In the Philippines alone, 307 cases have been recorded and were proven to be demonic in nature.
Given this number, Fr. Jocis Syquia, director of the Office of Exorcism of the Archdiocese of Manila, stressed the importance of exorcism. As the Church’s blessing to protect its people from evil, he said that it is a ministry that must never be forgotten.
"[Exorcism is] when the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the evil one and be withdrawn from his dominion," he said in an interview on ANC’s "Talkback with Tina Palma."
Syquia said that exorcism is a tradition that was handed down from Christ to the Church. Back then, all Christians could exorcise in Jesus’ name. But as time went by and the influence of evil became more widespread, only bishops and a number of priests were given the authority to perform exorcisms.
The ‘power’ of the possessed
We’ve seen exorcism in the movies. "Constantine" and "The Exorcist" are just some of the films which show demonic possessions. But what really happens when someone is possessed, at least in the point of view of the Church?
Before a person is possessed, Syquia said that a person goes into a trance state. At this stage, another consciousness, or the evil spirit, comes in.
Possessed by this new identity, the individual appears to possess extraordinary strength, being able to do things he can’t do on a normal basis.
"We have cases, for example, a small girl who could carry a whole pew by herself and use it as battering ground," he said.
He mentioned, for instance, that there was a possessed being who was trying to pull another person’s heart without physical contact. As the other person really felt that his heart was being pulled, Syquia intervened and prayed over the possessed person.
Syquia added that there may be cases when the person, while controlled by the devil, knows people’s deepest, darkest secrets. He recalled a time when the possessed individual told him his venial sins, something not even his closest friends knew.
Stronger faith in God, lesser chances of possession
According to the Office of Exorcism, there are 10 causes for demonic possessions: occult involvement; traumatic experience; opening the third eye; contamination (victim of occult activities); sinful lifestyle; new age practices; unforgiveness; false christian beliefs and practices; pornography; and satanism.
Syquia said that one should immediately seek for an exorcist should he feel disturbed by negative elements. He noted, however, that there is a difference between a person who is possessed and someone who is psychologically challenged.
Although exorcism can help in healing a person, Syquia stressed that he must still do his own share of action. The priest added that a deep faith in God is still the best way to reduce the risk of demonic possession.
"The person must have good relation with god. If one has a strong faith in god, then it will lessen the chances of possession," he said. --With Jekki Pascual, ANC