Angels and demons, spiritual warfare and exorcism – it’s all real.
That’s a key part of the Catholic faith, as taught in the Bible, the Church’s tradition, the Catechism, and especially emphasized by Pope Francis.
Joseph O’Brien over at Adoremus Bulletin recently published a fascinating interview with Fr. Jeffrey Grob, who works as an exorcist in the Archdiocese of Chicago. We recommend you read the whole thing.
One part that stood out is the 4 signs of demonic possession that Fr. Grob describes. Note that he’s also very clear that exorcism can only be carried out by priests with permission from their bishop. So this isn’t an invitation for lay people to try to diagnose demonic possession and perform exorcisms. Rather, this information provides insight into a very real and important part of the life and mission of the Church.
Here are his 4 tell-tale signs of demonic possession:
1) Knowledge of foreign languages the person hasn’t studied
Fr. Grob explains this “is more than picking up a phrase book of a language an individual doesn’t know and spouting off a few well-known expressions in French or Italian. Rather the individual is conversational in a language that the individual has no knowledge of.”
2) Knowledge of hidden things
This includes the possessed person knowing personal details about the exorcist that are not publicly known and that they could not otherwise know. ‘
“An exorcist may walk into a room where someone is afflicted,” Fr. Grob explains, “and the victim many reveal things about the exorcist that he wouldn’t be privy to even with a Google search. They would be personal kinds of things.”
3) Extraordinary strength
This means the person has strength far beyond what they could have naturally.
“It’s one thing for an Arnold Schwarzenegger in his heyday to bench-press 300 pounds,” Fr. Grob said in the interview, “it’s quite another for a 70-year old woman of slight build to throw five or six grown men around like ragdolls.”
4) Aversion to sacred things
This can be sacred objects (e.g. crucifixes and holy water), sacred prayers (e.g. Our Father), or holy names (e.g. titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary).