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at BENEDICTINE COLLEGE

Exorcist in the Confessional Saves Porn Addict’s Soul

One of my good friends, whom we’ll call Rob, tells the most extraordinary stories. That’s probably because he’s had a most extraordinary life.

First exposed to porn at age six or seven, he quickly found that he couldn’t live without it — or so he thought. Turns out Rob has an obsessive personality — exactly the kind of person most at risk in such situations. He ended up addicted to porn for close to thirty years, often using it several times a day.

The story of how Rob broke the habit is a long and tortuous one. But one of the best parts of the story is what happened when Rob finally confessed it all.

Raised Catholic, Rob had gradually drifted from his faith as porn took an ever-greater hold of him. He wanted to go to confession many times as an adult, but some excuse always kept him away. He tried to stop using porn many times, too, but always reverted — often finding himself worse off than before. When he finally hit rock bottom and knew something in his life had to change, he again resolved to approach the confessional. Even with his good intention, it was more than a year after his rock-bottom experience before he finally made it to one.

Out of practice, Rob balked at the stoic, mechanical priest in the confessional. He couldn’t bring himself to speak of the decades of sin. He made a bad confession and walked out with an even heavier heart.

Somehow, though, that heavy heart drove him to try again.

A couple weeks later, he found himself as the last person in the confessional line, and Mass was about to begin. As he entered, he could hear empathy and compassion in the priest’s tone of voice. Rob felt something in him let go, and, moved to tears, he started to tell it all.

That’s when the demon invaded the confessional.

Rob was suddenly choked. He wasn’t choking; something outside him was choking him. “God knows I cried my eyes out many times during those years,” Rob says. “I know what it’s like to get so emotional that you choke on your own tears. This wasn’t that. This was something completely foreign and alien, and it wasn’t me.”

Rob was starting to panic because he couldn’t breathe, and he couldn’t say anything. He tried to make some gurgling noises, but little came out. Rob felt paralyzed. He couldn’t move.

He heard the priest say some words in a language he didn’t recognize. Instantly the choking ceased. He could breathe, and he could speak. He finished his confession — in tears, yes, but in control.

The priest absolved him. “It sounds like you’ve been through many things,” the priest said peacefully. “I think it would help you to come and see me sometime, if you like.”

A couple days later, Rob went to see him. Turns out he was the diocesan exorcist. “I sensed something strange was going on in there,” the priest told him. “I prayed a minor exorcism over you.”

The priest, who had once struggled mightily with addiction himself, became Rob’s spiritual director. He pointed Rob to a therapist, too, who helped Rob understand the inclinations of his personality.

More than ten years later, Rob still sees a spiritual director every four to six weeks. He sees a therapist when necessary, more for accountability than anything else. “Since that day in the confessional,” Rob says, “I have never reverted to porn. Not once. There have been plenty of temptations — don’t get me wrong — but I’ve never gone back.”

Someone once asked Rob why God would allow a demon to enter the confessional when Rob was about to make his life-changing confession. Rob laughed. “Easy: to let the exorcist cast it out! I had no idea who that priest was ahead of time, and God led me to him. God made a great good even out of my bad confession, which drove me to seek a proper one with exactly the priest I didn’t know I needed.”

Of course, Rob says, spiritual combat in his life continues, but he thinks God allowed that moment to help him realize just what was at stake. “Every confession is a miracle, which is easy to forget,” Rob says. “Sometimes we need reminders of exactly what happens when God casts out evil.”

This appeared at Epic Pew.

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Stephen Mirarchi

Dr. Stephen Mirarchi is Assistant Professor of English at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He is the author of two annotated editions of Myles Connolly's novels, and his shorter academic work has appeared in Christianity & Literature, Religion & the Arts, Seminary Journal, Homiletic & Pastoral Review, and others. His journalistic work has been published in the Boston Globe, the National Catholic Register, Crisis, and others.