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Catholic Spiritual Direction

What is a demon?

October 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Demonology, Fr. Fortea, Spiritual Warfare

Dear Father Fortea, can you explain what exactly is a demon? Do they have bodies? Where did they come from?

A demon is a spiritual being of an angelic nature that has been condemned for eternity due to his rebellion against God. As pure spirits, demons are not made up of matter. Because they do not have bodies, demons are not inclined to any “sins of the flesh” (i.e., it is impossible for them to commit the sins of lust or gluttony). The sins of demons are exclusively spiritual. But they can tempt human beings to sin in matters of the flesh.

Demons were not created evil. (In fact, it is impossible for God, who is Goodness itself, to create anything evil.) Remember: demons are just “bad angels.” After God created the angels, He tested their fidelity to Him before admitting them to the Beatific Vision, the sight of His very essence. For purely spiritual beings, this “seeing” of God’s essence would be a purely intellectual vision. Some angels obeyed the divine test; others did not. Those who disobeyed were irreversibly transformed into demons and cast out of heaven.

It may seem surprising that some angels would choose to hate God. But we need to understand that those who rebelled saw God no longer as a good—as the Good—but as the oppressor of their freedom. Hate was born as their wills resisted the call of God and held fast to the decision to leave the Father’s house.

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him (Rv 12:7-9).

How can purely spiritual beings fight among themselves? What weapons do they use? Angels are spirits, so their battles must be purely intellectual. The only weapons that they can use are intellectual arguments. The angels gave reasons to the rebels for why they should return to obedience to God. The rebel angels countered with their reasons to support their position and spread their rebellion among the faithful angels. In this epic angelic battle, some who were inclined to rebel returned to obedience, while some of the faithful angels were seduced by the evil arguments of the rebels.

In art, demons are depicted as deformed and grotesque beings. This would seem appropriate given that demons have definitively decided on a destiny far from God. The interior loneliness in which they find themselves forever and their envy of the faithful who enjoy the Beatific Vision continually bring them face-to-face with their sins. They hate God, themselves, and all those who seek to serve God.

But not all suffer the same pains. Some angels were deformed more than others in the battle. Those who were more deformed suffer more; the least deformed suffer less. The intellects of the rebellious angels were deformed and darkened by the very reasons they used to justify the rebellion of their wills against God.

Their plight is similar to the moral debasement that humans can suffer through sin. We need to remember that we are composite creatures made up of soul and body. Aside from the sins that are proper to the body, the internal psychological process that leads a good person to end up in the Mafia or as a guard in a concentration camp or a terrorist is essentially the same as the sequence of acts of intellect and will that led to the fall of the bad angels.

Though we are body-soul composites, we as humans have only to look into our own interior life to understand how we can fall into sin. In this light, the sin of the angels becomes more easily understood.

To learn more about spiritual warfare and demonology, Catholic Spiritual Direction recommends Fr. Fortea’s excellent book, Interview With An Exorcist – An Insider’s Look at the Devil, Demonic Possession, and the Path to Deliverance. Published in part with permission by Ascension Press.
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About Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea

Trained by Vatican exorcist Gabriele Amorth, Father José Antonio Fortea is not only an exorcist, but also a writer, calligrapher and parish priest. He once thought he would lead what he has termed ordinary life as an attorney in Madrid, much as his father did before him, but sensed instead a vocation to the priesthood in his adolescent years. A theology graduate of Navarre University in Spain, Father Fortea wrote a thesis there on exorcism. He has been a practicing exorcist for several decades.

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  • LizEst

    Thank you, Father Fortea.  What would you say is the most effective antidote to demons that is available to the average lay person in our day to day lives?
     

    • guest

      prayer, the sacraments, fasting, works of charity

      • LizEst

        Thank you “guest”.  Yes, these are very good…and, I appreciate your response.  I’m looking, specifically, for the professional recommendation from this professional exorcist, who deals with demons directly as part of his calling.

        • Fiona

          LizEst, I agree with “guest”.  I suspect that Fr Fortea will tell you much the same thing.  There is no ‘magic’ formula – anything ‘special’ or out of the ordinary.  The influence of demons is not felt so much in large, spectacular displays of the supernatural such as possession.  Their influence is extremely insidious and presents itself in what may seem to be the smallest and insignificant temptation.  Put enough of those together and things begin to pear-shaped very rapidly. Frequent reception of the sacraments, prayer and fasting are the indeed best defence against evil.

          • LizEst

            Fiona and “guest” – these things I know…in addition to the wise counsel of Dan above.  I am not looking for a “magic” formula. What I would like to hear is the professional advice of Fr. Fortea, the exorcist, because he MAY have some ADDITIONAL pointers besides the obvious ones that both of you have so kindly pointed out.  If he doesn’t, that’s fine. I would just like to hear from him, specifically. Thanks.  And, God bless you both…Dan, too!

          • Peg

            Liz, I’m curious to see how Fr. Fortea answers as well.

            I will add, recently I woke up very anxious in the middle of the night and my birds were also unsettled.  I was exhausted and just couldn’t deal with whatever was going on so I prayed the following:

            “Jesus, I’m exhausted and can’t deal with this anymore, you’re going to have to handle it for me because I desperately need sleep.”  This was not a simple, nor detached prayer, but it was my very personal plea for mercy.  It seems to have been effective because I laid back down, fell asleep, and slept soundly through the night.  Needless to say, when I woke up …rather than my usual, “I love you Jesus,” I started my day with “Thank you, Jesus!”

          • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

            Thank you, Fiona.  This is very well illustrated in the Book we have been reading in our Book Club “Spiritual Combat”.  There is nothing in this Book about supernatural demon possession. It gives exhaustive advice on how the Evil One tries to trip us into sin and how to avoid his traps and enticements.

