Exploring Exorcism

SatanFearsOver the years of reading and viewing the testimonies of several exorcists, I have realized that the more I was aware of the Evil One, the more I knew his limitations, weaknesses, and powerlessness against our Lord Jesus. Rather than increase my fear, knowledge of Satan’s abilities and tricks actually increased my confidence in the Catholic Church and her King. Because of this, I am sharing these best-of-the-best resources of exorcism experiences, hoping they help you as much as they have helped me grow in faith.

  1. Many exorcists have a police officer present during the diagnosis process, or even during the ritual. Jesse Romero is one such [former] officer, and his experiences are riveting:
  2. Demonology is not a common specialization for laypersons, but Adam Blai is not a common layman. His work as a demonologist has been a great aid to many exorcists, and his interview by Patrick Coffin (of prior Catholic Answers fame) is deeply informative:
  3. Father Gary Thomas is perhaps the most well known American exorcist (because of Matt Baglio’s journalistic investigation and the subsequent movie starring Sir Anthony Hopkins: The Rite). Here is an uncut extended interview with Fr. Gary:
  4. Father Cliff Ermatinger’s presentations through the 2015 Miles Christi Conference are exceptional and should be listened to carefully at full length (available here for purchase, set #23). Here is a brief sample:
  5. Exorcism Movies:
    1. As for The Conjuring, arguably the most popular recent exorcism movie series, please see my review here.
    2. See here for my review about Deliver Us from Evil.
    3. For what I think is the best exorcism film to date, please see The Exorcism of Emily Rose, based on the exorcism of Anneliese Michel. An insightful commentary about the Anneliese case can be viewed here:
  6. And for the experience of a dear friend of mine, through the intercession of the St. Benedict Medal, please see here.
  7. Lastly, remember that as flies are drawn to rotten bodies, so too are demons drawn to rotten souls. Get pure, stay pure.

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Netflix is Anti-Abortion

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So Netflix was threatening to boycott the State of Georgia for its pro-life laws. Netflix is worried that Georgia will abort abortion. Because of this boycott threat, many pro-lifers are boycotting Netflix.

But Netflix is a hypocrite. It’s not really serious about abortion rights. Because if it were, it wouldn’t be streaming pro-life movies like I Am Mother. That’s right, Netflix actually streams a very pro-life, very anti-abortion movie. If Netflix doesn’t realize its contradictory stance, then it’s either simply hypocritical, or incredibly ignorant of its own content, or it’s secretly anti-abortion. I’m not sure what they are, but here are the pro-life signs from their recent critically acclaimed hit film itself:

—SPOILER ALERT—

  1. The film presents a feminine-voiced robot as a mechanical mother tasked with raising a baby girl. In fact, every mother figure in this film is female/feminine. In our LGBTQRSTUV+ conscious culture, why is the mother presented as womanly and feminine? Why do advanced, super artificial-intelligence robots of the future use old-fashioned traditional family roles in its attempt to raise the perfect human? Hint: because that’s how humans are meant to be best nurtured.
  2. There’s no mistake that motherhood is the theme of the film (the title?). But notice the plot twist: Mother-Bot has been long terminating human girls when they failed to qualify for continued existence. Mother-Bot administers tests on her daughters, and only raises the current protagonist because she has been passing. When we find that other girls had been gestated, born, raised, tested, failed, and then incinerated, we sense the film wants us to feel horrified. The fact that we don’t know how many girls have been burned to bones alludes even more to the fact that we may perhaps never know how many girls have been aborted in our world (in China alone, its missing an estimated 30-50 million girls. Talk about an actual war-on-women).
  3. But back to the film: so what if Mother-Bot terminated some girls during gestation? So what if Mother-Bot discovered a mutation, or a disease, or some other condition the unborn baby had, and then deemed her unqualified for the perfect life (whatever perfect even means)? What difference is there between terminating the girl then or terminating later? The motive is the same: the girl is not good enough.
  4. Here we see a commentary on the rampant objectification of girls and women in our culture. If she isn’t beautiful enough, hot enough, smart enough, small enough, skinny enough, et cetera enough, then she’s not worth it. If she doesn’t make me happy enough, proud enough, successful enough, then she’s something I must destroy. I decide if her life is worth the work I need to put in. –Mother-Boti-am-mother-pictures-images-gallery-clean
  5. But why does the film try to make us sense this mentality is horrific? If abortion is a woman’s right (as Netflix claims), then why is Mother-Bot not just an everyday hero doing what every mother should be free to do? Sure, you can say it’s because the baby isn’t actually inside Mother-Bot, but Mother-Bot even says in the film that she is more than just one robot, she is all of them, and the entire gestation/nursery facility, by extension. She runs everything, so actually Daughter is very much inside Mother-Bot, using her resources, time, energy, and space. And that relates very much to the argument for abortion-after-birth that is getting popular among many politicians of a certain political party: John Rogers (AL), Governor Northam (VA), Del. Tran (VA). After all, born babies keep using their mother’s resources, time, energy, and space… for years and decades.
  6. So point made: real motherhood is not about killing one’s children. We see this argued for by Daughter when she is upset about her culled siblings. If termination wasn’t bad, why all the outrage and fear from Daughter? Remember, Daughter is human: she is the protagonist who represents us in the film, as fellow humans who are pro-life/dignity/children/parenthood. Mother is the cold, mechanical, utilitarian, false-motherhood antagonist who is pro-choice/abortion. The choice is easy: be like Daughter!
  7. If that’s not enough signs of the film’s pro-life message, consider how the myriad fetuses are addressed: they’re called brothers and sisters. Including the unborn embryos! Their not called “clumps of cells”, or “potential people”, or merely “products of conception”. They are already family members.i_am_mother_still
  8. Additionally, quite a few Catholic symbols appeared both prominently and subtly in I Am Mother. Obviously, the rosary (as our Blessed Mother’s prayer), and the Marian icons (in the shipping container where the woman lived), but also that Daughter becomes the mother-figure for her newborn brother. Daughter, in a sense, is the virgin mother of the baby boy. For any astute Catholic, that’s an obvious reference to the only real-life Virgin Mother. Sadly, where the film is going with all this religious motherhood imagery is still lost on me, so if you have any insights, I’d be glad to hear it.
  9. On a related note, there’s also the issue of manufacturing children and growing them in gestation machines (as opposed to to conceiving children and carrying them in their mothers’ wombs). I’ve been mulling on writing something about this topic for a while, so this is a sign for me to get it out. But before it gets written, please see #3-4 above for arguments closely relevant, and also my philosophy thesis discussing the humanity and absurd predicament of frozen embryonic children.

