Bishop Daniel Flores of the Brownsville diocese addressed a crowd of over 100 young adults on the Church's view of exorcism, the dangers of the occult, and God's saving power.
“One of the reasons I chose the topic of exorcism is because I figured it was sure to draw a crowd,” he said during his opening remarks at the Nov. 21 Theology on Tap event in McAllen, Texas.
Bishop Flores explained that throughout history there has always been a fascination with the devil and evil but especially in recent years – given the popularity of demonic possession as a theme in many Hollywood productions.
Even though the world is increasingly less aware of God, the bishop said, there are many who “have no problem believing in the devil.” Yet despite this belief in evil, there are still many who attempt to “explain away” demonic possession as a mere psychological problem.
“How do we explain this kind of evil in the world or is it all medieval imagination?” he asked the young adults.
Bishop Flores explained Church’s scriptural basis of exorcism, citing St. Paul's letters and the Gospel of Mark. He also briefly explained the signs of demonic possession, and how potential cases are assessed.
Possession, the bishop revealed, is actually fairly rare. In his nearly 25 years as a priest, he said he's had plenty of people tell him they think they're possessed but has yet to encounter the need for an exorcism.
He focused on the more common, but less known, occurrence of “demonic obsession” which is oppressive harassment by demons outside of the person. He commonly sees demonic obsession in those who explore elements of the occult.
“Many times people go in thinking it's a game and then they realize its actually very serious.”
The serious threat of evil is why the Church and her members do not “play around” with the occult he explained.
Once a person wanders into “other territory” such as the occult, there is reason to worry because it welcomes demonic influence. However, while Christians participate in their faith they are in “God's territory” and under his protection.
Bishop Flores pointed out that the “devil's ultimate purpose is to drive an individual to give up and despair, a condition when one believes that they can’t be helped even by God.”
There is no need to fear the devil, he encouraged listeners, because “we believe in the triumph of God’s mercy by the blood of Christ on the cross.”
To combat despair and the influence of evil, he encouraged listeners to “live the sacraments,” cultivate a life of prayer, and have holy water and other holy objects in the home to help “keep you focused on living the life of grace.”
“It's urgent for us to live a grace-full life because it is only the power of God that is strong enough to protect us.”