Two American Exorcists Weigh in on Reported Mexican Possessions
There is one place where not even the most adventurous thrill seeker should tread: into the occult. Every exorcist will attest that even a little curiosity is dangerous because it opens one up to a world that is not always so easy to leave.
According to a report on June 23 from the Daily Mail, three young Americans in a Mexican village ventured into such a world by playing with a Parker Brothers Ouija board. All three may have been demonically possessed. “Alexandra Huerta, 22, was playing the game with her brother Sergio, 23, and 18-year-old cousin Fernando Cuevas at a house in the village of San Juan Tlacotenco in south-west Mexico. But minutes into it, she apparently started ‘growling’ and thrashing around in a ‘trance-like’ state.”
Sergio and Fernando also showed signs of possession and all three were taken by ambulance to the hospital. The rescue was reported as very complicated due to their erratic movements and trance-like state. The video of Alexandra (below) shows her growling and struggling fiercely against restraints. Alexandra’s parents called paramedics after a local Catholic priest refused to perform an exorcism because the three were not regular churchgoers.
According to two American exorcists, the Mexican priest made the right decision in refusing to do an exorcism. Fr. Vincent Lampert a Vatican-trained exorcist and a church pastor in the diocese of Indiana said there are a number of reasons for this.
“Exorcism should always be viewed within the wider scope of overall pastoral care,” he said. “Jesus Christ is ultimately the one who will give freedom to people who are possessed.” He explained that since faith is a key ingredient in exorcisms, there would be no purpose to do an exorcism if the people aren’t acceptable to growing in faith. “Indeed, without faith their situation could become even worse,” he said, referring to Matthew 12:45. “Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”
Fr. Lampert also pointed out that before performing an exorcism, it has to be determined whether it is a genuine case or perhaps something linked with hysteria or mental illness. He personally has performed two exorcisms, but has assisted with many during his training in Rome. There, he witnessed manifestations such as levitating and speaking languages the possessed person previously did not know.
Before performing an exorcism, an investigation is done to rule out other causes and the exorcist must receive permission from his bishop before proceeding. As part of the investigation, Fr. Lampert said it needs to be determined what the point of entry was. “A Ouija board is associated with occult activities, and this can be a way that people open up a doorway to evil in their lives.”
Msgr. John Esseff of the Diocese of Scranton, Pa., has been a priest for 61 years and an exorcist in his diocese for 40. He is currently serving as a director of spiritual formation for seminarians at Creighton University in Omaha. According to him, the priest in Mexico was not in a position to perform an exorcism. “Proper screening is essential, because, more often than not, mental illness is the problem,” he said.
“Also if someone does not have a prayer life and a relationship with God, then exorcising him or her could be like a revolving door,” he said. “A person’s behavior is what allows a demon to enter. It’s easy for demons to enter people who open themselves up through the occult,” he said.
“We are living in a very dark world, but we need not fear because prayer drives out evil and protects us,” according to Msgr. Esseff. “There is another power other than God though and that power is Satan.” He said prayer and a relationship with God protects us from evil.
“Possessions are rare,” he said. “I’ve only every seen two, but between possession and temptation, the devil can also oppress and obsess. Those are situations where he devil is able to harass people. But according to Msgr. Esseff, any involvement with the occult such as a Ouija board, which seeks answers from the devil, invites evil in. We need not fear it, he said, but we should make a point to stay away from it.
“God will be the victor,” Msgr. Esseff said. “Jesus is God, and through the power of Jesus, the devil is vanquished.” He explained that every priest’s greatest power to overcome evil is through the sacramental power of his priesthood. “A priest can hear confessions and forgive sins,” he said. “One confession is worth 100 exorcisms. The devil wants to destroy the soul, and the soul is healed by confession. If people want to decrease the work of Satan, they should increase the use of confession.”