The Rise of the Occult - Most Priests are Unequipped

 The upcoming sequel to Slaying Dragons seeks to remedy this deficiency.


One of the fears, as we face a rise in the occult today, is the inability of most priests to properly address the crisis. However, every priest is already a spiritual warrior, equipped not in the strength of his flesh but in the authority and power of his office. Therefore, he is capable of doing so.

In my preparations for the upcoming sequel to Slaying Dragons, I have interviewed many priests and exorcists on issues related to the rise of the occult and the new crisis that this is bringing into the life of the Church and the world.
In reference to the opening lines of this article, one exorcist, highlighting that Our Lord’s exorcisms are on par with His healings, told me, “In the confessional, priests are already in the spiritual warfare. So, they might as well be in it completely!”
Dear Fathers, your sheep need you to be knowledgeable, courageous, holy, and aware of your abilities to help them. The world seeks to destroy them but you can stand in its way if you choose to do so.


The Challenge – Unguided People


Most Catholics today are lost and astray, not only lacking good shepherds but surrounded by wolves and burdened by the echo of the voice of the deceiver. This spiritual malady has infected both the world and the Church. Its presence in parishes makes the situation intensely more dangerous.


One exorcist told me he was once placed in a parish which had several decades of catechesis that denied the existence of the devil and Hell and the need for Confession. When he instituted the St. Michael the Archangel prayer, parishioners complained that it was scaring their children. His response was firm:  He told them, “Your kid has a problem – the only one that shakes with that prayer is Satan and the demons!” 


The lack of catechesis, warning, and preventative spiritual attention has been to blame for many Catholics falling into the occult. Further, it is only after they have done so, and once they open their eyes to the danger and damage, that they will bring the situation to the priest. “We priests,” one priest told me, “typically see it when something has gone wrong, as it always will if someone persists in it long enough.”


Ignorance of the the Faith is at such a high level today that it is capable of leading people to think they can adopt certain occultic practices “on the side” without any harm to their souls. “They sometimes see this as something distinct from ‘selling my soul to the devil’,” one priest said, “but they don't recognize that this is all part of the same nasty stuff.”


Priests have shared that, when they go to a parishioner’s house to bless their home, they often see things incompatible with the Faith. One exorcist shared that he saw an altar with pagan idols on it, reflecting the religion of the family's heritage. Another priest shared that, in the home a parishioner, he realized that the woman was doing tarot card readings. Neither one of the parishioners in these two stories understood it to be dangerous or incompatible with the Faith, and at least one did not even want to get rid of it.


The Situation is Evil – Odds Against Priests


One exorcist was quite blunt about the current situation in the Church. “The Church has to wake up to the situation,” he said. “It’s not ‘seventy-two and sunny’ like they like to think simply because ‘we have Vatican II.’ Thanks to the innovations of Vatican II,” he continued, “we are not equipped. They neutered the Baptismal ritual, giving up the pre-baptismal exorcisms, which is ludicrous! This could not have happened at a worse time. We are the ‘odd man out,’ the opposite of mainstream, the counter-culture; and now we have stripped ourselves of our weapons? It is ludicrous.”

This is part of the reality that priests are facing and which is hampering their ability to 1) get equipped for the battle, 2) educate their flock effectively, and 3) be capable of helping people who are in need.


In the era of covid and global crises on a peculiar level, the situation has further declined. It was practically a universal opinion from the nearly forty people I interviewed that the Church is suffering from terrible catechesis, the loss of a Catholic identity, and horrible leadership, to put it mildly. This leaves priests, as the teachers of their flocks, facing a terrible conundrum. It all the more highlights the need for knowledge, wisdom, and vigilance on issues related to the occult.


Priests Are Simply Not Taught


One exorcist, while annoyed at the reality, also sympathized with the situation. “Priests,” he said, “say ‘I don't know what to do!’ That's because no one ever taught them!”


