March 18, 2011

There are four basic kinds of extraordinary activities of the devil

By Sean Gallagher

Father Vincent Lampert said there are four basic kinds of extraordinary activities of the devil.

The ordinary way that the devil works in people’s lives, said Father Lampert, the exorcist of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, is simply through the temptation to sin that people experience every day.

Here are the extraordinary kinds as described by Father Lampert:

  • Infestation—Where the devil or another evil spirit causes disturbances in a particular place or object.
  • Oppression—When people feel that the devil or one or more evil spirits are attacking them. Father Lampert said this situation has frequently happened in the past to saints, such as St. Pio of Pietrelcina.
  • Obsession—Where people have constant thoughts about evil.
  • Possession—The most extreme form of extraordinary activity of the devil in which he or some other evil spirit or spirits actually gain a degree of control over a person’s body.

Father Lampert said possession is rare because “it’s a complete rejection of God.”

The priest said that possessions cannot occur against our will, and that a person has to make a choice to invite the devil into his or her life.

Father Lampert explained how this can happen.

“Sometimes people get involved in occult practices, maybe out of a sense of curiosity or entertainment,” he said. “Then they build up a reliance on that. And the reliance on that leads to dependence. And then the dependence can lead to a more solidified relationship.

“And, ultimately, the question is, ‘Is this a relationship that’s wanted so that it becomes something mutual or will the person always be in a combative relationship with the evil?’ They’ll open the doorway to it, but now they wish it wasn’t there.”

That is when the possessed person may come to Father Lambert or be referred to him by a friend or relative.

In even more rare cases, however, Father Lampert said that “perfect possession” can occur. That is when a person no longer opposes the possession, but actually cooperates with the evil spirit or spirits within him or her.

Father Lampert met one such person and was certain that he was not suffering from any mental illness, such as schizophrenia.

“He was an elderly gentleman,” Father Lampert said. “He said that he’d had this relationship most of his life, for perhaps 50 or 60 years. At that point, he had no desire to change. They were his friends. He couldn’t have imagined existing without them.”

Although ministering to the possessed is the exclusive responsibility of an exorcist, Father Lampert said that any priest can effectively minister to people experiencing the other three kinds of extraordinary activities of the devil.

Instead of creating a team of psychologists, doctors and other pastoral ministers to assist people combatting evil in their lives, as some exorcists do, Father Lampert would rather elicit the assistance of his brother priests in central and southern Indiana.

“I think priests need to be educated that, by virtue of their ordination, they’re already equipped to handle the average situation of a person that comes to them,” Father Lampert said. “To me, I would rather have the presbyterate as a team, if you will, and to kind of realize their role based on the sacrament of holy orders. I would rather, then, consult with them if they believe that it’s something of a higher degree or nature of evil.” †

Local site Links: