The correct title of this serious and profound book is ‘An Exorcist Explains the Demonic: The Antics of Satan and His Army of Fallen Angels’ by late Fr. Gabriele Amorth, edited by Stefano Stimamiglio and translated into English by Charlotte J. Fasi. I, as an existentialist Catholic, was greatly moved by this book which I finished in a matter of a few days because of mainly one thing: the authors absolutely humility.
I have read a lot of books about the Christian faith, but this was the first time I came across a ‘non braggart’ book which touched my soul and therefore I’m reviewing it here in the form of a blog post on insaneowl.com. To all the Catholics out there, I advise you to pick up this book and follow the invaluable words of experienced wisdom that Fr. Amorth has brought to our attention especially where demonic possession is concerned.
I want to highlight here that this is not a ‘thrilling read’ or ‘an entertaining read’. It is spiritual literature which must be treated with the respect it deserves. So please don’t read the book if you are looking for something in the line of ‘horror’ or ‘terror’.
Now coming back to my book review. I have watched the film ‘The Exorcist’ as well as read the book by William Peter Blatty. I felt the book was scarier, WAY SCARIER than the film but that just could be me. I remember reading the book which I borrowed from the Victoria’s Library (Mahim) in 2017. I read it every night after a day of teaching non-stop and writing in my office-cum-writing hut.
The damn book creeped the hell out of me! Ever since then I’ve been roaming around with a wooden cross in my bag whenever I go out to shop for books. That’s the only time I go out! Otherwise for business purposes, people must come to my office-cum-writing hut to meet me, I don’t go out – I should change my name one of these days to Bugenhaegen!!! (remember ‘The Omen’)
Well, after I read the book, I was spooked. My family told me that it was just an exaggeration of the way a demon possesses a human being. In fact, everyone who came my way, even priest ratified their absolute belief in the fact that the book and film was way too exaggerated. Everyone – except Fr. Amorth.
According to Fr. Amorth when he was asked his opinion on the film and book ‘The Exorcist’, he was the only one voice in Christendom to say that HE HAD SEEN WORSE!
That line frightened me to no extent. But the humbleness of Fr. Amorth and the way he has meticulously penned his book was a very spiritually rejuvenating process for me and I feel I’m blessed to have had the chance to read this book.
In this book, Fr. Amorth very distinctly shows the difference between a psychiatric patient and a demonic. He, when he was alive, used to advise all the patients coming to him to first seek the help of a psychiatrist. If then the odd behavior doesn’t seem to go, or the patient is not relieved of his vexations and obsessions, then the exorcist comes into the picture. Fr. Amorth in his book has mentioned the four stages of possession – possession, vexation, obsession and infestation. He has mentioned what they stand for in a simple way for everyone to comprehend the matter fully. He offers Catholics valuable advise on how to identify a demonic possession in their midst, how to keep oneself safe from the evil one, and how to always deepen their faith by availing of the Sacraments as much as one can to stay clear from all sorts of evil powers.
For the youth, Fr. Amorth has given a clear advice to them not to practice certain things that could lead them into being possessed by a demon. Fr. Amorth has seen with his own eyes the youth of the 20th and 21th century being assailed constantly by evil spirits because of doing or practicing the following – listening to Satanic Death Metal Music, listening constantly to heavy metal music, taking part in Black Masses ‘for fun’, being addicted to pornography, drinking the blood produced during a Black Mass, multiple abortions, conducting multiple abortions as a doctor, playing around with an Ouija board, attending seances, practicing the occult, taking an active part in occult practices, etc. Fr. Amorth is very grave about this fact that the youth are readily falling prey to the snares of the evil one because of the previously mentioned practices.
I was taken aback when the demons of these possessed souls confirmed the fact that there is a heaven, purgatory and hell. Such demons were placed in a hierarchical manner. They tried their very best to attack a soul. If they do not do so they know they will be punished in a horrible manner by their higher ups in hell (that sounds so freaky!).
I read this book as a spiritual practice. I normally offer such spiritual reading for the souls in purgatory. Fr. Amorth in this book mentions that we should be on our guard while we do so, for it is ultimately not in our hands whether a soul in purgatory gets purified well enough to enter heaven. It’s all the will of the Lord and so we must not DEMAND that because we do ‘such and such’ practice or observance a soul in purgatory should enter heaven.