        • Guest

          Liz, Not all demons require the services of a designated exorcist.  We can pick up spirits associated with our habitual sins or through injury from others.  We can ride ourselves of these spirits in Jesus’ Name.  “In the Name of Jesus Christ I recounce the spirit of pride (for example), and send this spirit quietly and directley to the Cross of Jesus, there for him to deal with as He will.”

          • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

            True but with one caveat. The Holy See has issued several documents that discourage the laity from dabbling in the naming of demons or dealing with the names of demons etc.
            Sent from my iPad

          • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

            Thank you, Dan. I feel you need to give us specific and detailed documents from the Holy See with regard to prohibition of lay people dabbling with exorcism. I am aware the Roman Catholic Church has the Ministry of Exorcism which is the preserve of Ordained and trained Priests, who may be assisted by trained lay persons who have proven Charism of Healing.  However, in our Divine Mercy Centre’s 3rd Saturday Prayer days, we have all kinds of lay people, mostly recently converted Catholics in the Charismatic Movement who purport to carry out exorcisms of every evil spirits – from those which cause the Common Colds, High Blood Pressure, back problems, HIV/AIDS etc.  To them any and every illness is a manifestation of devil Possession. I am lost where  Suffering in the Salvation Mystery comes in since to these people, any and all problems and illnesses, even deaths in the family are caused by demons.  I keep my peace but when I recently read a Post by Jimmy Akins about this, I sent it to a few Eucharistic Apostles of the Divine Mercy to alert them that we are diluting and distorting the Divine Mercy Apostolate by mixing it with Charismatic Movements and their exorcism practices.

          • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

            Dear Mary – the best place to find this information is to go to http://www.EWTN.com and type “Exorcism” in the search area. The documents and guidelines are there.
            Sent from my iPad

          • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

            Thank you, Dan. I shall get the documents and share them with my fellow Eucharistic Apostles of the Divine Mercy

        • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

          Liz – having just had the opportunity to hear Fr. Fortea speak on these matters, his answer is really the same. Paraphrased, He said “the Gospel… nothing need be added – Jesus gave us all we need.”

    • Nick Daw

      Love

  • Zgraf

    >> But not all suffer the same pains. Some angels were deformed more than others in the battle. Those who were more deformed suffer more; the least deformed suffer less. The intellects of the rebellious angels were deformed and darkened by the very reasons they used to justify the rebellion of their wills against God.

    This section is a little confusing.  It seems to be mixing images from art and images of reality.   As the article notes, angels do not have bodies, and exist in an intellectual realm only. So any “deformity” in angels would need to exist in an intellectual sense —  not in a physical/corporal way.

    It occurs to me that >> any <> infinitely << painful.  Thus it's a little hard to fathom how some angels would suffer "more", and others "less". But then again what do I know!     Let just pray we don't find ourselves in the same dire predicament as these unfortunate angels…
    -j 

    • sebastian

      Their anger and rage towards all humanity is very real. They are confined to time. Imagine such spiritual beings, some more powerful than others, confined to time – and we are not. Their jealousy and rage is very real, not to be toyed with thats for sure.

  • Peggy Kelly

    Thank you Father for such an excellent answer.  I do have a question though, as you said, it is impossible for God who is goodness to create anything evil.  I understand that, but God created everything because of His Love for all of us.  That being said, does God love the evil one too. 

    • Goodwilleverlastingfaith

      God loves everyone of us, whether we decides to be good or bad. For we bear His likeness , He created us in HIS image. So we are all HIS children. To those who wanted to be evil , yes he loves them just as much, it is their sins that HE hates, and it is their sins that separate/segregated them from HIM.

  • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

    Thank you, Father Fortea for this very lucid explanation of the nature of the demons.  I could try to answer Peggy Kelly by stating that Angels, and we humans beings, were created good – very good, until our First Parents disobeyed God and evil was introduced into God’s Good Creation.  To truly love and obey God for Who He is, He gave us Free Will.  Our Love for Him must be through our own deliberate well-thought out decision to do so.  He never interferes with our Free Will.  This, therefore, is the source of evil. The good Angels used their Free Will to obey God and the demons used their Free Will to disobey Him.  We, too, do the same when we deliberately chose to sin and turn away from Him.  If we persist in our sinful lives, and we do not repent, when the last hour comes, all what God can say is “Thy Will be Done”. 

    But even at that last moment, God is there offering us His Mercy if only we can turn to Him – as Jesus revealed to Saint Faustina Kowalska – His Secretary of the Divine Mercy Devotion as she writes in her Diary “Divine Mercy in My Soul”. This proves that God loves all of us unconditionally and wishes each one of us to turn to Him, repent our sins and accept His Grace and help to live our lives united with Him and at the end of this life, join Him in Eternity in Heaven

  • rudminda

    “In this epic angelic battle, some who were inclined to rebel returned to obedience, while some of the faithful angels were seduced by the evil arguments of the rebels.”  
    Is that correct?  I was taught at Christendom College that angels are pure spirits and so they CANNOT go back on their decisions, and so consequently from the very first moment that they were given their freedom, they either decided for God, or against God, and thence were eternally destined to continue in that intention.  This statement about angels making up their mind (for or against God) in battle, has no objective basis in any of the standard Catholic teaching that I’m aware of, nor in the Bible.  In fact, the “War [which] broke out in heaven” (in Rev. 12) is clearly the triumphing of Christianity over Paganism (the worship of demons as heavenly divinities placed up on a pedestal), because it occurs AFTER (and as a result of) the coming of Christ.  Yes, “Michael and his angels” are battling, but  the victory is won by Christians (i.e. human beings) “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” “because they loved not their life even unto death.”  To maintain that angels made up their mind (for or against God) in THIS battle, would be to say that angels hadn’t made up their mind even by the time that Christ had come, which is so extreme, that I don’t think anyone would hold it.  
    I suggest that those who want to know more about the fall of the angels should look in Volume 1 (out of 4) of Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich’s “Life of Jesus Christ,” because there she describes an instanteous fall, not a subsequent fall resulting from battle.

