Exorcist Father Vincent Lampert of Saints Francis and Clare Catholic Church spoke about exorcisms at the University of Indianapolis in an event titled “Exorcisms: Fact or Fiction?” It took place on Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. The event was organized by the UIndy Catholic Student Association, and according to sophomore athletic training major and CSA board member Michael Lynch, 330 to 350 people attended.
Lampert said that usually college students are questioning their faiths, so he likes giving this speech at campuses to help the students.
“Since this is a topic I have studied extensively, I decide to throw it out there as information to help students ultimately decide what are they going to believe or not believe,” he said.
Lampert’s bishop appointed him to be an exorcist in 2005. Lampert explained that when a Catholic priest is ordained, he makes a vow to obey his bishop, so he could not say no when his bishop appointed him. Lampert was taking over the job of the former exorcist for Indianapolis, who had died in 2005.
“I never dreamed I’d inherit his job, so it’s not something I sought. It was something that found me, you could say,” he said.
Lampert studied exorcisms in Rome and said being an exorcist is a lifetime employment. He said that there are two kinds of prayers used in exorcisms—imperative and supplication. According to Lampert, an imperative prayer is a command to the demon to depart from the person under possession, and only an ordained Catholic Church official can perform this type of prayer in an exorcism. A supplication prayer is one anyone can do, and it is an appeal to God.
Lampert said that when a person calls for help, he or she usually has exhausted every medical or mental explanation, and he or she has diagnosed himself or herself or the situation. Demonic activities that Lampert investigates are the presence of evil, harassment, demonic obsession and demonic possession.
Lampert explained that before proceeding with an exorcism, medical and mental experts are consulted, and all reasonable explanations are exhausted. He said science and religion do not have to be at odds with each other, and it is important to be skeptical in order to prevent doing more harm to the person in trouble.
Lampert said the criteria that must be met for a condition to be ruled as possession include understanding languages that the person did not know prior to the supposed possession, superhuman strength, elevated perception and strong resistance to divine objects, such as a crucifix.
He said that medical explanations including Tourette’s Syndrome or epilepsy and mental explanations such as low self-esteem could be mistaken for demonic possession.
Lampert stressed that people do not have to be afraid of demons or Satan if they have a good relationship with God. He explained that if a person’s faith is strong, then he or she is not at risk of demonic possession. Lampert went on to tell the story of Lucifer, explaining that Lucifer was created to glorify God, but because Lucifer was full of pride and wanted to be the supreme authority, he fell down to Hell, taking the angels who followed him.
Lampert said that Lucifer and the angels cannot be forgiven because they knew the natural order of things and they rejected it. He also said that Lucifer and the angels who fell with him try to trick people who have a strong relationship with God because in the end, those people will join God in Heaven when they die. Lampert said this cannot happen for Satan or the demons, however.
Lampert said that while demons, with their intuition, can deduce what people are thinking, they cannot read minds and neither can Satan. He also explained that possession is not contagious, and demons cannot jump from one person to another, such as what happens at the end of “The Exorcist” film. He also said that even under possession, the soul of the person remains free.
Lampert said possession only happens when a person allows evil into his or her life. This can happen in six ways. If a person is tied to the occult, he or she is allowing evil to enter his or her life. If a person is weak in his or her faith and a curse is placed on him or her, then this allows demonic possession to take place.
Lampert told the story of how a girl in Rome was dedicated to a demon and therefore possessed. Her mother had not wanted her, and after a failed abortion, the mother pledged the girl to Satan. The girl finally ran away from home and had an exorcism performed on her. This broke the ties to Satan and freed her. Lampert said she now is a religious sister and helps homeless children and teens.
Habitual sin, which includes indulging in drugs and alcohol or dabbling in witchcraft, can open a doorway to evil, Lampert said. He also said inviting a demon into one’s life and harvesting broken relationships are all ways a person can open the doorway.
Lampert explained that when an exorcism’s date is set, a sacred place such as a church is selected for it to take place along with those who will attend. He said the possessed person along and a couple of family members are usually there. He said people who will pray for the person possessed are the only ones allowed to attend.
Lampert said he prepares himself by fasting, spending time in prayer and doing other religious practices.
When it is time for the exorcism, Lampert said he calls on holy men and women to be present and then begins to read the Psalms. He then places his hands and breathes on the person to call on the Holy Spirit, and the Apostles Creed is recited.
The person is then asked to recite their baptismal promise to reject Satan. The person is then shown the crucifix, and the sign of the cross is made over the person. A supplicating prayer is made, asking God to strengthen the person, followed by an imperative prayer, commanding the demon to leave the person.
The imperative prayer is repeated until the demon submits. Lampert said demons can have varying degrees of strength, and there can be more than one in a person. He told the story of one woman who had seven demons in her, and when he demanded their names, they all spoke at once out of her mouth. Lampert said when a demon gives up its name, it is showing weakness.
When the demons are gone, a prayer of thanks is made to God. Lampert said the average exorcism lasts 30 minutes.
Lampert then asked for questions. He explained during this section of the lecture that demons can speak in any language, that an exorcism cannot be performed on a person unless it is something that person wants and that children under the age of seven and people with mental handicaps cannot invite evil, so they cannot be possessed.
Lampert also said that his colleagues have told him the film “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is an accurate representation of exorcisms.
Lynch said after the lecture that he believed in exorcisms and that listening to Lampert opened his eyes even more.
“Instead of just believing in them, actually hearing from one of our appointed exorcists, hearing their story and the things that they’ve done, just kind of put some substance behind it,” he said.
Lampert said that while his speech is about exorcisms, he likes to focus on faith. He hopes people who may be questioning their faiths leave with a sense of belief and that there is no need to fear.
“. . . Faith is something important,” he said. “It shouldn’t be taken for granted. It shouldn’t be something rejected. It’s something that we should fully embrace.”