Interview with an exorcist: “The best way of dealing with the devil is to fall in love with God”
Fr. Peter Glas, a native of Poland, is a priest and exorcist in the Diocese of Portsmouth in southern England. He was ordained in 1989 and is a noted member of the International Association of Exorcists.
Fr. Glas, can you tell me about your call to the holy priesthood?
Fr. Peter Glas: I was 17 years old, walking the dog on a beautiful sunny morning, and when I looked at the sun at some stage, I heard a very clear voice telling me to follow God. As a teenager who had never been involved in the Church, such as being an altar server, at that point I did not understand what was happening. But I put all my trust in that voice regardless of the opposition of family and friends. I was successfully ordained a priest in 1989.
When did you begin doing deliverances? Why?
We live in a skeptical age, one which finds the very idea of personified evil spirits as a superstitious remnant of the Middle Ages. Those people — and religious traditions —who believe in the existence of the devil and demons are often ridiculed as being out of touch with modern times. The contemporary Western mentality is that evil is purely the lack of good, or due to psychological factors which can be treated with a medical or social program. But, as the Bible and the Catholic Church teach us, we are all involved in spiritual warfare with demonic forces. It is very important to be aware of this fact. It is with shame that I must admit I was, as many priests and religious, completely oblivious to this fact throughout the many years of my pastoral work. I was blind. I thought I was a good priest carrying out my priestly duties, but I was spiritually dead for many years.
But early in the morning one day, the Lord changed my life forever. He sent me a young man who begged me on his knees for help. It was 4 o’clock in the morning, but he was not drunk, drugged or mentally disturbed. When I prayed over him for a couple of seconds, I witnessed massive demonic manifestations, during which Jesus saved my life by the power of the Blessed Sacrament. I performed 5 solemn exorcisms over him, which saved his life and completely opened my eyes and life to the new dimension of this spiritual realm. That event opened the door to many other miracles and healings that I witnessed (including healings of priests and religious). An important rule of spiritual warfare is that we should not be focusing on the devil but that we should have our eyes fixed on God alone. I learned after so many years that the best way of dealing with the devil is to fall in love with God.
How do you begin preparing for a deliverance?
To understand the battle, we need to begin by acknowledging that we are in a war. The devil and demons do not only attack individuals like you and me but they attack marriages, families, institutions, corporations, churches and many other things. For some of us, the hardest battles are fought within ourselves. The Christian life is not passive. Until we understand the forces that are against us and are prepared to fight for the truth which is rightfully ours, we will not be able to receive all that God has for us.
Satan has no dominion over us unless, through our sinful actions or silly choices, we open the door to his influence.
Satan is not some mythical character, but he is very sophisticated and specialized. He can provoke, tempt, transform himself. He is a cunning trap-setter and his prey is man. He loves to manipulate and control, and convinces people, clergy, theologians that he is non-existent and thereby gains his strongest foothold.
In the spiritual realm, there is a wide range of demonic activity. At one end of the spectrum is temptation, at the other demonic possession. Temptation, not resisted, leads to sin; unhealed sin may lead to demonic influence, and all of it unchecked leads to further spiritual and psychological bondage. Many people, including many Catholics, are spiritually and emotionally troubled. Many stop returning to Christ for healing, avoiding repentance, the sacraments and confession.
Soon their discomfort becomes a huge gulf and in their isolation, they do not know how to return to God. The struggle grows into enslavement in the swamp of darkness and it has a perpetrator: Satan. When we start drifting away from God, the real trouble begins. Satan will do everything he can to put us into the hell of loneliness, even if we are surrounded by a busy family, or crowds, or the social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, with thousands of virtual friends.
The isolation breeds another form of internal imprisonment – fear. Fear is the language of the devil. It kills faith and trust in God. If a person belongs to Jesus Christ, possession is not possible, but harassment is. Demons can attack the parts of our lives that do not belong to God. When they have a grip on us, by our keeping some area of our lives away from God (called “bondage”), they gain some control. Discernment is necessary to determine if a problem is due to bondage or something else.
How do you discern the spirits?
Discerning spirits is a gift with which the Holy Spirit helps a person to know what they are dealing with. Binding and casting out demons in the name of Jesus should be done only after careful analysis and prayer to the Holy Spirit. Knowing the identity of our enemy will help us to have ongoing victory. If we know clearly the identity of our enemy, we will be prepared to recognize any attempts to deceive us or regain access to us.