    • gsn1111

      I am awaiting answer for this post.

  • rudminda

    “In this epic angelic battle, some who were inclined to rebel returned to obedience, while some of the faithful angels were seduced by the evil arguments of the rebels.”  
    Is that correct?  I was taught at Christendom College that angels are pure spirits and so they CANNOT go back on their decisions, and so consequently from the very first moment that they were given their freedom, they either decided for God, or against God, and thence were eternally destined to continue in that intention.  This statement about angels making up their mind (for or against God) in battle, has no objective basis in any of the standard Catholic teaching that I’m aware of, nor in the Bible.  In fact, the “War [which] broke out in heaven” (in Rev. 12) is clearly the triumphing of Christianity over Paganism (the worship of demons as heavenly divinities placed up on a pedestal), because it occurs AFTER (and as a result of) the coming of Christ.  Yes, “Michael and his angels” are battling, but  the victory is won by Christians (i.e. human beings) “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” “because they loved not their life even unto death.”  To maintain that angels made up their mind (for or against God) in THIS battle, would be to say that angels hadn’t made up their mind even by the time that Christ had come, which is so extreme, that I don’t think anyone would hold it.  
    I suggest that those who want to know more about the fall of the angels should look in Volume 1 (out of 4) of Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich’s “Life of Jesus Christ,” because there she describes an instanteous fall, not a subsequent fall resulting from battle.

  • Florin S.

    Oct.14th: Although I accept the Church’s teachings and try to remain faithful, this has always puzzled me: the origin of evil.  St. John says that all things that came into being were created by God and nothing was created that was not created by Him. Now, for someone to make a choice, there has to be an ‘object’ of that choice…if I tell you to choose between good and evil, light or dark, apple or orange, I have to place those before you…and then you must stretch out your hand to choose…there are those who say many things about this, but none is satisfactory…how did the impulse of evil, the impulse to turn against God, enter into the scheme of things? Since there was no evil, no satan…where did these temptations originate? I know many things must remain a mystery and I suppose I must accept that…but there are times when faith is weak that it can be disconcerting, to say the least.

    • LizEst

      God is Love and evil is the absence of Love.  Not only did God not create evil, he cannot create evil because it would be the absence of Himself. 

      God gave the angels a great intelligence.  He also gave them free will.  Free will, over and above great intelligence, is the attribute that made them most like God.  Seeing themselves to be highly intelligent (way more intelligent than us), some angels thought they knew better than God and exercised their free will by choosing not to obey Him.  Since God doesn’t violate free will, he allowed them to make that choice. 

      Fr. Fortea has written a great book about this which is available for download, free of charge.  The drawback, for those that can’t read Spanish, is that it is in Spanish.  It is a work of fiction…but he draws heavily from his 17 years’ experience as an exorcist.  An exorcist, in his work, can question the demons.  It is difficult because one is dealing with demons, who are inveterate liars.  But, experienced exorcists have ways of dealing with such.  So, it’s an effort, on Fr. Fortea’s part to narrate what was once just theology.  Although I have only scanned it, what I have read of it is fascinating…and makes a lot of sense.

      If any is interested in the book, go to this link and scroll down past Fr. Fortea’s picture on the left hand side of the page.  Under the heading “Descarga GRATIS sus libros completos en PDF:” there are two books (libro) in pdf form.  The second one is the  “Historia del Mundo Angelico” (History of the Angelic World).  Go to that paragraph and click where you see PDF.  Here is the link: http://www.aciprensa.com/fortea/

      • Florin S.

        I truly appreciate your response…but ‘God allowed them to make that choice.” Where did the ‘objects’ of that choice originate? The Angels were created, as you say, with high intelligence but what caused them to become evil?  Where did the impulse of evil turning from God or wanting to be like God come from? If someone tells me to choose something, I will ask: “What are my choices?” Evil is not passive – it draws us away from God when we actively choose to do or to be evil…but where did the choices for the Angels originate?  Yes, they wanted to be like God, superior to humans before they were created but where did those impulses to defy God come from?  Were the angels seduced into commiting evil? If so, how? Where did the seduction come from?  In Scripture it is said: “Today I put before you life or death, blessing or curse: choose life!”  Those are the choices…if I choose life I receive a blessing; if I choose death, I receive a curse.  Those are the choices…but if there was no impulse or presence of evil to tempt the angels to turn away from God, then they would not have even had an inclination to do so…something was luring them away from God…what was it? Where did it come from?  It’s a mystery…just as the knowledge that God always existed…a mystery.

        • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

          Sam, there is no Mystery.  Angels, just like us, were endowed with Free Will which God never interferes with.  It is by using Free Will  that the Love of God becomes authentic.  Otherwise, He would have created us like animals, with instincts which we follow automatically.  So the bad Angels chose Freely to disobey God.  So, do we do, when we chose to sin and turn our backs on God.  He cannot stop us, though like the Merciful Father in the Prodigal Son  parable – keeps calling us  back. Using His Grace He spurs our consciousness which convicts us and we respond by regret at what we have done to our Loving God.  We then return to Him in repentance and His Forgiveness is guaranteed.

