Horror of horrors! Why is JesCom sponsoring a suspense-thriller?

*Horror of horrors! Why is JesCom sponsoring a suspense-thriller? *

by Dit Sablan

Yes, Jesuit Communications is sponsoring *The Rite*, Warner Brothers’
newest film on exorcism which stars Academy Award winner Anthony
Hopkins. But the film is not your run-of-the-mill exorcist B-movie. It
is based on journalist Matt Baglio’s book, “*The Rite: The Making of a
Modern Exorcist,”* which tells the real life story of Father Gary Thomas
and how he trained and became the official exorcist of San Jose,
California.  In a recent interview with /Zenit News Agency/, Father
Thomas mentions that he and Baglio were not only consulted in the
production of the film but were physically present in the shooting as
well — an assurance of the film’s orthodoxy.

But why should *The Rite* be a relevant film for us?

First, although there are admittedly very few official exorcists around,
the rite of exorcism continues to be a ministry in the Church, following
Jesus Christ who expelled demons from people during his time. There was
a time when, before ordination, would-be priests were ordained to the
minor order of exorcism. And although this practice is no longer
observed in most seminaries, perhaps due to the advent of the scientific
age, the Church nonetheless continues the ministry of exorcism, even as
it maintains its teaching on the existence of the Devil!

Second, in the /Zenit/ interview, Father Thomas reveals a sense of
urgency within the Church as regards this sensitive matter. He cites for
example that months before John Paul II died in 2005, the Pope requested
that each diocese in the Church be equipped with a trained exorcist.
Likewise, recently, the US Bishops met in Baltimore over this issue.
Significantly, Father Thomas as the bishops’ resource person, pointed
out that the youth today are at risk of demonic influences and even
possession, because of their interest in the occult, now widely known as
the new age phenomenon. (Parents beware!)

Finally, the movie is relevant because as Father Thomas says, more than
a suspense-thriller, *The Rite* is a movie about our Faith. Indeed it
deals with our unending daily struggle to win over our demons and our
unending fight against the forces of evil in this world. Surprisingly,
this horror movie may yet inspire us towards greater faith!

/The Advanced Screening of *The Rite* is on Friday, 28 January 2011,
7pm, SM Megamall, Cinema 9. Father Joseph Syquia, official exorcist of
the Archdiocese of Manila will start the event with a brief talk.
Tickets are sold at P500.  Available at the following Tanging Yaman
Outlets: 1. Sonolux Building, Seminary Drive, Ateneo de Manila
University,   2.  Loyola House of Studies, Ateneo de Manila University,
and  3.  5th Floor, SM Megamall Building B, Mandaluyong City.
/

/For more information, call 426-5971 local 111 – 113.

/

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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