Over the last few days, I have been reading the news about a horrible massacre that occurred in a cinema at Aurora in Colorado. The cinema was featuring the newest Batman film and a young man opened fire with weapons that he bought legally – not mere hunting arms, but guns that have but one purpose, killing human beings. We are probably all familiar with the photos of a baby-faced young man of 24 with a shock of orange-dyed hair behaving very strangely during his first appearance in court accused of the heinous crime of killing about twelve people and seriously injuring a further sixty.
James Holmes, so we are told by the press, rigged his apartment with booby traps to kill any policeman naive enough to kick in the door. He had been collecting guns and ammunition for the past few months, and the crime was coldly and meticulously planned. Even on the opposite side of the Atlantic, the idea that a man could be capable of committing such evil escapes any comprehension. I find it difficult to kill fish I have caught on a line and hook that I intend to eat or give to others to eat! That boy kills human beings like we swat flies!
Insane? As his jailers said, he has only to keep his act for the jury – and Holmes will probably have a date with the needle after ten to fifteen years on death row. The alternative, as is usual in America, would be life imprisonment without parole. I have commemorated the dead at my daily Mass several times this week, and my heart and prayers go out to their bereaved families. Yet, Holmes holds a certain fascination, and almost a certain sympathy for the fact that he might as well already be dead, even if he doesn’t get the death penalty. This is pure evil.
Fr Dwight Longenecker explained in his article The Aurora Murders and Demonic Possession that what we usually see in exorcism films is really infestation. True possession by the Devil is something much more terrible. The person appears to be normal, but they have voluntarily given their soul to the evil one. He has not lost his free will, and therefore the freedom required to commit a sin, but has exercised his free will in doing the evil the Devil wants done. This concept is known to exorcists as perfect possession. You don’t get perfectly possessed against your will. It is the decision of the person concerned. When that happens, there is no hope for that person. This is what might have happened with Judas Iscariot or someone like Hitler or Stalin.
Many years ago, I bought a book with the title Hostage to the Devil by the late Fr Malachy Martin, a Jesuit priest who exercised the ministry of an exorcist. Though it was fascinating, I was unable to read it – I could not tolerate the blasphemous things the evil spirits were saying during the exorcisms. I still have this book, but I haven’t opened its covers for more than twenty years. There are things we are best to be ignorant of.
Here is what he writes in the preface to this book about perfect possession:
As the term implies, a victim of perfect Possession is absolutely controlled by evil and gives no outward indication, no hint whatsoever, of the demonic residing within. He or she will not cringe, as others who are Possessed will, at the sight of such religious symbols as a crucifix or a Rosary. The perfectly Possessed will not bridle at the touch of Holy Water, nor hesitate to discuss religious topics with equanimity.
If convicted of crimes against the law, such a victim will frequently acknowledge “guilt,” and even the moral “badness” of the acts committed. More often than not, such a person will petition that his physical life be forfeited; that he be executed for his crimes. Thus, in his own way, he voices the insistent Satanist preference for death over life, and the fixated desire to join the Prince in his kingdom.
Because there is no will left to call the victim’s own -and because some part of the victim’s will is necessary for any hope of successful Exorcism – remedy is unlikely to succeed even in the event the Possession should somehow be uncovered and verified as the problem.
This exactly fits the behaviour of James Holmes.
The most extreme state is ‘perfect possession’, when the demon has taken complete control. The perfectly possessed person is totally lost. There is nothing I can do.
An audio series of interviews with Fr Malachi Martin on perfect possession on the Arte Belle show can be found on Youtube. Just type in “Malachy Martin” and “perfect possession“. His testimony is chilling. We have seen that evil is very real, and we scoff at it at our peril!