By Fr. Vincent Lampert
Fr. Vincent P. Lampert is the Pastor of St. Michael and St. Peter Parishes in Brookville, Indiana. In 2005 he was appointed the Exorcist for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. He received his training in Rome and is a member of the International Association of Exorcists. He is the author of Exorcism: The Battle Against Satan and His Demons.
The word “occult” comes from the Latin occultus, meaning hidden or secret. Its basic principle is that people want to bypass God. The world of the occult is extremely complex and diverse. It is expressed in various ways by such things as superstition, idolatry, and divination, but ultimately falls under the heading of magic. All magic is inherently evil and very dangerous because it has its origin in “the dominion of darkness” (Col 1:13). As such, it is addressed extensively in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. By magic I am not speaking of an illusionist who plays tricks on our eyes by making something seem to disappear, but magic in the true sense of the word whereby there is a diabolical component. The devil is the source of power behind all magic. It must always be avoided because “what is evil in nature can never produce good.” Let me say a little more about this.
People who go to see psychics and mediums looking for answers to life’s problems need to understand they are turning to the devil and his power for help. The power they demonstrate does not originate from them because it is contrary to human nature. We must realize that a non-material world does exist with non-material beings; namely, demons. These entities are the source of the power and knowledge displayed through the use of astrology, palm readings, tea leaf reading, tarot cards, Spiritism (séances and automatic writing), pendulums, Santeria, Voodoo, potions, herbs, amulets, and crystals. All these practices are condemned for they are a form of idolatry that violates the first of the Ten Commandments where God says, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exod 20:3). In other words, nothing must ever be elevated above God’s rightful place in our lives, and when we turn to the tools of the trade of psychics and mediums, we are putting something in the place of God. This law of God is reinforced in the Book of Leviticus where we are told, “Do not turn to mediums or wizards; do not seek them out, to be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God” (19:31). The Book of Deuteronomy takes it a step further saying, “There shall not be found among you . . . any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord” (18:10–12).
Some psychics and mediums know that the power operating through them is coming from an evil spirit. Others have been duped by evil spirits into believing the power is coming directly from them. The devil knows what he is plotting against someone and will use psychics and mediums in order to manipulate people for his own purposes. We need to be wary of them since they may use Christian symbols, such as a crucifix or an image of the Blessed Mother, in order to lure people in by giving them a false sense of security that there is nothing wrong with what they are doing. The First Letter of John makes it very clear that “many false prophets have gone out into the world” (4:1), and “every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God” (4:3). The devil has every motivation to get us to engage in practices that break the First Commandment.
When people allow themselves to be duped by psychics and mediums, the result is the establishment of a relationship between the person and the forces of evil. At first there are thrills and fascinations with what the person is hearing through the psychic or medium, but eventually the demon ic presence will reveal itself and the person’s life will begin to unravel. When the devil gives something, he will expect something in return. When power is gained, and special favors granted through the assistance of the devil and his angels, they will expect to be paid in full. The price demanded is our destruction through the loss of our soul. Magic is an effective destructive weapon of the devil due to weak religious convictions. St. John Paul II has said, “The weakening of faith leads to a degeneration into magical practices.”
My best advice is to forget about magic and the world of the occult and always turn to God through prayer for the answers we are seeking. The Book of Joshua says it best, “but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (24:15). Blessed Bartolo Longo (1841–1926) is a great intercessor for those caught up in the occult and the world of magic. Growing up in a devout Catholic family he lost his faith while attending university in Naples, Italy. He was drawn into the demonic world of darkness to the extent that he even became a satanic high priest. His family never gave up on him, and through much prayer he returned to the Church and dedicated his life to the Rosary and the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was instrumental in the building of the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii just outside Naples. His story is important because it lets us know that although a demon may seem to be victorious in his conquest of a person, it is never too late for them to be set free.
At a time when many Christians no longer practice their faith, there has been an increase in the attention given to the devil and his devious ways. Because the devil seeks to destroy and separate us from God, all Catholics must be on guard. In Exorcism: The Battle Against Satan and His Demons, Fr. Vincent P. Lampert, a seasoned exorcist, presents authentic Catholic teaching on the devil and his plan against humanity.