So there we have it. Signs strongly suggesting that Netflix is flip-floppy about its abortion advocacy. Sure, boycott a pro-life state, but don’t boycott a pro-life movie streaming from your own collection? Come on. Just come out and say it: Netflix is secretly anti-abortion (or at least conflicted).

 

Avengers Against Abortion

So I just spent approximately six hours of my life watching Infinity War and Endgame, and here are the most meaningful moments I noticed–mostly hinted in Infinity War, and fully displayed in its sequel.

—SPOILER ALERT—

  1. The overarching theme of the films revolves around Thanos’ goal: controlling overpopulation. This applies to our society today, considering many politicians and scientists who claim the world will end unless our numbers are drastically cut. They tout the necessity and value of sterilization, contraception, euthanasia, and abortion. However, Thanos brings it all together to the logical conclusion, and from this epic, we see truly the flaws of this overpopulation control: it is unjustifiable and unheroic. Let me explain with examples from the films: [First], the longer abortion is promoted, the more we reach Thanos’ coveted ratio: 50% decimation. In America alone, the ratio is already currently 1/6 (missing 50 million out of 300 million)! If this trend continues, we’ll be at 1/2 soon. So, do we really want to fulfill Thanos’ dream in our reality? Especially when we’re so invested in the Avengers countering his actions? Don’t we want to imitate the Avengers and end this legalized decimation? [Second], many who support abortion and population culling may claim that this mischaracterizes their goal since living people were just abruptly wiped out in the film, whereas abortion in reality is more tolerable since those lives never even got to start living, thus if they never got to live, it doesn’t cause any suffering to anyone: they don’t miss us, we don’t miss them, because we never got to meet. But, here’s where Thanos comes in: after realizing the inability of the surviving Avengers to accept his necessary evil of 50% decimation, Thanos revises his scheme. He will destroy 100% of life in the universe, and then recreate new life that is oblivious to the fact that there was life before it. In short, Thanos thinks that ignorance will make the universe’s recreated inhabitants gratefully accept his benevolent decimation, sort of saying: “If I never knew what I lost, I’d be happy, so that’s all that matters.” Yet this fails to satisfy the Avengers’ morality, and more importantly, this fails to satisfy audience’s morality. We know in our rational core that this remains evil, and ignorance is not a tolerable solution.
  2. And just in case we still couldn’t tell the Avengers are pro-life (although some of the actors contradict themselves here): when Warmachine hatches the idea of time-traveling to abort or murder baby-Thanos, the rest of the team not only dismiss the idea, but revolt against it. They rightly protest the idea of assassinating a young, innocent Thanos, because such a Thanos simply remains innocent of his future undecided crimes! This reminds me of when certain people pilloried a political commentator for defending another baby before his possible-future-undecided crimes, when actually he was just arguing the same thing the Avengers would in Endgame. Have a listen to Ben Shapiro’s point here, and why the logic of aborting criminals (while they are innocent infants) is unethical and absurd.
  3. One of the most moving moments of Endgame must be Natasha’s martyr-like self-sacrifice, and Clint’s competing with her for the mission. This scene drew some sort of moisture from my eyes, because I saw that this is how we are called to live and die, especially as Christians. If only we all fought to die for one another like these two did. Truly an inspirational moment here, and one that applies not only to times of great struggle, but also to moments that only seem mediocre. Get your tissues (or sleeve) ready for this scene.5cc2039a24000035002308f3
  4. Another great moment was when Hulk/Banner realized that there was no mistake with his Jekyll-Hyde condition; there was a meaning, a purpose. He volunteers to use the Infinity Stone gauntlet to snap the decimated 50% back into life, knowing that doing so would cripple him as it did Thanos when he had snapped that same 50% into death. Banner says, upon realizing that he alone must do this: “The radiation [from the stones] is mostly gamma. It’s like I was made for this,” meaning that his radioactive condition happened so he could rise to this challenge. Banner [the super scientist] understands here that everything truly does happen for a reason.
  5. Speaking of everything happening for a reason: notice how traditional the Avengers are. Each one of them either gives up marriage to be celibate and serve others with their lives, or they marry, start a family and have children the natural organic way. Stark and Potts, Clint and Nicole, Rogers and Carter. Their relationships are healthy, wholesome, and heartening. In a culture so confused about marriage, family, and children, this reminder in the film is subtle and important, but very needed.
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    [Some quality daddy-daughter time.]

