Yesterday evening Guadalupe Radio Network hosted a benefit with the President of Human Life International Fr. Tom Euteneuer that focused primarily on the art of exorcism and spiritual warfare. Fr. Euteneuer had his five minutes of fame you could call it on Fox News a couple or so years ago though he was unable to exorcise the Hannity demon in the alotted time.
The benefit was held in the Frontiers of Flight Museum of all places. Though the buffet was rather average the brownies were excellent and the free parking was accomodating as well.
To start off Fr. Tom referenced Fr. Malachi Martin alluding to how evil is more organized and mass-marketed in modern times due to advances in technology and resources of modern media. Accordingly pornography is the number one confessed sin in confessionals (mainly among men) and tops the list of common vices, which corresponds to porn being a thriving industry (even though some in the business had the audacity to ask for TARP money).
Regarding exorcism itself, initially the investigating authorities (ie the Church) have to rule out tangible causes such as psychiatric illness or emotional trauma before diagnosing demon possession and proceeding with exorcism (sometimes a combination exists between natural and supernatural causes). Common signs of possession include fluence in esoteric language(s), superhuman strength, and aversion to holy things such as relics and sacramentals. When the criteria are met the exorcist armed with humility, common sense, and the exorcism book in Latin embarks on a ritual. During the process he must identify the spirits and command each (if more than one) by name to leave. The process also thrives on the corroboration of the faith community, including a chapel, prayer teams, and composing a schedule. Faith and will power of the possessed individual are also considered vital components in the expulsion of diabolical spirits.
Fr. Euteneuer emphasized the Church Militant including laity and pointed out that not every possession necessitates exorcism. Laity are encouraged to pray for friends and family who may suffer from demonic oppression and name the area(s) needed to be overcome (ie pray God binds the spirit of alcoholism, imfirmity, sexual perversion, etc) Personally I always thought this to be a ploy by slick televangelists; yet usually the best ploys are based largely but not entirely on fact. Fr. Eutey did encourage preventative measures against demonic influence, such as frequent recourse to the sacraments and a rich prayer life.
In order to contrast some mythical aspects of exorcism propagated by Hollywood (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) Fr. Eutey stated that perfect possession is a long, gradual process and a slow encroachment of evil. The targeted individual typically loses will power over time due to his or her lack of mastery over sinful behavior. For example a chaste and pious school girl bereft of foul language wouldn't become possessed overnight. Because of the subtle and gradual nature of demonic oppression the vast majority of the afflicted never attribute their situations to diabolical elements; but it was St. Paul himself who wrote:
For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. -- Eph 6;12