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Slaying Dragons: What Exorcists See & What We Should Know

by Charles D. Fraune, M. A.

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Slaying Dragons: What Exorcists See & What We Should Know conveys critical insights into the activity of the diabolical and spiritual warfare tactics. This book takes the great wisdom of some of the leading exorcists in the Catholic Church, including Fr. Chad Ripperger, Fr. Gabriele Amorth, Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea, Fr. Gary Thomas, among others, and packages it into an approachable and intriguing message.

These exorcists extract their teachings from the sacred traditions of the Catholic Faith, the teachings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, the wisdom of exorcists under whom they were trained, and their own extensive experience in the realm of spiritual warfare, deliverance, and exorcisms.

The purpose of this book is to help enlighten Catholics to the spiritual war in which we all find ourselves. Not only is this battle real, but the Church knows it well, and has provided both wisdom and weapons, teachings and sacramentals, to enable Catholics to fight in this battle into which they have all been drafted, and be victorious.

“The devil prowls like a roaring lion, seeking to devour,” as St. Peter says. These exorcists face this devil, and the many demons who fell with him, as a central part of their spiritual ministry. Let them teach you what they know and impart to you those things that will aid you most in your spiritual life. Allow yourself to be instructed by spiritual masters that you may learn the manner in which the devil attacks you, the weapons you have at your disposal, and the means to find healing for the wounds you have suffered in your life.

Know your enemy. Know his tactics. Know his motives. Know his nature. Know his origin. Know his goal. Know his language. Know his network. Know his strengths. Know his weaknesses.

Charles D. Fraune has a Master of Arts in Theology from the Christendom College Graduate School and an Advanced Apostolic Catechetical Diploma. His other books include “Come Away By Yourselves” and “Swords and Shadows: Navigating Youth Amidst the Wiles of Satan.

He spent three semesters in seminary with the Diocese of Raleigh at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Pennsylvania. This completed a nine-year discernment of the priesthood and religious life after which he discerned that Our Lord was not calling him to the priesthood.

He is a married father of three children and teaches theology at a Catholic High School in the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina.


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 Interview of the author of Slaying Dragons by Dr Pravin Thevathasan

1.      What led you to an interest in the diabolical?

It is difficult to really say where it all began.  As a child, I dabbled mildly in occultic interests, but, thanks be to God, never delved much into that.  As a child, I was an introvert, teased a lot, and was thus on the path toward a major depression and anxiety disorder, which manifested in college.  I had a powerful conversion in the middle of that ordeal and soon began to understand that the diabolical played a significant role in the life of ever Christian. Later, as a seminarian, this understanding made me curious about becoming an exorcist, though I was still so ignorant of the subject that it was disturbing to consider.  It was only three years ago, when Divine Providence led me, with the help of some priest friends, toward a focused spiritual purification, that I began to study the teachings of exorcists and apply their wisdom to my life.  As a result, I wrote Slaying Dragons, because the impact of those teachings was so powerful in my own life, and I wanted others to know what I had learned.

 

2.      It could be argued that for most of us Catholic laity, what matters is our sanctification in our daily family and work lives.We need prayer and the sacraments. Might it not be best to avoid a certain curiosity in the realm of diabolical influences?

 

You are absolutely correct.  What matters for Catholics is our sanctification and allowing this to spill over into our family lives and our daily lives.  What is often lost on the current generation is the role that the diabolical plays in the spiritual life of every Catholic.  This awareness, though, as you said, must not turn us toward curiosity.  It is fitting that we desire to understand what the diabolical is up to, but this should stop at a prudent limit, lest a destructive curiosity lead us to desire to know things that could pull us into a diabolical fascination.  The role the diabolical plays in our lives is highlighted in the sacraments and sacramentals of the Church.  We see this in the traditional Rite of Baptism, which, with multiple exorcisms, identifies Satan as the enemy of mankind.  The blessing which the Church places on holy water, salt, oil, and candles, among others, clearly has the intention of driving away demons and thwarting their persistent work against us.  So, while we must avoid curiosity, we must also understand that demons are real, and they continuously pursue us along certain courses – courses which the Church has identified and has the power to thwart.