One priest, to whom I gave a copy of my book, Slaying Dragons, a few months after it was published in 2019, and before many people knew about it, politely accepted it and then put it on his bookshelf and moved on. Almost a year later, he sent me an email. In the message, he explained that he recently faced a situation involving diabolical manifestations and realized he was totally unprepared for what confronted him. As soon as he got home, he grabbed my book and read it all the way through in two days. He said it helped him immensely and answered so many questions he had. He, like so many others, also lamented the fact that he was not taught about these things in seminary.


Sometimes it takes a negative encounter with evil to wake up a priest. It is only after they suddenly suffer retaliation from a demon, or face a situation and realize they are completely unequipped, that they desperately begin seeking answers and training.


The Importance of the Parish Priest


The number of Catholics in a given parish who dabble in occultic things will vary. “It depends on where you are,” one exorcist said. “In a parish that focuses on the Traditional Latin Mass, you won’t see much of it. If you have a devout pastor, Marian devotion, and Adoration, you won’t see a lot of it.”


“The pastor sets the tone for the parish,” he added. “If he preaches about this stuff, he can then gauge from the confessional what needs to be addressed. For example, if he preaches on Tarot cards and people come and confess it, he needs to keep teaching on that issue and weed it out of the parish.”


The pastor can also have a detrimental impact if he fails in being protective and solicitous for his parishioners. “Pastors who talk about sunshine and rainbows,” he added, “won’t talk about any of this stuff and there is probably quite a bit of it in those parishes.”


Exorcists have complained to me that many pastors are also afraid of the diabolical and won't even aid their own parishioners who are dealing with these issues.


The Ability – Your Priestly Power


People who stray into the occult and suffer and want to get out are often clueless as to what to do next. This is a further diabolical trap which leads to many people failing to find the exit. When they come to the priest, it is the moment that can begin their liberation, so long as the priest is believing, fearless toward the devil, and in charity ready to help.


The priest is the one who gets the call first, not the Chancery or the exorcist or the Bishop. The priest needs to be prepared to handle these situations with 1) understanding, expressing belief in the possibility that the occult and the diabolical may be having an impact on the person, 2) wisdom, carefully analyzing the situation and discerning psychological issues from diabolical, and 3) pastoral charity and zeal, ready to set aside the time to help the person or quickly direct them to someone who can. 


The priest has to be able to at least diagnose the situation while, at the same time, expressing to the person his own personal belief in the devil and his confidence in Our Lord's power to aid the person through the Church. Every priest can also do deliverance prayers over his people, which do not require the permission of the Bishop. This is important because it gives the priest the power to offer immediate help after discerning the situation. As one exorcist said, “Priests shy away from giving blessings when there is a need, dismissing it as ‘Protestant,’ but it is perfectly Catholic and priestly to do so.”


When a person comes to the priest, there is so much he can do. There is also so much he can learn in order to know what to do and what the boundaries are.  For instance, if there is a strong manifestation of a demonic presence in a person who seeks the priest's help, he then needs to hand them off to the exorcist. Also, if the priest has a situation like this and does not know what to do, the Diocese can (should be able to!) help him by getting him in touch with the exorcist or a member of the deliverance ministry for the Diocese. If his Diocese is incompetent on these issues, there are accessible networks of exorcists and deliverance ministry teams in the country and the world that the priest could easily consult for assistance.  The priest is not alone.


A fascinating story about the ability of priests to help people was told by Kyle Clement, an associate of Fr. Ripperger, in an interview with Jesse Romero here.  In this interview, he tells the story of a girl who had entered Hollywood after desperately seeking fame in acting. Quickly, she was offered a fast road into success but was required to commit various sins in order to achieve these promotions. After compromising several times and committing these sins, she was taken to a large gathering of Hollywood people which involved the full participation of the group in a satanic ritual. At this point, she bolted from the party and fled home to Kansas and went to a Church to pray.


As Kyle states, she was possessed at this point, although weakly since she rejected the satanic ritual. This was evident because, for example, she was barely able to enter the Church. When she did so, there just so happened to be a priest there, who just so happened to be young and traditional and the assistant to an exorcist, and who just so happened to be visiting the city that day to aid his dying mother. He heard her Confession and it was in that Confession that she was fully liberated from the possession.


Another priest told me that he was visited by a young Catholic man who had been invited to a Black Mass and was being compelled to commit heinous sexual acts at which point he also bolted from the gathering. He was able to seek out Father's help and slowly begin recovering from the diabolical influence that resulted.


It is not simply the extreme examples that are presented to priests. People come to priests every day because their relationships are falling apart, they are suddenly depressed or suicidal, they have gotten into witchcraft and want to get out, or they have played with a ouija board and their home now seems to be infested. This is not an uncommon thing in the life of a parish priest today.


One priest told me that, in the first six months of his priesthood, he was doing several house blessings, and destroying Ouija boards and Satanic books every week.


Fathers, this is another reason to bless all the homes of your parishioners. Not only will you see how much of a “domestic Church” it is, regarding the presence of external signs and symbols, but you will also have the opportunity to inspect the homes of your sheep for elements of the occult.


The Means – The Need to Preach


People dabble in the occult at one point in their lives and then forget about it as they get older. These dabblings, though, continue to have an impact on them until they are properly addressed with the help of the Church. The best time for a priest to address these issues is when he has the full attention of the parish while preaching at Sunday Mass.


As one exorcist said, “Priests need to preach on the new age and the occult in some manner.  There are likely youth and adults sitting in the pews who are dabbling in the occult and still others who have practically abandoned the Faith and have embraced the occult. There will be parents sitting there who are silently suffering the impact of the occult on their family. All of this needs to be taken into account when the priest looks out over his flock.”


One priest learned this lesson when it comes to the issues surrounding marriage and disordered sexuality. Priests, he said, will say it is delicate to preach about these issues; that is how he was taught, as well as that he was bound to preach from the readings. Desiring to preach on the issue of marriage, one day he realized that the readings spoke about marriage and he saw his opportunity and did so. The following week, he had several people come to see him and ask for help with serious problems along these lines.


He reflected on the fact that, had he not said anything, they could have been dying in silence. Likewise, he realized, if he preaches on the occult, and a young person is listening, they may come quickly to see him and get the help they need before going too deep into it.


An exorcist recalled a story of how, at an RCIA class, he was speaking about the evil of seeking out a medium to communicate with the dead. In the audience was a couple who had lost a young child and, many years ago, had sought out a medium to try to contact the child. The couple had completely forgotten about this sin, and had been practicing the Faith for years without ever addressing it. After hearing the priest teach the truth about it, they were able to bring it to Confession and find healing and close this spiritual door which the devil could have easily been using against them those many years.


Dear Fathers, the more you preach, the more they will remember and the more they will bring to Confession. This brings about healing and liberation and will eradicate many diabolical issues, bring those issues to the surface, and inform your parishioners that they can bring these issues to the priest for further help. So, preach on these things and take note if you see them appear in Confession.


When people finally do come to you from the occult, seeking to convert or abandon that life and return to the life of the Church, it is important to understand that their situation is truly very unique. The complaint has come to me from both former occultists and exorcists that priests have no clue how to handle converts from the occult. Far too often they think that, once they convert, or go to Confession again, they are “good to go,” treating them just like everyone else. All of the people I spoke to gave a resounding “No!” to that folly. “No,” said one exorcist, “They are not like everyone else.”


Priests need to preach about the occult, but how would they do so if they 1) don't believe it has power, 2) don't believe it is real, or 3) don't know what the occult is?




Therefore, learn what the occult looks like, what the occult sounds like, and what the occult does to people, so you will notice it when you see it, condemn it when it manifests, and preach against its evil at every opportunity, lest you lose the flock entrusted to you out of negligence and poor pastoral solicitude for their salvation.


The Holy Spirit can place you right where you need to be. So be always ready and always priestly.





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