*BEST OF DTB #107* The Catholic Defender: Casper, The Friendly Ghost

Posted by John Benko - October 27th, 2011

One question I have often been asked by people is, “Do you believe in Ghosts”?

Some people really go all out in this. You can go to the History Channel or some place on cable TV and find late at night some “Ghost Chasers” trying to catch something on tape.

You’ll be in a haunted house with all kinds of modern technology trying to pick up energy.

There have been movies based on the imagination which adds to some people more evidence of ghosts.

People may have their own idea of what a ghost is, but I will use the Webster’s Dictionary for a baseline for the purpose of this article.

According to the dictionary, a ghost is:

1. the seat of life or intelligence.
OK, well, that knocks out Progressives and liberals?

2. a disembodied soul, the soul of a dead person believed to be an inhabitant of the unseen world or to appear to the living in a bodily likeness.
That explanation is interesting. That one has some teeth to it.

3. Spirit, Demon. This definition may fit most of the examples given behind legend.

1 Samuel 28: 8-19 states, “So he (King Saul) disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and set out with two companions. They came to the woman by night (The Witch of Endor), and Saul said to her, Tell my fortune through a ghost; conjure up for me the one I ask you to. But the woman answered him, You are surely aware of what Saul has done, in driving the mediums and fortune-tellers out of the land. Why, then, are you laying snares for my life, to have me killed? But Saul swore to her by the Lord, As the Lord lives, you shall incur no blame for this. Then the woman asked him, Whom do you want me to conjure up? and he answered, Samuel. When the woman saw Samuel, she shrieked at the top of her voice and said to Saul, Why have you deceived ME? You are Saul! But the King said to her, Have no fear. What do you see? The woman answered Saul, I see a preternatural being rising from the earth. What does he look like? asked Saul. And she replied, It is an old man who is rising, clothed in a mantle. Saul knew that it was Samuel, and so he bowed face to the ground in homage. Samuel then said to Saul, Why do you disturb me by conjuring me up? Saul replied: I am in great straits, for the Philistines are waging war against me and God has abandoned me. Since he no longer answers me through prophets or in dreams, I have called you to tell me what I should do.

To this Samuel said: But why do you ask me, if the Lord has abandoned you and is with your neighbor? The Lord has done to you what he foretold through me: he has torn the kingdom from your grasp and has given it to your neighbor David. Because you disobeyed the Lord’s directive and would not carry out his fierce anger against Amalek, the Lord has done this to you today. Moreover, the Lord will deliver Israel, and you as well, into the clutches of the Philistines. By tomorrow you and your sons will be with me, and the Lord will have delivered the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines”.

There are some thoughts about this passage of scripture, the reaction of the Witch of Endor is very telling to me.

She was able to recognize a true manifestation of Samuel from the impersonations of demons.

Another question this creates is where Samuel came from. He did not come from heaven. The woman said, “I see a preternatural being rising from the earth”.

A preternatural being means to be beyond nature, one who is existing outside of nature. Samuel is coming from a State or abode of the dead, the netherworld. Sheol, that place St. Peter refers to as “prison” (1 Peter 3:19).

Another thought from this text is that Samuel appears as an old Man, one who King Saul recognized.

Samuel had not seen the Beatific Vision yet as he was among those awaiting for the Messiah. This is important to the Israelite following the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When these died, their bodies were buried with their ancestors.

Jacob gave this directive: “Since I am about to be taken to my kindred, bury me with my fathers in the cave that lies in the field of Machpelah, facing on Mamre, in the land of Canaan, the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for the burial ground. There Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried, and so are Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there, too, I buried Leah– the field and the cave in it that had been purchased from the Hittites” (Genesis 49:29-32).

This has a sacred foundation based on the promise of the general resurrection.

We see an example of this in Matthew 27:51-53, “And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city (Jerusalem) and appeared to many”.

Was Samuel among this group released from “prison”?

Maybe, along with Abraham,Isaac, and Jacob? God is so good and praise his holy name for giving us his salvation.

I do not think that the image of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was what caused the Roman centurion to remark,“Truly, this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54)!

In the Old Testament, another interesting happening occurred when a band of Moabites were conducting a raid in Israel.

Some people were in the process of burying a man when they witnessed the raid. In fear, they tossed the dead man into the grave of Elisha and they took off for fear.

When the dead man came into contact with the bones of Elisha, “he came back to life and rose to his feet”.

Now, the text does say that “everyone went off”, was it for fear of the Moabites or was it from Elisha (2 Kings 13:21)?

Nobody hung around, that was for sure.

During a major storm the Apostles were being tossed about far off into the sea. Jesus meant to pass by the Apostles, but they saw him walking on the sea.

The Apostles naturally thought he was a ghost and cried out as they were all terrified. Jesus at once said to them, “Take courage, it is I,do not be afraid”(Mark 6:50)

St. Matthew adds that St. Peter said in reply “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water”! He said, “Come”.

St.Peter got out of the boat in the midst of the roaring waves and walked on water at least until he realized what he was doing and became distracted and began to sink. He took his eyes off the Lord and that still happens to any of us trying to make it on our own.

All Peter could do was to cry out “Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:26:30)!

Sometimes we find ourselves in situation where we need the Lords help to save us from all kinds of disasters and events in our lives. At the end of our life there are three possibilities we will have: Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory. At the end of the next age, Purgatory will totally be released.

At the general judgment at the Parousia, when Jesus returns at the Second Coming, there will be a total release of all the dead.

Matthew writes that at the Resurrection of Jesus, many saints were raised, at the end of time, all will be raised.

With the Judgment, there will be only two places, Heaven and hell.

Purgatory will be totally released and these will go to Heaven. Until then, we must be faithful to the “Bark of Peter” from which the voice of the Lord springs forth.

The following comes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and should be the light of the faithful as we hear the Lords voice:

CCC 2115 states, “God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility”.
Remember the case of King Saul and the Witch of Endor? Sometimes it might not be the best thing to know your future.

I think it would be best to let Providence give us tomorrow for today is the only thing we can be assure of. Now is the day of salvation, now is the acceptable time (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).

CCC 2116 states, “All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to unveil the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect,and loving fear that we owe to God alone”.

There have been some of the most known exorcisms brought about because people got involved with Ouija boards and other Occult enterprises.

We have seen a growth in witchcraft in our time through through the Wiccan covens. There is a serious cry for the supernatural by many people curious of extraordinary occurrences.

CCC 2117 States, “All practices of magic or sorcery,by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons, Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to the so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity”.

There have been visions our Lord has given to Saints such as Anne Catherine Emmerich who reveal mysteries and stories about the States of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.

St. Catherine stressed that it is more holy to pray for the Poor Souls in Purgatory than for sinners who are still alive.

Casper might be a funny children’s story, but people get lost sometimes between fantasy and reality.

God’s revelation of those in Purgatory reminds us of the importance to remember them and pray for them. I don’t know about a Ghost of Uncle Buck haunting the attic, that probably might be of demonic origin.

However, the Catholic Church does have authentic revelation of the Lord through his Saints that can keep our spiritual bearing grounded on the truth of God.


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