Possession is not a process of magic. Spirit is real; in fact, spirit is the basis of all reality. “Reality” would not only be boring without spirit; it would have no meaning whatsoever. No horror film can begin to capture the horror of such a vision: a world without spirit.
Evil Spirit is personal, and it is intelligent. It is preternatural, in the sense that it is not of this material world, but it is in this material world. And Evil Spirit as well as good advances along the lines of our daily lives. In very normal ways spirit uses and influences our daily thoughts, actions, and customs and, indeed, all the strands that make up the fabric of life in whatever time or place. Contemporary life is no exception.
To compare spirit with the elements of our lives and material world, which it can and sometimes does manipulate for its own ends, is a fatal mistake, but one that is very often made. Eerie sounds can be produced by spirit-but spirit is not the eerie sound.
Objects can be made to fly across a room, but telekinesis is no more spirit than the material object that was made to move. One man whose story is told in this book made the mistake of thinking otherwise, and he nearly paid with his life when he had to confront the error he had made.
The exorcist is the centerpiece of every exorcism. On him depends everything. He has nothing personal to gain. But in each exorcism he risks literally everything that he values. Michael Strong’s was an* extreme example of the fate awaiting the exorcist. But every exorcist j must engage in a one-to-one confrontation, personal and bitter, with pure evil. Once engaged, the exorcism cannot be called off. There will I and must always be a victor and a vanquished. And no matter what j the outcome, the contact is in part fatal for the exorcist. He must; consent to a dreadful and irreparable pillage of his deepest self.’ Something dies in him. Some part of his humanness will wither from j such close contact with the opposite of all humanness-the essence of j evil; and it is rarely if ever revitalized. No return will be made to him I for his loss.
This is the minimum price an exorcist pays. If he loses in the fight j with Evil Spirit, he has an added penalty. He may or may not ever again perform the rite of Exorcism, but he must finally confront and vanquish the evil spirit that repulsed him.
The investigation that may lead to Exorcism usually begins because a man or woman-occasionally a child-is brought to the notice of Church authorities by family or friends. Only rarely does a possessed} person come forward spontaneously.
The stories that are told on these occasions are dramatic and painful: strange physical ailments in the possessed; marked mental derangement; obvious repugnance to all signs, symbols, mention, and sight of religious objects, places, people, ceremonies.
Often, the family or friends report, the presence of the person in; question is marked by so-called psychical phenomena: objects fly around the room; wallpaper peels off the walls; furniture cracks;! crockery breaks; there are strange rumblings, hisses, and other noises’, with no apparent source. Often the temperature in the room where the possessed happens to be will drop dramatically. Even more often an acrid and distinctive stench accompanies the person.
Violent physical transformations seem sometimes to make the lives of the possessed a kind of hell on earth. Their normal processes of | secretion and elimination are saturated with inexplicable wrackings ; and exaggeration.