After an exorcism, how does a person keep the devil from coming back? In the Gospels we read a story that describes how a person who was exorcised was then visited by a whole host of demons, and sought to reenter in a more forceful way (cf. Matt. 12:43-45). The rite of exorcism only expels demons from a person; it does not keep them from coming back.
In order to ensure that the devil does not return, exorcists recommend four ways that will keep a person’s soul at peace and in God’s hands:
- Frequent the Sacraments of Confession and Eucharist
The most common way a demon can enter into someone’s life is through a habitual state of mortal sin. The more we divorce ourselves from God through sin, the more susceptible we are to a demon’s attack. Even venial sin can chip away at our relationship with God and can expose us to the enemy’s advances.
Confession of sins, then, is the primary way we have to put an end to our life of sin and start out on a new path. It is no coincidence that the devil relentlessly tried to scare St. John Vianney away from hearing the confessions of hardened sinners. Vianney knew a big sinner was coming to town if the devil harassed him the night before. Confession has such power and grace that the devil must flee from a person who frequents that sacrament.
Along with confession, the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is even more powerful in driving away the influence of the devil. This makes perfect sense as the Holy Eucharist is the real presence of Jesus Christ, and demons have absolutely zero power in front of God himself. Especially when the Eucharist is received in a state of grace after confession, the devil simply has no place to go but back from whence they came. St. Thomas Aquinas confirmed this in his Summa Theologiae when he wrote, “[The Eucharist] repels all the assaults of demons. Hence Chrysostom says: ‘Like lions breathing forth fire, thus do we depart from that table, being made terrible to the devil.’”
- Consistent Prayer Life
A person who frequents the sacrament of confession and the Eucharist must also abide by a consistent daily prayer life. The key word is consistent! This puts a person in a daily state of grace and relationship with God. A person who regularly converses with God should never be afraid of the devil. Exorcists always suggest to possessed persons to abide by strong spiritual habits, such as frequent reading of Scripture as well as praying the rosary and other private prayers. Having a daily schedule of prayer is most beneficial and keeps the demons at bay.
This advice comes straight from the Gospels, when Jesus said to his disciples, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29). Each of us must discern to what kind of fasting we are called to practice. For us who live in the world and have many responsibilities (such as our families) we cannot fast so much as to neglect our own vocation. At the same time, if we are to keep the demons away, we must challenge ourselves to fast beyond giving up chocolate for Lent.
Exorcists not only use sacramentals (the rite of exorcism is a sacramental) but advise possessed persons to frequently use sacramentals. They are a powerful weapon in the daily fight to keep the devil from ever coming back. Exorcists suggest such sacramentals as blessed salt and blessed water not only be kept at home but to be brought along wherever a person goes. Even sacramentals such as the brown scapular have great power over demons. Venerable Francis Ypes recounted how one day his scapular fell off. As he replaced it, the devil howled, “Take off the habit that snatches so many souls from us!”
If you want to ward off any evil powers, take seriously these four methods. Not only will they keep the devil from having power over you, you will be on the pathway to becoming a saint.
Philip Kosloski is a writer and blogger. His blog can be found at philipkosloski.com.