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It’s that time of year. Dogs dressed up like bees, kids in homemade ghost costumes, buckets of candy…

…horror flicks, people on the train wearing Scream masks…and then there was that house down the street with fake body parts attached to the fence. Yep, apparently we have death on the brain. But scarier than the kind of slasher films that seem sort of unbelievable, are those bumps in the night that make us pause and question what’s real and what’s perhaps a figment of our imagination: ghosts, apparitions, demons…

What are demons?

“Demons” are defined as evil spirits or, if you trace the original meaning, higher beings from the Devil’s realm. Demons are thought to be able to take hold of or possess people. And, according to Catholic thought, those demons can be exorcised out of human beings. The act of driving demons out is mentioned several times in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. Perhaps the best known of these is the story of Legion in Mark 5:

1 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16
What do Catholics think?
Well for one, there are only about 30 official exorcists in the United States. And as far as whether it works or is real, it depends on whom you ask. This article from US Catholic sums up the mood among Catholics when it comes to present-day exorcism.

What do you think about exorcism? Are demons real? Does your religious belief affect your belief in demonic possession and exorcism?
Created by Religion Transcends, 2011.
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