Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Church's Leading Exorcist: Fr. Gabriele Amorth


Father Gabriele Amorth is the Chief Exorcist of Rome. He was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest in 1954 and became an official exorcist in June 1986 under the tutelage of Candido Amantini. He belongs to the Congregation of the Society of St. Paul founded in 1914 by James Alberione.  A priest of 50 years, he is the undisputed leader of the city's six exorcists and honorary president-for-life of the International Association of Exorcists.

An Interview With Fr. Gabriele Amorth - The Church's Leading Exorcist | August 2001 | Gyles Brandreth

On the bumpy flight to Rome I read The Bible all the way. The passenger on my left - a wiry businesswoman from Wisconsin - found this disconcerting. As the turbulence worsened and I moved from Jude to Revelation, she hissed at me, "Do you have to?" "It's only background reading," I murmured. She grimaced. "What for?" I turned to her and whispered: "I'm going to meet the exorcist." "Oh Christ," she gasped, as the plane lurched and hot coffee spilled over us.

Father Gabriele Amorth is indeed the exorcist, the most senior and respected member of his calling. A priest for 50 years, he is the undisputed leader of the city's six exorcists (appointed by the cardinal to whom the Pope delegates the office of Vicar of Rome) and honorary president-for-life of the International Association of Exorcists. He is 75, small, spry, humorous, and wonderfully direct.

"I speak with the Devil every day," he says, grinning like a benevolent gargoyle. "I talk to him in Latin. He answers in Italian. I have been wrestling with him, day in day out, for 14 years."

On cue (God is not worried by clich├ęs) a shaft of October sunlight falls across Father Amorth's pale, round face. We are sitting at a table by the window in a small high-ceilinged meeting room at his Rome headquarters, the offices of the Society of St Paul. Father Amorth has come to exorcism late in life, but with impressive credentials. Born in 1925 in Modena, northern Italy, the son and grandson of lawyers (his brother is a judge), Gabriele Amorth, in his late teens, joined the Italian resistance.

Immediately after the war, he became a member of the fledgling Christian Democratic Party. Giulo Andreotti was president of the Young Christian Democrats, Amorth was his deputy. Andreotti went into politics and was seven times prime minister. Amorth, having studied law at university, went into the Church.

"From the age of 15," be says, "I knew it was my true vocation. My speciality was the Madonna. For many years I edited the magazine Madre di Deo (Mother of God). When I hear people say, 'You Catholics honour Mary too much,' I reply, 'We are never able to honour her enough.'

"I knew nothing of exorcism - I had given it no thought - until June 6, 1986 when Cardinal Poletti, the then Vicar of Rome, asked to see me. There was a famous exorcist in Rome then, the only one, Father Candido, but he was not well, and Cardinal Poletti told me I was to be his assistant. I learnt everything from Father Candido. He was my great master. Quickly I realised how much work there was to be done and how few exorcists there were to do it. From that day, I dropped everything and dedicated myself entirely to exorcism."

Father Amorth smiles continually as he tells his story. His enthusiasm for his subject is infectious and engaging. "Jesus performed exorcisms. He cast out demons. He freed souls from demonic possession and from Him the Church has received the power and office of exorcism. A simple exorcism is performed at every baptism, but major exorcism can be performed only by a priest licensed by the bishop. I have performed over 50,000 exorcisms. Sometimes it takes a few minutes, sometimes many hours. It is hard work multo duro."

How does he recognise someone possessed by evil spirits? "It is not easy. There are many grades of possession. The Devil does not like to be seen, so there are people who are possessed who manage to conceal it. There are other cases where the person possessed is in acute physical pain, such agony that they cannot move. "It is essential not to confuse demonic possession with ordinary illness. The symptoms of  possession often include violent headaches and stomach cramps, but you must always go to the doctor before you go to the exorcist. I have people come to me who are not possessed at all. They are suffering from epilepsy or schizophrenia or other mental problems. Of the thousands of patients I have seen, only a hundred or so have been truly possessed."

"How can you tell?"

"By their aversion to the sacrament and all things sacred. If blessed they become furious. If confronted with the crucifix, they are subdued." "But couldn't an hysteric imitate the symptoms?"

