There’s nothing more frightening than an enemy you cannot see.
Msgr. Stephen Rossetti knows this more than most. As a young seminary student, Rossetti was attacked in his bed by an invisible force that left him with a lifelong habit of sleeping with rosary beads wrapped around his left hand.
Today, Msgr. Rossetti has over 13 years of experience leading a team that manages an increasingly active caseload of people suffering from demonic affliction. He has witnessed events that defy natural law and call into question everything we think we know about the world in which we live.
He is an exorcist—one of the most prominent in the U.S. And in his new book, Diary of an American Exorcist, he takes us along for the ride, teaching readers how to avoid and defend against demonic attack.
Navigating an Unseen World
The Ministry of Exorcism has no shortage of skeptical detractors. The scientific method informs our modern worldviews, placing an emphasis on that which can be tested, repeated, and quantified. This works well for the material world that we can see, touch, and measure. But as Shakespeare wrote, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Just a few hundred years ago, it would be unthinkable that a small piece of metal could kill or sicken through an invisible force, but today, radioactive uranium is well-understood. Armed with knowledge like this, we should always leave room for the possibility that there are things at work around us that we cannot yet understand or measure—and perhaps never will. And so, we must not ignore or invalidate the numerous accounts of those who have suffered from possible demonic attack.
This is the unseen world in which Msgr. Rossetti works. And judging from his experiences, it can be a dangerous place.
The Demonic Threat
As an exorcist, Msgr. Rossetti deals with problems associated with demonic activity. In his book, he describes demons as angels that were originally created to exist in loving unity with all of creation.
But for these particular angels, something went wrong. Rossetti writes that they rejected God and are now permanently cut off from a relationship with Him, becoming what we know as demons. In their desperation to regain some sense of relationship and unity, these demons now attempt to control and possess rather than entering into loving, healthy relationships.
This, unfortunately, leads them to us.
Rossetti writes that demons can infest or possess objects, places, and people. They are powerful, intelligent, and invisible. They can interfere with our daily lives, influence our thoughts and emotions, afflict us with illness and disease, physically attack us, and even take advantage of technology.
So, against such an impossibly powerful foe, what can we do? Here, Msgr. Rossetti’s expertise has us covered.
How to Protect Yourself
According to Msgr. Rossetti, all demons are defeated by the power of Christ, without exception. So, how can you put this into action in practical, everyday ways? Let’s take a look at a few points from “Diary of an American Exorcist.”
The symptoms of demonic infestation or possession are many and varied. They can include inexplicable physical maladies, psychological obsessions, or intensely negative reactions to sacred symbols and items. Rossetti describes a “look” displayed by some victims—an expression of intense rage and overwhelming evil. These symptoms indicate the need for an Exorcist.
But as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Rossetti writes that any sin creates an opening that a demon can take advantage of to enter a victim’s life. Conforming your life to Christ and His Church is the best way to avoid entanglement with the demonic.
This lifestyle can, perhaps be best summarized by Christ’s admonition in Mark 12: 30-31 to “Love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Rossetti recommends trust in Christ as the ultimate protection.
He goes on to write that we should also avoid purposefully inviting the demonic through occult practices. When we dial out into the spiritual world, we cannot know what might answer us—even something as simple as consulting a Ouija board can be dangerous.
But if prevention fails, it’s time to call on your local clergy for help. Contrary to popular belief, exorcists don’t simply rush in and begin the Rite. They ensure that the victim has a thorough physical and psychological examination by certified healthcare professionals, and only proceed if they deem exorcism necessary. In most cases, there is a natural explanation for the victim’s suffering.
When there is no natural explanation, however, the exorcist’s work begins. The process can take anywhere from a few sessions to many months of work, and the victim must work with the exorcist to enact lasting changes in their habits and lifestyle.
Exorcism is not an easy process for either party, but Rossetti reminds us, throughout his book, that Christ always wins out in the end.
Sleeping Soundly Again
Msgr. Rossetti has his work cut out for him. Demonic activity is on the rise. While handling exorcisms, he’s borne witness to acts of physical violence, supernatural events like levitation and inhuman strength, demonic attacks on his mind, and more.
But through it all, he writes that he still feels peace. When he was attacked as a seminary student, the experience was initially terrifying. But when he leapt from his bed and grabbed the rosary beads from a nearby table, the attack instantly stopped.
Rossetti writes that, in that moment, he “learned 80 percent of what an exorcist needs to know.” As powerful as demons are, the power of God is infinitely moreso. Rather than living in fear of demonic attack, we can sleep soundly in this fact.
“Jesus,” he writes, “has already won the battle.”