“I couldn’t even begin to count them,” said Fr. Vincent Lampert, referring to the number of exorcisms he’s performed in his eleven years as exorcist for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Not just once or a few times, but “countless hundreds of times” he’s been called upon to pray or to perform a Rite of Exorcism when a person has been troubled by demons.
I had contacted Father Lampert as part of my research for an article I was writing for the National Catholic Register regarding the Indiana “exorcism house” which was demolished last month. In that home, there were multiple manifestations of possession–from swarms of flies in mid-winter, to steps on the creaking basement staircase, to actual levitation. Many impartial observers–including police officers, social workers, medical staff, and neighbors–had seen the unusual events happening at the house occupied by LaToya Ammon and her three children. (Read more about the Indiana house here.)
Father Lampert is also pastor of St. Malachy Catholic Church in Brownsburg, Indiana, a lively parish of 2,500 families. He explained the nature of his work as an exorcist, and the types of cases he’s likely to see.
True “demonic possession,” in which a demon takes over the body of a human person, is rare, he said; but there are other forms of demonic infestation which are actually quite common. The door may be opened to demonic interdiction when a person gets involved in occult practices–such as use of a Ouija board, seances, or tarot cards.
A more serious type of demonic infiltration in our world is demonic obsession. In his eleven years as exorcist, Fr. Lampert said that most of the cases he’s handled involve demonic oppression, vexation, and infestation.
Padre Pio was subjected to demonic oppression or vexation–trials which opened his heart to greater dependence upon God. And St. Paul wrote in his Second Letter to the Corinthians about being given a “thorn in the flesh” (a vexation) to help him to remain humble and dependent upon God. Many saints, Father Lampert reminded me, experienced oppression and demonic attacks. These were permitted by God, that these holy men and women might demonstrate their fidelity to Him.
But when it comes to location, it’s not, Father Lampert explained, as though demons lived at a certain address on a certain street. The reality is that as pure spirit, evil is, as Thomas Aquinas wrote, “either here or there”–but is choosing to act “there.”
He offered a warning to people who might engage in practices that they think are simply entertaining. Engaging in seances, playing with a Ouija board, hanging around a cemetery–these might seem like harmless pastimes, but in reality, they are opening themselves up to interacting with evil. “People don’t realize,” he said, “that there are real spiritual ramifications for their actions. They open a door–and then, they may not be able to close that door.”
Image of Zombie: Pixabay
St Francis Borgia Exorcism, by User Gerald Farinas on en.wikipedia (Unknown) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons