Apologia: The Fullness of Christian Truth

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

Oppression, Obsession, and Possession

Salvador Viniegra 1862–1915

1 Peter 5:8 "Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil,
as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour."

Aside from normal, everyday temptations, the ways in which the devils torment us are two: from without and from within. When they torment us from without, from outside the body, it's called "obsession" or "oppression," depending on the phenomena involved; when they torment us from within the body, it's called "possession."


Sometimes demons, including Satan himself, and the souls of damned humans go beyond merely tempting a person, and wage a more intense assault. This sort of assault can happen to those who give the Devil an "entree" into their lives by willfully engaging in sin, playing with heresy, becoming inordinately interested in the occult ("occult" meaning "hidden" and referring to those things naturally veiled from us) and delving into things like communing with the dead (such as through seances or using Ouija boards), divination (such as using Tarot cards in an inordinate manner), and so forth. The present-day ghost-hunting craze carries with it a huge risk in that demons very often masquerade as ghosts -- as humans who've died bodily and whose spirits either are attached to a certain place for purgatorial purposes, or who've otherwise been allowed by God to visit the living for some cause.

This sort of attack can also be endured by one who has been cursed by another, for ex. by Satanists and others who engage in magick by calling on demons to attain power. Of course, those who cast spells and issue curses can be hired. This is a serious problem in Mexico, with their adivinos and brujos. Contact with cursed objects can also be a factor.

Certain forms of mental illness can be caused by or attract the demonic. When demons see weakness, they attack, and some of our mentally ill are victims of the diabolical.

You may well find that as you grow in virtue and holiness, you'll be subject to this sort of demonic attack --  for ex., the most blasphemous thoughts might come to you while praying. Or maybe you'll be tormented by certain lustful, blasphemous, or otherwise painful thoughts, seemingly out of nowhere, on a regular basis, but most especially when you're engaged in prayer, are at the Mass, etc. Depression, a sense of isolation, feeling a loss of hope, sensing a dark presence -- all of these can be (but are not necessarily) examples of "obsession."


Oppression is a much more obvious type of attack, with the same causes and victims as obsession, and can take the form not only of things that could be explained naturally by the skeptical-minded --  all of the things that go with obsession, such as illnesses, unexplainable pain, what appears to be incessant, incredibly "bad luck," etc., but also phenomena those same skeptics can't easily explain at all. Paranormal phenomena that are often popularly attributed to "poltergeists" ("noisy spirits") are common -- objects moving apparently by themselves or flying around the room, unexplained noises and voices, levitations, faucets and electrical appliances turning on and off with no apparent cause,  demons visually manifesting, often taking the form of dark "clouds" -- a darkness so dark it's beyond black.

And there can also be
outright physical assaults, often extremely violent. The sort of things that can happen during such cases are often the sorts of things seen during incidents of demonic infestation of a home or other place that might have a reputation for being "haunted." St. Gregory of Tours (539-594) wrote of such a case in "The Four Books of the Miracles of St. Martin," Book 3; Chap 37:

At this time when a certain woman remained alone at the loom when the others had gone, a most frightful phantom appeared as she sat, and laid hold of the woman and began to drag her off. She screamed and wept since she saw there was no one to help, but still tried to make a courageous resistance. After two or three hours the other women returned and found her lying on the ground half dead and unable to speak. Still she made signs with her hand, but they did not understand and she continued speechless. The phantom which had appeared to her attacked so many persons in that house that they left it and went elsewhere. In two or three months' time the woman came to the church and had the merit to recover her speech. And so she told with her own lips what she endured.