        • Thomas

           I believe that angels (just like humans) were created in the image of GOD but endowed with vastly superior powers than humans. It was pride basically that led to the rebellion in heaven.

        • JoFlemings

          I think you should be cautious here because you attempt to understand something we do not have the faculty to comprehend, and because one underlying assumption is that there is an option that would be preferable in some minds- higher and loftier minds than ours, to complete submission to God. (I know this is cheesy but it reminds me of the dialogue and conflict between Saruman and Gandalf in LOTR.) In our popculture where we are so comfortable assessing the choices of others, I think there are some boundaries it is wiser to distance oneself from. If I want to know what tempted angels, how -when I who am mortal am faced with the manipulative power of a superior intellect and the wily nature of the ones whose primary goal is to steal, kill, and destroy me, those who have become liars (read: spin masters) of extreme proportion- how will I understand and counter the obstacles I might bring upon myself by such a curiosity? I think the idea that the angels saw what was to unfold in God through the creation of men and that the decision not to serve- or the admonition not to do this this way– akin to the objection of Peter when Jesus told him, ‘Get behind me satan.’ is about as far as I need to go with this question, personally. And I do not think my thoughts on this are because I am a coward or prefer ignorance or any of those kinds of things- I have considered this same question and I think it is prudential wisdom not to take this too far. I do not think we should obsess about the power the devil and his ilk exercise, but neither should we take it lightly. We have three enemies: the flesh, the world, and the devil. I try not to underestimate any of them, ever.

          • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

            AMEN to what you say, JoFlemmings.  Again let us go back to the Book we have been studying “The Spiritual Combat” and be well advised and take heed of the wisdom in that splendid Book

    • Skitch

       I don’t recall where I learned this but when I did it made perfect sense to me. The angels, like man, were presented  with Jesus in his humanity who they must accept as God or not. Lucifer refused to bow down to Jesus.(in his humanity he was far too inferior for Lucifer to bow too) I may not be explaining this with all of the pertinent details but you should get the gist of the choice that may have precipitated the fall.

      • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

        Dear Skitch – I believe this is closer to mormon doctrine. I don’t believe this is reflected in any Christian or Catholic tradition.
        Sent from my iPad

        • Skitch

           Hi Dan,

          Thanks for the information but it really surprises me. I recently completed a BA in Theology and to my knowledge everything I read ( with the exception of NT Wright and the like) and continue to read is Cathodic based. Now I wish I could remember the source of the theory. Perhaps some Catholic writers or theologians have been influenced with wrong information, if it is in fact Mormon.

          Cheers

          • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

            Let me know what you uncover

          • LizEst

            Fr. Fortea alludes to this in his book “The History of the Angelic World” (link to pdf in post below), a story based on theology and his 17 years’ exorcist experience.  Alas, it’s in Spanish.  But, it’s fascinating reading.  More details in my post below.  He does have a very interesting site in several languages (English, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, French, & Dutch)  re possession and exorcism here:  http://www.fortea.us/

            Of course, in Aquinas’ Summa there is a whole series of questions (disputations) on the angels, one of which is here:
            http://readingthesumma.blogspot.com/2012/03/question-63-sin-of-angels.html.  I haven’t seen that Aquinas follows this same idea as what Skitch indicated.  In any case, Aquinas is fascinating as well! 

        • CFS

          In Catholic school back in the 1950’s something like this was presented as a possibility, that the test of the angels may have been to accept the incarnation of Jesus and some were not willing to do so because of their pride.  So this may have roots in some Catholic tradition.  Our sisters were very traditional!

        • http://www.facebook.com/philip.jude.18 Philip Jude

          Dan,

          Skitch is a little fuzzy about the details of this theory, but he’s certainly not wandering into heretical territory. It is widely thought that the angels fell because the Incarnation was showed unto them. Witness:

          “Although nothing definite can be known as to the precise nature of the probation of the angels and the manner in which many of them fell, many theologians have conjectured, with some show of probability, that the mystery of the Divine Incarnation was revealed to them, that they saw that a nature lower than their own was to be hypostatically united to the Person of God the Son, and that all the hierarchy of heaven must bow in adoration before the majesty of the Incarnate Word; and this, it is supposed, was the occasion of the pride of Lucifer (cf. Suarez, De Angelis, lib. VII, xiii). As might be expected, the advocates of this view seek support in certain passages of Scripture, notably in the words of the Psalmist as they are cited in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith: And let all the angels of God adore Him” (Hebrews 1:6; Psalm 96:7). And if the twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse may be taken to refer, at least in a secondary sense, to the original fall of the angels, it may seem somewhat significant that it opens with the vision of the Woman and her Child. But this interpretation is by no means certain, for the text in Hebrews 1, may be referred to the second coming of Christ, and much the same may be said of the passage in the Apocalypse.” –Catholic Encylopedia

          http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04764a.htm

          • Emmanuel Joseph

            I have also heard this before from several Catholic sources. But then the question again is, why would God show the angels the mystery of Divine Incarnation? Incarnation wouldn’t have been necessary if there was no sin. Sin came into humanity through the temptation of Satan, the fallen angel. Lucifer disobeyed and became evil because he was given a vision of Jesus. Something doesn’t make sense here, it is like we are going around in circles!! 

          • Philip

            “Incarnation wouldn’t have been necessary if there was no sin.”

            The incarnation was predestined from before time, because God foreknew our fall. He knew the angels would rebel; he knew they would corrupt mankind. However, this apparent tragedy is actually a “joyful fault,” as St. Augustine said, for man is perfected in Christ, and Christ came because of sin.

