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The news of Cdl. Blase Cupich's ban on the Prayer to St. Michael at the end of the celebration of the Mass piqued the interest of many. "Si non e vero, e bene trovato," the Italians say ("If it is not true, it is well found" or, in other words, it makes perfect sense).
The action of the Devil is a reality in the Catholic Church today more than ever. And his effort to pass unnoticed is a successful strategy, sometimes helped by trendy ecclesiastics.
You will all have heard about the famous film The Exorcist, which is based on the novel by William Peter Blatty. The novel was inspired by the 1949 real-life case of the demonic possession and exorcism of a 14-year-old boy, Ronald Hunkeler from Cottage City, Maryland.
Blatty first heard about the case in 1950 while a student at Georgetown University. It was widely published by the media. Blatty contacted the exorcist priest and also managed to get access to a copy of the diary kept by the assistant priest. His book and the film are based on this material. It took over 20 exorcisms to finally cast out the demon from the young man.
If you think a person may be possessed, there are a number of indicators to look for: freezing temperatures; vile odors; doors and windows banging uncontrollably; furniture tipping over; pictures falling from walls; the bed carrying the possessed person moving, bouncing and levitating; languages unknown to the possessed being spoken; writing appearing on the body of the person; vomiting of solid objects; superhuman feats of strength; aversion to crucifixes and holy water; and the palpable sensation of an evil and malevolent presence.
Many of these telltale signs of demonic possession were present during the Ronald Hunkeler exorcism and were terrifyingly reproduced in the Blatty film. Priests say that after the release of the film, confessionals were never empty, and nonpracticing Catholics by the thousands returned to the practice of their Faith.
In 1976, Fr. Malachi Martin wrote a masterpiece on diabolical possession called Hostage to the Devil. It deals with multiple cases of exorcism in the United States where the possessed were still alive at the time of the writing of the book. It is an extremely well-researched book, with input from the exorcised persons themselves, their families, the exorcist priests and the information contained in the tape recordings and notes on the exorcisms. The four stories are spine-chillingly compelling reading.
In the same year Fr. Martin's book was published, Anneliese Michel died during an exorcism. This amazing story was also made into a film — The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
Then there's the exorcism of an Italian woman, one of many carried out by Fr. Gabriele Amorth — the exorcist of the diocese of Rome who died in 2016 at the age of 91 and is said to have performed more than 40,000 exorcisms during his life.
In his book L'Ultimo Esorcista ("The Last Exorcist"), Amorth tells the story of Simona, a young woman wanting to get ahead in her world. On the advice of a friend, she makes a pact with Satan during a séance, giving her soul to him in return for advancement at work.
The results started immediately. Within five months, she rose from an entry-level employee to a director of the organization with more than a tripling of her salary and innumerable benefits.
But the price was that she now had within her a presence that goaded her to commit violence. She experienced hatred and anger, with a voice telling her to attack, beat and kill people around her. When these rages came upon her, she would hide in the bathroom and bash her head uncontrollably against the walls, splattering herself with blood.
She found the pact with Satan had consequences. She started suffering diabolical attacks every day at the most inopportune moments. Her life became a living hell, and she could not liberate herself from the evil presence.
But the grace of God was not completely crushed in her. She sought the advice of Fr. Amorth. Amorth tried exorcising her, but he was unsuccessful because the Devil was well entrenched in his victim and refused to respond to the priests' demands. So he gave Simona a regime of daily prayer.
He instructed her to pray the prayer given to us by Our Lady herself at Rue du Bac: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." He gave her the Miraculous Medal to wear around her neck. She was to clench it in her hand while praying the prayer every time the Devil threw her body into rages.
The Devil started attacking her even more ferociously. But now, when she bashed her head against the walls, she was no longer left with the cuts, bleeding and bruises. There were now no signs of the violence. Father Amorth saw this as a good sign of the intercession of the Virgin Mary.
After two years of struggling against this Satanic possession, Simona was offered the second-highest position in the entire organization, but it would be at the cost of the incumbent person being forced out.
Father Amorth told her it was an effort by Satan to break the power of the assistance of the Virgin Mary in her life. He urged her to refuse the promotion. "Your career has been given to you by Satan," he said. "This is a test from Heaven. Trust in Our Lady."
Simona refused the promotion, to the incredulity of those around her. Her career collapsed. Within six months, she lost her job. After two years, she was finally freed from Satan. She found a new job and light returned to her life.
There are many more stories like these, each a testament to the reality of Satanic influence. In the Gospel, we read about Jesus exorcising a young girl without even seeing the child in person. The faith of the mother was sufficient for Jesus to heal her.
Yes, it is a very good thing to recite the Prayer to St. Michael at the end of Mass, as well as in other circumstances during the day. Exorcists can do nothing without prayer. Our cries to Heaven — powerfully aided by Our Lady, the angels and saints — truly destroy the Devil's power.
The news of Cdl. Cupich ordering the removal of one of the Church's most powerful prayers, if or when it is fully confirmed, shows which angel he prefers.