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Even Demons Believe and Tremble – A Eucharistic Story

November 20, 2009
St Marys Trid Mass smaller

Msgr Pope At St Mary’s

It was almost 15 years ago. I was At Old St. Mary’s here in D.C. celebrating Mass in the Latin (Extraordinary Form). It was a solemn high Mass. I don’t suppose I thought it any different than most Sunday’s but something quite amazing was about to happen.

As you may know the ancient Latin Mass is celebrated  “ad orientem” (towards the Liturgical East). Priest and people all face one direction. What this means practically for the celebrant is that the people are behind him. It was time for the consecration. The priest is directed to bow low, his forearms on the altar table the host between his fingers. As directed I said the venerable words of Consecration in a low but distinct voice, Hoc est enim Corpus meum (For this is my Body). The bells rang as I genuflected, but behind me a disturbance of some sort, a shaking or rustling in the front pews behind me to my right. And then a moaning or grumbling. What was that? It did not really sound human, more like the grumbling of a large animal such as a boar or a bear, along with a plaintive moan that did not seem human. I elevated the host and wondered, “What was that?”  Then silence. I could not turn to look easily for that is awkward for the celebrant in the ancient Latin Mass. But still I thought,  What was that?

But it was time for the consecration of the Chalice. Again, bowing low and pronouncing clearly and distinctly but in a low voice:  Hic est enim calix sanguinis mei, novi et æterni testamenti; mysterium fidei; qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem pecatorum. Haec quotiescumque feceritis in mei memoriam facietis (for this is the cup of my Blood, of the new and eternal covenant; the mystery of faith; which will for the many be shed unto the remission of sins. When so ever you do this, you do it in my memory). But then, I heard another sound this time an undeniable moan and then a shriek as some one cried out: “Leave me alone Jesus! Why do you torture me!” Suddenly a scuffling as some one ran out with the groaning sound of having been injured. The back doors swung open, then closed. Then silence.

I could not turn to look for I was raising the Chalice high over my head. But I knew in an instant that some poor demon-tormented soul had encountered Christ in the Eucharistic and could not endure his real presence displayed for all to see. And the words of Scripture occurred to me: Even Demons believe and tremble (James 2:19).

But just as James used those words to rebuke the weak faith of his flock I too had to repent. Way was a demon-troubled man more aware of the true presence and astonished by it than me? He was moved in the negative sense to run. Why was I not more moved in a positive and comparable way? What of the other believers in the pews? I don’t doubt that any of us believed intellectually in the true presence. But there is something very different and far more wonderful in being moved to the depth of your soul! It is so easy for us to be sleepy in the presence of the Divine, forgetful of the miraculous and awesome Presence available to us.

But let the record show that one day, almost 15 years ago, it was made quite plain to me that I held in my hands the Lord of Glory, the King of heaven and earth, the just Judge and Ruler of the kings of the earth. Is the Lord truly present in the Eucharist? You’d better beleive it, even demons believe that!

Comments (37)

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  1. Nick says:

    May Jesus have mercy on that poor possessed soul.

  2. GabrielMARY says:

    I am astonished but not very astonished because i have personally encountered the LORD in the Eucharist.HE indeed is present and lovingly gazes at the souls of each one as if HE had only YOU to concentrate on.i burn and die for such a holy faith.may GOD bless those through whom the gospel reached my unworthy ears. Live JESUS our life and MARY our hope.

  3. Alvin says:

    It was NOT because of the LATIN MASS, but because of Jesus Christ who is always present in every Eucharist. What a wrong theology that you understand. The evil one knew and were afraid, not because of the Latin language used, but because of the presence of the Lord. And most of all, demons do not and don’t want to believe in Jesus, but are afraid of Him. Learn well and carefully before publishing something!!!