  6. After overcoming the final battle with Thanos, Clint mentions that he wishes Natasha somehow knew they had succeeded, that her sacrifice was not in vain. Wanda responds that Natasha does know, even though she had been long dead. This hints at the reality of an afterlife, a life that is beyond the physical universe, and in our current hyper-materialistic culture, any reminder of this reality is welcome.
  7. Which leads into what will happen to us at the end of time, the end of this material universe. Endgame‘s ending depicts the joy of reuniting with long-lost loved ones, with the global (and even universal) reunion of all. The cathartic joy in the film is palpable, and I don’t recall any popular film that presents this universe-wide reunion so well. In our true Christian faith, the film’s ending hints at the coming communion of saints, the resurrection of the dead, and the life everlasting, where we who have chosen God will have the life, the family, and the love that He has originally made us to know. For more about this epic reunion, please see here where I daydream how the New Heaven and New Earth might be like. It’s really the only thing worth daydreaming about, and unlike Endgame, it’s only the beginning of a far better life than any human could dream up, because it’s God’s dream for us.

Mary Points the Way

the-nun-movie-posterToday, for the Feast of Mother Mary’s birthday (every September 8th!), I decided to take a break and celebrate with a show: The Nun (a prequel to the excellent Conjuring movies). Though I had high expectations for the film, and was disappointed, it did leave me with enough surprises to merit a review! Here’s what’s worth sharing:

—SPOILER ALERT—

  1. The Nun is Marian… very Mary focused! Throughout the film, we hear the Ave Maria (Hail Mary) prayer in LATIN, almost constantly! And not only are the characters praying Rosaries to fight off evil, a statue of our Blessed Mother actually (and literally) points the way to Jesus. So, I was very happily surprised to see the Divine timing here (today is Mary’s birthday, after all).
  2. And the Divine timing continues: during the last month, the scandal in the Catholic Church has been rising to terrible heights. We see in our present time that hell has hijacked our priests, bishops, and perhaps even our Pope. We see Satan has taken on the look of our ordained servants of Christ and His Church, and have corrupted the image of the holy priesthood. We see in this movie the same: a demon has disguised itself as a deformed nun, using the distortion to terrorize us. May we not let this deception of Satan continue!
  3. 5b9148b872977-imageLastly, the film started drawing some tears from me when the lead character–Sister Irene–decides to profess her final vows amidst terrible evil attacking her. You would think that any sane woman would flee if she knew that the closer she drew to Christ, the more Satan would attack her. But not so for Sister Irene: she knows the truth that Satan would keep attacking anyway, and that her love for Christ was worth the onslaught.
  4. Which leads to Sister Irene being a bride of Christ “worthy of carrying something so sacred” as the Precious Blood of Jesus. Here, the priest in the film surrenders the care of the holy relic of Christ’s Blood to Sister Irene. And of course, she knows how to use this relic, and isn’t afraid to! But even how exactly she uses Christ’s Blood to defeat the demon is insightful:
  5. She puts the Precious Blood into her mouth (as in receiving Holy Communion). By doing so, this allows her to ambush the demon with the secret weapon. The symbolism shouldn’t escape us: when we receive the Eucharist worthily, we all become bearers of the secret weapon against hell.