 

3.      Those of us in health care are aware that some of our patients with mental illness develop delusions that they are possessed by the devil, for example. My understanding is that the Church would require all suspected cases of possession to be screened by psychiatrists. Would you know if Catholic exorcists refer cases to fully believing Catholics or might they consider anyone, Catholic or not, who is competent in the field of mental illness?

 

As one exorcist confirmed to me, yes, exorcists do desire to have practicing Catholics to carry out the psychological evaluation of the person.  If they cannot find a practicing Catholic, they would only utilize someone who operated with a Christian anthropology.  Those who, while competent in the field of mental illness, do not have a proper anthropology, regarding who man is and what God has intended for man to become, will not be able to properly discern the presence of psychological or diabolical disturbances, should either of those be present in the person. 

 

4.      We are living in a post-Christian world. Nevertheless, fascination with the occult appears to be growing. Do exorcists believe that there is a corresponding increase in cases of diabolical possession?

 

Exorcists agree, and the IAE (International Association of Exorcists) has referred to the lack of exorcists to handle this rise in the occult as a “pastoral emergency.”  This rising fascination with the occult has indeed led to an increase in cases of diabolical possession.  This is due to the fact that dabbling in the occult, which is a particularly dangerous mortal sin, has a high chance of placing the person in the presence of a demon.  God permitting, this can easily lead to a number of diabolical influences, including possession.  It won’t always be immediate, and doesn’t always happen, but the risk is always there.  Every mortal sin opens us to diabolical influences, but some mortal sins are more serious than others, thus, as with the occult, increasing the chances of possession.

 

5.      I think your book is excellent. I have learned a great deal from it. My one reservation was on seeing the sentence: "demons can appear to cause all sorts of ailments, ranging from depression to physical illnesses." Is it not best to assume there is an organic basis to such presentations?

 

This is one of those teachings that was very intriguing to me as I did the research.  While it sounds unbelievable, exorcists see it happen.  Further, Scripture and Tradition demonstrate that angels and demons can influence our bodies and minds in ways that allow them to make it appear that we have a certain illness.  The angels also have the ability to remove illnesses.  However, as you state, a person’s first thought must never be that a demon caused their depression or illness.  This sort of diabolical activity is labeled as “extraordinary,” while daily temptations are labeled “ordinary,” and the cases, while they do happen, are still considered rare.  So, yes, it is best to always assume there is a natural cause to the illness.

 

6.      I hear that owing to a shortage of Catholic exorcists in some parts of the world, people are turning to non-Catholic ministers, Pentecostals for example, or Catholics perhaps influenced by this tradition, for example.  How ought fully believing Catholics respond to such ministries? I ask this because I was invited to give a talk on mental illness to some clergy who had expressed an interest in the ministry of exorcism and who had been reading Protestant books on the subject.

 

Catholics must never forget that Christ entrusted real authority to His Church, and that outside of His Church there is error which can lead to confusion and suffering.  Protestant efforts in liberation are well-meaning and very often driven by sincere faith.  As a result, their prayers can often have a positive effect.  However, as exorcists attest, these efforts often backfire and simply increase the suffering of those involved.  Exorcism is a ministry of authority, which does not reside outside of the Church.  Some non-ordained Saints have had the gift of driving out demons, but an individual, especially outside of the Church, must not presume to possess that gift.  Lay Catholics can always pray for those suffering from diabolical influence, invoking the assistance of Our Lord, Our Lady, and the Saints, but they must never command demons directly.  Catholics, therefore, should be very cautious about going outside of the divinely established authority structures in order to find liberation.

 





Copyright ; Dr Pravin Thevathasan 2020

Version: 1st October 2020



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