            However, even “if” we hadn’t fallen, many fathers, saints, and scholars of the
            Church — from Irenaeus to Duns Scotus to von Balthasar — have argued
            that the Incarnation would still have occurred,
            for  such goodness cannot be predicated upon such evil.

            Without the hypostatic union, Creator and creature would remain infinitely separated. Only through the Incarnation is man — and through man, all of creation — brought into union with God. This intimate fellowship was God’s intention from all eternity, and it was possible only through the Word becoming flesh, entering time and space, and in doing so, redeeming the whole universe.

          • Alton

            The Catechism states: “It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels’ sin unforgivable. “There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death.” (393)
            I have always understood this to mean that angels, being purely spiritual beings, experience time differently than human beings, and rather than having a “sequence of acts of intellect and will” that led to their fall — as described in the article above — they were, in a sense, given one irrevocable choice: to serve God or not. 

            Whatever the case, I have understood the angels’ vision of the Incarnation in terms of the distinction between God’s time (kairos) and man’s time (chronos), such that the angels would see the eternal action of God the Son “before” it happened on earth.  As Blessed John Paul II said in the first line of his first encyclical: “The Redeemer of Man, Jesus Christ, is the center of the universe and of history.” In a sense, the question of whether or not the Incarnation would have been necessary if man did not sin is neither here nor there.

            In terms of the fallen angels’ pride and jealousy regarding the Incarnation, I see it primarily in terms of their refusal to worship the God-man. But there is also the fact that God chose us in Christ “before the foundation of the world” to be his adopted sons and daughters in Christ. I don’t think the same favor can be said for the angels, even though they have a superior nature and intellect.

      • TeaPot562

        Milton’s “Paradise Lost” suggests a similar scenario to the test given the angels, at creation. Milton has Satan saying “Non serviam!” (Latin for “I will not serve.”)  Milton, an Anglican, is writing in the 1600s. 
        Disobedience to one’s Creator, by beings that have much greater intellectual power than we humans, is terrible to contemplate.
        TeaPot562 

        • LizEst

          Josemaria Escriva in #413 of “The Way”:

          “The ‘non serviam’–‘I will not serve’–of Satan has been too fruitful.  Don’t you feel the generous impulse to say ever day, with desires for prayer and deeds, a serviam–‘I will serve you, I will be faithful!’–surpassing in fruitfulness that cry of rebellion?”

          • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

            Great quote

  • http://mitteme.com/ Martlet

    Father, I was really interested to read the above but I wonder if you could answer a question.  I was once very privileged to help prepare a former satanist for solemn exorcism.  During that time, which lasted a period of months, we experienced manifestations, specifically affecting physical objects.  One concerned an attack on me one night when the satanic group had met, I was later told, to specifically launch such an attack.  I don’t want to go into detail but suffice to say that neither my husband, who was present at the time, nor I, were afraid as we felt an immense sense of the Lord’s presence and protection and we came to no harm.  Another occasion, I was “speaking” with the victim via computer (she lived a distance from me) when she was being taunted  I was trying to keep her calm and focused on the Lord, when the demon manifested, first speaking in riddles then writing in reverse.  Again, there was a great peace as I refused to engage and kept addressing only the victim, by name, and praying. while the nonsense continued.  Suddenly, my computer ” lit up” and the world “fool” appeared on screen and grew rapidly before it disappeared.  I smiled and called to my husband that I had just witnessed a parting shot before the victim was writing again as if nothing had happened.  But at that point, both our electric toothbrush and my husband’s razor came on by themselves.  So, my question is, how do these spiritual creatures manage to affect our physical world in such ways?      

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Dear Friends, I am sorry to disappoint you but as with Fr. John and Sister Carmen, Fr. Fortea will not likely respond (though I have been surprised twice) – all of them have significant responsibilities etc.

      • LizEst

        Thanks Dan, for letting us know (I just posted a word of thanks on Fr. Fortea’s blog before I saw that you wrote this!)….also thanks for your response below.  Yes, Jesus is all we need.

    • PilgrimMike

      I too question about the limitation of demonic weapons being only of intellectual nature. Fr. Gabriele Amorth has documented several cases of physical manifestations of demonic nature in his books. I have also personally witnessed what I believe is a physical demonic “attack.” A votive candle exploded on a Catholic retreat I attended in high school during a slow recitation of the Our Father, where our group leader paused and reflected after each phrase. Upon reaching “Deliver us from evil” and saying, “we know evil takes many forms in the world…” our little votive just popped and shattered the glass inexplicably. I had another incident where I prayed over a friend who said she was cursed by a witch. When I returned to my car, my rosary beads were covered in black ink from a pen that had exploded while I was with her.

      • Becky Ward

        Pilgrim Mike, I believe the answer to the question of the devils ability to work in the physical realm can be found in the book of Job.
        God allows the demons to do certain things in the physical world…..they can do nothing without God allowing it…..they could not even exist if God did not allow it………ALL things are providential.
        Our job is to accept that some things will remain a mystery, and learn from what God has allowed in our lives. :)

  • Sebastian

    It’s amazing how evil feeds on itself, even just discussing evil… it’s like a black hole, self-perpetuating, an all consuming never-ending fire of sorts, an ego so huge and vast – mind boggling. Whilst this conversation unfolds about the enemy, I need to say that there is nothing greater than Gods Love, no greater Love than Jesus. And, although much needs to play out for sure, the battle has already been won, i.e., “it is finished.” Thank you Jesus, forever and ever.

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Well said and an important consideration.

