When asked if he had ever witnessed a person levitate during a demon possession, Adam replied yes. In fact, he said, there are two types of levitation. The first is when someone levitates straight up and usually stops about a foot or so from the ceiling. The second, he said, is when they levitate about a foot and a half or so off the ground and then move about in a serpentine pattern. At this point, the hair on the back of my neck stood-up and I got the heebie-jeebies.
Several years ago, I attended a single-day spiritual conference offered here in Kansas City called Men Under Construction . One of the speakers was Adam Blai. Adam is a peritus of religious demonology and exorcism for the diocese of Pittsburgh. He also trains priests in exorcism on a national level. I think most of the men attending that year were very excited to hear Adam speak, as was I. For some reason, we as men, are fascinated with the idea of demon possession.
The Battle at our Doorstep
So why are we, as men, intrigued by demonic possession? Is it because it has a sense of danger surrounding it? Hollywood targets men as the demographic who seek out action, adventure, thrill, and horror style movies. Is it something in our DNA? Are all men like this?
I would argue there’s a more fundamental reason we are intrigued by such events. It’s a well-documented attribute at the core of the male character, men are protectors. If you Google that phrase, it brings back over 24 million results. Not to say women cannot or are not protectors (think about mothers protecting their children), but men are historically known as hunters, providers, and protectors. For thousands of years, that protection has been in the physical word in the form of animals, humans, the weather, etc… But a demonic possession takes a battle that, on some level you could argue only exists in the spiritual world, and brings into the physical world. It’s no longer a fantasy of angels and demons fighting in the book of Revelations. No. A demonic possession brings the fight to our doorstep. It crosses over from the spiritual world and makes its presence felt in the human world.
As Adam Blai continued his lecture, there were two other things he mentioned that I wanted to share. The first deals with how the transition happens. How a demon takes possession. There were several things Adam discussed on this topic, but everything seemed to center on single point. It must be invited. If one is dealing with Ouija boards, seances, or the occult, then you are opening a door (or at least unlocking it) for the potential of a very bad thing.
On the other hand, if a demon can take possession of a person because they’ve opened themselves up to that connection, imagine what can happen if you open yourself up to God. Both are waiting to be invited into your heart. By allowing God into your life through prayer, the sacraments, and reading the Bible, you are allowing yourself to become more like Him.
The second point he made was what I call “intent of prayer.” Adam told a story of him asking a husband to pray over his possessed wife during an exorcist. As the husband knelt next to his wife, he began to say the Our Father. The woman slowly leaned over and began to mock the husband by saying the prayer with him and waving her finger at him. I know…heebie-jeebies, right! Adam pulled the husband aside and told him he had to mean every single word of the prayer. Adam proceeded to kneel next to the woman and say the Our Father again, only he said it with his whole heart. The woman proceeded to “hiss” at Adam.
This made me reconsider the way I pray. When I say the rosary, do I say it as quick as I can? Do I try and beat my last time? Do I really listen to the words of the pre-set prayers we as Catholics say? If a demon isn’t going to take those words seriously when they are just mindlessly said, then how can God?
With Him and Through Him
As the hunters, gatherers, and protectors, we spend very little time asking for help. How many times do we say, “I got this” or “I’m good.” We consider asking for help a sign of weakness. This is truly a shame. Not only do we need help in our faith journey from other people, but we would not make it very far on this journey without God. You know the saying about the footsteps in the sand, God is always with us, waiting for us to turn to Him. In some rare cases, those conditions can be extreme, like a possession. And when those cases occur, the goal is to remove the evil from within the person and hopefully replace it with the love and mercy only God can provide.
As I reflected on Adam’s lecture, I became more aware of how I pray and that what type of activities I have in my life. I’ve tried much harder to mean what I say, not only to God but to other people I encounter. And for the activities, I try to consider if each activity is going to bring me or someone else closer to God. If it doesn’t, I have two choices. I either find a way to make it God-centric or I don’t do it all.