Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 31, 2005
Priest battled with Satan
Ottawa-area cleric helped the possessed find deliverance from demonic oppression
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
"Evil spirits will not look at a crucifix: It symbolizes defeat."
- Fr. Mike
Father Mike says he "fell into" the deliverance ministry, and one reason why he wishes to remain anonymous is that he no longer does this kind of work.
"It's not something you do for fun," he says. "You get dragged in.
"You do it because someone you know is suffering. I don't go looking for trouble."
He learned about deliverance prayer while active in the charismatic movement and believes that most other Canadian Catholic priests who have experience in this area also come from that movement.
He says that much ignorance and lack of awareness surrounds the role of the demonic in mental health, and "sometimes people were simply sent off to a psychiatrist," when they had a spiritual problem.
"I think it (deliverance) is part of the healing ministry," Father Mike says.
In fact, when Father Mike was serving near a mental hospital, two or three psychiatrists began sending some of their patients for deliverance prayer because of the success of the prayer team.
One psychiatrist brought a patient he'd been treating for seven years without much success, and watched that individual undergo "a tremendous change in three hours," Father Mike says.
Father Mike says that great discernment is necessary to determine when a problem has a spiritual origin and when it's simply mental illness.
That's why he thinks it is wise for anyone doing this to work in a team.
"We have made distinctions that don't stand up," he says. "We want clear categories. There's no reason evil would not be interested in someone who is already disturbed.
"It's not always one or the other. More often it's a combination."
Father Mike says a good deliverance team does a lot of teaching about the faith. He says God is not interested in delivering people so they can continue sinning, but so that they might serve him.
"You can't continue to sleep around, and do drugs," he said.
"There's quite a bit of teaching. We have to teach the faith. Many have not learned about the faith."
Some people want to hold onto their sin. They can't be helped.
Father Mike once counselled a woman who hated her husband. He told her she would have to forgive him if she was to be free.
"Oh no, I couldn't do that," she said, with a chilling smile. "That is all I have to live on."
"She got up and left and I have never felt so much in the presence of evil."
After the prayer team would interview a person to discern where the problem areas lay and what needed healing, the team members would hold a crucifix in front of the person and begin to pray and address the spirits.
They would tell the person to look at the crucifix, but when the evil spirits were being addressed, the person's head might fall to the side.
"Evil spirits will not look at a crucifix," Father Mike says. "It symbolizes defeat.
"Symbols have a certain life. They represent the truth."
"We would see absolute terror in the eyes of people when addressing spirits.
"We'd see their heads go sideways. We would continue to do that and be praying. We'd keep doing it until we knew the stuff was gone."
The prayer sessions would take sometimes an hour, sometimes five. When they would encounter a roadblock, the team would go into the church and pray, asking God what to do next.
In most cases, the person prayed for felt dramatic effects, and felt "something real." "In some cases, the changes were visible. They no longer looked the same."
Father Mike says they told some who'd been prayed for that they might continue to hear voices afterwards, but now the voices were "on the outside" and not on the inside.
"They are liars. Don't listen to them. They're trying to frighten you," Father Mike would tell them.
Each case was different, though, so no set deliverance pattern developed. He found the work "rewarding, but exhausting."
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