Of Cassocks and Demons

The call came in through our parish answering service: “Err, I don’t know if you can help with this one, but the person calling says they have demons in their house.”

“Thanks. I’ll give them a call.” The person calling said there were disturbances in their house, and her husband was brought up a Catholic but hardly ever went, and his mother and sisters are all Wiccans. Not good. So I arranged to visit on Sunday after Mass.

I always wear my cassock on Sundays, so I still had on the full cassock, collar and cincture with my Benedictine scapular on top. I made my way to a modest home on the edge of town and knocked on the door. The wife was taken aback. “Wow! I haven’t seen a Catholic priest like this forever!”

I asked some questions about the problems, explained the complexity of the supernatural and paranormal phenomena and said that usually a house blessing was all that was required to clear things up. Then I asked where they go to church. “Well, when we do go we attend DaySpring”. That’s one of the Protestant mega churches in town.

“And I’m not trying to pick a fight or anything. I’m just curious…” I asked, “But why did you call me instead of one of your pastors fro DaySpring?”

“We knew it was a Catholic priest who would know what to do about demons and all that stuff.”

So I went and got the holy water and blessed them and their child and their home. The problems will probably clear up, and I’ll follow it up with another visit and an invitation for them to join my Catholic basics class.

Who knows, but another lost sheep may come back to the fold, and maybe I should wear my cassock every day…(except it will be a bit of a nuisance on the motorcycle)

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03892529674664589034 Jeff Miller

    In the real story the Exorcist was based on the family was Lutheran and their pastor ended up telling them to go to a Catholic priest for help. The family later became Catholics.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10503510474554718305 Just another mad Catholic

    Wear your Cassock everyday Father !!! Yes it will be a pain on the moterbike but you are Christ to us.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08630265823555325662 Sand Mama

    Point well taken, if you have a situation where the supernatural turns out to be real, you need Catholicism. You are generous to have helped them. God bless. I hope their home is ok, I will pray for their conversion.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09940638946765994259 TerentiaJ

    A Methodist friend once attended a protestant charismatic service that ended with people "going forward" to have demons "cast out." He told later that it scared the stuffing out of him because, he said, "I don't know much but I do know that if you are dealing with demons, you want a Catholic priest by your side."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03633913073662106277 Thomas Beyer

    People often underestimate the power of the "little things" the Church gives us like vestments and holy water. I just posted an entry on popsophia.blogspot.com about how it's the little things that make the difference in a life being truly Christian or not, and the little people that make the difference in a place being truly Christian or not, (cf. Matt. 19:14).It's through these little things, all of which have the power to become sacramentals and conduits of grace if we allow them to be, that God can come to us all day, every day. Of course, this presupposes and flows out of a life lived in the Sacraments proper, but we must never forget that our religion is one of meat and bones–cassocks and blood.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05337246194448942674 M. Mazzei

    Thank you Father, for wearing your cassock. God bless!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06624317806947588259 Rachel Gray

    Once a roommate and I moved into a new apartment, and one of our priests very kindly came to bless it for us. He rode his bike over, hoping his cassock wouldn't get caught in the chain. Now that's going above and beyond the call of duty!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12594214770417497135 Suburbanbanshee

    Well, women used to ride bikes in (modified) dresses, and I know I've seen plenty of pictures of cassocked French and Italian priests on bikes from the old days. So logically, there should be some way to make cassock and bike cooperate.Here we go. Slow motion priest on bike in Rome. Those things button up, don't they? If you unbuttoned a button at the hemline, I imagine that would give you more legroom. But it may also just be a matter of hitching up your robes before you sit on the bike seat, thus providing yourself with more room.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12594214770417497135 Suburbanbanshee

    Apparently there's a bike thing called a "coat guard" (when used by guys) or a "skirt guard". Don't know if this would help with a motorcycle, but people even make them for their own bikes. It covers the top of the back wheel for safety.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02874522162219110314 Josue

    You should, Father. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12594214770417497135 Suburbanbanshee

    Here's a Pathe film, showing the cassock kilted up, a leather jacket over the top and jeans worn underneath. But this guy's cassock seems voluminous.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    Spiritual armour!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11325324982205690877 padrepallie

    I had a similar experience. I got a call about a family that were seeing strange shadows, hearing weird noises, and having small household items appear and disappear randomly. I went over to the place and reassured them of God and his goodness and then I blessed the house. I also noticed that no religious items such as a crucifix or statue were present. I encouraged them to put these out in the house. Then I began my inquiry and determined they never went to Mass. I told them that the house blessing is a good thing BUT they need to get back to Mass, to go to confession and begin to reaffirm their commitment to Jesus Christ. In a nutshell I told them that a house blessing isn’t worth a hill of beans if you’re not practicing your faith. Before I departed I told them to call me if there were any more problems and that I expected to see them at Mass beginning the following Sunday. Sadly, I never saw them or heard from them again. We really are a superstitious lot still!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03925404067634150968 Therese Z

    I remember Father playing a little baseball in the schoolyard during recess in the 1960's, and he would hike up his cassock and twist it and get it to stay up (probably an edge tucked into his belt or pants). That's when I realized that it was a long coat and not a dress.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17514099991587503764 thefederalist

    This is where the cognitive dissonance sets in for me with regard to our 'separated brethren', some of whom no doubt love Christ more than I do. Behind all the faux-theological differences, like sola scriptura or faith vs. works, it's how one lives out one's Christian life, isn't it?1) If I sang about Mary the way you sing about "The Old Rugged Cross", you'd call me an idolater. I think you'd be right.2) If I actually believed that the Bishop of Rome usurps the role proper to Christ in my life – or even more, believe him to be the anti-Christ – how on earth could my experience tell me to summon a Catholic priest if I actually have to deal with a real demon in my life?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02082723705687057148 justamouse