Fuseli's Nightmare


Sometimes demonic attacks can take on a sexual nature. Demons called "incubi" ("incubus" in the singular) and  "succubi" ("succubus" in the singular) attack women and men respectively, typically during sleep. Incubi and succubi are, in medieval thought, seen to be the same demons, able to change shape as needed, depending on the sex of their victims.
In Book XV, Chapter XXIII of "City of God," St. Augustine relates incubi with sylvans and fauns and asserts that experiences of them are so numerous it'd be brazen to deny their existence:

[T]he same trustworthy Scripture testifies that angels have appeared to men in such bodies as could not only be seen, but also touched. There is, too, a very general rumor, which many have verified by their own experience, or which trustworthy persons who have heard the experience of others corroborate, that sylvans and fauns, who are commonly called "incubi," had often made wicked assaults upon women, and satisfied their lust upon them; and that certain devils, called Duses by the Gauls, are constantly attempting and effecting this impurity is so generally affirmed, that it were impudent to deny it.1


Because those who are on the path to holiness are often subject to demonic assaults, even some of our great Saints have been victims of obsession and oppression. The Evil One can't stand to see people growing ever closer to God and will sometimes assault them in horrible ways in an attempt to get them to give in to despair. Some of the greatest Saints -- and, undoubtedly, untold numbers of Saints who are unknown to us and not canonized -- have been molested in this way. Padre Pio, St. Antony of the Desert (about whose struggles with the devil you can read here), Mother Teresa of Calcutta on her deathbed, St. John Vianney (the "Curé of Ars"), St. Gemma Galgani, and many other of the greatest of our Saints suffered incredible, often physically violent, and, to the average person, horribly frightening torments. St. Paul himself was afflicted by the demonic, and writes about it in his letter to the Corinthians, found in II Corinthians 12:7-10:

And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me.  For which thing thrice I besought the Lord, that it might depart from me. 

And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee; for power is made perfect in infirmity.

Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. For which cause I please myself in my infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ. For when I am weak, then am I powerful.

Padre Pio's assaults were brutal. In a letter to Padre Agostino on February 13, 1913, he recounted:

Now twenty-two days have passed since Jesus allowed the devils to vent their anger on me. My Father, my whole body is bruised from the beatings that I have received to the present time by our enemies. Several times, they have even torn off my shirt so that they could strike my exposed flesh.

But these great Saints prevailed. With Christ, the Devil is already defeated and is nothing to be truly afraid of.

Another phenomenon that can possibly be attributed to demons is that of so-called "alien abduction." People who endure these experiences describe them in a similar way, with these beings usually coming to them at night, when they are in bed. They are taken from their beds and into what seems to be a "spaceship." There, they undergo painful physical  examinations of a mostly sexual nature, often having ova and sperm taken from them. They're often forced to have sexual relations with these beings, with other creatures that appear to be hybrids of these alleged "aliens" and humans, and with other humans who've been "abducted." The experiences are terrifying, and they're often experienced repeatedly throughout an "abductee's" life.

Sometimes the "abductions" are not directly remembered, but are recalled in dreams, under hypnosis, or when triggered by some stimulus when awake, such as the sight of something resembling depictions of aliens, or bright lights at night, etc. But those "abductees" who don't directly remember still have a sense that something horrific has happenened to them, something they can't put their finger on, something that's causing great suffering, even to the point of enduring Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. They'll often find strange scars and marks on their bodies and will have "lost time."

Other "abductees" do directly remember their experiences, and what they remember is nightmarish. They feel paralyzed, unable to not just move, but even speak. Communication with their "abductors" is accomplished through telepathy -- i.e., mind to mind, without talking. To look into the eyes of these alleged "aliens" is described as feeling one is losing one's soul. These creatures are sensed as being sinister -- at least at first, and this is the frightening part: a few "abductees," even though terrified, become acclimated to these "abductions" and then "evangelize" about the "aliens." Whitley Strieber, the writer of "Communion" and "Transformation" is one such person. Some quotes from those books which I've lifted from an article written by Paul Schroeder, for UFO Digest:

"I became entirely given over to  extreme dread. The fear was so powerful that it seemed to make my personality; completely evaporate... 'Whitley' ceased to exist. What was left was a body and; a state of raw fear so great that it swept about me like a thick, suffocating; curtain, turning paralysis into a condition that seemed close to death...I died and a wild animal appeared in my place." -- Whitley Streiber, Communion, p. 25-26

