Book Review: “Exorcism: Encounters with the Paranormal and the Occult”

The Ateneo Catechetical Instruction League (ACIL) asked me to give a talk this afternoon on the paranormal and the occult. I have given the same talk last year when I was still a facilitator of ACIL-Escopa, about a week after Fr. Jose Francisco C. Syquia, Director of the Archdiocese of Manila Office of Exorcism, gave his talk at the Jesuit Loyola House of Studies, the only talk that made me trek down the hilly jungle to that secluded school of priests, nuns, and brothers from all over the Philippines. The Loyola House stands on the precipice of a fault overlooking the city of Marikina: all the kingdoms of the world laid bare before you, tempting you with wealth, power, and glory, as you try to focus on the Kingdom of Heaven beyond the clouds, beyond the stars, at the end of time.

I do not personally know Fr. Syquia, but I bought his book at Power Books at Megamall, on the Feast of All Hallows Eve 2006.  I have grown suspicious of any book on paranormal.  I have read Lobsang Rampa, Carlos Castaneda, and Jaime Licauco in my youth.  I have read them and found them wanting: they promise that anyone “can be like gods, knowing good and evil,” as the Serpent tempted Eve.   But I see only emptiness in the faces of the New Age practitioners.  No joy, no peace. By their fruits you shall know them.

But Fr. Syquia’s book is different. It is an account by an exorcist priest himself. No theological speculations, no make-believe stories, no fear. Only plain stories from his everyday encounters with demon-possessed persons and spirit-infested houses, against the backdrop of authentic Catholic Church Teaching and sayings of the saints.

The book’s structure is similar to a diptych. Most chapters consist of two parts: (1) Experience narrative and (2) church teaching. This is what journalists call as the broken-line method: narrative, explain, narrative, explain. I would have preferred a more systematic demonology: classification of demons, their powers, manifestations, and weaknesses. Maybe this is just my hangover from my close study of the Monster Manual in Dungeons and Dragons in my youth.  But Fr. Syquia’s narrative grounds you to the reality: the hairy kapre in a mango tree, the arrogant blasphemies of the possessed, the crisp cards of a fortune teller, the consecrated hands of the priests. This is the war of angels and demons fought in our very earth, in our very house, in our very soul. And Fr. Syquia tells us about this war in its gory details: the vomits, the salts, the ropes, the shrieks. This is the war whose ending we know: Satan bound by Christ our Lord; the Serpent’s head crushed by Our Lady’s heel. Satan knows his defeat and he wants to drag as many souls with him to Hell.

Here are the contents of Fr. Syquia’s book:

Foreword
Introduction

  1. The Church and the Devil
  2. The Parapsychological Dimension
  3. Catholicism and Philippine Folk Religiosity
  4. The Secrets of the New Age Movement: Notebook 1
  5. The Secrets of the New Age Movement: Notebook 2
  6. Foundations
  7. Ministering to Those under Extraordinary Demonic Assault
  8. Confrontation between God and the Devil
  9. The Catholic in the Midst of Love and War
  10. The Scars of Battle
  11. Defensive Armor and Offensive Weapons
  12. The Exorcist
  13. Haunted Houses: Notebook 1
  14. Haunted Houses: Notebook 2

Notes on Some of the Sources Used
Appendix A: More on Philippine Folk Religiosity
Appendix B: Personal Spiritual Warfare
Appendix C: A Concise Handbook on Exorcism and Deliverance
Appendix D: A Pastoral Approach to Infested Homes
Appendix E: Manual of Prayers
Endnotes
About the Author

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About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

13 Responses to Book Review: “Exorcism: Encounters with the Paranormal and the Occult”

  1. lissa a. santos says:

    Could you give me a complete summary of this book? thanks a lot and God bless!

