Exorcist speaks possession and God

 

Screams could be heard from the bathroom down the hall.  

The priest and family members rushed in to find a woman gushing blood from her tongue and drawing a pentagram on the bathroom wall.

This is not a scene from the latest horror film, but rather Father Vincent Lampert’s account of a particularly harrowing exorcism.

Lampert, a Catholic priest at the Saint Francis and Claire Roman Catholic Church in Greenwood, Indiana, is one of 36 working exorcists in the United States.  He said he studied exorcisms in Rome, under Father Carmine DeFilippis.

Lampert spoke in the Grand Maple Ballroom on Oct. 17 to a full house.  He spoke to a mix of UVM students and community members about his experiences with exorcisms.  

Some, like senior Clara Pedley, attended because they thought it would be interesting to hear accounts of real exorcisms, especially with its proximity to Halloween.

“I really like scary movies and I think the idea of an exorcism is pretty cool,” Pedley said. “I guess I went into it thinking it was going to be a good Halloween type of thing to go to.”

Father Schnobrich, the director of the Catholic Center at UVM, invited Lampert to give an educational speech on exorcisms, addressing misconceptions stemming from Hollywood and other media.  

“It is real, and it’s something that the Catholic Church is involved in,” Schnobrich said.  

Lampert has only been a part of three genuine possessions in the US, although he has witnessed others while studying under DeFilippis, Lampert said.

“Cases of demonic possession are rare — they do happen, but they are rare,” Lampert said.  

Many people contact Lampert asking for help, about half of which are non-Catholics.  The majority of people have only lost their spiritual footing, but, due to the media’s image, look to an exorcism as a quick fix for spiritual conundrums, he said.

 Lampert said that many people who seek his help are not possessed by a demon, but rather have a mental illness that needs to be treated.  

In these cases, Lampert said he does not hesitate to contact psychologists to guide people in finding the help they need.  

“Psychology and religion need not be at odds with each other,” Lampert said. “We are all trying to cure people, whether it is from demons or mental health problems.”

Before an exorcism is administered, medical, psychological and spiritual aspects of a possible possessed person are examined.  There is also a specific criterion that needs to be met in order to perform an exorcism, Lambert said.  

This criterion includes the ability to speak in languages unknown to the individual, exhibiting extraordinary physical strength, having an elevated knowledge that the individual should not possess, and a strong resistance to anything sacred.  

When he encounters manifestations of evil, including growling and bodily contortions Lampert said he does not let them faze him and leaves his trust in God.   

“I don’t pay much attention to the parlor tricks of evil.  I stay focused on God,” Lampert said. “I have no power or ability. All the power comes from the power of God.”

When it comes to combating evil, Lampert said the most important thing is to maintain faith in God and resistance against evil.  

Schnobrich agrees.

“We don’t have anything to worry about as long as you go to church and live the life of the sacraments,” Schnobrich said.  

For people who do not believe in God, Lambert said lack of faith is not a direct invitation for evil but it does depend on what level you renounce your faith.