"Increasingly I felt as if I were entering a struggle that might even be more than life and death. It might be a struggle for my soul, my essence, or whatever part of me might have reference to the eternal. There are worse things  than death, I suspected... so far the word demon had never been spoken among the scientists and doctors who were working with me...Alone at night I worried about the legendary cunning of demons... At the very least I was going stark, raving mad." -- Whitley Streiber, Transformation, p. 44-45

"I wondered if I might not be in the grip of demons, if they were not making me suffer for their own purposes, or simply for their enjoyment." -- Whitley Streiber, Transformation, p. 172

"I felt an absolutely indescribable sense of menace. It was hell on earth to be there [in the presence of the entities], and yet I couldn't move, couldn't cry out, couldn't get away. I'd lay as still as death, suffering inner agonies. Whatever was there seemed so monstrously ugly, so filthy and dark and sinister. Of course they were demons. They had to be. And they were here and I couldn't get away." -- Whitley Streiber, Transformation, p. 181.

In spite of all that, Strieber concludes they are aliens and goes on to say, my emphasis in italics:

Why were my visitors so secretive, hiding themselves behind my consciousness. I could only conclude that they were using me and did not want me to know why... What if they were dangerous? Then I was terribly dangerous because I was playing a role in acclimatizing people to them." -- Whitley Streiber, Transformation, p. 96

And we are being acclimatized to them. Consider the prevalence of so-called "extraterrestrials" in our culture. Think of how they're presented to us. Loveable "E.T." befriending a child. The incessant "ancient alien" nonsense on the History Channel (of all places!). People spotting what they think are "alien spacecraft" in our night skies and finding it cool rather than ominous.

But here's the thing: account after account of these incidents indicate that these potential sorts of demonic attacks posing as "alien abductions" can be stopped on a dime by the "abductee" calling on the Holy Name of Jesus. If you're suffering through this sort of not uncommon experience, know what it quite possibly is -- demonic in nature -- and call on the most Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ to make it stop.


Demonic possession is what happens when one or more demons enter into and at least periodically exert control over the body. They cannot possess the soul unless the soul is freely given to the Evil One; only the body is overtaken. It may be that no obvious "symptoms" are present in terms of what is easily visible; the victim may appear entirely normal. But it many cases, the subject may have periods of a loss of control over his own body and exhibit such things as disgust for and outrage at holy people and holy objects, unnatural changes to the voice, the making of animal sounds such as growling, levitation, knowledge of things he can't naturally have knowledge of, such as languages he's never spoken or even been exposed to, knowledge of the sins and secrets of others, etc. Incredibly abnormal strength is another typical symptom of demonic possession, as was the case of the man described in Mark 5:2-5:

[Jesus] met him out of the monuments a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling in the tombs, and no man now could bind him, not even with chains. For having been often bound with fetters and chains, he had burst the chains, and broken the fetters in pieces, and no one could tame him. And he was always day and night in the monuments and in the mountains, crying and cutting himself with stones.

Demonic possession has been treated in books and film many times, with "The Exorcist," made in 1973 and based loosely on a true story, being the most famous of the movies to deal with the subject.  Fr. Gabriele Amorth, one of the more widely known exorcists today, has said it's his favorite movie -- an accurate depiction of what possession is like -- minus the head-spinning bit, of course. To see what demonic possession is like, watch that movie (without your young children!).

But in addition to that very obvious and dramatic sort of demonic possession, there is the even more frightening phenomenon of those who are "perfectly possessed," people whose bodies have not only been overtaken by the Evil One or his minions, but who've consciously, of their own free will, given power over their souls to him. They typically appear generally normal to the eye, but the sensitive can detect an "otherwordly" quality to them, a darkness about them, a coldness, a lack of true charity and true warmth. They may not be even able to name what is wrong, but just have a sense of trepidation or fear, or experience an inner "chill" when encountering the perfectly possessed.

The perfectly possessed are typically Satanists and people who make pacts with the Devil in exchange for earthly power. Stories of such deals with the Devil abound, from Faust of German legend to the story of bluesman Robert Johnson "selling his soul" to the devil in exchange for guitar virtuosity, at a crossroads in Rosedale, Mississippi. But for all the legends, there are those who actually do make a pact with the Evil One for some form of temporal success or another (note that one can't truly "sell one's soul"; one's soul isn't one's to sell. But one can give away power over one's soul).