  2. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I don’t know if I can give a more complete summary that you request than what I have provided. I think the important points are as follows:

    1. Demons are fallen angels and they have preternatural powers beyond that of men.
    2. Men also have preternatural powers and they have an ability to communicate with spirits. But because of the Fall of Adam, God closed the window to the spirit world lest they become entry points of demons to harm men.
    3. Men should not try to open their third eye by their own power; the communion with God and angels and saints is best done through prayer.
    4. Never try to play with occult; the demons are actually playing with you.
    5. After their Fall, the demons inhabit the physical world: trees, houses, mountains. Demons like dirty and dark places, scenes of murder, places where occult activities are held.
    6. Priests have the power to exorcise places and persons in the name of God.
    7. Possessed persons are known by their ability to know hidden information (e.g. unconfessed sins), distinguish holy water from ordinary water, react to prayers in the exorcism rite reserved only for priests, understand foreign languages (e.g. Latin).
    8. Demons will not obey the command of a priest exorcist if the exorcist is not firm in commanding the demon.
    9. Demons are always at war against each other, but some demons can force lower demons into submission. In Faith Healing, for example, a greater demon can remove the effects of the lower demon, but new symptoms of affliction will arise.
    10. If a person went to several faith healers, the exorcist has to remove each demon one by one.

    I hope this helps.
    7. Possessed persons

  3. Joe Schmitz says:

    Exorisms are very mysterious to me. This book would be interesting to read.

  4. may be i am blessed to meet and talk with him personally Fr.Jocis is a gift to the church!!!

  5. MA FELICITAS C RELUCIO says:

    ” My sisters,mom and I have a copy of this book. We are into family-tree healing and we find the articles and prayers mentioned here very helpful! Thanks so much to all who made this book available to the public … more power and God bless ! ”

  6. Reginald A. Gomez, Jr. says:

    I’ve read Fr. Syquia’s book Exorcism: Encounter with the paranormal and the occult, it widen my perception regarding the dangerous effect when dealing with the occult. I’m also one of the many who consults albularyos and alike. I also have somewhat supernatural abilities and I always encounter black entities wearing cloak. Witch doctors told me that I’m the one who brought typhoon frank in Iloilo. I want to be closer to God so that these entities with not bother me anymore. Fr. Jocis thank you so much. God bless you always.

  7. Elson M. Capiral says:

    I highly recommend this book to everyone. During my early years, I too was curious on the occult and the paranormal. Recently, I have been active in a local paranormal group thinking that what I was doing could help people and develop my abilities. A lot of questions were answered while reading Fr. Syquia’s book. It was very informative, direct and life changing.

    Thanks Fr. Jocis. I do hope to meet you someday.

  8. mrs. Alemany says:

    how can this book be purchased

  9. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    Mrs. Alemany,

    The last time I checked, the book is available in Philippine bookstores and some Catholic religious shops.

  10. Pingback: Christians declare war against the devil « Knights of Saint Benedict

  11. grace says:

    can’t wait to read the book and leave a comment.

  12. Uriel says:

    Mr. Sugon, I’ve been constantly reading your blog since I was able to find it some months ago. Your posts are very informative as well deepening in faith. I would like to ask if the power of exorcism from the Catholic faith is as potent as those coming from other Christian denominations. or do the exorcisms performed by other religious denominations have effect at all. I have read some accounts in the internet that Anglicans, and also protestants are also able to perform exorcisms. thank you!

  13. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    Hi Uriel,

    This is what Scripture says:

    John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”39 Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.40 For whoever is not against us is for us. (Mk 9:38-41)

    But there is also an episode in the Acts of the Apostles:

    Then some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those with evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.”14 When the seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish high priest, tried to do this,15 the evil spirit said to them in reply, “Jesus I recognize, Paul I know, but who are you?”16
    The person with the evil spirit then sprang at them and subdued them all. He so overpowered them that they fled naked and wounded from that house. (Acts 19:13-16)

    I don’t know the full answer to your question. If God allows exorcists from other faiths, then so be it. But we can be sure that in the Catholic Church, if the bishop appoints someone to be an exorcist, that person has authority over evil spirits–though he, too, must live a holy life, so that the demons cannot harm him or blurt out his unconfessed sins during exorcism.

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