Spirits are identified by what they do. They are attached to a sin or deception that Jesus has taken to the Cross. Once we have surrendered to Jesus and we repent, then confess and renounce the sin and deception we have been in agreement with, the spirit behind it no longer has a foothold and must leave when commanded in the name of Jesus to go. Jesus is the one who broke Satan’s legal right to us when He died for our sins on the Cross. The context of discernment must be love and humble service. Freedom will come when the deepest bondage is uncovered and renounced.
What’s the difference between deliverance and exorcism?
God has given us both the ministries of deliverance and of exorcism as special weapons for spiritual warfare, but unfortunately neither is well understood by clergy or the faithful. Deliverance is the effort through prayer and spiritual direction to take hold of the authority one has been given through Christ to see beyond Satan’s lies and break free of the particular oppression that afflicts him.
Only in extreme cases of spiritual bondage is exorcism used by a priest to do battle with Satan on the possessed person’s behalf. Evil spirits have a simple rule — do not appear until it is necessary. On the other hand, they do their job, which is molding man, disciplining him so that he is convinced that what he does is normal. When we try to compromise our faith, then we open ourselves to the demonic deceptions and powers and we give a clear sign to the devil — “I am ready to co-operate with you.” The most difficult cases I have ever had to deal with were the oppressions and possessions of priests and nuns — people who were supposed to dedicate their lives to the service of God. They were the most valuable prey for the devil.
What was your most difficult case? What’s the longest time that you spent fighting with Satan?
The longest case was nine exorcisms that I performed in one week over a priest, after which he was completely liberated. Because of the neglect of priests in not believing or preaching about the existence of the devil and his work, the Church has become very vulnerable in the 21st century to his attacks and infiltration.
You had a workshop for priests and deacons in Michigan in 2015. Do you see a need for more workshops for priests?
I have done a few workshops around the world and can see an enormous need to teach and preach about this spiritual warfare. Many of them are completely unaware of the reality of this subject, and many of them realize that they need help themselves — they could now see where their own personal problems and difficulties originate.
I would be delighted if we could train more priests, not just for exorcism but for discernment, deliverance and healing which is the most needed in our Church. Not many bishops and priests understand this urgency and that is why we witness more and more personal tragedies among clergy. With God’s will, this year and next year I will be meeting and teaching priests on this subject in Spain and in three different dioceses in Poland.
How do you stay spiritually protected?
One day I realized that the good Lord has given me such a privilege to be involved in this most powerful grace of God’s work. My life as a priest has completely changed. I look at the parable of the “good Samaritan” from a different angle. There are so many bitten up, wounded, bleeding people, but not many of those who are willing to help, including we priests who should be the best specialists in spiritual warfare, but whose lack of faith and fear have stopped many of us from being involved in the ministry of deliverance and healing.
I do not need to “believe” now; I know it is all real. As soon as I gave myself up to the Lord, my priesthood, with my sinfulness and weakness, then I started seeing many lay people, priests, nuns being healed, delivered and getting a new life from God.
While this may be a frightening subject, it is also important to keep in mind that Jesus has the final victory. With prayer and humility, we know that the power of God can overcome and remove demons. Even though demons are powerful, only God is almighty. Demons are intelligent, demons may be crafty, but God alone is even more creative and powerful. God’s plan is always trustworthy and safe. We must also remain humble and in prayer, because the power to wage the spiritual battle comes from God, and the victory is His. We need to start getting on our knees and praying that the Holy Spirit will do miraculous saving work in our hearts. In short, we need to get back to a focus on conversion. The Holy Spirit must empower us all to speak with courage and charismatic faith. We cannot change the Gospel teaching or lower our morals and standards to satisfy this world. We need to speak the truth. We need to live the Gospel.
Pope Francis on the Devil
“I believe that the devil exists…his greatest achievement in these times has been to make us believe he doesn’t exist.” —As Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, in his 2010 book On Heaven and Earth
“Families are the domestic Church where Jesus grows in the love of a married couple, in the lives of their children… This is why the devil attacks the family so much. The devil doesn’t want it and tries to destroy it.” —June 1, 2014, Pope Francis’ to the 37th National Convocation of Renewal in the Holy Spirit
“But in this generation… people have been led to believe that the devil is a myth… But the devil exists and we must fight against him. Paul tells us this, it’s not me saying it!” — October 30, 2014, homily, Domus Santa Marta