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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Can a Person make a Pact with the Devil?

July 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Demonology, Fr. Fortea, Spiritual Warfare

Dear Fr. Fortea, can a person make a pact with the devil?

Many think that pacts with the devil only exist in literature, but they are mistaken. There are those who Gargoyl Notre Dame iStock_000003988602_Smallconsciously, with full awareness and intentionality, make a pact with the devil and devote their souls to him in order to get something in this life. The notion of a formal pact with the devil appears for the first time in the fifth century in the writings of St. Jerome. This Father of the Church tells of a young man who went to a wizard so as to obtain the favors of a beautiful woman. As pay for his services, the wizard forced the young man to renounce in writing his faith in Christ. In the sixth century, we also see this type of pact in the legend of Theofilus, who agrees to be a servant of the devil and signs a formal pact. This legend was widespread in Europe during the Middle Ages.

Of course, one can write out a pact with the devil, but he is not going to appear. This is often discouraging to the person making the pact because he or she expects this to happen. Even so, if one invokes the devil for a particular purpose, it may come to pass (as in spiritualism, for example). On this topic, we also need to make the following points:

1. Making a pact with the devil does not mean that you will obtain a life of wealth, luxury, or fame. I personally know of two people who made such a pact, and to put it frankly, their material lifestyle is worse than mine. Neither does it appear that the devil was especially generous to them in a carnal way. We need to remember that the devil is a deceiver; he is not God – he cannot give whatever he wants (see CCC 395).

2. A person can always repent of the pact whenever he wants to with a simple act of the will. Upon repenting, the pact they made remains as ink on paper, no matter what the terms of the deal were. Even if the possibility of repentance was excluded in the pact, such a clause is useless. God has given us the freedom to do as we want; we cannot renounce this gift. This is also valid in eternity – in heaven we will no longer want to sin and in hell we will no longer want to be forgiven, but our freedom remains intact.

Many seem to think that the devil can grant one success in business or in a profession, that he can give one wealth or fame. But, as we have said, the power of the devil is limited. Worldly success depends on a complex interplay of causes and effects. The devil can only tempt humans to be part of his plan – for example, he can tempt a manager to choose one worker instead of another. But this temptation can be overcome, so not even a simple thing like this is certain by making a pact with the devil.

The great destructive power of a demonic pact is that the person may think he is condemned no matter what he does. It is difficult for him to see that he is still as free as before to repent and revoke the pact he has made, returning wholeheartedly to God.

PS from the Editor:  To learn more about spiritual warfare and demonology, Catholic Spiritual Direction recommends Fr. Fortea’s excellent book, Interview With An Exorcist – An Insider’s Look at the Devil, Demonic Possession, and the Path to Deliverance.

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About Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea

Father José Antonio Fortea is not only an exorcist, but also a writer, and parish priest. He once thought he would lead what he has termed ordinary life as an attorney in Madrid, much as his father did before him, but sensed instead a vocation to the priesthood in his adolescent years. A theology graduate of Navarre University in Spain, Father Fortea wrote a thesis there on exorcism. He has been a practicing exorcist for several decades.

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  • patricia

    This is a very good post Father explaining how the devil gives false promises and tries to make us think he can do anything. Thank you!

  • I just read “Exorcist: Spiritual Battle Lines” by Fr. Syquia recently. He also talked about making pacts with the devil. The book mentioned that people who make pacts can become possessed and these written pacts have to be found and burned as part of the exorcism.

    Sometimes people don’t know that they are already interacting with evil spirits. In my country it is still common to believe in dwarves etc. Many aren’t aware that these are actually fallen angels. And so they make agreements with them without realizing it.

    Another thing I learned in the book, there is also a hierarchy of sorts among fallen angels. There are people oppressed by evil spirits who go to “faith healers” for help before consulting a priest. But these supposed healers have made pacts with the devil themselves. They can only “heal” the person if the devil they agreed with is more powerful than the demon oppressing the victim. So the person isn’t really healed. The more powerful demon merely subdues the weaker demon. And so the victim is worse off.

    That’s why its so important to learn discernment and consult a good priest first regarding any paranormal activities.

    Sorry for getting off track, but for those in the Philippines, who can’t get Fr. Fortea’s book, Fr. Syquia’s book was a real eye-opener! He referenced Fr. Fortea’s book and a lot of the books recommended in this site in his bibliography. It taught me a lot how very dangerous new age and animistic practices really are. But also how wonderful our Blessed Mother truly is! Wearing my Benedict medal and Miraculous medal from now on!

    • Lek Sison

      Agree, i hav the three books of fr. Jocis Syquia,i highly recommend it for evryone, it strengthen my catholic faith, and opened my eyes with our cultures semipagan false beliefs.

  • Thank you, Father. I would appreciate if at a later date, you can enlighten us on who is authorized to perform exorcism and/or deliverance and the Church’s Teaching on this. We have so many Faithful, especially those who have embraced the Charismatic Movements who claim they have powers to perform deliverance and exorcism which they perform in public. Often those they “deliver” are subjected to embarrassing indignities. Though I hesitate to make judgment because I do know that the Holy Spirit does bestow different healing Charisms to those He wills, I have always thought that the Catholic Church demands that exorcism and deliverance be done by trained Ordained Priests and this is performed in private and not in public Worship.

  • Sabin23

    I realise that it’s been quit a while since anybody wrote here but i have a situation of my own that needs explaining. For the last 7-8 years of my life, i have grown more and more conscious of the tragedies around me and that has taken me farther and farther away from my faith, so this is somewhat hypothetical, but since any man can dissolve the pact doesn’t that make it a weapon against all evil? Why wouldn’t everyone sell their soul for even the most meagre of favors, only to go back on the deal once they’ve achieved their goal? Please consider my question. Thank you!

    • You cannot presume that the enemy is so weak that once given to him, that you can then easily extract yourself.

    • LizEst

      …and, to add to what Dan said, you cannot presume that you would not have to stand before God before you have a chance to go back on the deal! May the Lord bless you and give you peace!

  • Matt Tenshi

    So is it a bad thing to make a pact? and if it isn’t does he have any limits? and is it very possible to be possessed? sorry for my bad english

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