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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Who Ya Gonna Call?

When I was a little girl we used to play a game we made up called, "I Hope the Ghost Comes Out Tonight!"  It was a scary night time version of tag that we would play at dusk in the summertime.  One kid would hide somewhere and then, after counting for a bit ala hide and seek, we would slowly walk across the yard chanting "I hope the ghost comes out tonight!" until the hidden child would leap out and chase us all. We all had to make it back to home base (the back porch steps) before being tagged by the "ghost".  If you got tagged, you were the ghost. I was almost never the ghost.  Somehow, it was much more scary to think you were being chased by a ghost, than by Kathy Kroeger or Jackie Kimbrell.  I always think of that game whenever the topic of ghosts comes up. 

Speaking of the dead, what do you recommend we do when our house is haunted? The house has been blessed. I've asked the ghosts to leave in a stern voice. Nothing. In fact, it made them more active. There are at least 3 of them in the house. They haven't done anything to hurt us but they are scary. You can't 'prepare' for it so I'm always caught off guard. They can be seen, heard, smelled (one smokes something that looks like a cigarette but smells like cigar). They make noise. Once, I was on the couch and it sounded like every pot & pan, every dish, everything I owned had crashed in the kitchen. When I ran to the room, nothing was out of place. The person I bought the home from sold it because she was afraid to live there. I thought she was crazy. It's a beautiful home. Too bright and sunny to be haunted. And when you die, you go to hell, purgatory or heaven. There is no 4th choice of hanging around and haunting a house. So what is going on? It doesn't seem evil or demonic.

The underlying question here is, what does the Catholic church have to say about ghosts?

Not much.

Do we believe in the supernatural? Every day. Virtually everything we believe is supernatural. God, Jesus, resurrection, ascension, transubstantiation....if that's not supernatural, what is?

So I've been doing some research for you all on the topic. What does the Catechism say about ghosts? Not a word. But here's a good summation of the overall thought on the subject:

(a ghost is defined as) “a disembodied spirit. Christianity believes that God may, and sometimes does, permit a departed soul to appear in some visible form to people on earth. Allowing for legend and illusion, there is enough authentic evidence, for example in the lives of the saints, to indicate that such apparitions occur. Their purpose may be to teach or warn, or request some favor of the living” (Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, Modern Catholic Dictionary (Garden City, New York: John A. Hardon, ©1980) published by Doubleday and Co., p. 229).

The problem here is there is a huge difference between an apparition of a saint or a soul from purgatory and some guy who doesn't know he's dead or whatever and also still loves his cigars, even though he no longer has to breath air, with or without smoke in it.

So now we have to take a look at what the Church teaches about the occult which is this:

“All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others — even if this were for the sake of restoring their health — are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2117).

Where does that leave you and your haunted house?  Not every priest would tell you the same thing, but I believe that the general consensus would be that these are not dead people who are stuck in time.  We do  believe that after death a person goes to one of three places, Heaven, Hell or Purgatory and no one is stuck here. If someone does get to pay us a visit after their death it is with God's permission, not to just hang around and puff on cigars and rattle the pans.

So the Church would say demons often don't look demonic. That's a big part of what makes them demonic and the entire reason you are not allowed to try and talk with them. You would be in over your head.  Why do they hang around houses pretending to be Civil War veterans and dead damsels? Maybe because your belief in them would cause you to doubt the Church. Just a thought.

What to you do about it? I don't know. St. Benedict (who had a vision of his twin sister's soul rising to Heaven when she died) is the patron saint of exorcism.  The prayers said during an exorcism are written in code on the back of his medal.   If our readers would like to follow the discussion so far, go back to two posts ago and read the comments, where there has been more on "the haunting".


Anonymous said...

Domestic-Church.com has a very good prayer. Click on sacraments and scroll down to the spiritual warfare prayer. Use it in your house with holy water. Go to Confessiona and if possible go to daily Mass. Find a priest who will help you with deliverance. Forgive everybody. They won't go anywhere without forgiveness. I will pray for you.
Paullie - I had this problem but they were attached to me from playing with new age teachings and witchcraft. They can also attach from other means like family history.

Maureen said...

Our local priest is an exorcist - that's who you need.

denise said...

