Sunday, October 28, 2007


A number of years ago I worked as a carpenter in a theater. As all theaters are rumored this one sported tales of its very own ghost who banged around in the catwalks at night scaring the night security guards. We were running way behind schedule and I found myself working late into the night, falling asleep in the theater several nights in a row. Sure enough I heard the banging. It was loud enough to wake me out of a very sound sleep. Was it a ghost?

Saint Thomas Aquinas tells us that at death the soul is separated from the body like a ball full of air that has been pushed underwater and then let go. Immediately the soul either soars to heaven or plunges into hell. So does that discount the possibility of ghosts according to Church teaching?

Not exactly. Most people, I think, would be shocked at how much the Church has not made a definitive statement on and ghosts are one of those things. There are allowances for the possibility of them. Some of those possibilities involve purgatory. Some souls are going to heaven but have not yet been completely cleansed of their earthly attachments and so must go through a purgation as nothing unclean will enter before the presence of God. We only have a sketchy and somewhat symbolic idea of what purgatory is. Is there a possibility that a soul might have some dealings with earthly things as part of its purgation? Maybe.

There may also be the case too that God might allow us to see either in dream or vision a person deceased in order to remind us to pray for them or to call us to holiness. Samuel prophesied from the grave and we readily accept for the possibility of saint speaking to us such as at Fatima.

Of course we also know that angels as a cosmic force act in the world. We have only to look at the Annunciation for that. But if good angels can act, so can evil ones. We see this in the demons that Christ regularly banished from people.

I am highly skeptical about such activity but still find it something not to mess around with. Every diocese has an exorcist and they aint around for kicks (though they are very seldom called upon). But the other world is like electricity. Properly experienced there is absolutely nothing dangerous or wrong with it. Improperly used it can kill you.

Are we forbidden contact with the next world? No! We do it all the time. But we do it as God bids us. It is called prayer and intercession. Even legitimate scientific study is not completely outlawed “provided there is no recourse to means that are essentially immoral or specifically forbidden.”

But trying to control cosmic forces, using spirits to gain knowledge from God’s realm, (a form of divination) evocation of the dead, these are all forbidden actions. Such actions lead to superstition, possibilities of being frauded, and the very real chance that one is dealing with a decepting spirit.

If you feel you are being visited by a “ghost”, I would probably think there was more likely a more earthly explanation. But if not, if it is of God there is nothing to fear. Pray. If it is not of God, you have nothing to fear for you always have God. Pray.

Though I tend not to believe in such things, tired of being kept up late at night in that theater I climbed up into the catwalks and said a prayer for the soul of our “ghost”. The banging stopped. From then on. That means I either prayed a cure for the hot water pipes, or perhaps a soul went to his reward. Who knows?


uncle jim said...

ghost stories around the campfire are one of the highlights of most boy scout camp-outs.

autumn is especially a good time, what with Halloween and all.

i have been on a couple of retreats where the retreat master was a priest from the archdiocese of Portland OR - he was the diocesan exorcist - Father Charlie Harris. I have a book he wrote titled, "Resist the Devil".
he had more than a couple stories to tell.

Anonymous said...

Fr. V. ~ I grew up in a fairly "haunted" house. There were things that happened there that were downright eerie, and not things I want to announce in a combox.

And then later in life my own brushes with evil in occult practices. (That stuff is for real!)

I don't know what to say about "ghosts" but in my experience they have been evil presences, which makes me think they were demonic in nature, not "ghosts" of spirits unable to go on for whatever reason.

But I know other people who have had other experiences, and, well, I'm not willing to discount what they say considering my own background.

"There's more in heaven and earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy." ~ Hamlet

~ Adoro

Adrienne said...

I think "bad" ghosts that haunt us are nothing more than our own past deeds that may not have been as savory as they should have been.

Not in the New Age way of "I create my own reality", but more the whispering of our conscience saying, "You're a doofus, you're a doofus"!

Anonymous said...

Ahh, no. My past deeds don't make my dogs growl low in their throats while fixing their gazes upon a corner of the hallway (which is not near the exterior door or any windows).

And past deeds don't manifest in the appearance of black cats in the house when there are no black cats in the family. Etc.

No, no joke, but you can take this as you wish and I sha'ant be offended.

Anonymous said...

We had to have a priest come and bless one house we lived in.. as priests had to do many years before in a different house, before I came along. There seemed some prankster, and it seemed to be my recently deceased uncle.. it was usually more amusing than terrifying--one time, whomever it was pretend-whispered near my mom's ear, just as they so often did when they were children, and there were other instances of a presence that were inexplicable.. but we could've done without any of it just fine. We always prayed for him-- or for whomever it was who needed prayers, but it all kept up. We had to have that house blessed twice--the priest and his special book and holy water did not go into every room that first time.

After that, all was quieted.

Adrienne said...

Justme -- scary!!

anonymous --- is that where my black cat came from? Dang!

Anonymous said...

OOPs ~ Adrienne, it was me, forgot to sign my name.

We had a weird black cat thing going on in our house. For awhile we DID have a pet black cat, and she was not entirely black. My Mom had just let her outside, and then turned around...and there she was! She looked outside to see our kitty hanging out in the sunshine. She was a bit freaked out in that this mysterious "black cat" tended to appear and disappear. My brother has a few of his own stories about that.

There were several other things that happened in that house, too, that I have not experienced anywhere else, and don't want to.

~ Adoro