Bridge Night

 

This is nonfiction. Every word of this account is true. Quoted dialogue is from my best recollection. I recount this not because I think it will persuade Modernists or Rationalists of anything, at all, but because @westernchauvinist asked me to. And if in so doing, ten men revile me and one man is strengthened in their faith, then the ridicule of the ten is a cheap price for the benefit received by the one.

In college, I was a homeless Christian. I had gone to Sunday school as a child on those weekends when I was staying with grandparents but stopped after disgracing myself. The subject turned to double predestination, and even though I had never heard the doctrine before, I (disgracefully) dismissed it with a profanity. I was scandalized that any adult could hold to a creed that made a mockery of the events of Eden, the ministry of John the Baptist, the Pentecost of Acts, and a great deal more. It did not shake my faith in Jesus one iota, but it left me with a sharp suspicion of churches and in the judgment of my elders as elders. A distrust also nurtured by exposure to televangelism and the eschatology of fundraisers.

Fast forward ten years, and I found myself attending a Catholic university where I met a psychology professor who had been a student of the younger priest who conducted the famous 1949 St. Louis exorcism, the event that inspired William Peter Blatty to write his novel, The Exorcist. The unit we were studying was parapsychology, and he shared what the exorcist had to say of such things.

Having prepared myself for all manner of conflict to that point, as befits a young man, I hied myself to the university library where I found only two artifacts in the card catalogs under demon or exorcism. The first was a folio on Pope Leo XIII’s vision of the Lord and Satan making a wager, his long prayer for exorcism, and his Saint Michael prayer. The second was a seminar collation edited by the venerable confessional Lutheran Dr. John Warwick Montgomery. The exorcism prayer was long (many pages) and baffling, and I despaired immediately of ever memorizing it for use when I encountered a devil in some dark basement or alley. Sort of like trying to carry a missile silo around in your back pocket. So I moved quickly on to 50 or so other topics, as one does in college, and forgot the whole matter.

It was maybe a year later when I hopped in a friend’s car to go to our regular Wednesday night bridge game. I noticed at one point that we were headed in the wrong direction, and he said our host was sick, but we were invited to a seance by another friend of his. He knew that I was interested in the spiritual, my projects at the time included testing Edgar Cayce’s claims against archeology. Cayce did not stand up very well. But I wasn’t at all interested, a night of watching bored adults trying to spook each other out was not my idea of a good time. But he was running late, so I went along and read in the living room around the corner while they seanced away in the dining room. My heart rose as, after 20 frustrating minutes of futile summoning, they broached the topic of giving up for the night.

Then I was suddenly frozen in a very physical, primal terror as if I had just noticed a lion in the room. I am a big guy, not easily given to terror. A name came to mind, it just popped into my head.

Seconds afterward, the medium announced the presence of a spirit. He mentioned the same name. This was a new contact for him. I was baffled by the fear, but the sequence of extraordinary events convinced me that I was in the presence of an actual spirit. A hostile one. And I did what any scion of Heinlein and Niven and Anderson and Pournelle, et al., would do. I began thinking of experiments I might try, given this opportunity.

What does one do with a demon in the room, I wondered. I had no bells, no candles, and just a book of Retief stories. But I tried silently commanding that the demon be bound. The terror did not stop, but then I did hear the medium say, “He is in distress.”

I knew nothing, but I did believe that if I had just bound a demon in my own name, I had made an invisible, immensely powerful enemy for eternity. An enemy older and more potent than humanity. This led me down lines of calling on help, arriving fretfully at a classic yet simple deliverance prayer:

“In the name of Jesus Christ, begone,” I silently commanded.

The effect was instantaneous. The terror was gone instantly. I was drained but relaxed.

The medium announced that the spirit had left.

In the car, my friend asked, “What did you do?”

I had said nothing in the house, afterward. These people were strangers whose evening entertainment I had just spoiled. They might not take that well if they knew.

“Didn’t you feel that thing?” I asked him.

“No,” he replied, shrugging.

“Your friends should stop doing this. It isn’t safe,” I told him.

Two months later, he mentioned that his friends and the medium had been unable to summon any spirits since that night, despite several tries.

“God is good,” I told him.

Did I become a saint? Did I find my way to an orthodox church and live a life of virtue and obedience? Hardly. It was over three decades before I settled on a church. But that, as they say, is a matter for another day.

Links:
Pope Leo XIII’s Vision and the Saint Michael Prayer
The Exorcism Prayer of Pope Leo XIII (do not pray this, the wording assumes the one praying is a priest authorized by his bishop to conduct exorcisms, praying it without the requisite authority opens one to demonic retaliation)

God is very, very good. May His peace be with you always.

Happy Lord’s Day.

This piece was previously published on my personal site.

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There are 19 comments.

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  1. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    Reading this raised the hairs on my arm.  I vacillate between believing in things such as demons and not believing in them, spending most time in the non-believing category.  But stories like this provoke an awfully strong reaction, despite what my cortex says.  Thank you for sharing your personal journey.    

    • #1
  2. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Childhood’s End.

    • #2
  3. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    I had experiences with practitioners of black magic in college. And other positive spiritual experiences that few people would believe. Maybe I will share someday.

    But people already think me nuts being a Shakespeare heretic, as well as a election denier.

