"It's really got to be fought by prayer."
Just one verse each day.
Much of what you may have heard about demonic possession is true, according to an Oklahoma exorcist.
Superhuman strength, occult knowledge of things the person could not naturally know, strong aversion to blessed religious objects like crucifixes, or knowledge of languages never learned, are all signs of demonic activity, said Msgr. Patrick Brankin, in an interview today in Tulsa World.
Msgr. Brankin should know. He’s been the exorcist for the Diocese of Tulsa, Okla., for four years and has seen it all.
Foreign languages, for example. One person Msgr. Brankin was called in to help did not speak Latin. But the person mocked the priest and corrected him when he inadvertently transposed two words in the Latin rite of exorcism, he said.
As the neighboring diocese of Oklahoma City braces for the “black mass” performance at the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall this coming Sunday, people like Msgr. Brankin find themselves more and more in demand.
“The number of Catholic exorcists in America has doubled every year for the past three years,” said Msgr. Brankin. His bishop, Bishop Edward J. Slattery, said the practice of exorcism is gaining ground in the Church.
As Oklahoma City officials dug in their heels and refused to cancel the Sept. 21 black mass, Bishop Slattery andArchbishop Paul Coakleyappealed to the faithful to pray and fast.
“It’s really got to be fought by prayer,” Msgr. Brankin said, noting that Bishop Slattery had asked Catholics to engage in a novena of fasting and prayer leading up to the Feast of the Assumption. He also asked priests of the diocese to pray the Leonine Prayers, which Msgr. Brankin characterized as an “exorcism of place.”
"I am profoundly relieved that this group has returned to Archbishop Coakley the consecrated Host which they intended to desecrate, but am still concerned that they have not backed away from all the other blasphemies and sacrileges involved in this ritual worship of Satan," Bishop Slattery wrote recently at the website of the Diocese of Tulsa. "Public worship of the Devil brings the dark powers of the enemy into the open. It legitimizes horrific abuse and normalizes acts of shameful degradation. It poses a spiritual danger to everyone directly or indirectly involved in it, but that same danger threatens every one of our families."
When a group tried to perform a public black mass in Oklahoma City, Bishop Slattery privately conducted special prayers called the Leonine Exorcism, according to Msgr. Brankin. The event was cancelled and the group disbanded.
This year, Bishop Slattery has asked every pastor to hold a holy hour of Eucharistic adoration at the same time as this Sunday’s black mass and that wherever possible there be an outdoor procession “so that we can both reaffirm the lordship of Jesus and also reclaim the land that is now being blasphemed and claimed for the enemy.”
In Oklahoma City, Archbishop Coakley will lead a Eucharistic holy hour Sunday afternoon, hours before the black mass is scheduled to take place.
The satanic ritual, sponsored by the Dakhma of Angra Mainyu, is reportedly sold out. Tulsa’s exorcist warns that anyone who might attend should think twice. Another exorcist made a similar point in an interview with Aleteia this summer.
“I would think that there would be a real strong possibility, especially if they’re in the state of sin, that they would walk out possessed,” Msgr. Brankin said. “They’re going into a situation where people there are calling upon Satan to exercise dominion over everything in the state—dominion over people, places, our very land. They promise to do an exorcism of the Christians there, which, in their own foolish talk, involves the pulling out of the Holy Spirit. If someone went there out of curiosity, especially if there was a possibility that they were not in the state of grace, they could easily come out with a demonic attachment, whether it would be an oppression, obsession or a full possession.”
He explained the differences among those three categories: "Oppression and Obsession are very painful and damaging states of demonic interference, but less controlling than Diabolic Possession. In effect, the control in oppression and obsession are from the outside, while the demonic control in possession is from the inside."
In any case, such a scenario would contribute to what Msgr. Brankin and others say is a growing need for exorcists. The Tulsa priest says he gets several calls for help each week.
“We had seven calls yesterday,” he told Tulsa World.
The uptick can be attributed to the increasing secularism in society, Bishop Slattery affirmed in the Tulsa World article. When he arrived in Tulsa 20 years ago, he said, the diocese was getting about one call a year concerning demonic activity. “But in the last few years, we’re seeing more demonic activity,” he said, a trend he attributes to a society that has turned to Ouija boards, witchcraft, astrology, fortune telling and other occult practices that “open the door to the demonic.”
“There’s a lot of that now. As people stop going to church, this will happen,” he said.
Msgr. Brankin’s first foray into the field of exorcism was more than four years ago, when Bishop Slattery asked him to look into a particularly troubling case—even before Msgr. Brankin was commissioned as an exorcist. He found the person crouched in a corner of a room, but even stranger was the fact that the demon in the person immediately recognized him as a priest—and that he had not been given the authority to exorcise it.
“That scared me,” Msgr. Brankin said.
Months later, after undergoing exorcism training in Rome, working with an experienced exorcist, and being given faculties as an exorcist, he returned. This time, he said in an interview with Aleteia, the demon said, “So now you have faculties. You still won’t be able to do….”
“And he used an expletive,” Msgr. Brankin recalled. “Demons are constantly laughing at the exorcist. ‘You don’t have the strength, you don’t have the power. I have the right to stay here. She belongs to me.”
The victim was successfully exorcised and is living a healthy Christian life, Msgr. Brankin said.
John Burger is news editor for Aleteia’s English edition.