"What do demons want?"

"Their purpose,” said Fr. Thomas, “is to take as many of God’s children to eternal damnation with them. There’s a parasitic quality to their existence because they are all slowly dying—they’ve been dying since the moment they rebelled against God, and so they often times are attaching themselves to artificially experience life, but their ultimate goal is to take many of us into eternal damnation. Because of their jealousy and envy about the human race, they see us as competition, even though they’re of a higher nature.

You look at the book of Genesis—Satan is never described as Satan when he manifests himself as the serpent. It’s implied and understood as evil presenting itself in this serpentine way, but the whole point of Lucifer doing that was, again, to wreck God’s relationship with the human race because they were created in the image and likeness of God, even though we’re lower than the angels. There was jealousy on the part of Lucifer because of God’s creation of us.”

Jealousy. These angels lost their places in heaven because of jealousy that stemmed from a black knot of pride. Satan could suffer no other being to be more beloved than himself.

What can we do when such power is turned against us, fueled by ancient anger? This, too, I asked Fr. Thomas.

“What are some signs of demonic passion or infestation?”

“The six classic signs of demonic possession are the following.

An aversion to the sacred is the biggest sign. Now, in the Catholic tradition be we have sacraments, and those can cause intense reactions. There would be an aversion to receiving the Eucharist, the body and blood of Jesus, or it would be an aversion to walking into a church of any kind, for that matter, not just a Catholic church. It could be an aversion to holy water, crucifixes, symbols, etc. It could be an aversion to even being near a minister, whether it be a priest or someone else. It somehow causes a reaction, like there’s fear for no apparent reason, or illness or upset stomach for no apparent reason, just out of the blue all of a sudden. The person could be foaming at the mouth and coughing in an abnormal way—they’re coughing sputum—that’s what foaming at the mouth looks like. It’s not shaving cream foam. It’s the casting out of a spirit—that’s what’s causing the foaming at the mouth. This can also be a reaction to the power of prayer, as well.

Another would be speaking in a language you have no competence in.

The rolling of the eyes can be another sign—usually a reaction to the sacred.

There can also be an inordinate display of extreme strength and violence, picking up large objects which they normally wouldn’t be able to do.

The demon can speak through the vessel in the voice of the person, saying things that no one might know, using this information to undermine others. Including the priest.

There can be a reaction of the limbs and face—huge physical contortions of the arms, the legs, and the face.”

“Can we defend ourselves against demonic attack?”

Fr. Thomas described four means of protection, four things that Christians should immerse themselves in.

“A faith life, a prayer life, a moral life, and, for Catholics, a sacramental life.

A prayer life would be the rhythm we establish in the way we commune with God. It could be prayers that are formal, based on the authority of a church, or it could be spontaneous or informal prayer that we simply utter when we commune with God. Prayer is communing with God. Prayer is our conversation with God. It can also be quietly waiting for a response from God.

While faith life is about our relationship with God, the prayer life is about taking that relationship to a deeper level. It’s one thing to believe in the existence of God, but do you have a personal relationship with God? Now, people can come to all kinds of different designs of a personal relationship with God, but it’s basically ‘do I know God,’ and ‘do I spend time with God, in or out of a church?’ You can have a relationship with God outside of a church.

For an atheist or nonbeliever, to have a moral life is huge. Are atheists at higher risk? Possibly. But Satan is always looking for people with no relationships or broken relationships, so one can be a Catholic and be baptized, and still have a demonic problem because of doors that have been opened, or that have been opened for them. Evangelicals and fundamentalists, at least some, would say that baptism guarantees a kind of eternal protection. Well, in my experience, that’s not true.

Baptism does give us a kind of protection, but that doesn’t mean that God does not also permit our free will. Most of the people I see are Catholics—not all, but most—who’ve had all kinds of demonic issues because of bad decisions they’ve made, or sometimes decisions they didn’t have anything to do with that have been made for them.”