As with true magic (the art of performing actions beyond the power of man with the aid of powers other than the Divine), these pacts with the devil may well work! Satan is the Prince of this world (e.g., John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11) and does have power that is passively allowed to him by God for a time. Don't doubt that for a minute! Look around you and see the evidence of what spirit dominates this world, what allows for the fact that 1% controls almost all of the world's wealth and media, the power of the "banksters," the oily, power-mad types who end up in Congress and the Oval Office, the "stars" who make filth, the thugs with "hot chicks" hanging on their arms.

Those who enter into such pacts will to give up their immortal souls for a bit of temporary, temporal power and "success" as the world defines it. They may, if the demons find something useful in them, become "stars" or "winning" politicians, they might get the "hot blonde girls" of their dreams, but they will, in a few short years -- a period of time that is extremely short when contrasted with eternity -- be sent to Hell, where despair permeates every nook and cranny and cannot be escaped. There will be no respite, not for a second. There will be nothing but eternal pain, most importantly the pain of being without God and all He is and all whom He's saved. There will be no Love, no Truth, no Life, no Light, no Goodness, no Beauty, no sweetness, no joy, no laughter, no communion with Him and with others, no eternity shared with loved ones. Just a bleak and heavy oppression, at the very least, for which there is no cure. Ever. And in the end, is the meek who shall inherit the earth.

Sacred Scripture describes Hell as a place of fire and torment, but even if -- and this is a hypothetical, conditional statement -- even if there are no fire and positive torments, but "merely" an "absence of the Good," imagine sitting inside a tiny room of a cave, a room just big enough to hold your body, the interior of which no light touches, where the darkness is so profound you can almost feel it on your skin. No one you love is around or will ever be around. There are no beautiful sounds, no music, no laughter. There are no lovely smells, nothing pleasant to the touch. There is nothing. Just you and a darkness so black it feels physically oppressive. Imagine being in that room for an entire day. Then for a week. Then for a month, a year, 10 years, 50 years. Then for ever. Even if Hell is "just" a cutting off from God with no fiery torments, that absence of all Good, of all Light, it is plenty Hell enough. I make this point to let those who don't believe in the classical fire and brimstone depictions of Hell know that even Hell as it can be imagined in the most "positive" or lenient way is a place you don't want to even visit, let alone spend eternity.

There are those who don't believe in Hell, or who believe that Hell contains but a few, or who think that Hell is more like Purgatory -- that it may have souls now, but will eventually be emptied. This is against the teachings of Sacred Scripture and Tradition, and it must be understood that people send themselves there by the choices they make. They are never sent there out of simple ignorance. Further, there really are truly wicked people in the world. I think that the innocent-minded sometimes have an inordinately "soft" view of people, projecting their own innocence onto others. "How bad can a person be to suffer eternal torments? I just can't imagine that anyone could warrant such a punishment!" The innocent can often be naive -- though it's not so at all so that "innocence" and "naivete" must go together -- and while that sort of ignorance and psychological projection have a sweetness about them, it's dangerous. It's dangerous in terms of personal safety, and it's dangerous in terms of how such soft-hearted souls can too easily think that everyone is basically good and, so, can't deserve going to Hell, thereby leading them to embrace heresy.
Let me tell you a few stories to make those innocent but ignorant-of-evil people more aware. I warn you that the following stories will be very difficult to read! They're extremely brutal and ugly. But they are true.

Skip the text between this point and the "End Warning" notation if you're sensitive to reading about violence. And be warned that it isn't a typical sort of violence that will be described, but the most gruesome sort!

