30th June Gospel and Reflection

All the Scripture readings for today are here

The Gospel for Today

When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him.
They were so savage that no one could travel by that road.
They cried out, “What have you to do with us, Son of God?
Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?”

Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding. The demons pleaded with him,
“If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.”
And he said to them, “Go then!”

They came out and entered the swine,
and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned.

The swineherds ran away,
and when they came to the town they reported everything,
including what had happened to the demoniacs.

Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.

Do people believe in real demonic possession these days ? –  There is certainly plenty of interest in the occult and I think there is ample evidence of "demonic acts " in human history and even today- but there are plenty of people including Christians that don't really believe in the devil.

I like this remark from the French writer André Gide,  ‘I don’t believe in the existence of the devil, but of course that is what the devil wants me to believe.’

According to the Vatican it is entirely possible for human to be possessed and that the devil is not just a metaphor.

Here is an edited extract from a recent book written by Fr. Gabrielle Amorth the Chief Exorcist at the Vatican

Father Amorth — or Don Gabriele, as he is universally known — has just published The Memoirs of an Exorcist, a book of interviews with Marco Tosatti, the Vatican journalist. 

Interesting because I can't find it at all on Amazon or anywhere else despite it being reviewed many times. 
Father Amorth, aged nearly 85, is honorary president of the International Association of Exorcists

He fought for the Resistance in the Second World War, took a law degree but then entered the Church. He began conducting exorcisms shortly after his ordination 60 years ago; in 1986 he was appointed by Cardinal Ugo Poletti, then the Vicar of Rome, as assistant to Father Candido Amantini, the chief exorcist, eventually succeeding him.

This short video leaves me wanting to hear more from Fr. Amorth but what has happened to the book ???

 Finally there is the wonderful C.S.Lewis and The Screwtape Letters
This September 8, 1947 cover of Time Magazine improbably depicts the demure C. S. Lewis accompanied by a fiercely impish devil poised on his left shoulder, a caricature of his infamous fictional protagonist, Screwtape, AKA, Senior Tempter of Hell. 

Few people in 1947 were writing about demons and their ilk, and still fewer believed in them enough to bother speculating on this question: What if we could see what the temptation of our souls looks like through the eyes of the other side?
In other words, what if we could interview a demon?


That was Lewis’s premise for one of his most durably popular works, perhaps his single most popular work among non-Christian readers; in an ingenious preface, Lewis purports to be beneficiary of the intercepted correspondence of diabolical counsel from a senior devil to an apprentice devil. 

Lewis explained that his purpose in writing the novel was "not to speculate about diabolical life, but to throw light from a new angle on the life of men." His objective was to write a book that highlighted man's willingness to conform to the natures of evil. 

This was accomplished by establishing Hell as a bureaucracy because as Lewis put it, "evil is not conceived in concentration camps; it is the final result of quiet words spoken by well-dressed men in carpeted offices." 
"The Screwtape Letters" focuses on the communication between two devils, Screwtape and Wormwood. 
Screwtape is a senior devil that writes to the inexperienced Wormwood and gives him advice on how to condemn the "patient" to Hell. In this case the patient is a young man that struggles with his faith during the onset of World War II.
You can read the rest of the first article here and  this too is the second complete link which gives insight into the thoughts of  CS Lewis on evil and devils.
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claire said...

I simply love The Screwtape Letters and CS Lewish. Thank you for making the connection.

love, claire

Tim said...

Phil, this is a most challenging issue, I think. We know evil exists in the world, because we experience its ravages. But how much of that is the result of a Diabolical force versus our own disobedience and self-destructive tendencies we cannot say. (Of course, it could be argued they are wrought from demonic influences--but "the-Devil-made-me-do-it" strikes me as a cop-out.)

I grew up in a tradition that embraced exorcism and have witnessed several of them first-hand. I'm not thoroughly convinced what appeared to be happening really was, though. It's just as likely the entire event was a sort of psychological catharsis that brought about clarity of mind (which we called "deliverance" and therapists call "breakthrough"). Nonetheless, I'm loath to dismiss the idea simply because whatever occurred was phenomenological.

Jesus proclaimed His mission as bringing freedom to prisoners, light to the blind, etc. I believe that. And I believe faith in His power to set us free can release us from whatever binds us, regardless how we encounter Him.

These questions are, and I suppose will always remain, mysteries. Yet their beauty is abundantly clear in that pondering them always leads us back to God's mercy and grace.

Thanks for taking this on. It's not something we're all that comfortable discussing.


Philomena Ewing said...

Dear Tim,
It is so very good to have you here !
Oh boy, how right you are that this topic was a challenging one. It gave me shivers even before I wrote about it. Your own experiences are similar to mine when I was in Malawi as possession by ancestral spirits, sorcery and witchcraft were common phenomena in many rural villages. I found it very hard to come to terms with it and I wrote a lot about it at the time. Because of my Jungian training I was interested in the archetypes and shadows operating in the culture too. I felt that ne of the profound distinctions between African and European culture was the African expectation that they would be touched by God, the saints and anyone who had died !! I witnessed traditional healing and like you was not convinced. It was as if it was a symbolic way of dealing with the repressed subconscious. Nevertheless it scared the hell out of me !! ( excuse the pun!).
Thanks for your wonderful insight- I always value it - I also apologise for my tardiness in keeping up with your blog posts - it has been a busy week and I have also been in the sun which I love but I will get there eventually !!
Bless you .

Tim said...

Oh, Phil, enjoy the sun! The posts will be there waiting for rainy and bleak days. ;-)