The journey started with a powerful spiritual experience when I was a seminarian.
One night, I had just gone to bed but hadn't fallen asleep yet. Suddenly I was invisibly attacked. It was unbelievably powerful and incredibly fast. With a graced insight, I instantly knew what it was. Satan was attacking me. And I was going to be quickly overwhelmed.
My rosary beads were on the table at the foot of my bed. The moment the attack started, I instantly thought of these beads. I lunged out of bed and thrust out my hand to grab my rosary. The instant I touched the beads, the attack stopped. So I went back to bed and fell quickly asleep.
1 How did I fall asleep so quickly? My first thought is, "I was tired!" But more concretely, intense spiritual experiences often carry with them a special grace to understand and interpret them. I knew exactly what happened: I was attacked by one of Satan's demons, and the Blessed Virgin Mary cast him out. I knew I was in the good hands of a loving Mother. So I slept like a child in his mother's arms.
In those two seconds, I learned about 80 percent of what an exorcist needs to know. Satan is very powerful and moves at lightning speed. Angels, and demons, travel at the speed of thought. I am no match for Satan; even the smallest of demons is exponentially stronger than any human. But the Blessed Virgin casts out the prince of darkness and his minions with ease. If I hold on to her, I will be safe and she will protect me. And when it's all over, I can go back to sleep and be at peace.
Twenty-five years later, I was appointed a diocesan exorcist. I have been one now for over a dozen years. Our little exorcism team has a very active caseload. We receive many new calls each week, plus we handle dozens of ongoing cases. So there have been lots of experiences to fuel these diaries! And wherever I go, my rosary beads are always on my person. Even when I sleep, these beads are wrapped around my left hand.
The diary entries are not exaggerated in any way. Some details of individuals have been altered or deleted to protect the individuals' identities. But each of the entries is a factual account of my daily experiences or the experiences of our team. They are the truth, without varnish or hype. You may believe them or not. But they are what we exorcists experience and talk about among ourselves. When I speak to other exorcists around the country and in other countries, I find that my experiences are very similar to theirs. There is a common body of exorcism knowledge that is growing, based on our common experiences.
After a number of the diary entries, I have included "theological reflections." These are meant to explain in more detail some of the theological truths and realities presupposed in these diary entries. The reflections often include citations from the Scriptures and insights of Church Fathers and other theologians. I hope they will help you to understand the entries more fully.
Nevertheless, much of the world of angels and demons remains a mystery to us.
Despite all the demonic antics and the havoc that Satan can cause, it is my hope that the underlying message will come through: there is only one God and one Savior, Jesus Christ. When faced with the infinite power of God, Satan is a "dust bunny." His actions are limited, and his time is very short. Soon, he will be cast into the pit forever.
In the meantime, we trust in God, hold fast to the salvation of Jesus, and invoke the protection of the Blessed Virgin, the saints, and the angels. We have no reason to fear. I sleep very well at night (despite the occasional demonic attacks!).
Be at peace. Jesus has already won the battle.
Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti, "Introduction." Diary of an American Exorcist (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2021).
Reprinted with permission of Sophia Institute Press.
Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti, Ph.D., is the President of the St. Michael Center for Spiritual Renewal and a research associate professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. A licensed psychologist and the author of several books, Msgr. Rossetti has participated in hundreds of exorcisms. During his journey to priesthood, he experienced a spiritual episode in which, "in two seconds I learned 80 percent of what an exorcist needs to know." He is the author of Diary of an American Exorcist.Copyright © 2021 Sophia Institute Press
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