Sermon for the Third Sunday in Lent by Monsignor Patrick Perez – March 4, 2018
Monsignor began the sermon by reciting the Hail Mary.
Why are Penances Such a Penance?
As we approach the midpoint of our Lenten penances, there are two things I would like to say. First, when you are doing your Lenten penances –and please God a good many of you are living a good Lent – just remember, if you fall off the wagon, get back on the wagon. That’s basically it. If you blow the penances then just get back up and dust yourself off and continue the penances. It’s not like a light bulb where if you drop it on the ground you can’t get it back together. Rather, you start over again when you do fail. And those of you who are able should be doing penances because remember what I was talking about last time and I will just reiterate it. After Vatican II the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was replaced with an ineffective and useless ceremony, namely the Novus Ordo Mass. Also following Vatican II the healthy and necessary penances imposed by the Church were replaced by useless penances that do people no good whatsoever. Two days of penance in the year is equal to zero really. It’s nothing; it’s not enough for us.
So, this is not the whole of my sermon but it’s like I’m doing two mini-sermons. So by the same token, in the Lenten Preface it says, “O holy Lord, Father Almighty, everlasting God: Who by this bodily fast –“ So the preface assumes we are fasting for the forty days of Lent, for every weekday of Lent which is what we should be doing for those who qualify. “Who by this bodily fast, extinguish our vices, elevate our understanding, bestow on us virtue and its reward through Christ Our Lord.” So these penances ultimately can have the effect of extinguishing our vices, elevating our understanding and bestowing on us virtue and its reward. But what I like to remind people about in a practical sense, because as you know I try to give you the practical way of doing this, is that the penances do not automatically do these things. For example, if you want to enter the Olympics, you have to train an awful lot, you have to get in shape, and do running or whatever you do. But the purpose of doing all that has to be kept in your mind. It’s like if you are exercising and you get tired, you can’t just see the being tired from exercising as what the fruit of the Olympics. You have to say I am doing this for a greater purpose and the purpose is this….. – Which is to do well in the Olympics and so forth.
So it is with our penances and this happened to come to my mind last week because your mind is supposed to be elevated and you are supposed to get more virtue, but all I had was this constant thought of lasagna. Well this is so weird because I don’t even crave lasagna so where did this come from? And I know I was having just one meal a day and was just really hungry and I’m going, you know that is just the devil, that’s not the purpose of this thing. The purpose is to go beyond thoughts of things like lasagna, as wonderful as lasagna is, to what this fast is really supposed to be accomplishing. Then that particular demon was driven away and things got more clear. So first of all just recall that.
Demonic Possession or Oppression?
The second thing I want to mention is, since we are in this part of Lent, the Church naturally takes this into account. In fact, we had the very same Gospel yesterday and today which is the Gospel of Our Lord casting out the demons, with the people calling Him on doing these exorcisms saying, well, He does it by the devil himself kind of thing. What can that mean for us in the first place? If you look at the Epistle and Gospel for today it’s like St. Paul is saying okay, here is what you need to live a good spiritual life and to improve yourself and how to live virtuously and avoid all these things. And then the Gospel is saying, well, yeah, but this is what happens if you don’t live a spiritual life and avoid all these things. Our Lord was casting out demons from people. So the notion of demons bothering us, tempting us and in fact sometimes possessing people is one that the Church wants us to think about at least from time to time as a real possibility.
What I would like to say about it is, Yes, demons can possess people. However, actual possession is a fairly rare thing. You know how we tend to think every time that we get a bad thought or something like that that the devil is putting that into our minds. Most of the time it isn’t. Most of the time our minds are just kind of bad and we like to have these ideas. Or maybe we don’t specifically like to have it but it’s stored in there somewhere. Those of you who have had computers and they start getting old know, stuff comes on like, wait a minute, that file, where did that come from. Or it disappears or whatever. Well that’s what happens in our brains and sometimes we have these thoughts; sometimes they are from the devil, sometimes they are not from the devil. We don’t have to know actually. If it’s a bad thought just get rid of it. You don’t need the specifics of it.
In any case, if you are close to the sacraments you will not be possessed, unless by one of the odd cases where Our Lord allows somebody to be a victim soul and be possessed which is extremely rare but has happened before. Most of the time what we are talking about is what they call oppression. Oppression is probably not with you if you are close to the sacraments. But maybe a relative of yours or somebody you know, where they are seen to fall into a bad lifestyle, they seem to have troubles with various things whether it be alcohol or drugs or whatever it is. This is very likely demonic, especially if it is somebody who grew up being in the Church and all of a sudden goes off, leaves the Church and goes in some bad direction where their life degenerates and visibly degenerates. Now this is what we call oppression. Can it lead to possession? Yes. Most of the time it doesn’t because most of the time the oppression, the demonic oppression, is enough to get the person’s soul and they don’t have to bother with possession.
Prayers for Family by Family are Most Powerful
So what do we do about that? Well, first of all like I said, if you have problems with particular temptations you stay close to the sacraments; more confessions, more Holy Communions, and the like. If the temptations continue there are different kinds of prayers you may say, which are specific for getting rid of demons, getting them off your back. Now the reason I mention it is not so much for you, or for us personally, although I think these prayers are beneficial in general, but for those people who are in your family especially. Now whether they be children or even parents or siblings, cousins, immediate family – why am I talking about these in particular? It’s because in the realm of the spiritual, the prayers of relatives, especially for parents for their children or children for their parents or siblings for each other, have a special effect that prayers of this kind for people outside of the family do not have. This is by the will of God; we don’t know why it is, but those of us who have been involved with the science of demonology and exorcisms and things like that can tell you that this is simply the case.