I'm not trying to be facetious, but how is wearing a saint's medal or a scapular different from wearing a charm?

Meg said...

What about the people like the long island medium who believe the dead can talk to/through them? She seems sincere, and it appears that she comes up with things that she has no way of knowing -- it gives so much comfort to people, I can't believe a demon would do anything to comfort anyone. She says she's a practicing Catholic, but I'd love to know if she has discussed her powers with her parish priest, and if so, what he told her

Arkanabar said...

The symptoms described are not outside the realms of possibility for EMF hypersensitivity. However, you need not invite ghost hunters in. Sensors to read EMF strength can be had for $200-400, and if there are issues, odds are good that an electrician will be able to resolve them.

Wendy said...

If you've used blessed salt, and it hasn't bothered them (quantity wouldn't matter, it's the faith with which it is used), they probably are souls in purgatory. These souls are only allowed to manifest themselves to ask for prayers, so I really think that what you are doing (praying for them) is the right thing. I'll pray for them, too, and for you!

Anonymous said...

Meg commented: I can't believe a demon would do anything to comfort anyone

Why not? If it causes you to run to psychics or mediums or the like, they've done their job.


JP said...

Dear Sister,

A few years ago members of the LDS church were courting me. I started talking to them because I needed someone (anyone) to talk to about God. I am a practicing Catholic and knew right away that I would never convert because you just can't get the Eucharist any where else! But after a while I did realize that the Book of Mormon is really suspect and I don't agree with much of what they preach at all, so I broke it off with them. About a month ago I listened to a CD from Lighthouse media called "From Mormon Missionary to the Catholic Church" by Thomas Smith. I was wowed by his advice and experiences, but I also felt that maybe I'd wasted a good opportunity to point out what the scripture really has to say about some important issues for the LDS church (Smith goes in to a lot of this in his talk. He says that when he was a missionary he had never sought out other translations or even looked at the verses they use to back up their theology in their original context. He was introduced to other ways of reading the verses through his missionary work with a woman who had a NRSV Bible).

So, today I got a call from the LDS again, asking if anything had changed in my life and if I'd like to learn more about their church. I said no... but now I feel like maybe I should call them back?

Nothing has changed for me, except that I may be better prepared to be a Catholic missionary to the LDS missionaries. My dilemma is that I want to talk to them in order to give context to some of the material they use to back up their claims... in order to make them take a look at their faith in LDS... but that seems dishonest to me. I know I'm on the right spiritual path for me... but should I be messing with theirs under the pretence that I want to know more about their faith?
Is it better to pretend not to know about some of their teachings in order to shed some light for them, or is it better to be honest and let them stay in the dark?

Anonymous said...

I left a long response but I guess it didn't go through.

Anonymous: That you for that link. I love that prayer and have printed the page so I can take it home. I'm going to say it every night. I'm working on forgiveness. I think I've forgiven everyone but I think I sometimes hold grudges. I don't mean, to. I catch myself and remind myself to let it go. Like an old "hurt" will come to mind and make me angry. And I'll have to remind myself that I've already forgiven that person and I need to let it go. I went to confessions Saturday and I'm going to go often. I wish I could do daily Mass.
Years ago, I did play with tarot cards. I got rid of them and went to confessions. I never thought of the danger they would bring. It was 20+ years ago. Who would have thought?

Maureen: I wish there was one nearby. We did have the house blessed.

Meg: I don't know if I would even watch a show like that now. It's not worth it.

Thank you to everyone for the prayers. Please continue to pray for me but especially for my two daughters.

We're going to leave the house. I'm asking the bank to take the deed in lieu of foreclosure and we're going to move.

We've misplaced the bag of salt. I went looking for it last night (it was on a shelf in the kitchen) and we can't find it. But, I'm having more blessed this weekend. Also, we have holy water and a blessed rosary. And I ordered a St Benedict metal. I'm also going to get one for the doorway to the house and smaller ones for the girls to wear.

My biggest fear is that I won't be able to protect my daughters. I'm truly afraid, now, of the house. It's terrifying to think of it. I know devils and demons are always around everyone-tempting, whatever.. But thinking they are in your house? It's scarier than you can imagine.