    • Interesting. I wonder why you might think I said it was because of the Latin Mass? It was quite clear in the article that I referred to the True Presence in the Eucharist as the cause of the “disruption” The reference to the Latin was to explain why I could not see what was going on. So I am not sure why this story elicited your (apparently) angry response. I do celebrate the Latin Mass, that is true but I am also a very capable and devoted celebrant of the Novus Ordo Missae. You ought to come to one of our Gospel Masses here at Holy Comforter and see that there is no frowing on the Mass in the ordinary form. THis was an article about the Eucharist not about Latin. Peace.

  4. Peter Birrell says:

    It is quite imprudent of you and contrary to the Church’s clear directives, e.g. in the Roman Rite of Exorcism, to suggest that the person in question was diabolically possessed on the grounds that you heard behind you someone with a strange voice utter noises and say the words you quote and finally exit the service.

    The Church requires solid evidence after much investigation before a claim of demonic possession can be made safely. Until the evidence is clear, a human cause such as pretence, fraud, attention-seeking and /or mental illness must always be preferred. In fact It is much more likely that the person you heard was chronically mentally ill rather than a mouthpiece for a demon.

    • I did not claim that he was possessed. I said he was tormented by a demon. Diabolical possession is not within my capacity to determine as you rightfully claim. That is why I did not say he was possessed. As for being tormented by demons, I suppose that is true of all of us. I know I have demons that afflict me. I suspect you have the same. There are demons of discouragement, sorrow, ignorance, sloth and the like. Demons like this afflict us all. There are some who are more tormented that others for various reasons. In the baptismal liturgy the priest performs a exorcism (technically a minor exorcism) since it is presumed that one coming from the “world” will have demons. We are not saying that they are possessed. Rather that they have or are afflicted by demons. Prior to the Baptism these demons are exorcised, that is “driven out.” This exorcism is not the same as a major exorcism which is a “benedcitio reservata” (reserved blessing) and which is for people judged by the Church to be actually possessed. Hence, I agree that I would have stepped beyond what I could rightly discern had I said the man was possessed. I did not. I said he was tormented which seemed clear enough from the evidence of the moment. The distinction is important.

      • Bender says:

        The Church requires solid evidence after much investigation before a claim of demonic possession can be made safely.

        Well, certainly the question can be raised before the Church comes to a definitive conclusion on the matter. Indeed, without a “claim” in the first place, there will not even be an investigation.

        Is a given case merely mental illness, or could it possibly be demonic tormenting or even possession? Is a given healing of a physically sick person merely the result of good medicine, or is it a miraculous healing? Was Bernadette a complete loon and/or liar, or did Mary actually and truly appear to her?

        All of these are, ultimately, questions of faith. From the Monsignor’s description of what happened here, I am strongly leaning toward the belief that this was, indeed, a matter of the guy being tormented by a demon, and not merely a psychological one. I am still open to the possibility that there is a nonsupernatural explanation, but my first response to the story was, “wow.” There are real demons out there, evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls, but are repelled by the power of Christ, and I thought, “wow, this could be one of those cases.”

      • Bender says:

        I knew in an instance that some poor demon-tormented soul had encountered Christ in the Eucharist

        To be sure, in addition to believing that this could very well have been a case of demonic tormenting, rather than mere mental illness: knowing that God does speak to us every now and then, I am also open to the possibility that this thought of the Monsignor’s did not originate in his own mind, but first came from the Christ he held in his hands.

        Demons torment, but God inspires.

      • Thank Bender for presenting the kinds of discernment and the possible consideration in cases like these.

  5. Gary says:

    Cool story, Monsignor. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  6. Brian Z. says:

    God Bless you Father! I pray everyday that people wake up to the true presence of evil that exists. I pray for the individual who suffered and hope they found liberation since then. By the amount of replys to your article, it seems many are still asleep. Keep up the good fight Father and when you are down and out or discouraged know that there are many Roman Catholics, more than you realize, that are praying and standing with you. I pray atleast three rosarys a day for my family and loved ones, the church and the priests AND especially against evil. God bless you and thank you for your sacrifice and service.

  7. Deo volente says:

    Monsignor,

    I view this blog as a must read each day! Thanks for posting this. Your blog is a tremendous Witness to the Faith.