To that end, I want to recommend if you have a relative – you know, a child that you’ve seen go off in the wrong direction, a grandchild, something like that, then there is a book that I ordered. It’s like $20 but it’s worth its weight in gold for any parent or anybody with a relative with one of these problems. It’s $20 because I think I paid $16 plus shipping for it, so we are making like $2 off it. So sorry we’re making $2 for the Church. It won’t buy a single candle. (Monsignor laughing)
In any case, this book, Deliverance Prayers for Use by the Laity was written by a well-known exorcist. He didn’t write the prayers, he collected them. Now why would they have Such a book? Why wouldn’t you just say, well, why don’t I just get a hold of the exorcism that you priests use and do that for my son or whomever it is? The reason is this: first of all it has to do with authority. For a real full-blown exorcism using the one in the exorcism book, you have to be a priest. Not only that, the bishop has to give you the authority to do it. Even if I wanted to, if I picked up the book and said, okay, I’m going to do an exorcism on somebody, I could be killed doing that because I haven’t got the authority of the bishop or the Church behind me. If I could find a bishop, as if I called Bishop Williamson or somebody and said, Would you give me the authority to do it?, first of all they would try to dissuade me. They would say you have to be very sure that this person needs an exorcism and so the first remedy is to get them close to the sacraments.
But let’s say it’s one of your children or whoever who won’t get close to the sacraments? So the reason then is I have the authority to do the full-blown exorcism. And the wording of the full-blown exorcism is much different. In the wording I can command a demon because of the authority of the Church. I can say By the Power of Christ I command you. The laity is not in that position and so the prayers in this book are prayers of deliverance where you are asking God to command rather than you commanding, and it’s a very important distinction. It keeps you from being killed by the demon as a matter of fact. So it is something you have to be careful of.
But like I said, as matters of authority, it seems that God gives authority to parents and children and relatives of the immediate family to basically accomplish most of what a priest would do in a regular exorcism. And this is what you should be doing.
Deliverance and the Sacraments are Inseparable
So you have a kid who has gone off and left the sacraments, isn’t doing their responsibility, so you say these prayers of deliverance and it seems the person actually gets deliverance from the demon or demons oppressing them. Then what? Then they’ve got to get back to the sacraments, go to confession and stay there. Why? Because it is mentioned in today’s gospel. Our Lord says, “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man he walketh through places without water seeking rest”. And what is this? Well, when he leaves the heart of the person who he had gotten to be in sin, when he leaves their soul and goes off for a while because of the prayers of deliverance said by the person or a relative of the person, he goes to other souls but if they are close to the sacraments he finds no refreshment, no water there to relieve him, no inroad, no nada, so he says, well, let’s go check out the one I just left. And if that person hasn’t gotten back to the sacraments then it’s like the Hilton for this demon with a fully stocked bar and all that. He says, well, great, look at this place. I’m just going to move back in but only brings with him his frat buddies from hell and then the state of that person is worse than it was before. It goes together hand in hand with getting back to the sacraments and whatnot.
Just so you know what kind of content is in here, the exorcist who compiled these makes clear a very interesting point as it were, that what we call vices, let’s say impurity or sloth, they are not just abstract vices but they are also the names of the demons who specialize in those things. So if somebody is plagued by let’s say alcoholism or some kind of thing like that, Alcoholism is also the name of the demon who specializes in that. It’s not just this disease because they are Irish or whatever or Scottish sometimes too. (Monsignor laughing) What they say is the angels are named for their mission. Every angel is completely different from every other angel because of what they were created to do specifically. Well so it is with the bad angels; when they turned away and became demons they begot new personalities as devils specializing in particular vices and that’s what they do. So that is an interesting thing that you get from this. And then you name that demon in many of the prayers.
These are just beautiful, beautiful, powerful prayers in here that you would have never thought of that you wouldn’t even think were in there. There is one particular prayer I like, its call a punishing prayer. It’s one of the shorter ones I was reading through. I couldn’t stop reading this thing because one was better than the next. It’s like well, I have to say all of these for people. There is one called the punishing prayer where it is a prayer for yourself and it’s a prayer that God may, (whatever the demon that has been bothering you – let’s say it’s tempting you to have a drink or something like that, drugs, or whatever it is,) that God punish this demon by focusing his mind on the thing that gives him the most pain and then leaving you alone. I love it. It’s like the Church comes up with such great stuff. You’d never think of that kind of thing. I have gotten feedback on the book. The reason I looked into it is somebody gave me something like this, its brother book which is meant for priests and I started researching. Priests and laity have had so many blessings from this book, especially conquering these particular vices and sins that these demons are responsible for.
So my dear friends I just kind of want to leave that with you. If you can’t afford it I only ordered like twenty of them and I think we had some already but you can always get one amongst your ladies’ sewing circle or something and Xerox off the particular – Oh, I can’t let her see which vice I’m Xeroxing off. (Monsignor laughing) because then she will know and she will tell the other ladies in the sewing circle. But that’s one you could do. Please at this time of the year when the Church obviously wants to focus our attention for our Lenten penances on the demonic and the vices that result from them, educate yourself and arm yourself – put on the amour of light as St. Paul says, and have hope. Do you have a child with a problem, left the Church, is living with somebody out of wedlock or drinking too much, whatever, do this and do it with conviction and love for the ones you love.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.