In 2017, more than 200 Catholic priests from around the world traveled to the Vatican for training on how to perform exorcisms, the ritual used by the Catholic Church to free people who are believed to be possessed by demons.
According to a priest in Indianapolis, when he was appointed an official exorcist in 2005, there were 12 others across the United States. Last year, there were about 50 he was personally aware of in the country.
Though the Catholic Church exhibits great caution before approving them, demands for exorcism are on the rise. One priest from Brownsburg, Indiana stated early on in his role as a priest, he would get maybe 5 calls a week about an exorcism. In 2017, he receives about 30 calls a week.
One of the interesting parts of this process is a priest who performs an exorcism is trained to be a skeptic about demon possession. They exhaust all avenues of physical and mental health causes before making a determination someone is demon-possessed.
According to the dictionary, a demon is defined as “an evil spirit or devil, especially one thought to possess a person or act as a tormentor in hell.”
There are those who believe demons and demon-possession are very real and very troubling. There are also those who believe demons do not exist and the suggestion of demon-possession is nothing more than a crutch fabricated to explain attitudes and actions that cannot otherwise be explained.
Part 4 (Really Troubled) of CCC’s Troubled series dug into some insight uncovered in an encounter Jesus had with a guy who hung out in cemeteries. It’s recorded in 3 out of the 4 accounts of Jesus’ life – one by an actual eyewitness, one by someone who spent a significant amount of time with an eyewitness, and one who thoroughly investigated everything that happened. If what is recorded to have happened didn’t happen, there would have been a breakdown somewhere along the way.
Take a few minutes to read Mark 5:1-20 and the next step of considering the following questions about a troubled man who was really troubled and his encounter with Jesus.
- When you hear the word “demon” what comes to mind?
- Do you believe demons are real? Why or why not?
- What are some different reasons the man from the cemetery might have come to meet Jesus?
- If you skeptical of an “evil spirit” explanation for the man’s behavior, what would you attribute it to?
- Why do you think the man bowed before Jesus when he encountered him?
- What might the question, “Why are you interfering with me?” mean?
- What is the significance of the man calling Jesus, “Son of the Most High God”?
- How do you respond to Legion’s request they be sent into the herd of pigs? Does it acknowledge Jesus’ authority and power over them?
- Why do you think the people asked Jesus to leave the area?
- Is there anything that stands in the way of what Jesus might do or can do for you?
- Why do you think Jesus did not allow the man to go with him?
- Why might people have been amazed at the man’s story?
- What next steps will you take to be aware of how the spiritual battle for control of things in the world is beatable?
Needless to say, this man was troubled. All 3 of the accounts affirm what troubled him was the reality he was possessed by a “Legion” of demons. After his encounter with Jesus, he was different – in a good way. Though the people of the region were in awe, they were also afraid, which led them to ask Jesus to leave. The man, however, wanted to go with Jesus, who wanted him to be reunited with his family and serve as a witness in that area.
There are different opinions and perspectives about demons and demon-possession. There are also different opinions and perspectives about Jesus. There are those who are in awe; there are those who are afraid; there are those who choose to follow. Jesus was the answer to what really troubled this man – is it possible he is the answer to what really troubles you?
Today is Monday – make it a day where you take a step toward Jesus as the solution to what you are really troubled by!