving myself to our Blessed Mother was and is always a source of grace, healing, and comfort. Without the intercession of Mary and her maternal heart for all priests, I am not sure that I would still be a priest today. I say with all sincerity, I owe my priestly vocation to her.
All the demonic garbage in my life had made me feel generally miserable at best and terribly depressed at worst – even having suffered dark moments of suicidal ideation. Feeling interior freedom, peace, joy, confidence, hope, and trust in God as my Father was something that years of demonic filth had slowly and gradually eclipsed and I did not even know it was possible to feel and live my life with the certitude of these truths. I had been on a road of steady decline of hope and had come to believe this is how it has to be if I am going to survive. Lies and more lies. I had known the truth before, but after being able to experience inner healing and deliverance from the snares of the evil one I now live my life according to the truth: “…I shall be his God, and he will be my son...” (Revelation 21:7).
Praised be Jesus and Mary! Today I am back in my diocese serving as a priest in a new assignment better than I have ever been. Thanks to the support of my bishop, and the priests and lay staff of the Saint Michael Center I was blessed to receive a very powerful and transformative experience of healing and deliverance. What led me there I do not wish on anyone. I share my story because I do not want other priests to fall into the pride and self-hatred that led to these dark places. The Evil One hates ALL priests and relentlessly target us: “Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat” (Lk 22:31). He cowardly hides behind our own shortcomings and weakness to constantly try to establish structures to use against us and bring about our downfall. This is what happened the night I believed I heard the Blessed Mother speak to me and ask me to offer my life as a sacrifice for someone. Even though it was not Our Lady, I was still making an act of the will to consent. I had consented to demons and, due to my pride, could not see it. I believed I had to make decisions around my coming death and consequently, my life became a living hell.
From the time I arrived at the Saint Michael Center until the time I left, there were many tough days, but there was one constant: I always prayed the Rosary. With Rosary in hand, I affirm the truth of Saint Louis de Montfort’s conviction with my own priesthood: Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day be led astray. This is a statement that I would gladly sign with my blood.
Mary, Mother of Our Priesthood and Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us. Amen.