Father Jose Antonio Fortea has been a practising exorcist for several decades, and as such he has come to know much about demons. He is able to answer numerous questions that we are all burning to know about these fallen angels.
We need to know just what is a demon?
A demon is a spiritual being of an angelic nature that has been
condemned for eternity due to his rebellion against God. As pure spirits, demons are not made up of matter. Because they do not have bodies, demons are not inclined to any “sins of the flesh” (i.e., it is impossible for them to commit the sins of lust or gluttony). The sins of demons are exclusively spiritual. But they can tempt human beings to sin in matters of the flesh.
After God created the angels, He tested their fidelity to Him before admitting them to the Beatific Vision, the sight of His very essence. For purely spiritual beings, this “seeing” of God’s essence would be a purely intellectual vision. Some angels obeyed the divine test; others did not. Those who disobeyed were irreversibly transformed into demons and cast out of heaven.
This resulted in a heavenly war; a war that more like blogger wars than the war on drugs or terror.
How can purely spiritual beings fight among themselves? What weapons do they use? Angels are spirits, so their battles must be purely intellectual. The only weapons that they can use are intellectual arguments. The angels gave reasons to the rebels for why they should return to obedience to God. The rebel angels countered with their reasons to support their position and spread their rebellion among the faithful angels. In this epic angelic battle, some who were inclined to rebel returned to obedience, while some of the faithful angels were seduced by the evil arguments of the rebels.
Are all demons the same? Of course not.
Each demon has its own psychology and its own way of being. For example, some are talkative, others are mocking; some are proud, others are hateful. Even though they all turned away from God, some demons are more evil than others.
These differences result in a hierarchy of demons that parallels the hierarchy of angels: seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominions, virtues, powers, principalities, archangels, and angels.
Exorcisms have shown that superior demons can have power over inferior ones. What does this power consist of? This is something that is impossible for us to know because we cannot see how one demon forces another to do something, since there is no body to push or force. Nevertheless, a more powerful demon can prevent a less powerful one from leaving the body of a possessed person during an exorcism. Even though the weaker demon is suffering and wants to leave, the stronger one may impede it.
As spiritual beings, demons are eminently intellectual; there is no doubt that they are deeply interested in conceptual questions. They know very well that philosophy is the most elevated of the sciences and that theology is built upon philosophy. In spite of this knowledge, every demon hates God.
Demons, of course, cannot build houses, grow food, construct machines, nor do any of the things human beings spend so much time on. Most of the time, demons occupy themselves with going deeper into the world of knowledge, in having relationships among themselves, and in tempting people.
Relationships among pure spirits may not seem important, but the demons have real, complex social relationships. These relationships are not based merely on knowledge but also on the pleasure of communicating with one another and helping each other tempt humans.
Of course, Fr. Fortes has written a book and is more than willing to share is knowledge of demonology “Interview With An Exorcist – An Insider’s Look at the Devil, Demonic Possession, and the Path to Deliverance.” Spend your money and learn:
- The difference between demonic possession, obsession, and infestation
- The signs that show when possession is present
- How to tell the difference between psychological problems and demonic influence
- Why the number of possessions has been increasing in recent times
- Why consulting mediums, dabbling in witchcraft, or having recourse to other occult practices is an open invitation to demonic spirits.
It is difficult for me to understand how any adult could possibly believe in such foolishness. The Bible does contain references to angels and demons, but I don’t recall references to hierarchies and relationships among these creatures. However, my biblical scholarship isn’t really very deep.
This stuff would be funny if it weren’t for the effect it can have on people. Mental illness or any abnormal behaviours interpreted as possession is an extremely outdated concept that has unquestionably caused more harm than good.
If holy water, crucifixes, and incantations drive out demons, can ridicule drive out such medieval beliefs? I hope so. But then sometimes I think I’m too optimistic.