"We can sort out the phoney ones. We look into their eyes. As part of the exorcism, at specific times during the prayers, holding two fingers on the patient's eyes we raise the eyelids. Almost always, in cases of evil presence, the eyes look completely white. Even with the help of both hands, we can barely discern whether the pupils are towards the top or the bottom of the eye. If the pupils are looking up, the demons in possession are scorpions. If looking down, they are serpents."

As I report this now, it sounds absurd. As Father Amorth told it to me, it felt entirely credible.

I had gone to Rome expecting - hoping, even - for a chilling encounter, but instead of a sinister bug-eyed obsessive lurking in the shadows of a Hammer Horror film set, here I was sitting in an airy room facing a kindly old man with an uncanny knack for making the truly bizarre seem wholly rational. He has God on his side and customers at his door. The demand for exorcism is growing as never before. Fifteen years ago there were 20 church-appointed exorcists in Italy. Now there are 300.

I ask Father Amorph to describe the ritual of exorcism.

"Ideally, the exorcist needs another priest to help him and a group nearby who will assist through prayer. The ritual does not specify the stance of the exorcist. Some stand, some sit. The ritual says only that, beginning with the words Ecce crucem Domini ('Behold the Cross of the Lord') the priest should touch the neck of the possessed one with the hem of his stole and hold his hand on his head. The demons will want to hide. Our task is to expose them, and then expel them. There are many ways to goad them into showing themselves. Although the ritual does not mention this, experience has taught us that using oil and holy water and salt can be very effective.

"Demons are wary of talking and must be forced to speak. When demons are voluntarily chatty it's a trick to distract the exorcist. We must never ask useless questions out of curiosity. We but must interrogate with care. We always begin by asking for the demon's name."

"And does he answer?" I ask. Father Amorth nods. "Yes, through the patient, but in a strange, unnatural voice. If it is the Devil himself, he says 'I am Satan, or Lucifer, or Beelzebub. We ask if he is alone or if there are others with him. Usually there are two or five, 20 or 30. We must quantify the number. We ask when and how they entered that particular body. We find out whether their presence is due to a spell and the specifics of that spell.

"During the exorcism the evil may emerge in slow stages or with sudden explosions. He does not want show himself. He will be angry and he is strong. During one exorcism I saw a child of 11 held down by four strong men. The child threw the men aside with ease. I was there when a boy of 10 lifted a huge, heavy table.

"Afterwards I felt the muscles in the boy's arms. He could not have done it on his own. He had the strength of the Devil inside him.

"No two cases are the same. Some patients have to be tied down on a bed. They spit. They vomit. At first the demon will try to demoralise the exorcist, then he will try to terrify him, saying, 'Tonight I'm going to put a serpent between your sheets. Tomorrow I'm going to eat your heart'."

I lean towards Father Amorth. "And are you sometimes frightened?" I ask. He looks incredulous. "Never. I have faith. I laugh at the demon and say to him, 'I've got the Madonna on my side. I am called Gabriel. Go fight the Archangel Gabriel if you will.' That usually shuts them up."

Now he leans towards me and taps my hand confidentially. "The secret is to find your demon's weak spot. Some demons cannot bear to have the Sign of the Cross traced with a stole on an aching part of the body; some cannot stand a puff of breath on the face; others resist with all their strength against blessing with holy water.

"Relief for the patient is always possible, but to completely rid a person of his demons can take many exorcisms over many years. For a demon to leave a body and go back to hell means to die forever and to lose any ability to molest people in the future. He expresses his desperation saying: 'I am dying, I am dying. You are killing me; you have won. All priests are murderers'."

How do people come to be possessed by demons in the first place? "I believe God sometimes singles out certain souls for a special test of spiritual endurance, but more often people lay themselves open to possession by dabbling with black magic. Some are entrapped by a satanic cult. Others are the victims of a curse."

I interrupt. "You mean like Yasser Arafat saying to Ehud Barak, 'Go to Hell' and meaning it?"

"No." Father Amorth gives me a withering look. "That is merely a sudden imprecation. It is very difficult to perform a curse. You need to be a priest of Satan to do it properly. Of course, just as you can hire a killer if you need one, you can hire a male witch to utter a curse on your behalf. Most witches are frauds, but I am afraid some authentic ones do exist."

