A while back we chatted with Father Daniel Reehil, a one-time Wall Street banker-turned-priest (after a trip in 1998 to Medjugorje).
Father Reehil, who now hails from the Nashville diocese, is an exorcist, which in some ways is a natural fit, seeing the spiritual warfare he encountered while discerning and preparing for the priesthood, two incidents in particular.
The first, he said, was as he walked from Our Lady of Victory Church in Manhattan after a meeting with his spiritual director.
“There was this beautiful man staring at me,” he says. “I thought, this is weird. So I turned to walk towards my office and he runs up and grabs my arm.
“In New York, no guys do that. And he said, ‘Let’s get a drink,’ and I had chills go up and down my body. I said, ‘Get away from me,’ and I turned in the other direction and went toward my apartment because it was closer.
“I got to my apartment and I walked through the doors and closed the door and I looked back at him and he was just laughing at me.
“He leaves, and I run back to the church and I said [to the older priest who was counseling him], ‘Father, let me tell you what just happened. What do you think this is?’ and he said, ‘I told you, you’re going to have a target on your back so be careful.’ It was frightening, to be honest.”
Now head south to Florida.
“And few years later, I was down in Miami visiting an old banker friend and she set up a luncheon at this place that really isn’t appropriate for seminarians or priests. It’s the glitterati, the high-end wealthy people, bottle service on the beach, and I’m like, ‘Oh, I don’t know how I feel about this.'”
There were two women with Father Reehil and they “started looking at this guy across the other end of the deck.
“And they were saying, ‘Oh my goodness, that guy, he’s so handsome!’ And then they said, ‘Oh, he’s coming over here!’
“And I turned and looked and it’s him. It was the guy I’d seen outside the church in New York.
“And he walks up and looks at me and says, ‘What are you doing here? I thought you were going to become a priest.’ And he says, ‘This is my territory. You shouldn’t be here.’
A lesson there (as far as glitzy, glamorous places): “This is my territory.”
“Both girls were flipped out,” says Father Reehil. “They were visibly shaken.”
But, adds the priest, whose spiritual warfare training included a long stint in Omaha with the Intercessors of the Lamb, “The supernatural can’t really harm us — physically maybe, but not our souls. The real problem is the sin. Ninety-nine percent of the enemy’s tactic is to get us to sin.”
While that first brush with an actual entity “did frighten me quite a bit,” he says, now he seems quite undaunted, even in cases where he has seen phenomena such as levitation, “faces turn into animals,” and other bizarre manifestations during exorcism sessions.
That isn’t to say we should take evil lightly. To the contrary. “Be aware that there’s a spiritual element of warfare,” he says. “They attack in one way mocking you and in another to derail or intimidate you.”
While the number of exorcists is now on an upward course, with a good number speaking out publicly, a huge problem is that while priestly training is so steeped in philosophy and other forms of intellectualism that when it comes to dealing with the devil (a huge part of Christ’s ministry), “they don’t really teach it in seminary,” says Reehil. “If they do, it’s an elective.”
And when they don’t, they are leaving new priests — never mind the flock — open to the wolf who is always peering over the next hill at them.
[resources: spiritual warfare books]