  • Ratna Adriana

    I just want to share that  according to my experice in ministry and to what I read in the bible (Eph,6: 1-10)  our weapon  is not only argument as intectual combat/war, but also with divine energy and divine power (strength of the Lord)  in a form of divine sword (God Words), armour (faith) , helmet of salvation, belt of truh around our waist, justice as our breast plate fo extinguish the fiery darts of the evil etc.etc.  Also the angel cherubim guard Eden with revolving sword. When I once with my team prayed with a rosary for a young man who was  involved deeply in occultism, he screamed that he saw us holding fire (instead of rosary) in our hands. We use also holy water that is very effective for multi purposes ministry. According to our experience in ministry, temptation either from the evil or from the world, stress and depression, can in certain condition enter into our physical world , affect and attact not only to mind and emotion but also to our body , We have seen this in the life not only in eastern culture, but also in western culture. It is better we all have a spiritual director, so that we can grow together and develop in faith and ministry. The Lords bless you father and all of us.

  • Jude

    So what category would Javier Echavarria the head of Opus Dei AND The Committee of 300 be included with?

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Jude – don’t know what you are referring to. If you are bashing Opus Dei, we don’t allow that on this site.
      Sent from my iPad

    • LizEst

      Huh?  Is that the conspiracy theory known as the Olympians?

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  • otter

    Malachi Martin had indicated that in 1964 a Black Mass was held at the Vatican in conjunction with one held simultaneously in South Carolina. Later, the Pope stated that the “smoke of satan” had entered the Church. Just shows how influential these fallen angels can be on the weak-minded. This influence affects men in high places within the Catholic Church who publicly profess their allegiance to the Son of God, yet privately rebel against Him. These very men seek to undermine the Church and destroy it.

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      I wouldn’t assume it was true because Fr. Martin said it. I am not implying he is not trustworthy but there is a lot of myth and legend in this corner of our faith.

  • Nick Daw

    jude, a disappointing response, you demonstrate your lack of ubderstanding of Opus Dei.  God bless.

  • L.A. Marzulli

    With all due respect, I would disagree.  I believe demons are the disembodied spirits of the Nephilim we see appearing in Genesis 6. The Nephilim were drowned in the flood of Noah.  Demons must inhabit a body in order to manifest, fallen angels do not.  

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Where do you find that in Church teaching?

      • Ethericprism

        I don’t know that he is speaking of ‘church’ teaching; however nephilim are biblical and have bodies. Genesis 6:4
        The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.
        Genesis 6:3-5 (in Context) Genesis 6 (Whole Chapter) Other TranslationsNumbers 13:33
        There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”Taken from NASB on Biblegateway.com

  • Guest

    Fr. Malachi Martin identified more demons than just the fallen angels.  They are the spirits of the ‘offspring’ of those fallen angels and women.  Since they were not created by God they do not have souls, therefore, they have a great need to be attached to human beings.  

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Approved

    • Guest

      He’s refering to the book of Enoch. I think it used to be part of the bible cannon.

      • LizEst

        The reference is to the book of Jude, the second to last book of the New Testament.  Enoch is mentioned here in verse 14 but it is as a reference to a book that is part of the Ethiopian Orthodox and Eritrean Orthodox Church Canons not ours.  I don’t believe it was ever part of our Biblical Canon.  Yes, some names of Bible Books have changed (eg, in the Douay-Rheims Bible Hosea used to be Osee, 1 Chronicles used to be 1 Paralipomenon) but nothing has been added and nothing has been taken away since the canon was set hundreds and hundreds of years ago.  Enoch is not in the Jewish Bible either; some scholars think it may have been a Midrash.

        As to the bad angels, these are mentioned in Jude: “The angels too, who did not keep to their own domain but deserted their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains…for the judgment of the great day.  Likewise, Sodom, Gomorrah, and the surrounding towns, which, in the same manner as they [the angels], indulged in sexual promiscuity and practiced unnatural vice…” (Jude 6,7). 

        The footnotes say verse 6 “draws on Genesis 6:1-4 as elaborated in the apocryphal Book of Enoch (cf 4): heavenly beings came to earth and had sexual intercourse with women.  God punished them by casting them out of heaven into darkness and bondage.”

        The footnotes for verse 7 say, in part, “Unnatural vice [in reference to the angels]… refers to the desire for intimacies by human beings with angels (the reverse of the example in 6).”

        There is the case in 1487 in Spain of Sister Magdalena of the Cross, who made a pact with the devil, and fooled everyone, including many dignitaries, cardinals, priests and theologians, into thinking she was very holy and had mystical experiences and visions for 40 years.  This supposedly included relations with a devil.  Eventually she was exorcised and confessed to everything.  The root cause of all this, the article states, was that she was never subjected to obedience to a spiritual director.  Here is the link, if you wish to read more:  http://www.mysticsofthechurch.com/2011/12/sister-magdalena-of-cross-nun-who-made.html

        • Guest

          Nice work Liz. Enoch is supposed to be Noah’s grandfather I think. I’ve read the book of Enoch, it’s very interesting. There’s a part where God shows Enoch the universe, and it’s amazing how Enoch describes the workings of the natural universe.

        • NYCFiredog

          The Epistle of Jude was disputed and almost excluded from the Catholic Cannon because the prophecy of Enoch was mentioned. The Book of Enoch was wiped out and destroyed by the early fathers of the Church because it mentioned another fall of the Angels who took physical form and mated with women. It survived with the Ethiopian Christians and in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

          • LizEst

            Nevertheless, it is still part of Holy Scripture, the Word of God.  There it has remained to this day.