Father Amorth shakes his head and sighs at the wickedness of the world. At the outset be has told me he is confident he will have an answer to all my questions, but he has a difficulty with the next one. "Why do many more women seem to become possessed than men?"

"Ah, that we do not know. They may be more vulnerable because, as a rule, more women than men are interested in the occult. Or it may be the Devil's way of getting at men, just as he got to Adam through Eve. What we do know is that the problem is getting worse. The Devil is gaining ground. We are living in an age when faith is diminishing. If you abandon God, the Devil will take his place.

"All faiths, all cultures, have exorcists, but only Christianity has the true force to exorcise through Christ's example and authority. We need many more exorcists, but the bishops won't appoint them. In many countries - Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain there are no Catholic exorcists. It is a scandal. In England there are more Anglican exorcists than Catholic ones."

Although the post of exorcist is an official diocesan appointment (there are about 300 attached to the various bishops throughout Italy) and Father Amorth is undisputably the best known in his field, there is some tension between Amorth and the modernising tendencies in the Church hierarchy.

Devil-hunting is not fashionable in senior church circles. The Catholic establishment is happier talking about "the spirit of evil" than evil spirits. The Vatican recently issued a new rite of exorcism which has not met with Father Amorth's approval. "They say we cannot perform an exorcism unless we know for certain that the Evil One is present. That is ridiculous. It is only through exorcism that the demons reveal themselves. An unnecessary exorcism never hurt anybody."

What does the Pope make of all this? "The Holy Father knows that the Devil is still alive and active in the world. He has performed exorcism. In 1982, he performed a solemn exorcism on a girl from Spoletto. She screamed and rolled on the floor. Those who saw it were very frightened. The Pope brought her temporary freedom. "The other day, on September 6, at his weekly audience at St Peter's, a young woman from a village near Monza started to shriek as the Pope was about to bless her. She shouted obscenities at him in a strange voice. The Pope blessed her and brought her relief, but the Devil is still in her. She is exorcised each week in Milan and she is now coming to me once a month. It may take a long time to help her, but we must try. The work of the exorcists is to relieve suffering, to free souls from torment, to bring us closer to God."

Father Amorth has laughed and smiled a good deal during our three-hour discussion. He has pulled sundry rude faces to indicate his contempt for the pusillanimous bishops who have a monopoly on exorcism and refuse to license more practitioners. In his mouth it does not seem like mumbo-jumbo or hocus-pocus. He produces detailed case histories. He quotes scriptural chapter and verse to justify his actions. And he has a large following. His book, An Exorcist Tells his Story, has been reprinted in Italy 17 times.

Given his shining faith and scholarly approach, I hardly dare ask him whether he has seen the notorious 1973 horror film, The Exorcist. It turns out to be his favourite film. "Of course, the special effects are exaggerated. but it is a good film, and substantially exact, based on a respectable novel which mirrored a true story."

The film is held to be so disturbing it has never been shown [until recently] on British terrestrial television and until last year could not even be rented from video shops. None the less, Father Amorth recommends it. "People need to know what we do."

And what about hallowe'en? The American tradition has made no inroads in Italy. "Here it is on Christmas Eve that the Satanists have their orgies. Nothing happens on October 31. But if English and American children like to dress up as witches and devils on one night of the year that is not a problem. If it is just a game, there is no harm in that.''

It is time to go to the chapel where our photographer is waiting. Father Atnorth, used to the ways of the press, raises an eyebrow at us indulgently as he realises the photograph is designed to heighten the drama of his calling. Pictures taken, he potters off to find me of one ot his books.

"What do make of him?'' asks the photographer. "Is he mad?"

"I don't think so,'' I say. The award-winning Daily and Sunday Telegraph Rome correspondent, who has acted as interpreter br the interview, and is both a lapsed Catholic and a hardened hack, is more empathic: "There's not a trace of the charlatan about him. He is quite sane and utterly convincing."

Surprised at myself I add: "He seems to me to be a power for good in the world." With a smirk, the photographer loads his gear into the back of the taxi. ''So he's Peter Cushing then, not Christopher Lee," he says.

Father Amorth reappears with his book and smiles. "Remember, when we jeer at the Devil and tell ourselves that he does not exist, that is when he is happiest."




Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Power Of The Rosary





The intercession of Mother Mary is very powerful as Jesus cannot neglect His mother's command. She was blessed with Holy Spirit abundantly. With her endless sufferings while on earth, one cannot neglect the fact that she shared these sufferings with her only son, Jesus. She may be seen as a plain mother to many but the truth remains that she is one and Holy Mother of our Lord Most High Jesus. Contemplate on the mysteries of the Life and Passion of Jesus. This is how she wants us to share with her son's sufferings while on earth.

St. Dominic received the rosary from the Blessed Virgin in a vision why trying to convert the Albigensians in 1208. In his dream, he was told a great secret that the rosary was "a powerful weapon the Blessed Trinity to use to reform the world." 

Sr. Lucia, one of the children of Fatima said to Fr. Fuentes, (Dec. 26, 1957) regarding the rosary, she said, “The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the holy Rosary. With the holy Rosary, we will save ourselves; we will sanctify ourselves; we will console our Lord, and obtain the salvation of many souls.”

The power of the Rosary can change families; that power that can change each one of us. Each time we pray the Rosary satan loses ground. Where there is prayer from the heart, satan cannot survive.

When we say "The Power of the Rosary" we speak of the supernatural power that God releases. This power is released when we meditate on the 15 Mysteries of Jesus Christ which makes up the Soul of the Rosary because we look upon the face of Christ Jesus our Savior. We do so in union with the Immaculate Heart of His Mother.



Fifteen Promises of Mary to Christians Who Recite the Rosary

The following are the 15 promises of Mary to Christians who recite the rosary:
(given to St. Dominic and Blessed Alan)

1. Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the rosary, shall receive signal graces.

2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the rosary.

3. The rosary will be a powerful armor against hell.  It will destroy vice, decrease sin and defeat heresies.

4. It will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things.  Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.

5. Those who recommend themselves to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.

6. Whoever shall recite the rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune.  God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just, he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.

7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.

8. Those who are faithful to recite the rosary shall have during their life and at their death, the light of God and the plentitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.

9. I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the rosary.

10. The faithful children of the rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in heaven.

11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the rosary.

12. All those who propagate the holy rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.

13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.

14. All who recite the rosary are my sons, and brothers of my only son, Jesus Christ.

15. Devotion to my rosary is a great sign of predestination.



"If I had an army to say the Rosary, I could conquer the world."
 (Blessed Pope Piux IX)

"The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin…If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors." 
(Pope Pius XI)

"If you say the Rosary faithfully until death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins, you shall receive a never fading crown of glory. For even if you are now on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil…sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and save your soul. If–you say the Rosary devoutly every day of your life." 
(St. Louis De Montfort)

"The Rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life. It is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings. There is no more excellent way of praying." 
(Pope Leo XIII)

"The Rosary is the Weapon." 
(St. Pio)

"The Rosary is my favorite prayer." 
(Blessed Pope John Paul II)

“The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” 
(Saint Francis de Sales)

“When the Holy Rosary is said well, it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and is more meritorious than any other prayer.”
(Saint Louis de Montfort)

“The Holy Rosary is the storehouse of countless blessing.” 
(Blessed Alan de la Roche)

“One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, Our Lady will save the world.” 
(Saint Dominic)

“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day be led astray. This is a statement that I would gladly sign with my blood.” 
(Saint Louis de Montfort)

“The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God…and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.”
(Pope Saint Pius X)

“When you say your Rosary, the angels rejoice, the Blessed Trinity delights in it, my Son finds joy in it too, and I myself am happier than you can possibly guess. After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there is nothing in the Church that I love as much as the Rosary.” 
(Our Lady to Blessed Alan de la Roche)

“‘Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!’ No creature has ever said anything that was more pleasing to me, nor will anyone ever be able to find or say to me anything that pleases me more.”
(Our Lady to Saint Mechtilde)

One day, St. Dominic prayed to Our Lady that she would force the devils who possessed a man to reveal the truth about devotion to her. The devils were forced by Our Lady to reveal: Listen to what the devils said, "Now that we are forced to speak we must also tell you this: Nobody who perseveres in saying the Rosary will be damned, because she obtains for her servants the grace of true contrition for their sins and by means of this they obtain God's forgiveness and mercy."