    That is so cool that they called you. We live in a 131 year old house (which we purchased last year) that housed a hospital in the attic. I got it blessed right away. Not that I ever felt anything wrong here, but it's been even more peaceful ever since. LOVE the cassock. Love it. I think you should wear it all the time.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02575906703463685178 Brian Kopp

    There is a fascinating account about the first priest ordained in the USA, Fr. Demitrius Gallitzin, the Russian prince-priest who became “Apostle of the Alleghenies," being involved in the exorcism of a Lutheran farmer's home in West Virginia. The Lutheran farmer first consulted an Episcopal priest, who was unable to help him.See the accounts of the ordeal at http://catholiceducation.org/articles/catholic_stories/cs0057.htmland http://catholicism.org/gallitzin-cliptown.html

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03011785452075633790 Mark G.

    Father, getting a Vespa would solve your cassock-in-the-chain problems! Like any Italian motorbike, you'd need to exorcise the mechanical demons out of it, however.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05118747216132040457 Ismael

    May God keep you Fr. Longenecker and may the Bl. Virgin assist you in 'trampling the snake's head'.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04843514873861242426 Howard

    @thefederalist — So, I take it you do not venerate the Cross on Good Friday. If you have such a difficult time distinguishing between dulia and latria, perhaps it's best that you do not, but at the same time, if you can't make that distinction, please don't take it upon yourself to speak for Catholics. "The Old Rugged Cross" is about dulia, and it fits into the same tradition as "Ecce lignum crucis in quo salus mundi pependit. Venite adoremus" and The Dream of the Rood.I'd be interested in what Fr. Longenecker thought about such things prior to his conversion. I'm a former Baptist myself, but beginning with a postdoc in Japan I started gradually becoming aware of the pull of the Catholic Church. The first steps for me mostly involved an increased awareness of that Pope John Paul was being criticized for saying the right things, not the wrong things; learning about the missionary exploits of St. Francis Xavier; and the writings of St. Augustine. In with the mix, though, was the issue of spiritual warfare, not an entirely idle question in a place like Japan. I would not want someone who is enthusiastic about the Prayer of Jabez confronting a demoniac. (I think I was always an odd Protestant, though. I've never had a problem in principle with the Crusades.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11740482509910163332 Gail F

    Brian Kopp: Wow, how fun to read that about Prince Gallitzen! My parents are from Altoona PA, and a lot there is named after him. When I went there on a visit with them they were surprised that I'd never heard of him — he was so much a part of the lore where they had come from. There is a cause for his sainthood.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14910134058143426327 boinky

    the blessing of houses is common on Indian reservations: they believe these are the spirits of the dead asking for prayers.However, when the Denver airport was "haunted" because it was built over an Indian burial ground, the authorities called for a medicine man…I heard this when working with the Commanche, who said thier pious Commanche medicine man refused to do the ceremony because the burial ground was another tribe, so one suspects they got another one to do the job.Guess Archbishop Chaput wasn't "Indian" enough for the new age types.—–as for Prince Gallitzen, I there were rumors he placed Loretto PA in an area known for demonic activity…biography HERE

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16388738723122139755 Mary&Jesus

    This tells that the Catholic Church is the church established by Jesus Christ, so it has the power over evil…the gates of hell won't prevail over it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18007803964164238284 Bethanie Ryan

    We all need to keep this family in our prayers. I know they will stay in mine.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17322120511913427296 Kurt and Kristin D

    We had a young, newly ordained, priest in our parish when our oldest sons were toddlers. He would wear the Cassock quite often and we didn't realize the boys noticed it until one day we were at a museum hosting the traveling Star Wars exhibit. Our almost 3 year old kept going over to the wax statue of Darth Vader convinced it was Fr. Luke. God Bless you Father!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09819523933502820341 Terry Nelson

    "Wow! I haven't seen a Catholic priest like this forever!"LOL! I love that.A local priest, Fr. Echert wears jeans under his cassock and tucks the cassock up under his leather jacket when he rides his motorcycle.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16213841528077465387 theresa EH

    PLEASE!! Wear your cassock! Um, if anyone gets "into" the wicca or what ever is the new age dujour is, yep, you can expect some weird happenings around your house. I wonder if toyrus still sell ouji boards(?)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09623314203099896293 annmarie

    That takes me back to the Evangelical/Pentecostalist days of my youth!What I first noticed about the Catholic approach to possible evil spirits is that they don't see the need to shout in order to get rid of them, neither do they broadcast the details of your distress when they pray. Everything is done with quiet dignity – so much more appropriate!Unfortunately, people here in the UK seem to call on spritualists – if only they'd all (not just some) call on the Church! Calling on spiritualists strikes me as inviting a worse problem than that you already have.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    "What I first noticed about the Catholic approach to possible evil spirits is that they don't see the need to shout in order to get rid of them, neither do they broadcast the details of your distress when they pray. Everything is done with quiet dignity – so much more appropriate!"You should watch the film, The Rite. It's based on a true story, I believe the priest it is based on gave it, his approval as realisitic. Nothing quiet there though…..

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00302512998846707942 swiftraven

    I walk in the footsteps of my ancestors and follow the deep trodden path of the old ways..Shouldn't it be kept in the back of the christian mind that Christianity was built from my spirituality and that it is well comprised with pagan DNA…hmmmm?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00707611566091137431 shadowlands

    "Shouldn't it be kept in the back of the christian mind that Christianity was built from my spirituality and that it is well comprised with pagan DNA…hmmmm?"The shed Blood of Christ has an unusual effect on pagan DNA. Making alive what was once dead.