While critics of government schooling might say the targets of a recent mass exorcism should have been the teachers and administrators, the subjects were the students. And the reactions were profound, ranging from screaming to crying to laughter to fainting and even to writhing on the floor — and to incredulity from the media.
The scene was the town of Gryfice in northwestern Poland, where 1,000 youngsters from area schools attended a three-day camp designed to help “young people explore God and devote themselves to spiritual renewal through prayer,” as the Mirror reports. And one of those prayers, in particular, is raising secular eyebrows.
The Mirror quotes a “shocked” mother who said of the priest overseeing the event, 37-year-old Tomas Wieczorek, “On the first day he took a few of the children on stage and placed his hand on their foreheads one by one and started repeating ‘Holy Spirit, come. Holy Spirit, come.’ Some of the children fainted while others started crying."
The extreme reactions, which again included screaming and writhing as well, caused some students to seek to aid their classmates. Father Wieczorek stopped them, however, saying “God is entering their souls and banishing the Devil.”
This apparently shocked the Mirror, which wrote that “instead of singing songs and praying” the priest “was more interested in exorcising their demons and replacing them with God.”
And the problem is ...?
It’s hard to know if the bigger story here is the exorcism or the media’s reaction to it. In its subtitle, the Mirror implied that the students were victims of a bait-and-switch, writing they “were attending what they thought was a religious camp.” Apparently, the secular paper finds it unfathomable that a religious camp would actually be, well, religious. It even quotes a school psychologist named Halina Wysocka as saying, “The methods presented were similar to those in religious sects.”
This is a false notion of fringe notions. The fact is that Catholic teaching — and that of Christianity in general — has always held that the spirit world exists, that it includes dark angels, that they can “inhabit” or even possess man, and that they can be cast out. Jesus himself is recorded as doing so in the Bible.
Whether or not you believe the above isn’t presently the point. It is, rather, shouldn’t we be sophisticated enough to understand where others are “coming from”? So many moderns are shocked upon learning that some religionists, or even just traditionalists, actually believe what their labels indicate. It brings to mind Ann Coulter’s observation as to why leftists don’t take offense when Democrats talk about God:
They know these politicians are lying.
And that apparently makes it okay, even if it’s John Kerry saying, as he just did, Inshallah (If Allah wills it) in reference to the Iranian nuclear deal. But a sincere (Christian) believer is akin to a Martian.
Ironically, the Mirror is guilty of mirroring, which is the common human failing whereby people ascribe their own priorities, values, and mindsets to others. It’s what prevents Westerners from fully understanding Muslim jihadists and secularists from understanding religious people in general. And the modernist idea here is, “Well, it’s harmless enough if some weak-minded people have their little encounter group and sing and lend emotional support — as long as it’s all pretend. But actually believing? That’s a problem.”
As to problems, psychologist Wysocka said one inherent in the exorcism was that "[c]hildren are not emotionally mature enough to experience prayer during which the Holy Spirit may enter them” (but the students — who appear to be teens — presumably are old enough for “sex education”). What does Wysocka mean? Is it a clumsy way of saying they’re not yet capable of handling what she views as an exercise in fiction? Or does she actually contend that the Holy Spirit’s entry into a child would be harmful? (Now, that would be a fringe idea.)
Note here that innumerable children have been martyrs; during Mexico’s Cristeros War in the 1920s, for instance, young Jose Sanchez del Rio endured imprisonment and torture and accepted death rather than renounce his faith, defiantly shouting to his tormentors “Viva Cristo Rey!” (Long live Christ the King!). So Wysocka may want to reconsider who really lacks the maturity.
Implicit in the Mirror article is the idea that Father Wieczorek is guilty of some kind of abuse. But it’s not as if he’d been beating the teens or snake-handling. He merely laid his hands on them and did what was supposed to be part of the camp: He prayed. In this case, it was “Holy Spirit, come. Holy Spirit, come.” Given this, isn’t the real story here not that a violent reaction was provoked by a transgressing priest but that a violent reaction was provoked by such tame words?
After all, it presents us with three interesting possibilities. The students could have been shills for the priest, which no one is alleging and which would be an interesting story in fraud. They could have had a strong emotional reaction induced by the power of their own belief, which would be an interesting story in psychology. Or their reactions — described by one student as “scary ... like a mental asylum” and akin to those of the possessed whose stories are told in the Bible — could have been something else, something supernatural. And that would be an interesting story, indeed.
As for belief in demons, many today would say it’s shocking. But perhaps what’s truly shocking is moderns failure to realize that such belief is a seamless part of Christianity. As I explained in a 2012 piece entitled “On Angels and Demons”:
[W]hile most will reflexively say we have souls, they do not consider what a soul actually is. It is called the spiritual part of us because it is in fact a spirit, a ghost. All these terms are synonyms.
Now, a corollary of belief in God and His creation is that the spirit preceded the flesh (viewing matters through our "handy illusion," as Einstein put it, called time); after all, God is a spirit, and He came "first."
So now let us lend perspective to the belief in angels. It states that before the spirit we call God created man, who is spirit and flesh, He created a race of beings who are only spirit. And like us they have intellect and free will, which is why they could choose evil and some rejected God. We, of course, call these fallen angels "demons."
For anyone who still scoffs, I recommend a visit to Washington, D.C. A little time spent exploring the halls of government will convince even the most hardened skeptic that fallen angels exist.