Today at 7:00 pm is when the Black Mass by the group Dakhma of Angra Mainyu is scheduled to take place in a small basement theater in the downtown Oklahoma Civic Center Music Hall. The theater seats less than 100 people and the event has been sold out for weeks.
But although that number is small and the organizing group virtually unheard of, they have managed to put the entire city and the Catholic Church into a major tizzy with dire warnings of all the terrible things that can happen if the event goes through. Prayer campaigns, processions, church services, and counter demonstrations are being planned, presumably to ward off the evil spirits that might descend on the city due to this act of blasphemy and sacrilege. So in that respect, the organizers of the Black Mass can claim success even before it takes place. The city denied requests by the Catholic Church to ban the event altogether, which is a promising sign of governments standing up to religious pressure.
The Catholic Church says it is worried that the people taking part in the Black Mass may think that it is all good clean fun but that they are putting their souls in danger of being possessed by demons. Msgr. Patrick Brankin, the official exorcist for the neighboring diocese of Tulsa (yes, there actually are such people) is worried about them.
“I would think that there would be a real strong possibility, especially if they’re in the state of sin, that they would walk out possessed,” Msgr. Brankin said. “They’re going into a situation where people there are calling upon Satan to exercise dominion over everything in the state—dominion over people, places, our very land. They promise to do an exorcism of the Christians there, which, in their own foolish talk, involves the pulling out of the Holy Spirit. If someone went there out of curiosity, especially if there was a possibility that they were not in the state of grace, they could easily come out with a demonic attachment, whether it would be an oppression, obsession or a full possession.”
That sounds bad. He says that the rise of secularism has resulted in an increase in the number of cases of demonic possession, requiring more and more exorcists, which must mean that business is good for him. And he warns that you need to be properly trained as an exorcist because the demons can spot amateurs and will laugh at them. There is nothing more embarrassing than being laughed at by demons so kids, don’t try this at home!
Msgr. Brankin’s first foray into the field of exorcism was more than four years ago, when Bishop Slattery asked him to look into a particularly troubling case—even before Msgr. Brankin was commissioned as an exorcist. He found the person crouched in a corner of a room, but even stranger was the fact that the demon in the person immediately recognized him as a priest—and that he had not been given the authority to exorcise it.
“That scared me,” Msgr. Brankin said.
Months later, after undergoing exorcism training in Rome, working with an experienced exorcist, and being given faculties as an exorcist, he returned. This time, he said in an interview with Aleteia, the demon said, “So now you have faculties. You still won’t be able to do….”
“And he used an expletive,” Msgr. Brankin recalled. “Demons are constantly laughing at the exorcist. ‘You don’t have the strength, you don’t have the power. I have the right to stay here. She belongs to me.”
But he won that epic struggle and the woman is now demon-free.
It is hard to believe that in the 21st century people actually take this stuff seriously.