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Seeing an exorcism
Wednesday, 02 May 2007 Written by Mateja

Mateja in CongoFor a few days I visited the Congo. Sisters who have a convent in Bukavu hosted me. When I first arrived I just wanted time to pass as quickly as possible. I couldn’t wait for the moment to come when I would finally go home… To Croatia...

But soon I got rid of this feeling. I was newly born in this convent. Our sisters from Croatia, sister Romana, sister Mislava and sister Erika and 8 more young sisters from Congo taught me some lessons… Indirectly… They were wonderful. With them I had fun, I worked… They taught me some words in the language they speak… For instance, now I know how to make the sign of the cross in French, say a couple of words in their Kiswahili language… And they know a lot of words in Croatian.

Somehow they are quite good in memorizing all these new words… They used to sing for me this song Lijepo ime Mateja (Nice name Mateja)… All of it! When I wasn’t spending time with them I was traveling around… Sister Romana took me everywhere possible… She showed me the convent in Luhwindja (I don’t know how to spell it) where they were before… She let me drive their jeep on so called roads… When you drive you are all the time forced to lean to one side, instead of being straight on the road!… It was quite an adventure!  The sisters are terrific.  This is their everyday life.  Sister Romana, for example, is over 60 but she drives like Schumacher! I visited a lot more places but what left the biggest impact on me was seeing an exorcism! That was a life time experience!

Once I talked with sisters and they mentioned evil spirits… While we talked they understood that I don’t quite believe in all these things… and that actually I think all this a bit funny… So they proposed to me to go to see this Xaverian priest. I said OK. They took me to him and we got introduced. He seemed calm, cheerful. We arranged that the following morning I would come and see something. I barely slept that night. At half past six in the morning we were already at his place, and immediately he celebrated Holy Mass. He has a house in the very center of the town, among people… That’s very brave of him since sisters and priests usually build houses and churches in more secluded places with the buildings surrounded by big walls! I guess he knows that if he really wants to help folks and gain their trust, he has to trust them as well and live in their midst.

To make a long story short…After the mass we joined him (I really tried to remember his name but I just can’t… Something with R…), sisters Romana, Erika and me in this pretty large room.  There were some chairs along the wall, in the very middle was a table and nest to the table a bed (without pillows and blankets of course)… The point is to get the sick person just to lie down…)

Now it was time for the session. First came some people but they still had some unfinished business and went off again.  I will describe one woman, who is an example of many similar “cases”.  According to sister Erika the devil chooses women because if he disturbs her the whole family falls apart!!!!…In a way it is not surprising to hear this way of explaining things in this context.   Often women get pregnant with men who then abandon them and the child.  The child still has the mother.  If the mother becomes unstable or “possessed” as they say here of many cases, the man often abandons the family and the child is left alone with the sick mother.  This is part of the “curse”.

When the woman whom I write about lay down the priest sat close to her head.  He lay one hand on her head and another hand on her stomach where some believe the devil is living.   Often the priest will put a cross on the chest under the shirt.  He was carrying a rosary, holy oils and salt—the traditional symbols of anointing.  He started a prayer in French.  When people follow the prayer they answer AMEN.  Very often “possessed” persons lose consciousness quite quickly.  One woman lost consciousness and started struggling.  Usually the priest has about three women assisting him in cases like the above.  While he is dealing with the “spirit” in the woman, the women are holding the struggling body.  This woman started kicking with arms and legs and her body.  Her eyes were closed but the priest opened them and showed them to me.  I could see only the whites of her eyes.  This did not scare me.

When a woman is “possessed” the priest often asks her how many spirits are present, and if they have been sent by anyone, meaning if anyone had cursed the woman and used “black magic” or if the spirits had come by themselves.

… When evil spirits respond they use the woman’s mouth. Sister Erika says that sometimes the woman’s mouth is closed and evil spirits speak through her with a different voice—that of a man or other female!!! 

I could not be convinced as I have not seen all of that by myself. This priest told me something that I don’t doubt. Those spirits speak not just the mother tongue of the possessed person but perhaps Italian or French.

So you can imagine what that woman who never ever spoke Italian might be experiencing in such a case. I guess you understand… It’s all so strange, so confusing… I was looking for a miracle, I saw a miracle, and still I don’t believe it all but something changed inside me from that day on! People here believe in all kinds of things (Abarangi from swamps, Abakyekyezi  (naked witches who dance in the nighttime and curse)… All kinds of things…). They are into this black magic and do all kinds of foolish things…

If evil spirits don’t respond to the questions of the exorcist then he uses blessed oil to make a sign of the cross on the lips, or he puts blessed salt in the mouth, or puts a Holy Rosary on closed eyes… He invokes the name of Jesus and sends the spirits to hell or under the feet of Jesus.

… Nevertheless what I mentioned… When he uses the above the face is in pain,  the body pulls back…the Spirit is screaming from the body… Oh it’s so so strange… It doesn’t take long… Sometimes not even a minute… Sometimes couple of minutes… Maybe more sometimes but when I was there the longest time was 5 minutes. In the moment when an “evil spirit” is leaving a woman’s body she is breathing out and relaxing her face (face is always making these strange angry moves) and her body!

The priest is praying and blessing the person and she wakes up completely unaware  and exhausted… One boy lay down like that… He was possessed (he used to do black magic and he says since then he has no peace) but evil spirits refused to leave or to answer questions… When priest saw that it was not going to be easy and that the boy was too exhausted he stopped the exorcism and woke him up. He said that the boy was too tired and that he would need more time with him. But you should see this boy after he woke up… With no atom of strength, breathing with all his lungs as if he had just ran a couple of kilometers! When he stood up he almost fell because of his exhaustion!

In short… I don’t know if all this is true, but for the first time I felt it really deeply… Now I believe that Evil really exists and that Evil fears Jesus… Prayer is our savior from these kinds of spirits!

Father Vjeko Center

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