          • NYCFiredog

            If you mean the Epistle of Jude still being a part of Holy Scripture, you are absolutely right. And Jude was QUOTING the Word of God, mentioning the prophecy of Enoch, WHICH has been edited out by our Church Fathers, and the very book condemned.
            And as to demons only being able to effect us by thought or intellect; St Pio and many of the saints would disagree and have reported physical attacks. And I have witnessed horrendous physical phenomena during a case of possession, which was all show compared to the Power of the very Name of Christ, and the Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and Sacramentals.
            I am heartend that our Catholic Church has once again taken Arms against the powers of Hell by training more exorcists. For many years it was left up to fundamentalists and Protestants to directly battle the Powers of Hell. I don’t think it is cooincidence that Pope Benedict has taken Benedict for his name. I only hope our Holy Father institutes the Prayer of St. Michael at the end of every Mass said. Imagine the thrill of Hell when it was removed during Vatican II. And witness what has happened since it was removed.

  • Guest

    Liz, grab your rosary and start scourging demons. People have to also remember that there’s a difference from a deliverance and exorcism. Only priests can perform full fledged exorcisms.

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Correct – only priests can perform “solemn” exorcisms

    • LizEst

       Just finished praying the rosary a few minutes ago ;)

      • Ttyler226

        Me too!!!   ; – )

      • Jenny

        The Rosary is very powerful against satan and his demons. Folks, if you find you are under attack of any sort, just pray the Rosary–satan cannot stand being around when the Rosary is said, especially the Sorrowful Mysteries.

  • Dan

    Dan, I am having trouble with the “epic angelic battle” of the intellect — perhaps I am too used to portrayals of angels in video games, wielding mighty swords and lances — but why wouldn’t a physical/material battle have been possible?  Are not the angels, as spiritual beings, granted some power over the physical creation?

    • Geoffrey Miller

      Proving the Pythagorean Theorem is all fun and games until somebody denies the existence of irrational numbers and goes to Hell forever.

      • HF

        ??????

      • robert999

         Geoff, there was a time when I used to read internet articles while drunk too.

    • CFS

      Didn’t this battle take place before the creation of the material universe?  In which case there would have been no physical creation to have power over.  However, I also have a problem with this battle of the intellect alone.  It sounds like a debate.   If angels have intellect and will, the battle must have included the will as well.  And the idea that some of the faithful angels would have been converted by the rebels seems wrong. 

  • Lbjohn316

    Revelation 12:11New International Version (NIV)
    11 They triumphed over him    by the blood of the Lamb    and by the word of their testimony;they did not love their lives so much    as to shrink from death.

    • judeen

      the POWER of the NAME of JESUS.   The POWER of the PRECIOUS BLOOD .. so many other weapons.. HOly Water.. BLessed Salt,  the oils , we have so many weapons.. the crosses , blessed metals.  rosarys … it all makes sense when we understand all our faith . we beleive in hell and demons.. the creed talks about it.. that is why our faith is so powerful and stronge…

  • Ttyler226

    I want to testify that demons are real.  Now I have never needed an exorcist but , I have been in prayer and felt their presence and have taken dominion over them in the name of Jesus.  What is really sad to me is that hollywood has made them so popular that many scoff at their real existence… This is a terrible mistake folks.  This has happened with satan also I know Catholics who deny the existence of satan!  We are in a daily battle with some form of oppression.  The best defenses are found within the Holy Roman Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ and the sacraments.  There is power in all of them but especially in the Holy Eucharist and Confession.  Two of the saints I most love , St. Martin de Porres and St. Padre Pio were in literal battle with many demons.  Read their autobiographys or go on youtube and look up the movies on their lives it’s awesome! 

    • judeen

      so true,, they even stand in the back of our churches …. smelt them and felt them .. churchs of gossip and not doing Gods will but their own…

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  • VLL

    When he says that the weapons of the angelic/demonic class of being are intellectual in nature, could it be that he’s referring to the philosophical definition?  I seem to remember that Aquinas and company meant something different than the generic definition, which has more specific assumptions.  That is, that the causes are not apparent in the physical world  nor exist as form (though I could be wrong).

  • Sebastian

    So many responses on the subject, the number does not surprise me. I would only like to add, that I’m certain God knows every action and thought that any of us have, and that “us” includes all in this life, heaven, hell and purgatory, but specifically those evil acts we humans commit and evil thoughts we have – after all, we go to confess our sins, not the devils sins… through my fault, through my fault, through my most grevious falt. We confess whatever evil we have done (sin). I would love it if one of the Spiritual Directors would address differences between that which is evil and that which is human – sometimes that line is hard to distinguish between the two. I have always believed that both God and the Devil get blamed far to often for what is human. I believe we should be more concerned about the integrity and health of our own souls before contemplating the nature and design of evil – although to know your enemy is wise, i.e., demons and so forth. I can only repeat what I said earlier: “There is nothing greater than God’s love, no greater Love than Jesus,” who is ALL good and deserving of ALL our love. God Bless you all, or as God would say “be still…”

    • judeen

       it is the temptation , which is before every sin…  it is our descision to do it… and want to do it.  and know it is wronge.. that is the sin…  the sin is knowing it is wronge and doing it.. or deside to think about it…   but the 1st thought is not yours.. it is the devil tempting you…  to say no , that is wronge…    some times sin is so rooted in us we just do it.. we have no freedom.. we are controled by then… pride,,, so on greed  the deadly sins that rob us of everything

  • http://www.facebook.com/wulfrano.ruizsainz Wulfrano Ruiz Sainz

    Today… Earth is saturated and over-filled with them.

  • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

    Dear Catholic Spiritual Direction Family……I have just come across a very informative Video on U-Tube by Father Barron of Word on Fire on this Demon/Devil subject we are trying to understand.