    D.v.

  8. Brian Z. says:

    Can we have a little more honest dialogue than attacks, please? When you disagree with a priest you are supposed to PRAY for them NOT ATTACK THEM. OR better yet, how about stating your criticism in the form of a question to start some intelligent dialogue instead of jumping on the Msgr. like you are some sort of authority yourself? Can I get a helping of PRIDE over here! If you don’t believe Demonic forces were present, that is fine, but ATLEAST repect those who do. Especially, a man who may know a little bit about the subject. Too often our Priests are attacked and it isn’t right. The Priesthood isn’t just a job like anyother. These wonderful men sacrifice so much to bring Jesus Christ into our lives. Let us give them the respect they deserve. God Bless.

    • I am grateful for your support and encouragement!

      • Dcn Billy D Mitchell says:

        Amen! We have lost respect for ourselves to the point now that we have become disrespectful to our holy priests. I ask you before being disrespectful to a priest that you just simply reflect upon the hands of a priest. Hands anointed to bring us the Body, Blood, Soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ truly, truly present in the Eucharist. Think about it the next time a priest offers you his hand. Along with respect we have lost a sense of the holy, of the sacred. That is one thing, if we were discussing the extraordinary form or Latin Mass, that the Latin Mass encouraged. There truly was a mystery and with that there was truly a sense of sacredness that came with the Latin Mass.

        Monsignor, please pray for us as we pray for thee…

  9. Michael C says:

    Msgr. Pope:
    Thank you for another thoughtful post. I have regularly attended your Solemn Masses at Old Saint Mary’s, and have always found my faith strengthened through your words and example. May God grant you many more years in your ministry.

    MC

  10. GabrielMary says:

    Msgr. Please with all reverence, be sure you don’t frown at the misunderstandings of people, they may not know what you have in mind. just pray for us all, maybe we’ll settle the disputes in heaven, how about that? much love monsignor, much love!!

  11. Jim says:

    Thank you for being a Priest. I have just found your blog about a month ago. New Advent sends out each interesting blog posts. How many times have I clicked on a link and it is yours. Good work for feeding the sheep.

  12. Nick says:

    I meant to post this earlier, but didn’t. Here is another story of a girl, tormented by Satan, freed by Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament: http://www.olrl.org/stories/exorcism.shtml

  13. 1angeleye says:

    Happy Christ the King Feast Day Msgr. Pope. A beautiful article indeed and that is true..in one of my dream (vision) i was inside the church and I heard the Priest saying…even the devil enters my house. I just keep those dreams in my heart, though from time to time i do share the story with other believers and non-believers as well.
    Last year, 2008 my last day of duty in our parish at St. John the Baptist (i am the one cleaning the church public comfort room), we had a reflection and 3 priests gave their own topic but maybe due to fatigue i sleep on the second part of the lecture and when i woke up it will be the turn of our parish priest who will say the lecture. But what surprised me most was, I saw on the floor just in front of me a “host” i immediately took the host in my hand and waited until our parish priest finished his lecture about “love”. After the lecture was the procession of Christ the King inside our parish. But i was wondering why did God send me a “host”, then i remembered again in one of my dream, when God showed me the “manna” from heaven falling and i heard a voice “Take and eat, this is my body”. I took a picture of that host for my souvenir and I showed the host to my fellow co-worker in our parish..only to the chosen few. Then I left my parish and headed for Cebu to continue my work which ended last August. I missed my duty in our parish and I wanted to go back to Manila but it seems impossible due to financial difficulties. I wanted to file my candidacy so i can gather the lost children of God and proclaim God’s calling for a “divine government” but i am still hoping and waiting for some help and praying to God let His will be done…i am just around waiting and praying. Peace to all of us and remember God loves us. Have a blessed day to all.

  14. Joseph S. Wisk says:

    Continue your good work and remain in our prayers.

  15. JKCarroll says:

    Greetings! This story reminds me of some discussions some fellow Catholics and I have with some protestants. These protestants are looking for Christ to physically return to rule on earth for 1000 years. My fellow Catholics and I, through prayerful discernment, are inclined to go along with a theory proposed by Mark Mallett, a Canadian Catholic Evangelist. (Do a Google search on his name to find his blog.) This theory says that the millennial reign will not be the corporeal presence of Christ; rather, it will be that the veil that prevents most of us from directly sensing the presence of Christ in the Eucharist will be removed. So for the next 1000 years, whenever the Eucharist is celebrated, people will KNOW Who is the bread and Who is the wine.

    • Nick says:

      The 1000 year reign is the messanic age, the age between the Resurrection (return of Jesus) and the Second Coming (return of Jesus). This messanic age is the year of the Lord, the day of mercy and grace, the age of the Church, the reign of King David. I encourage you to study the Rabbinic writings, because they will help you to better understand the Messiah and what he was to do.

  16. Mon Estrella says:

    Thank you for sharing your very moving and inspiring experience, Msgr. Pope. It affirmed further my faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. God bless you and your parishioners.

  17. Rohan Madanayake says:

    Thank you very much for sharing this article.Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist no matter anyone believes or
    not.During Holy Mass the heaven is open and myriads of angels together with Mother Mary are present.
    Demons also exist but all they can do in the presence of God is tremble.For the one who believes,no
    explanation is necessary but for one who don’t,no explanation is possible.Keep up the good work father and
    please pray for us.May God Bless you abundantly.

  18. Michael P. Daniel says:

    I am a United Methodist pastor and former “practicing” Catholic (my catechism still informs my theology), and I am deeply moved by this experience. How often I have felt such things, indescribable though they be, and been left with no doubts of His majestic and unmistakable presence. I grow tired of the Protestant bickering over what actually happens when the Lord is called upon to bless the Eucharist. It is as if the words of Christ Himself are subject to ecclesiastical debate. May we be shown mercy for our refusal to cast aside our doctrinal differences (a big demon, he is!) and simply worship “in spirit and in truth”.

    Be blessed, Monsignor, and remember me in your prayers. I have become a new fan!

  19. Mary Durkan says:

    Msgr. I attended Latin Mass in my parish this morning celebrated by my pastor, Fr. George W. Rutler – here in Manhattan, the Church of Our Saviour. Had attended the Latin Mass in another local parish several years ago and it was the priest who made himself important.

    What made this Mass magnificent and what makes every Mass our pastor celebrates so is the fact that not he but Christ in the Eucharist is celebrated. It was a wonderful experience. I have never doubted that souls, and many souls, have thrown Christ out of their lives and they are possessed to some degree with the evil one. We see it all around us every day. Thank you for telling of your personal account. May the good Lord continue to bless you and your priesthood for many years to come.

  20. Arturo Benedetti says:

    Dear Msgr. Pope: I have had the blessings of serving as a Knight of the Altar (the over 30 Latin Mass group), at St. Mary’s in DC with you many years ago, when Father Aldo Patrini was the pastor. I also had the honor of attending your Church in South East DC where you celebrated the Novus Ordo for many years. Anyone who has ever attended a Holy Mass that you celebrated, would witness your love for God and His people.

    The clergies strong faith in Christs true presence resonates throughout the parishioners. When the Priest believes, the parishioners are more likely to follow.

    God love you Padre and may God bless you with many more years of holy service.

  21. Namatsi says:

    Thanks Father. I have but little faith. May the Holy Spirit increase my faith to see Our Lord in the Eucharist. Archbishop Okoth of Kisumu archdiocese while ordaining a former schoolmate of mine said that Catholic priests perform a miracle every time they say mass. May each priest have the courage to live that mystery each day.

  22. Fred Lieu says:

    Your Blog’s RSS feed doesn’t work in my own browser (opera) how can i correct it?

    • Hey Fred can you post this question on the most recent blog post? Then I can get other readers to help answer the question. I myself do not know the answer but maybe some of them do.

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