Take a wild guess which holiday is an exorcist’s least favorite?
Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, chief exorcist for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., recently wrote on his blog:
“I am starting to prepare spiritually for All Hallows' Eve. No bags of candy. No costumes. No pumpkins. As every year, it'll be ugly.
“Many of our spiritual sensitives will get pummeled by demons. One year, our team decided to pray over one of our most gifted throughout the night, trying to shield her from the demonic attacks she yearly suffered. It didn't work. She got pummeled anyway. But she said she appreciated our efforts.
“Several of our other sensitives will experience increased demonic harassment. Many of our clients who are possessed or severely oppressed will suffer more intensely throughout the night. The priest-exorcists themselves will typically get bombarded with demonic obsessions and an internal battle.”
Msgr. Rossetti goes on to explain that what helps fuel the demons’ power on this particular night are stupid humans (my description, not his.)
Of this species there is, unfortunately, no shortage. There are the zealots – the witches, warlocks, and satanists – who busy themselves on this high holiday of theirs with spells, curses, black masses, and all other sorts of depraved evil behavior. And then there are the dabblers, those who think it might be fun to try out a Ouija board or go ghost hunting, since, after all, it’s Halloween. And last but not least are the unwitting. These are the poor souls who allow their children to dress as devils or other occult figures, go to absurd lengths in decorating with grotesque and horrific imagery, or perhaps themselves wear sleazy, overly-sexualized costumes to parties (the naughty nurse, etc.).
Now, not all exorcists are complete fuddy-duddies about Halloween. Father Vincent Lampert, an exorcist in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, believes it’s still possible to have fun without selling your soul to the devil.
“Ultimately I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the kids putting on a costume, dressing up as a cowboy or Cinderella, and going through the neighborhood and asking for candy; that’s all good clean fun,” Fr. Lampert says.
Even a sheet with some holes cut in it as a ghost is fine, Fr. Lampert says. The danger lies in costumes that deliberately glorify evil and instill fear in people, or when people dabble in magic and witchcraft, even if they think it’s just for entertainment.
London exorcist Fr. Jeremy Davies expands on this thought. “They [those who “celebrate” Halloween] begin by playing games, but it can lead to people disbelieving in the devil and evil spirits.” In his view, this disbelief can be just as bad as believing, and that levity about such matters could be fatal. “Playing with evil under the pretext of it being untrue is to allow evil to enter.” Evil can also enter, he explains, where there exists an unhealthy interest in the occult. Whichever way evil gains entry, Father Davies is clear that any dabbling in the occult “doesn’t have to be deep to be deadly.”
In short, I think the universal adage for 2020 applies particularly well for Halloween this year: Be careful and be safe.
And keep some holy water close by.