Thursday, October 9, 2014

On Angels and Demons: Notes from ME Conference Part II

Rev. Joseph Leo Iannuzzi
Of all the lectures, I enjoyed those of Fr. Joseph Leo Iannuzzi the most because I learned so many new and interesting things. He did his doctoral dissertation on Living in the Divine Will. It is a private revelation* given to a mystic, Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta. 

I've begun reading this tome (without my hand getting tired, thanks to my kindle) and simply fascinated by her life. She lived on only the Eucharist for 60 years! Although bedridden, she had no sores. Only after a priest would bless her could she be propped up to write (she was ordered to do so once they figured out her condition wasn't normal, that she was having visions). She was in good health until she contracted pneumonia at the age of 80, when she died. She was a contemporary of Padre Pio and he read her visions as well. I am so thankful her little pamphlets caught the eyes of Fr. Iannuzzi. He has not only translated her writings but also given a larger context. It truly is amazing how God chooses a lowly woman to reveal Himself and a humble priest to bring it to the world. God bless you, Father. 

Fr. Iannuzzi covered a great deal of theology about angels and the fall of man. Some things to know about angels. They possess a far greater intellect than we can imagine. They can see the consequences of all their actions (it reminded me of the character in Men in Black III who could calculate all possibilities and thus make the correct decision) and this is why they cannot be forgiven if they do not choose God. Every creature is tested before entry into heaven and the angels had individual tests. Those that passed can no longer sin. They are with God. Those that didn't joined Lucifer. This angel of Light rebelled against the foreknowledge of God being incarnated as a human, a creature with an intellect far below those of angels. I will not serve, he said. Lucifer enters the garden to stop the Incarnation.

It is a mystery why God allows temptation but had Adam corrected Eve, we'd still be sinless. Adam would've been the prince of the human race, Christ, the King. But Adam loved Eve more than he loved God. Jesus tells Luisa that before the fall, they both lived in the Divine Will. After the fall, you can see there is an immediate correlation between natural disasters and diseases -- all creation groans from the sin of Adam.

Jesus is the new Adam. He lived in the Divine Will. He was tempted and tested in the desert. But it wasn't over. He was tempted and tested again on the Cross. It was His complete obedience to the Father that set us free from sin and death and the power of Satan.

Mary lived in the Divine Will. Her test was the Fiat. So be it.

Since you've stuck with me so far, I'll share a Catholic joke Father told. Why did Mary and Joseph take a donkey to Bethlehem?

Because she gave her Fiat to God.

To learn more about living in the Divine Will, please see

Fr. Iannuzzi spoke at great length about other visions of Luisa that shed light on salvation history but I want to share some notes on his second lecture on Spiritual Warfare and Demonology without resorting to Part III. While he was in Rome, he assisted the Vatican's Chief Exorcist, Fr. Gabriele Amorth. So ...

No one is exempt from Satan.

A story: A man tells his wife to not buy anything expensive but she comes home with a gorgeous red dress, with a hefty price tag. When the husband sputtered about it, she said, "It was like Satan whispering that I'll look good in it so I just wanted to try it on."
"Then why didn't you tell him to get behind you?" said the husband.
"I did," said the wife, "and he said it's fabulous."

Nowadays, most people don't think much of Satan or believe in his existence. We've lost our horror of sin. If you've read the Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis, you already know this is one of Satan's strategies. Because now he can move around without being detected. But Satan is real and so is hell and as much as we'd like to believe that it is empty, the many saints who did have visions, saw hell populated, and among them priests ... priests who led their flock astray. St. Teresa de Avila always cracks me up even when she is serious, with her sorrow for especially the Lutherans.

God allows Adam to be tested. He fails; sin and death enter the world. But God sends his Son -- Jesus Christ -- to save us and to destroy the work of the devil. The faith of our parents saves us. We are like the paralytic, bound in sin. They bring us to the baptismal font and baptism begins the work of sanctification. At baptism, we receive the gifts of faith, hope and love. Through practice, these gifts grow in us. But it's not a free pass ... concupiscence remains even after baptism. It takes work on our part to grow in holiness and the outpouring of grace from God. And as we all know, it's not easy, the work part. We fall again and again. I tell you, the Church is a great hospital for sinners. I know, because I am a sinner, and without a sacramental life, I would fall deeper and deeper into sin. Jesus saves ... again and again, in the sacrament of confession and by feeding me Himself. 

