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What Is Demonic Possession?


Demons are fallen angels.

pacherAnd, like all angels (and humans too), they were created to be in a loving unity with creation, with one another, and with God.  We were all built for relationships.  Unfortunately, the fallen angels, or demons, as they are called, rejected God and thus rejected all that God is.

God is first and foremost a loving Trinitarian relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  God's loving Trinitarian union is offered to all of us, which is fully realized in the life of Heaven.

Because of their radical sin, demons cannot build and enter into such loving relationships.  There are no friendships in Hell.  The demons' primal urge for union remains, but it is now distorted, and instead of engaging in free, loving relationships, demons try to control, dominate, and possess.

This is true of dysfunctional, distorted human relationships as well.  Human beings are called to free, loving relationships with others.  But, as a result of sin, some human relationships are characterized by attempts to control and possess.  This is not of God.

When given an opening, demons will therefore try to enter and possess.  They can possess an object, such as a cursed occult artifact.  They can also possess a place, especially if sinful or occult behavior has occurred there.

A house, an apartment, or another building can be "infested" with demons if someone invites them in, even unknowingly.  Or sometimes it can be a person who has an "open door" to the demonic.

Oftentimes the demonic possession remains hidden.  But there are times when the demons' presence becomes manifest.  For example, a possessed person who undergoes a conversion and starts practicing the Faith may begin to manifest the possession.  Going into a church, praying, or any such religious practice can be the occasion for hidden demons to react strongly in the possessed person's body.  Possessed people can have great difficulty entering a church.  They may struggle to recite prayers.  When sprinkled with cold holy water, they may say that it burns.  Or they may avert their eyes from a crucifix or a holy painting.  This is all because of the presence of demons, who cannot stand such holy objects or prayers.

In cases of full possession, at times the demons will take over complete control of the person's body.  The demonic personality may even manifest on the person's face.  The person's voice will change, and it will no longer be the human person speaking but the demons.  In such cases, the demons are controlling the person's body, and thus the person becomes what is called "possessed" by demons.



rosettiMsgr. Stephen J. Rossetti, "What Is Demonic Possession?" Diary of an American Exorcist (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2021): 11-12. 

Reprinted with permission of Sophia Institute Press. 

The Author

rosettidiaryofamexorcistMsgr. 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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