The first is about a little girl I read about many, many years ago but whom I just cannot forget. I'm a "True Crime" buff, and have read many stories about the evils man is capable of, but something about this particular story struck me to the core. I don't know why, but this little girl has become, for me, a reminder of why Hell exists. This little girl was a little black child, a baby, and her name was Onowanique. One day, she wouldn't stop crying, so her parents murdered her. And then they cut her up into pieces. Her little hands and little feet were found on top of the stove, cooked in a frying pan, in order to be fed to the dogs. Her sweet little head was found in a blender.2

The second story is about the murder of Kelly Ann Bates. Her mother described meeting the man who'd become Kelly's boyfriend and murderer with these words: "As soon as I saw Smith the hairs on the back of my neck went up. I tried everything I could to get Kelly Anne away from him." 3 That boyfriend, whose full name was James Patterson Smith, murdered Kelly in a crime so gruesome that the jury who heard the case was provided with counseling to help them deal with what they'd seen and heard. Mr. Patterson starved Kelly until she'd lost almost 45 pounds; scalded her; burned her; broke her arm; stabbed her repeatedly, including inside her mouth; crushed her hands; mutilated her ears, nose, mouth, and genitalia; partially scalped her; gouged out her eyes and then later stabbed her through the empty eye sockets; beat her in the head; and, finally, drowned her, the coup that, mercifully, killed her. Her eyes had been gouged out at least 5 days and up to three weeks before her death. This murder wasn't the result of a single act of passion; it was an ongoing bout of hideous torture that lasted for weeks and maybe months.

The third story is about an Australian man named Peter Scully, who moved from "Oz" to the Philippines in order to escape authorities who wanted him for fraud. In the Philippines, he began making films for view on "The Dark Web," a "level" of the internet that is only accessibly by using certain software. He is infamous for two films, "Daisy's Destruction" and "Dafu Love." I will tell you about the latter.

Those who've seen the video say it begins in a house that is mostly empty but for three men, one of whom is Scully. Two women show up with five babies, all of them under the age of one. The poor innocents are molested and raped, and then a woman hands Scully a chisel, which he drives into one of the babies' heads with the help of a hammer. After this, a chainsaw comes out and a baby is dismembered. While alive, while screaming. The child's remains are thrown outside, where a dog is visible. The remaining babies are whipped and bitten, and then two are used as if they were pillows in a pillow fight, being slammed against each other until their skulls break open. The last child is murdered by being stabbed repeatedly, in the belly, with scissors. Then they stab the scissors into the child's eyes, after which he quickly dies.

Not only were there five adults, who somehow found each other, engaging in these unspeakable atrocities together, but there was a network of God knows how many people on "The Deep Web," a group that spanned the globe, who paid to watch their handiwork. There is a market out there for this sort of abomination.

What does a man like Peter Scully look like? Does he have cloven hooves instead of feet? Does the foul stench of sulfur emanate from his person? Does he look menacing, perhaps covered in tattoos, someone who'd undergone body modifications such as tongue-splitting, or forehead implants to mimic horns? No. He looks like this:

Peter Scully

He looks like a High School Biology teacher. Or maybe an accountant, possibly your next-door neighbor who'd let you borrow his lawnmower when yours breaks down. Or, if Peter Scully isn't enough, read the sentencing report for Ian Watkins, the Welsh rock star pedophile, and the young mothers he got to do his bidding using their own babies (be warned: it is exceedingly horrific and graphic). Still think there's no good reason for Hell to exist? Still think that at least some people do not willingly choose to go there?


And what about those who've committed so many murders that it all seems too abstract to truly fathom? Men like Stalin, who killed between 56 and 62 million, including the millions who died during the Holodomor, a man-made famine, orchestrated by functionary Lazar Kaganovich, that had its Ukrainian sufferers resorting to cannibalism in order to survive? What about those who died under Hitler's regime? What of the 2 million Irish who suffered and died during the Potato Famine, all because of British policy decisions? Consider Pol Pot, under whose rule, one fourth of all Cambodians died. Or Mao Tse-Tung, whose "Great Leap Forward" killed 45 million in just 4 years. Consider the Allied bombing of Dresden during World War II, which created a fiery Hell on earth endured by already-starving, innocent civilians.

