I hope that it is not bad form to start a book review with a thank you, but I felt in my situation, the only honest way I could begin is to thank Mr. Blai for writing this book. Let me explain a little further. On a personal note, I have always been interested in the topic of exorcisms, but when I tried to read a book about the subject in the past, I was so disturbed that I had to stop reading. I mean no disrespect to the author of the other book, as I now realize I was not spiritually prepared at that time to finish reading that literary work. I am not clear if I was better prepared in my prayer life when I read this book, but I am thankful that Adam wrote a book about hauntings, possessions, and exorcisms that is informative, interesting, and not overly unsettling.
The author arranged this 12 chapter work into two parts. The first part covers 9 chapters, which as you might have surmised covers a wide range of topics from a general introduction to our redeemer Jesus. The second part is titled appendices and spans 3 chapters starting off with Mr. Blai’s personal story and concluding appropriately with prayer. With regard to The Catholic Man Show technical read scale*** I rate this book at a level 5 as some time for reflection and note-taking is helpful to the reader while perusing the pages. A theme or themes that continue to come to mind while reading this book: 1. Never overlook the importance of striving for holiness, that is frequenting the sacraments, and 2. The Lenten anchors of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are worth practicing all year, not just during Lent. Full disclosure, Archbishop Paul Coakley of the Diocese of Oklahoma City highlighted the “Lenten Anchors” during his homily at a recent men’s conference in Oklahoma and the timing was perfect for this review.
Early in this book, the author explains seven common “con games” that demons like to play when attempting to influence our free will to choose them over God. I know for most of us the fact that the evil one would lie to us is not surprising, as when we renew our baptismal promises in Mass (specifically thinking of the Easter Vigil Mass), we renounce Satan and all his works and empty promises. But sometimes, these games can be subtle like “offering companionship” especially to the young or elderly, or seeming as innocent as watching a television show with regard to the paranormal. Yes, the great deceiver plays on our weaknesses and uses any leverage possible to steer us off course, but do not despair because, as the author states, “the good news is that mercy is always there from Jesus,” and further, we can choose God at any time, as long as our choice is sincere and honest.
So, you might be thinking, how do we defend ourselves against attacks from the demonic? Are you ready for the answer? Grab your note pad because the author provides the answer. “In every situation related to demonic problems, one first needs a solid foundation of prayer, the Sacramental life, the use of sacramentals, and blessings.” Shocking, right? The pillars of our faith provide the antidote to evil, but hold on because Mr. Blai expands further by painting a picture of action and hope for all of us.
With regard to prayer, he states, “A prayer said sincerely, in humility [I presume David Niles-like humility], with love and trust in God, is a scourge to the demon.” The author explains that the Sacraments of the Eucharist and confession are very powerful against demons and he reports: “Confession can close many doors to the demonic and frees more people than exorcism by far.” Ponder that one for a while, especially when a protestant brother or sister challenges you on why you go to confession. Mr. Blai relays that sacramentals can be helpful, but in a spirit of honesty indicates that “the faith and spiritual state of the people using them has an impact on their efficacy.” If you want to learn more about sacramentals you may want to check out www.catholicsacramentals.org. As some final food for thought, the author urges us to remember that, “If a demon is sent to harm a person who is in a state of grace, little or nothing happens, and that a healthy sacramental life combined with a prayer life while living in a blessed home is the best protection.”
The author does spend ample time explaining hauntings, demonic infestation, demonic oppression, and demonic possession during what I consider the middle portion of the book. What I appreciated about this section of the work is that the author made the topics understandable, but not frightening. He is quick to explain that, “full possession usually emerges out of explicit satanism or witchcraft of some kind.” Further, he outlines the three signs of possession according to the Roman Ritual and those are: “1. Knowledge of all languages, 2. Knowledge of hidden things or future events, and 3. Supernatural strength.” Those three indicators may seem a bit daunting to overcome; however, I think we all know that the power of God is humbler, stronger, and wiser than any of the evil, empty pledges proposed by the devil (see Matthew 4:1-11).
So how does one counter a true possession? The answer as you may have guessed is with exorcism. In the next portion of the book, Mr. Blai explains the pastoral process of exorcism and what weapons the pastor has available. Anyone want to wager what the strongest three armaments are when a priest is performing an exorcism? I am sure someone has a guess, but here they are as presented by the author: “humility, obedience and prayer.” The author notes that, “One needs to stay humble and remember Jesus Christ is the exorcist.” Does that remind anyone of the sacrament of reconciliation where the priest forgives our sins acting in persona Christi, such that our forgiveness comes from God? For reference with regard to confession, see Catechism of the Catholic Church 1441, 1461, and 1465. Before leaving the topic of exorcism, the author reminds readers that, “The Catholic Church has understood that the full authority to command demons was given to the Twelve Apostles, therefore a priest needs Apostolic authority given to him by a bishop before he engages in a battle with a demon.” Hence, prudence in completing spiritual warfare is paramount.
The author provides more insight on how we can protect ourselves in a chapter titled “Self-Help.” He lays out straightforward information in this portion of the book and stresses the importance of the following “preventative measures:
- Participating in the sacraments specifically Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, and receiving the Eucharist (I think a case for infant Baptism could be made here; this is my opinion not the author’s)
- Remaining in a state of grace
- Maintaining a balanced and healthy prayer life
- Developing a proper understanding of the spiritual world
- Making use of sacramentals and blessings”
Seems kind of straight forward doesn’t it? But wait, there is more with regard to steps we can take to remedy most of the situations short of possession, and as the author explains, “the primary corrective tool is Confession followed by Mass.” Of course, the author delves into more explanation on these topics and it is worthwhile reading, but to me the lesson is for us to never underestimate the strength of our sacraments and our faith.
The final portion of part 1 of this literary work is titled, “Turning the Page to Jesus.” In this section of the book, the author explains the stages of the Christian life ranging from Baptism to developing a personal relationship with God over time. That is, Mr. Blai highlights and explains the journey of a Christian throughout his or her life, as well as the sources of urges in our lives and what to do when one is tempted. He dives into topics related to self-mastery, specifically fasting and underscores again the significant importance of “the sacramental life and regular sincere prayer.”
The second and last part of this book tells Mr. Blai’s story and how he found himself assisting with exorcisms. For me this part of the book read quite easily, as I truly enjoy personal accounts, and I appreciated that he shared some specific details of an exorcism he assisted with underscoring the power of our Lord! Quite appropriately the author concludes this work with the final 2 chapters dedicated to stories from the bible and prayer. The specific stories cover the fall of man in Genesis, the war in heaven as presented in Revelation, and Jesus using his divine authority to cast out demons in the New Testament, as well as, the passage of that authority to His Apostles. As mentioned previously, the closing of this book is dedicated to prayer (remember the author’s advice with regard to a solid prayer life) and provides readers with a chance to renew their baptismal promises and to once again glorify God.
By: Kent Keithly, Husband and Father
Note: For more reference I also suggest two recent episodes of The Catholic Man Show titled Spiritual Warfare with Dave VanVickle and Role of the Father According to Exorcists.
***Regarding The Catholic Man Show technical read scale: A 3 out of 10 is a leisurely read that could be read in a couple of weeks, an 8 out of 10 is a more technical read which requires more time and often requires looking up definitions of words to clearly understand the author, and finally a 10/10 is an extremely technical read that requires a significant amount of time to complete the book, as well as, extra time to look up further explanations of the topic, definitions, and likely requires that some pages be read more than once to grasp the content.