Paranormal Phenomena

It may surprise some people to learn that the Catholic Church has no definitive teaching on ghosts.  Catholic do, however, by nature of their faith, believe in a spiritual reality.

I'll say more about the Catholic perspective further on.  But first I'd like to share some personal examples of paranormal phenomena.

Please note:  Recording, or trying to record, EVPs can serve as an open line to the demonic.  I do not recommend it.

EVP Recording

This is a single word EVP I recorded when I was actively involved in paranormal investigation. The recording has not been manipulated or altered in any way. To most people, it sounds like the word 'good' pronounced with a German accent. What is interesting about this EVP, is that the paranormal voice (near the end of the recording) seems to be responding to what I am saying. I found the quality of the voice telling. If I had to guess at how a demon might sound, this would be it. 

Photo of Black Shape

Our family experienced demonic activity in two of three homes that we have lived in. The picture below shows my son surrounded by a darkness that was obviously not visible in the room at the time I took the picture. This is the same house were I was frequently awakened at night by a frightening "blacker than black" shape and where my son (pictured) had horrible night terrors. 

It is also the first place where a fully functioning cell phone shut down (and couldn't be restored) while I was trying to take spirit photos.  Other things occurred in this house which I hope to share in a future post.

A Possible Visitation

I don't know if this dream was actually a visitation from a departed friend or not but, to me, it seems possible.  There were no repeat occurrences.

I do not, as some readers have asked, consider this to be any sort of out of body experience.  It was only dream but I think that we can receive messages through our dreams.  Because evil spirits can work through dreams however, it is ALWAYS unwise to take any sort of action based on dream information - unless it clearly aligns with Church teaching.

Here is the account I wrote not long after the dream. 

Tim and I said goodbye for good in 1984 when he was making plans to leave the area and I was making plans to marry someone else.

Naturally, a great deal has happened in the intervening years. So it's not surprising, or in anyway indicative of my feelings, that it had been a long time since I'd thought of those days at all.

But three weeks ago I had a dream. And my friend Tim was the leading character. He was young and handsome in the dream and taller than I remembered. There was a remarkable brightness about him. And I know that kind of brightness.

He looked different but I recognized him by the feeling.  It was just like I was standing next him, stepping back in time to remember how it felt to be close to a man I had loved.

In the dream, we met by chance. I was living alone in a big sunny apartment and he was working at a nearby market. We bumped into each other at his work and he asked if he could see me. Later on, standing in my dream apartment he told me he'd wanted to contact me before but that he was afraid that doing so would stir up old half-forgotten feelings.

And then he explained what he had felt so very long ago and the hows and whys of what he did, and didn't, do. The information was new but surprisingly coherent, fitting in neatly with events I had wondered about but not fully understood at the time.

Seeing our history in this new light changed things. I no longer felt responsible. My old regret lifted. It was obvious to me, even in the dream, that Tim had come to make amends.

After we had finished talking, we set out together on a wide boardwalk with long strings of golden lights on either side. There was some kind of festival happening all around us and I was happy in a way I'd almost forgotten. I told him that he was right about the emotion. "I can feel it," I said. "Can you?"

He didn't answer or if he did, I don't remember. There was a knowing that our time was ending and that he had brought me back to the place where I belonged. When I woke up and considered the brilliance and the clarity of the dream, I knew that he was gone. 

Reluctantly, I pulled my laptop into bed and found the obituary online. Tim's picture showed the same beautiful smile I'd loved so long ago. I saw that he had died in a hospice at the age of 53. I was sad that I didn't know, but I was grateful for the dream and the peace it had brought me.

A Catholic Take on Ghosts

Catholics believe in supernatural beings like God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, as well the angels and saints in heaven.  They also believe in heaven, hell and purgatory and in the continuation of human soul.  Beyond that we venture into the realm of opinion and those opinions vary.