Fr. Amorth in this book analyzes a lot of aspects about the Catholic faith that we need to ponder on as we contemplate on the plight of the soul in the grip of a demonic. One of them is the fact that it is not an easy task to find or to even be the person who can deliver a person from the grip of the demon possessing him. He mentions how there are very few pastors or chaplains who take up the mantle of an exorcist either because:
- It’s too dangerous
- They feel they are not strong enough or
- They don’t believe in demonic possession
The last point pains Fr. Amorth the most when it comes to finding a willing Catholic priest or bishop who has this charism and yet is unwilling to live a life of pray and fasting to rid demons from tortured souls. Fr. Amorth implores bishops all over the Catholic world to take heed and appoint in each diocese an exorcist to serve those who are in need. In the book, it is mentioned that in the Eastern Orthodox churches, it is remarkable that in every parish, there is always compulsorily an exorcist priest to serve the people. He hopes that one day this might be so in the Western Catholic church as well.
Fr. Amorth throughout his ministry as an exorcist pursued a life, as Jesus the Christ exhorted, of prayer and fasting. He says that those in this ministry have no other choice but to do so. He mentions the extra added value of contemplation during the mass and purging all evil or malicious thoughts from one’s mind in order to serve the Church in the manner of an exorcist – for the devil is cunning, and he can spin you around his little finger if you are poor in goodness and spiritual strength.
Reading this book, I felt in myself the need to practice my faith more sincerely to the best of my ability. I am wanting in my faith and hope to be enlightened as I move on from day to day and book to book. Speaking of books, Fr. Amorth mentions the power of certain texts from the Bible and Catechism of the Catholic church that really aid in getting a demon out of a demonic. Prayers like Archangel Michael’s prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, the Rosary, the Hail Mary itself, etc., can really be very efficient in driving away the demon from a suffering soul. Fr. Amorth asks all Catholics to bless their homes and each article that enters their home, especially gifts from other – for fear of the ‘evil eye’ which exists and is a type of demon possession but can be got rid of by a priestly blessing.
I can go on and on and on about the out of this world experience I had while reading this book and yet I’m sure it will not be enough. So, without giving any more spoilers, I am here to say that I highly and sincerely recommend this book especially to all Catholics to deepen their faith. I’m just so sorry that Fr. Amorth is not with us today and I pray that his soul enters heaven especially because of all the good work he has done through this very frightening ministry.
I would not like to refer this book as a reference book about demonology, because I have been so touched by the piety and humility of Fr. Amorth that just surges out from these lines in this book, but yes, it is a good introductory reference book for anyone who wishes to study demonology from a Catholic perspective. But I would rather, and I know Fr. Amorth’s soul would rather have you read this book not for its ‘entertainment’ value but as a spiritual book to get yourself firmly in closer communion with the Lord Jesus the Christ. The author has written a decent Catholic book with a purpose and I don’t want to thwart that. Please don’t read this book for ‘fun’ but respect it.
Personally, I am someone who likes to surround myself with everything Catholic. I’m continuously adding more holy statues, relics, holy crosses, motifs, etc., just to be remined of my faith and to keep that sort of positive ‘holy’ energy in the places where I live and work. I’m a bit more broad minded where the place of my work is concerned (office-cum-writing hut); there I have a black Buddha under a Bodhi tree, a Feng Shui golden motif, a bust of Shivaji Maharaj, a statue of Mira Bai and yes, I do take a little risks like that over here. But I can’t ignore the fact mentioned in Fr. Amorth’s book that sometimes where these Asian and African motifs are concerned, we’ve got to be careful about them, not so much when we purchase them ourselves but when someone has gifted them to us. Then if we find anything going a bit bizarre then the best step is to burn the relic or curiosity or throw it in the sea, especially ‘when the waves move’.
But seriously, we do get a little bit curious when it comes to the supernatural. I am an ardent fan of horror books and horror movies but, I don’t read them in succession. I sort of space them out because, even before Fr. Amorth mentioned it, I was aware that watching too many horror films or reading way too many horror books one after another can get you into a bit of a spot if you are at any point of time vulnerable. In fact, according to the esteemed exorcist, the demon is never within you. Demons can never be within you and they certainly don’t know you ‘inside and out’; only God knows that. In fact, demons are always watching you from the outside to see if you are being addicted, tempted or vexed by something and they snatch that opportunity to create havoc; in small cases a temptation to have five slices of chocolate cake when you are only supposed to have one, and at the other extreme – demonic possession.
I highly recommend this book to everyone out there who is a Catholic. Go get this book and change your life.
God bless those priests who are in this ministry and may they always be under the protection of the Most High.
Copyright ©2019 Fiza Pathan