I was no longer working out of the “Pastor’s Study” in the Church. The water that had leaked in on some of my books and journals from an iced up winter roof had forced me to move everything into the basement of the Parsonage. A distinction without much of a difference as the Parsonage was about 9 feet away from the Church.
But I wasn’t even working that morning. It was about 8:00 a.m. and I was sitting in the living room drinking a cup of coffee and listening to some music.
There was a quick and staccato rapping on the front door. I would like to say that the knock bespoke urgency, but, it was just a fast loud knock.
Chris (name changed) was at the door. Chris a recent graduate from High School was a parishioner. Although I would have liked his attendance to have been a bit more regular he seemed like a nice young man. I had not confirmed him and did not know him all that well.
“Pastor Watson” we need your help!” were the words that burst out of his mouth when I opened the door. “It’s one of my friends, Sylvia (name changed) she may be possessed!”
Rather than stand there at the door debating theological constructs about demonic machinations with Chris, I just grabbed my Bible and Hymnal and followed him out the front door. It’s always good to get up early, shower, shave, eat, and dress in ones clericals. If they’re paying you to be a pastor and public representative of Christ and the parish, it’s good to actually look like it.
As Chris and I walked south down the sidewalk past the front of the Church, he said: “oh no, Pastor, she’s not here at our Church, she’s over at the St. Mary-Margaret’s” (name of Roman Catholic church changed).
As we traversed the five or six blocks towards the Catholic Church, Chris filled me in on the situation. He and Sylvia and a couple of their friends had been up all night long without any sleep playing with a Ouija Board TM. Now as much as I like to laugh at Chick Tracts, Baptist moralisms, and Don Wildmon’s AFA's overkill, I readily admit that we Confessional Lutherans too, have always spoken against the dangers of messing around with Ouija Boards TM. Not everybody who has played with such a “board game” (the Parker Brothers were actually Zoroastrians who worshipped Cthulhu) has done so with spiritualist intentions, much less, Satanic flirtations. Chris and his friend…I didn’t know. I didn’t know anything about Sylvia. By reading between the lines, and some slip-ups from Chris, I determined that copious amounts of alcohol, and some illegal pharmaceuticals and herbs may have also saturated the marathon session with the planchette and “Captain Howdy.”
“Why did you all go to the Catholic Church” I asked Chris. His answer had a hidden wisdom that bespeaks the purpose of this post: “I dunno, it just seemed the logical place to go when you’re in this kind of trouble!”
We walked into a side entrance and I asked if they had seen anyone at the Church. Chris told me that the housekeeper had let them in but that the Priest was not in town that day… hence, try and secure the town’s Lutheran Pastor as back-up I guess. After all, I wore a Roman tab collar (at that time) and visually looked like “Catholic-lite.”
Sylvia was sitting in one of the pews near the back of the Nave. A couple of their other friend’s were sitting and talking with her. I approached and asked if I could talk with her. Sylvia looked up at me with a vacant and blurry stare and indicated “whatever.” I’m not a drug user or expert on drug abuse. She did not look intoxicated but possibly hung-over. But she did look scared and tired, and very, very depressed. She exhibited no hyperactivity or violent manifestations.
Because I have seen the EXORCIST (multiple times) and have read ‘Wizards that Peep’ (Siegbert Becker) along with the CPH’s ‘How to Respond to Satanism’ (Bruce Frederickson), I had all the experience to deal with Demon Possession that any person might have…slim to none! But, I wasn’t there as Jay adult role-model (not) to Chris, I was there as Father Watson a “called and ordained” under-servant to the very God/Man Who had crushed Satan’s feculent head like an over-ripe rotten grape.
I quickly, for my own benefit, determined that Sylvia could speak no foreign languages (had she started to spew forth Koine Greek or Ecclesial Latin, I probably would have soiled myself…hence, another good reason for priests to wear black). She knew nothing about me and was uttering no profanities or blasphemies. So, with her permission I read Holy Scripture (heavy on Christ’s victory over Satan in the desert, Peter’s cryptic reference to the harrowing of Hades, and Saint James’ admonition to “resist”) and then prayed over her with liberal use of the Psalter. After having first determined that she had been Baptized and considered herself a Christian (as best as anyone who probably hadn’t been in a Church for months, if not years, can make that “cultural” claim) I then marked her forehead with the Holy Sign of the Cross and Invoked the Trinitarian Name. All during this 25 minutes or so “ritual” (I’m glad Dr. Scaer wasn’t there to observe me; he would have said that this Minnesota (now Kansas) boy looked like an Iowa West bronzer at a Dart Ball game) Sylvia paid as close attention as her physical state would allow. I had her promise that she would go home and talk to her parents and that if she wasn’t feeling better by later in the morning that they’d call her doctor. I was convinced that she was in no immediate physical harm (no needle marks, bruises, or self-harming indicators) and her four friends promised me that they’d stay with her and get her home. One of them had a car in the parking lot.
I don’t think that Sylvia, Chris, or the others were faking, or just “goofing” on a pastor. I think that after an all-night bender of blow, weed, booze, crack, or what-not, AND playing with a Ouija Board TM, that she had simply scared the “hell into her.” She “spooked herself.” She had produced a true but temporary psychosomatic neurotic fright—self induced. There were no further incidents or problems. Had this been some pyrotechnic, Hollywood-Spooky, possession, I don’t think I would have been “up to it,” then and there. If it were ever to happen again to me in my ministry, and if I thought a devil was manifesting itself, I have several warrior pastor friends who would come and assist me in Spiritual Battle. The battle would always and only be Christ Crucified for the forgiveness of sins and the defeat of Satan and all demonic adversaries. The Word has Won—sin, death and the power of the devil are crushed.
But I still smile at “Lutheran” Chris, and nominally “nothing” Sylvia and friends….when in trouble…when frightened by Satan…where did they go for succor and help? A Catholic Church - -
When we Lutherans act like crypto Calvinists and fungible Protestants, we will be so treated.