So, I have a short story. One day at college, I was talking to my Humanities teacher - Dr. Robert Sullivan. And for whatever dimwit reason, I decided to tell him about a book I had read - The Amityville Horror. For me it was the scariest thing I had ever read, and I knew he was an academic and very philosophical ... he never exhibited any degree of interest in anything so ... purely emotional. He taught us about Aristotle, Aquinas, Augustine, and was by no means overly demonstrative except when it came to being rational or critical of ideas. He was also a former priest who married a former nun and together they had ten children. He spent decades teaching philosophy at the college and passed away in 2007. Anyway, so I was telling him about this book and as it all vomited forth, my first reaction was - OMG, he is going to think I am a whack job (partly because listening to the words I was spewing forth - I thought I was a nut job).
Instead he said to me - if you had seen the things I saw in [South America] (I don't recall now if it was Bolivia or Peru), you'd believe in the evil you've just described ... and it was even worse than the book, I read the book.
He walked into his office, picked up some books and said we had to get to class. That was the last time we ever discussed that.
He explained that he had been a priest in South America for years, and during that time, what he experienced and saw made him a believer, not only in what he preached, but in the deep and dark parts so often marginalized as too theatrical today - the evil that lurks and possesses men. Just because we do not come face to face with the evil everyday, doesn't mean it or worse, isn't there. We are just fortunate, as of that moment, to have not experienced that evil.
A few days ago I was reading an article/interview with Father Gary Thomas from the Diocese of San Jose, California. He is one of 14 mandated, trained exorcists in the United States. One of the last statements he made in the interview caught my attention (interview had been on evil / Satan / exorcists):
"There’s lots of people in our culture that think it’s all make-believe. If people saw what I saw, they’d be at church every single week.”
Two men, many years apart, one a former priest turned PhD; the other a mandated exorcist for the Catholic Church, one from Arizona and wherever it was in South America, the other up in San Jose and wherever it is he has been. Both men said the same thing.