    • LizEst

      Mary, Father Barron is very good.  Would you please kindly post the link to that YouTube video that you mentioned?  Thank you so much. 

      • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

        LizEst, just go to U-Tube and type Fr. Robert Barron’s Word on Fire and then click the Video.  You will fall in love with that Website as I did.  Fr. Barron is simply out of this word.  His Homilies on the Sunday Readings are very illuminating too.

  • Michael Elohim

    I would argue that lust is not a sin of the flesh. It is a sin of the spirit which inclines one to sins of the flesh, sins such adultery, fornication, masturbation, etc. This is an important distinction. Lust is a desire for intimate knowledge of another person’s body, knowledge to which one does not have a marital right. It is therefore conceivable that demons can lust for human women, as the 6th chpater of Genesis reaffirms. And although demons don’t have their own bodies, we know that they can possess human bodies in order to act upon their lusts.

  • gsn1111

    Can I ask for the answer to a post of David Rudmin, please? I find his post worthy and I would like to see either clarification or explanation of the subject he talks about. Blessings. Greg

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      You are right – he did provide good perspective. However, it is possible that both perspectives can co-exist. My answer is simple. Some of the perspectives of Fr. Fortea and David’s pointing to BACE etc. are matters of private revelation and interpretation of experience and not necessarily binding. The bottom line is that demons exist, and that they work to bring about our demise through possession, oppression, and infestation. My purpose for this post and the series to come is to help faithful Catholics become more aware of this fundamental reality. Outside of these basic facts regarding this post, in my opinion, further speculation falls into the realm of curiosity that readers are free to pursue in the writings of the doctors and theologians of the Church. However, I would note that this kind of curiosity may be unhealthy in some cases. I can say that Fr. Fortea is a world renowned demononologist with a huge amount of experience with a very rational and faithful approach to the subject. If I were to err on the side of faithful caution, after extensive exposure to Fr. Fortea’s teaching, I would tend to go with Fr. Fortea unless Church teaching clearly specified otherwise.

  • guest

    I am glad Dan is reminding people to stay vigilant, especially this time of year.  I have had some disturbing experiences throughout my life that have me convinced that evil is very real and very active.  It is unfortunate that many don’t understand the serious nature of this problem.  I wish Catholics were educated about this in a way that would provide a uniform and thorough defense against it throughout the entire Church.  I used to be a self-defense instructor – so I envision something like a “spiritual personal safety” program – 1) how to spot trouble, 2) the devil, or your imagination? 3) evasive techniques, 4) if it can’t be avoided you have options 1, 2, 3…, 5) if things escalate to serious, here is what you do, 6) when to call a priest and what to expect, 7) myths and facts, 8) DOs and DON’Ts, 9) resources.  We have the information piecemeal, but it would be nice to have it organized to address this specific topic.  When I think of my soul, I ought to exercise at least the same caution I do when walking down a busy street with my children – I’ve trained with people smarter/better than me for that situation and with proper vigilance and evasion strategies, I avoid trouble.  I also assess very well how dangerous things really are.  Before my training I couldn’t make that judgment. Seems to me the same idea might apply in the spirit world.

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  • bltpm

    Can people bring demons into one’s life that weren’t there? Kind of like a cold?

    Let me explain. I had an experience that I’m not sure how to understand it. For many days things were going well, on target, peacful. Then I spent a whole day with a person (relative) who clearly is anti-Catholic; and one that is living in many grave moral sins.

    The next day I was completely drained, exhausted, tired, wiped out. Why? I prayed several St. Michael prayers; asked our Lady for intercession and I can say I feel re-energized again. I know this sounds so odd. But it happens to me a lot. It’s not just a physical tiredness. I dare say I had been battling all day spiritually and the next I was just spiritually exhausted.

    Can demons sort of hang around one’s house; being brought by someone else?

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      It is certainly true that we can come into contact with specific demonic forces that may be present in others and that these forces can then turn their attention to us at the point of contact. If we are living in a state of grace this is nothing to worry about but simply a matter of spiritual battle. The key is to turn your attention toward the salvation of those oppressed.

    • LizEst

      I agree with Dan as well…and would also take this to my spiritual director. I don’t recall if you said you have one. If you don’t have one, it would be good to find one. A director can help you with this sort of thing…and help you grow in holiness. God bless you, bltm

  • bev_d

    Dan,
    Can you give me the name of the specific documents about what the holy see says about binding and naming spirits. I have gone to EWTN and put in exorcism and oh my. I can’t figure it out.
    Thanks

  • john

    Just had a dream. It for the most part was not of importance until I was standing in my room. In a low deep voice someone said “what do you like” in a sort of tone wed laughat but none the less it was deep. So now iI’m somewhere dream and awake. I can feel a dull pricking feeling like someone is waving their hand over my body. It coorlated with the area where the touching was. I panicked started to groan in a way that is used when we tend to have only the worse dreams

  • john

    Dream or something else. I now sit in my bed typing on my phone listening to max McLean’s John NIV. Tomorrow morning I’m headed to st josephs to confess everything I’ve ever done in the last ten years. Normally I’m not the person to get creeped out by this but this legitmatly has me concerned. Any suggestions would be much appreciated

    • LizEst

      I think that’s a good idea. Make a very good confession. If it has been more than ten years since you’ve confessed, go back to when your last confession was and confess everything so you come out of that confessional with a sparkling clean soul. Be sure to take a little bottle to church with you so you can pick up some holy water from the holy water dispenser. Use that to bless yourself at home. Pray the rosary as well.

  • Saint Berach

    I would also recommend a house blessing. The house feels clean and crisp and I sleep like an angel at night. Leave all your stress and negativity outside the house. Your house is a temple to God.