New book by Catholic priest sets the record straight on the devil and exorcism
SAN DIEGO: Catholic Answers Press’s latest release, Demons, Deliverance, and Discernment: Separating Fact from Fiction About the Spirit World, cuts through Hollywood myths about demonic possession and cautions Christians to avoid sensationalistic and spiritually dangerous attitudes towards the supernatural.
With popular interest in the occult at an all-time high, and even the pope warning us about demonic influence, Fr. Mike Driscoll saw the need for a careful corrective to the hype found both outside and inside the Church. His doctorate in counseling, decades of pastoral experience, and in-depth research into the Catholic practice of exorcism made him uniquely qualified to speak to the growing phenomena of reported demonic attacks and the upstart devil-fighting ministries that claim to ward them off.
“Many people are over-emotional on this subject,” says Fr. Driscoll. “I wanted to sift through that and give a sober, objective look—from Church teaching and the testimony of working exorcists.”
Part of that objectivity, he says, involves the ability to distinguish between mental illness and demonic influence. “Chronic mental and emotional problems may be exacerbated by demons,” he says, “because the devil likes to attack us where we’re weakest. But not every problem has a demon behind it.”
Such discernment, he adds, is too often lacking in so-called “deliverance ministries,” which place undue emphasis on “spiritual warfare” against extraordinary demonic attacks and not enough on the less sensational way that most of us encounter the devil’s influence—in the daily temptations to sin.
“Every once in a while, Satan is a great dragon,” says Fr. Driscoll, “but most of the time he’s just a little whispering serpent, trying to steer us away from following God’s will.” And so Fr. Driscoll made a point to include in his book spiritual practices and prayers that will instill in us the grace and virtuous habits that are the ordinary—and for most of us the best—defense against demons.
About the Author:
Fr. Mike Driscoll is a priest of the Diocese of Peoria, Ill. He was ordained in 1992, has been pastor of several parishes, and is currently serving as chaplain of St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa, Ill., where he counsels and ministers to patients with mental disorders.