So, the Nun was an overall surprise for me, especially during the current crisis in our Church. The movie could have easily taken advantage of the evil events plaguing us today, but decides to show us a Church with good nuns and priests who are doing their job following Jesus: caring for souls and fending off the true wolves in wool.e2842e035b9195c11199d2-31682311_

Note: see here for another positive review.

 

Chris Pratt is Wrong (a little)

jurassic_3So it’s no surprise the famed Chris Pratt is a believer, and a brave believer! He went before a public audience and shared (in between jokes and sarcasm) that:

  1. We have a soul, and it must be cared for.
  2. God exists, and He is love.
  3. We must pray. MUST.
  4. We are imperfect, and God’s grace is sufficient for us. Anyone who says we are perfect the way we are is deceived, or lying.

Please watch his award speech if you haven’t already. It really is something! But while you listen, see if you can pick out his small error that can have huge negative consequences on our Christian faith.

Now believe me, I hate being a nit-picker, but as soon as I heard Pratt’s error, I couldn’t ignore it. I tried ignoring the whole past week, but I would remember it and shudder… until now I must say something. I believe that’s how the Holy Spirit usually works on me; He nags my conscience and makes it obvious I must respond.

So here goes: at the 3:33 mark, Pratt says “there is a powerful force that designed you [as imperfect].” THAT IS NOT TRUE. Everything else Pratt says about God (and about feeding meds to dogs, and pooping, and helping others, and being a turd) is true, but NOT THIS.

God did not and does not make us imperfect. He absolutely did not design us that way. Instead, sin made us imperfect. From Original Sin* to each personal sin we commit: a little bit of us dies with every sin we choose. When we commit venial sins, a bit of us dies, and when it’s a mortal sin, a huge chunk of us dies.

Our sins deform us, like drugs and alcohol in the womb of a mother. Our sins corrupt us, like lies and evil in our minds. Our sins fool us, like pride and selfishness, into thinking we are the most important person in our lives. Sin makes us imperfect, and God’s grace, given to us through the precious blood of Christ, pulls us out of sin so that we can choose to live forever in HIS perfection, in a perfection that goes beyond perfection, forever better than perfect.

If you’re curious why God would even allow us to freely sin, please see my post on the Lego Movie.

So I hope that clears things up, because I haven’t seen anyone call Pratt out on this little error (with big ripples). May God continue blessing Pratt and his beloveds, and all his fans, and may Pratt continue glorifying God more and ever more!

Image: 2018 MTV Movie And TV Awards - Show

*Original Sin was a doozy: it took out the entire human race until Jesus nuked it with His Passion and Resurrection. While Original Sin can now be washed away in Baptism and free us for Heaven, its vestiges still linger in biological disease, concupiscence, psychological disorders, etc.

Freakin Freakonomics

freakonomics_movie_2010_freecomputerdesktopwallpaper_16001The popular Freakonomics book really does have some great insights into our world. Though I did not read the text, I did watch the film version, and I found it rewarding, then disturbing…. Here’s why:

The authors’ analysis on the steep crime drop of the 1990’s is enormously inaccurate. I post here, for your viewing convenience, their segment on the fallen crime rate:

So there you have it! The reason is simple math: the less unwanted babies who are born, the less people who may potentially become criminals! Put another way: subtracting unwanted children in the past equals less unwanted adults in the future, which means less criminals and crime! Voila!

800x-1But Freakonomics fails–it fails to mention that at least 50 million murders have occurred in America alone to force this false peace. And when murders occur, murderers are always nearby, and our culture is full of them.

So, there is not a drop in crime in America. There is actually a surge, a flood in murders, a genocide against children whose only fault was that their parents and their culture did not love them enough. The crime rate has never dropped; murder was only legalized and disguised.

What a tragedy of a nation when it believes that unwanted people are better off dead, just because they might become criminals, when actually, those who believe and live such a lie are the criminals themselves! Unwanted children are none other than unloved children, and all unlovers are also known as haters.

And since when did murder and hate become prime solutions to crime in America?

Since January 22nd, 1973.

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*In dedication to, and in defense of, the millions of Holy Innocents who have been massacred by the Herod-like.