    Que sera…

    • #3
  4. Al French Moderator
    Al French
    @AlFrench

    Last Sunday’s Delingpod podcast featured a conversation with the Catholic priest who is the designated exorcist for Indianapolis. 

    • #4
  5. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    [edited]

    “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

    “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among mankind by which we must be saved.”

    • #5
  6. Dotorimuk Coolidge
    Dotorimuk
    @Dotorimuk

    Art Bell’s old programs with Father Malachi Martin were pretty hair-raising as well.

    • #6
  7. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Check out John Carpenter’s “Prince Of Darkness.”

    • #7
  8. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    I am glad you came to faith.   The devil’s most effective ploy seems to be to hide and pretend not to exist; people will believe whatever and do whatever if they do not believe in God.

    • #8
  9. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    I am glad you came to faith. The devil’s most effective ploy seems to be to hide and pretend not to exist; people will believe whatever and do whatever if they do not believe in God.

    That is his game in the rationalist West, because when he does not hide, the forces of reason train on him and lock in their target, like Fathers Amorth and Ripperger. Father Chad Ripperger’s Dominion is an encyclopedic treatment for the layman that includes the Thomistic philosophy of the angelic, fallen or otherwise. A very deep dive. Father Amorth is more accessible and anecdotal. What is also interesting is Dr. Bennett’s accounts of Madagascar and broader Africa in I Am Not Afraid. He includes surveys and studies of an area where the use of the demonic for power and influence is routine. We are deeply in the grip, but we are too narcissistically Modernist to recognize the horrors of our age.

    Lord help us.

    • #9
  10. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Childhood’s End.

    The way I describe it to people is I woke up one day and found myself on a battlefield. And I was surrounded by people that hadn’t noticed yet, A lot of them wearing priest’s collars and yakking textualist nonsense and trying to decide what part, if any, of scripture matters. Lord save them, but most of all, save their far more numerous victims.

    • #10
  11. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    I had experiences with practitioners of black magic in college. And other positive spiritual experiences that few people would believe. Maybe I will share someday.

    But people already think me nuts being a Shakespeare heretic, as well as a election denier.

    Que sera…

    In the end, I have come to a point where I would rather one were saved, or even merely strengthened in their faith, through the words than that I were bathed in riches. It is not virtue. It is living a zombie apocalypse where, if you can get the zombie to notice they are a zombie, they might be redeemed and live in His peace forever. How could one not try?

    • #11
  12. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    I had experiences with practitioners of black magic in college. And other positive spiritual experiences that few people would believe. Maybe I will share someday.

    But people already think me nuts being a Shakespeare heretic, as well as a election denier.

    Que sera…

    I bet I can top that. Ask me about my unconventional views in The Pit. No one ever asks, so I never answer. But whatever.

    Anyway, I would love to hear your stories.

    • #12
  13. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Check out The late Malachi Martin’s Hostage to the Devil.

    It’s  one of the scariest things I’ve read.

    • #13
  14. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):

    Art Bell’s old programs with Father Malachi Martin were pretty hair-raising as well.

    I don’t know anything about Art Bell, but I read Malachi Martin’s book on the Jesuits – absolutely amazing. The Christian writer Michael D. O’Brien, author of Father Elijah, had similar experiences that he wrote about in his autobiography.  He has several non-fiction books that are very worth reading. He’s from Canada and had six kids to raise, one book talks about totalitarianism taking over education there as he experienced it, and another is his lectures on the Apocalypse.  He is a fascinating read.

    • #14
  15. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):

    Art Bell’s old programs with Father Malachi Martin were pretty hair-raising as well.

    Found these.

    • #15
  16. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    I had experiences with practitioners of black magic in college. And other positive spiritual experiences that few people would believe. Maybe I will share someday.

    But people already think me nuts being a Shakespeare heretic, as well as a election denier.

    Que sera…

    I bet I can top that. Ask me about my unconventional views in The Pit. No ever asks, so I never answer. But whatever.

    Anyway, I would love to hear your stories.

    Why address it only in the PIT and not where we can all follow it?

    • #16
  17. Dotorimuk Coolidge
    Dotorimuk
    @Dotorimuk

    Sisyphus (View Comment):

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):

    Art Bell’s old programs with Father Malachi Martin were pretty hair-raising as well.

    Found these.

    I’ll listen with the lights on. Thanks!

    • #17
  18. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    I had experiences with practitioners of black magic in college. And other positive spiritual experiences that few people would believe. Maybe I will share someday.

    But people already think me nuts being a Shakespeare heretic, as well as a election denier.

    Que sera…

    Well some very important people have allowed us to realize: an American voter can be an election denier, and even hold down an important spot in the government.

    It just all depends on “which election” you happen to be a denier of.

    Apparently 2020 is off limits. But denying the 2016 election will put you in the company of those of whom one might need to cast out demons!

    https://twitter.com/i/status/1576358767645450240

    • #18
  19. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    Check out The late Malachi Martin’s Hostage to the Devil.

    It’s one of the scariest things I’ve read.

    I love this book. Fr. Martin was a character, and some of this comes off as a little too literary for nonfiction. I hope I’m wrong about that, but Martin tells a great story regardless. Fr. Amorth was also a character, but not scandalously so and his memoirs are more just the facts ma’am and not so big on perfectly crafted endings. For a realistic view from a man who essentially ran an exorcist ministry like it was a doctor’s office for many years, Fr. Amorth is the gold standard. 

    • #19
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