Catholic exorcists like Father Gabriel Amorth, for example, believed that all human spirits were confined to hell, purgatory or heaven.  Fr. Amorth did not think that human spirits appeared to the living under any circumstance.  Other Catholic exorcists, like Fr. Vince Lampert, and religious demonologists, like Adam Blai, do believe that the departed can put in an appearance - though only with God's express permission - in order to make simple amends or ask for prayer.

I'm inclined to agree with the second point of view.  But it must be stressed that encounters with the departed are rare and ALWAYS end after amends are made, prayers are said or a Mass is offered.  If you encounter a spirit who wants to have an ongoing conversation or relationship, you are dealing with a demon.  Plain and simple.

The best way to deal with a spirit who appears to be a departed loved one, is to pray for that person and have a Mass said for them if you are able.  If they return - they are not who you think.  Demons are masters of deception after all so it pays to be very wary!

Problems with Most Paranormal Investigations

I captured my first clear EVP (please see the player above) almost 20 years ago and performed paranormal investigations at various locations and private residences before returning to the Church.  My experience is that this kind of activity can be very dangerous and that most investigations are fundamentally unsafe.

It's my opinion that, on rare occasions, the departed will appear the living, oftentimes through dreams.  But, I believe that they will only do so to make amends or ask for prayers.  Once that is done, they will not reappear.  The dead are not stuck or trapped; they are in hell, purgatory or heaven.  While our prayers can help the souls in purgatory, it not necessary for us to free them, tell them they are dead or send them "to the light."

It is also important to note, that the dead CANNOT be summoned.  If the departed really do appear to us, it is by the grace of God and not because we have called them.  Our faith tells us not to practice mediumship for a reason.  If we call upon the dead, the answer we get will be demonic.  And calling on the dead is common to most paranormal investigation.

To me, there are five major problems with many paranormal investigations:

  1. The investigators are usually not spiritually prepared to deal with evil spirits or any sort of spiritual warfare at all, for that matter.  While it's my opinion that only a Catholic priest can ever fully prepared for such an encounter, it is also true that the more unprepared a person is, the more danger they will face.  In my opinion, preparation for spiritual warfare includes being strong in your faith, in a state of grace and knowledgeable about the demonic (from a Catholic perspective).
  2. There can be a trophy hunter mentality to paranormal investigation.  While most investigators sincerely want to prove the existence of spirits, others are primarily interested in making a name for themselves.  Some will go to great lengths to get evidence that they can share with their audience. 
  3. All too many paranormal investigators use potential dangerous practices in order to gather evidence,  This includes calling upon or attempting to provoke the spirits, high tech equipment that doesn't really capture anything, the use of psychic mediums and more.
  4. Many paranormal investigators have what I consider to be faulty ideas about the preternatural.  Because they believe in earth-bound human spirits, they are willing to believe any tale that the spirits choose to spin.  Some don't believe that anything "on the other side" can hurt them and that we only need to "fear the living."  In this last group, we find individuals who don't even believe that demons exist.
  5. Some paranormal investigators, including those who do believe in demons and should know better, think of themselves as crusaders who can single-handedly "clear" a home of "negative spiritual energy."  The actions they take can range from simply ineffective to downright dangerous.  This may not be apparent while the person doing the clearing is present but, if the presence is demonic, things may escalate after they leave.

While all of the above problems are common to most paranormal investigation, they can have serious consequence.  From my perspective, the number one problem is that many paranormal investigators don't realize the spirits they are encountering are very often demonic.  This is also true of most mediums and occultists - though some are aware of the true nature of the beings they are dealing with.

I believe that there are measures that can be taken to rid a home of demonic influence but as demons are very legalistic, it is extremely important to be sure of your authority.  We do have a authority over our own homes, for example, but an outsider usually does not.  It's also important to note that we may have the authority to use certain prayers, while others are proper only to priests.  This is a big topic and one I hope to talk about more in an upcoming post.

Even if you avoid the practices listed above, paranormal investigation is still spiritually and emotionally dangerous.  Some Catholic paranormal investigators believe that simply setting up a recorder in hopes of capturing an EVP (without attempting to summon a spirit) isn't dangerous.  I disagree.   

Please check out my blog for more posts on this, and related, topics!