Satan is always prowling about like a lion, ready to pounce upon us. But Jesus taught the Apostles to cast out demons in His name. It is a direct and solemn command that we can use as well. 

Problem is that Satan doesn’t leave us alone. In Matt 12:45 we learn that the evil spirit “goes and brings back with itself seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they move in and dwell there; and the last condition of that person is worse than the first. Thus it will be with this evil generation.” That’s why exorcisms have to be performed multiple times.

Did you know that confession is actually an exorcism? Fr. Iannuzzi said that repressed mortal sins are often the cause of severe depression and other physical ailments that defy medical explanation. After prayers and absolution the person is often miraculously healed. The Sacrament of Healing, which I have received a few times for severe migraines, is also an exorcism. I gain 50% reduction that lasts a good 6-8 months that no physician can explain. It's better than even the placebo effect (which is typically 30%). I am much better now since I started my treatment on low-dose beta blockers, but I am still susceptible, like the weekend of the conference. I have been purified through this suffering and no longer afraid of any attacks because I know I can offer it up. I would never choose it, however. I’m still too weak and always prefer not to sacrifice.  

An interesting tidbit: evil spirits reside in arid places. There are several references to this in the Bible, the most famous one being that Jesus went to the desert to fast and pray and there he was tempted. The early Church Fathers went to the desert to combat Satan too. 

Another interesting tidbit: The Latin Rite is more effective for casting out demons.

But we can use any language to do simple exorcisms, to heal the family tree, free ourselves from hauntings or involvement of the occult.

There are three parts:

1. Prayer – of liberation, praise, thanksgiving, intercession, and in tongues (this is where the Holy Spirit takes over). Of all these prayers, the prayers of praise are the most powerful. Satan hates for us to praise and thank God.
2. Word of God – read Psalms and the Gospel with conviction. Believe!
3. Command the evil spirits – to leave, and to never return in the name of Jesus. You can command them to go to the foot of the Cross or to hell.

A person has to go through a thorough physical, mental and spiritual evaluation when demons are suspected. Fr. Iannuzzi said that people who are possessed have these signs: chronic depression, repugnance to holy objects and prayers, resentment, levitation, extraordinary physical strength, violent, knowledge that the person wouldn’t normally have.

Confession, Mass, Adoration, Exorcism, Litany of Saints, Crucifix, blessed salt, oil, Holy Water, profession of baptismal promises are the tools of the trade. Father said it takes on average 3 years to cleanse the person from evil.

After all the stories Fr. Iannuzzi shared, I was surprised that he’s not a scaredy-cat priest. Au contraire. He is calm and funny, a man at peace and without fear. Jesus is his Rock.

He said that Satan can enter your memory and intellect without your consent, but he cannot enter your will without your consent. And God allows Satan to test you. Resisting temptations make you stronger. This is why it is imperative you live in the Divine Will.

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our Daily Bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed are thou amongst women and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Michelangelo: Last Judgment

*A note on visionaries: Catholics are not required to believe any private revelation, even if it has the imprimatur of the Church. 


Mirka Breen said...

I always considered angels and demons real, not psychological conjuring. Perhaps this ties me to traditional thinking and apart from modernism.

Leandra Wallace said...

I'd heard that joke before, but had forgotten about it! It is amazing all the things you know about the Bible, Vijaya. You are truly a devoted scholar!

Faith E. Hough said...

Vijaya, it makes me smile the way you weave humor and with throughout your discussions of even the most serious topics. Joy is a sign of the presence of God!

Vijaya said...

Mirka, I didn't realize until now that many people do not believe in a supernatural realm. Even when I was an atheist, I knew that just because I cannot measure something doesn't mean it cannot exist.

Leandra, ever since our conversion, I can't get enough of the Bible and books explaining it. I'd love to go back to school ...

Faith, I also laugh at inappropriate times ... which embarrasses the children greatly.

Johnell said...

Interesting ruminations here and I love the new look.