The Worthy War for the Planet of the Apes

war-for-the-planet-of-the-apes-launch-quad-finalTrilogies have a history of falling short in the last movie; even the Dark Knight trilogy’s third film didn’t measure up to its predecessors. But, it is safe to say that War for the Planet of the Apes is the crown of the rebooted franchise. Going into the trilogy with Rise and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the films were decent and well done, but not compelling to me. But War is very worthy. Here’s why:

—SPOILER ALERT—

  1. Hands down, my favorite character in the trilogy is Nova. She is the young girl whom the apes adopt after orphaning her. Her name itself is full of meaning: not only does it allude to the Nova of the 1968 Planet of the Apes film, but it alludes to the Nova Eva, the “New Eve”, which is a title for the Blessed Virgin Mary as the New Eve whereas Christ is the New Adam. I suppose the name for the girl hints at her role as the new humanity, though with poignant irony (watch this video)…
  2. The girl carries the Simian Flu virus which has advanced ape brain and speech development while killing human hosts. In War, the very contagious virus has evolved to also debilitate speech and higher cognition in surviving human populations. This means the girl has become mute, and her beautiful rational mind has regressed to a primitive and lowly state. In other words, the Nova Eva is less human, the New Eve is a degenerated girl, the new humanity has become a sub-rational animal. This is even more tragic when Maurice (the ape who first and most advocates for her care) says to the girl when she asks if she is one of the apes: “You are Nova”… you are New. But we know that her newness actually means a regression of her full humanity (she is so degenerated that she even neglects her dead human father, not mourning or responding to her loss).
  3. Nova’s muteness struck me very deeply, since she wasn’t born mute but was rendered mute by the virus, since she became deprived of her speech and reason. Watching her try to speak, hearing her pathetic squeaks, and her dead voice unable to sound: this helped me see how precious is our gift of speech. As an English major with a small background in linguistics and one who loves to teach the Faith, how often have I taken my speech and thinking for granted. How many times have I misused and abused these gifts, speaking lies, evil, hurt, and hatred when I could have spoken truth, goodness, aid, and love? How often have I wasted my intellect on the superficial, the mediocre, and the stupid when I could have focused on the profound, the transcendent, and the wisdom of God?Nova
  4. But that’s where Nova is unique among all the trilogy: she is the only significant “she” in the entire series. No other female characters have carried the story, and her character’s feminine genius shines where no male character could. Though compromised in her thought and speech, her heart and soul survives without the baggage of a fallen mind (a sinful mind). This allows her to have incredible courage driven by her love for her friends, especially for Caesar who we can see she is wary of because of his initial coldness toward adopting her. Her courage, her care, and her nurturing help Caesar survive, and even help bring down the Colonel who threatens ape and infected human alike.
  5. In the Colonel and Caesar, we see a number of Biblical allusions: from the Colonel saying he was willing to sacrifice his only son to save humanity, and his crucifixion of apes, and the crosses he wears and gestures, to Caesar playing a Moses role for the apes. However, the most prominent Biblical gestures involves the Colonel’s mad attempt to wipe out the virus and Caesar’s sinfulness:
  6. The Colonel, in trying to kill and cull all the infected humans, reminds us of the Great Flood as an attempt to show us that even if all evil people were drowned, our fallen nature would persist because we are all fallen. The only way to drown evil is for Christ to drown it within ourselves, to drown it in His precious blood and water, drowning it with true and sacrificial love. And this must be done for as long as we live. Killing and culling the innocent will never save anyone, because the murderers always lose themselves in the killing and culling. We see this play out for the Colonel who ultimately contracts the virus himself.f6e3d832330642c6b9828da378b2a729_7e9007f462214af490bb432418b8b602_header
  7. And we see this in Caesar when he realizes that the ghost of Koba (the ape who turned on Caesar and plunged the ape and human worlds into relentless war) is in his own mind, and that he is like Koba, not above unforgiveness and evil. Because Caesar seeks vengeance against the Colonel, he exposes himself to further attack. becomes wounded, and ultimately is unable to enter the Promised Land with his tribe after a long desert journey (an Exodus) and the drowning of the enemy’s soldiers in a scene that mirrors the Red Sea. This echoes Moses’ prohibition from entering Canaan, as a penalty for his disobedience and arrogance.
  8. The film closes with us seeing that neither the human nor the ape world is perfect. Both are fallen creatures in a fallen world, but in the character of Nova, we see that we need not stay fallen. We can become new in the New Eve and the New Adam, and enter the New Promised Land: the New Heaven and New Earth.
  9. For another review with a Catholic mindset, please see Dcn. Greydanus’ take.
  10.  And don’t forget this excellent insight showing the Biblical side of the film. e86bb895d339a574b84cf0c77904f8173f9c79c9