Fr. Joseph K. Horn
30 January 1994
St Norbert’s Parish
“Does Satan really exist?”
“Can devils really possess people?”
“Did Satan really take over people’s minds and bodies and make them do what he wanted?”
“Does it still happen today?”
I hear these questions very often. Some theologians would say that these are difficult questions with complicated answers. The Church teaches otherwise. These are easy questions, with simple answers.
Does Satan really exist? YES.
Can devils really possess people? YES.
Did Satan really take over people’s minds and bodies and make them do what he wanted? YES.
Does it still happen today? YES.
Let’s clarify these, for the record.
Does Satan really exist? Some theologians claim that Satan is merely a literary anthropomorphism invented by the authors of the scriptures to personify evil, much like we use Uncle Sam to personify the United States. This is not true. Jesus referred to Satan and the devils on numerous occasions as real people, not as literary characters. Someone may object that Jesus didn’t really say that, but had those words put into his mouth by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. This is not true. The Church has always taught, as a tenet of faith, that Satan is a real person, that the other devils are real persons, and that Jesus meant exactly what he said. Does Satan really exist? Yes.
Can devils really possess people? Today’s gospel is not science fiction. There are many biblical accounts of demonic possession. The Church has always taught, as a tenet of faith, that the Bible is inerrant, which means that the teachings of the Bible are correct. Can devils really possess people? Yes.
Did Satan really take over people’s minds and bodies and make them do what he wanted? There are not only civil records, but Church records of diabolical phenomena in society throughout history. A famous case happened in 1949, in Maryland, to a 14-year-old boy. Newsweek magazine (not my usual source of truth) described it correctly this way:
“Pictures, chairs and the boy’s bed would suddenly move about. At night, the boy could barely sleep. After he was admitted to Georgetown University Hospital... the boy began to mouth fierce curses in ancient languages, and at one point, while strapped down helplessly in his bed, long red scratches appeared on his body.”This is on the medical record, and is not the frenzied hallucination of some religious fanatic. The priest who was called in to perform the exorcism was successful. The boy survived and today lives a normal life just outside of Washington, D.C. The exorcist, now a very old priest, has taken a vow not to discuss the event. I feel that this is unfortunate, since the 1970’s movie that was based on the event, called The Exorcist, changed the facts so much and contained so much impossible silliness that it can only be ranked as poor fiction. But the possession and exorcism did occur. Did Satan really take over people’s minds and bodies and make them do what he wanted? Yes.
Does it still happen today? This is the easiest question of all. Look at the news lately. The court system of the United States is without a doubt the finest in the world, but look at the evil decisions that have been made by juries and judges lately. Our government system, a representative republic, is without a doubt the finest in the world, but look at the evil laws that have been passed lately. The executive branch of government is one of the most respected titles on earth, but today we have people in that position who not only trample on the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of all unborn citizens, but are trying to make all of us pay for the abortions that they inhumanly demand. The young were honored throughout history as models of simplicity and peace, but today’s youth are insubordinate, violent, stressed-out, and angry.
Tell me: where could such evil come from? Are we caught in the toxic tail of some comet? Are the effects of artificial flavor and color in our foods slowly catching up with us? Perhaps, as they proposed in the last century, traveling faster than 20 miles per hour slowly destroys your brain?
We have no need for such foolish explanations. We already have one that not only makes sense, but is supported by 2000 years of Church teaching and the word of God Himself. It is in the devil’s best interest to destroy the good things in our world. If the devil could somehow get inside the minds and bodies of enough people, he could begin a reign of terror of apocalyptic proportions. Literally. Does the devil possess people? Look around you and tell me what you see!
I do not believe that we are in the End Times. I believe that God has many more glorious plans for this planet, and that it’ll be around for a long time to come. But we must stop ignoring the influence of real evil! If we are to be part of God’s plan of bringing the Kingdom of God to earth, then we must be vigilant in our discernment of spirits. Next time you hear of a person doing something so evil it makes your skin crawl, don’t just wring your hands. Say a prayer. Say, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” Say, “St. Michael, the archangel, defend us in battle. Cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls.”
Does it still happen today? Listen to the voice of Jesus saying, “Can you not discern the signs of the times? Can you not tell a tree by its fruit? Yes, it’s happening. I told you it would. But I founded my Church on the rock of Peter and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it! You shall not be harmed. Have faith in me, and I will protect you. I have promised it, and I will do it!”