Consider the people who work behind the scenes, manipulating our economy and playing with our currencies for their benefit (learn about them on these pages: The Money Masters; Money, Banking, and the Federal Reserve; The Creature from Jeckyll Island). Think of the almost two and a half trillion dollars missing from the Pentagon, revealed to the world the very day before 9-11 and then promptly forgotten during the chaos that ensued from the attacks. Think of the billionaires who don't mind destroying entire nations so they can exploit immigrant laborers as indentured servants, or destroying entire economies so they can profit from the chaos while millions are financially ruined.

Think of the people who've worked to redefine marriage and promote abortion. Think of the hypocritical groups who work to protect Israel as a nation for Jews alone while doing all they can to allow Muslims to take over Christian Europe. Consider those who've changed the popular definition of art to include vials of urine containing Crucifixes, vats of chemicals holding rotting sharks, and cans of excrement.

The spirit of those who commit the vile acts described above is Satanic. That is what Satan is about. He is the Beatitudes turned upside-down, ugliness, pain, suffering, and death. And for those who don't believe in Hell, in spite of Christ Himself speaking of it, would you allow into Heaven those who'd willingly commit such acts and not repent of them? Do they belong in a place where your hopefully saved dead family members dwell? Would you want your children around them even after bodily death? How can they enter into Heaven, a place of perfect Beauty, Goodness, and Love if they not only refuse Christ's grace, but act in such Satanic ways and refuse to repent of them? These people willingly choose their behaviors; they choose to reject God, and in rejecting God, they, themselves, choose Hell.

Evil is around us. And the personification of evil wants us to reject God and follow him, as his fellow rebel angels did. There is a battle for souls going on right now, and you're a part of it whether you want to be or not, whether you believe you are or not. You have a decision to make:  God or Satan?

Please note: Just as it is a mistake to ignore the reality of the demonic, it's also a mistake to overstate the influence of demons, thereby risking lapsing into a paranoid, schizotypal view of things. A rule: never attribute to the praeternatural what can be explained by the natural. If you're "seeing demons" everywhere, you're likely in need of psychiatric help. Another rule to mind is to not pay too much mind to the demonic; to look too intently at evil is to risk becoming evil oneself. This is especially important when relating the realities of evil to children: while the truth about the demonic and of Hell needs to be made clear to them, be mindful of their often wild imaginations, capacity for nightmares, and possible inordinate fears. Treat the demonic as real, but as something Christ has already conquered, and nothing at all to fear if we stay close to Him and His Church. Speak of demons as if they're mischievous, foolish monkeys that can't get at us because Christ won't let them. And, of course, teach them their catechism, and teach them how to use sacramentals.

Gary, Indiana Possession: Report to the Bishop
Gary, Indiana Possession: Intake Officer's Report

Further reading


1 In this section of "The City of God," St. Augustine is writing about these verses from chapter 6 of Genesis: "And after that men began to be multiplied upon the earth, and daughters were born to them, The sons of God seeing the daughters of men, that they were fair, took to themselves wives of all which they chose. And God said: My spirit shall not remain in man for ever, because he is flesh, and his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.  Now giants were upon the earth in those days. For after the sons of God went in to the daughters of men, and they brought forth children, these are the mighty men of old, men of renown."

Both he and St. Thomas Aquinas assert that it was not "angels" that interbred with "the daughters of men," but that the phrase "sons of God" refers to the sons of the righteous Seth, while "daughters of men" refers to the offspring of the evil Cain. Nonetheless, St. Thomas Aquinas devotes thought to the question of whether children can be born of the sexual union of a woman and an incubus. He concludes that it is possible, but only indirectly, "Still if some are occasionally begotten from demons, it is not from the seed of such demons, nor from their assumed bodies, but from the seed of men taken for the purpose; as when the demon assumes first the form of a woman, and afterwards of a man; just as they take the seed of other things for other generating purposes, as Augustine says (De Trin. ii.), so that the person born is not the child of a demon, but of a man."

In other words, a demon may take the shape of a succubus, retrieve sperm from a man, then take the shape of an incubus and deposit it into a woman.

2 Retrieved March 11, 2016 from The Argus-Press, via Google.

3 Byrne, Paul (20 November 1997). "Torture monster is jailed for 20 years". Daily Mirror (London). p. 12.

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Obsession, Oppression, and Possession
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