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Father Cristino Bouvette: I was born in 1986 in Medicine Hat, Alberta, to the two most loving people I have ever known. Richard and Serafina Bouvette made as their life’s mission caring for each other and for the two children which they gratefully received from God.

During my twelfth grade at Monsignor McCoy High School in Medicine Hat I began the application process to the Diocese of Calgary, which graciously accepted me as a candidate and sent me to begin formation at St. Peter’s Seminary in London, Ontario. In September 2004, I made the terrifying and difficult move halfway across the country and took up residence in the place I would call home for the next eight years.

I am inspired by the words of a great saint-mentor of mine, Josemaria Escriva, Men need us so much (though many do not realize it) that there will never be a surplus of priests. We need more helping hands, more time, more energy. This is why I often say to my sons who are priests that the day one of them noticed that he had time on his hands, he could be quite sure he had not lived his priesthood well that day.

It is my fervent hope to live the priesthood our Lord has shared with me in a way that will draw many souls to Him.

Father Cristino was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop (Emertus) Frederick Henry on June 22, 2012 along with 3 others. He was appointed Diocesan Vocation Director on July 1, 2017.

Fr Bouvette spoke on "Did the Devil Make Me Do It?: Discerning issues of mental health  in light of faith and the supernatural".  If we do not care for ourselves as the crowning jewels of creation, how can we care for others? Our personal integration and mental / emotional health is important to our ability to deal with issues.

Following are the notes from his power point presentation:

The Devil Made Me Do It
Discerning Issues of Mental Health from the Possibility of Demonic Oppression

I. Introductory video clip: Closing Defence from The Exorcism of Emily Rose

II. What is Demonic Oppression?

  • Fr. Mike Driscoll’s book “Demons, Deliverance, Discernment: Separating Fact from Fiction in the Spirit World”
  • “Although we may not face the more dramatic demonic attacks, the devil tempts everyone - he even tempted our Lord. We would be mistaken if we acted as if demonic possession were commonplace. We would be equally mistaken, however - as well as foolish - to ignore the presence of the devil and to neglect the means of resisting his activity in the world.” (Introduction, 2)
  • a lower form of evil influence wherein the subject is not completely overtaken by evil but is significantly impacted by it- a form of spiritual bondage

III. Where the Devil hides

  • the truth of mental illness is a foregone conclusion (rightly so)
  • in biblical times, much more was explained away as obviously spiritual versus mental pathology
  • in modern times, too much is explained away as exclusively mental illness and never identified as spiritual - this is a tactic of the enemy: darkness

IV. Signs for a spiritual director/confessor of mental illness

  1. General presumption that a therapeutic intervention would always promote health and never harm;
  2. Directee/penitent manifests harmful or tragic past experiences that have gone unaddressed;
  3. Suicidal ideation becomes obsessive or compulsive; dealt with by destructive coping mechanisms (substance abuse, pornography, excessive sleep, etc.).

V. Signs for a clinician of demonic oppression

  1. Therapeutic interventions repeatedly only take a patient so far;
  2. The patient volunteers in conversation their own religious beliefs and struggles in persevering in a spiritual life;
  3. Forgiveness towards an aggressor is acknowledged as good but impossible (either because of persistent hurt feelings or fear of letting that go);
  4. Despite advances made in boosting self-confidence, the patient remains convicted of his/her general guilt or unloveableness.

VI. The most intense demonic oppression: UNFORGIVENESS

  • the crippling effects of resentment
  • forgiveness is an act of the will not a feeling
  • forgiveness is a process and not a one time experience (it must be renewed often)
  • true liberation comes from freeing ourselves from the belief that the person who has hurt me either:
    • meant to hurt me
    • doesn’t care that he/she hurt me
    • is glad that I am suffering

…but rather, more than likely does not even know that he/she hurt me or that I am still suffering as a consequence of that previous pain

VII. To whom shall we go, Lord?

  • as spiritual directors/confessors, we are indebted to Catholic mental health professionals who will provide good therapy alongside respect for spiritual interventions;
  • as clinicians, be prepared to share faith with your patients (to the extent that you are professionally able)- be surprised that most hurting people will welcome a spiritual intervention;
    • someone who comes to us at the recommendation of their therapist that “they’re possessed” will narrowly direct what care they expect to receive.
  • to those who show openness, suggest that praying with a priest might bring them some comfort; for those whom you know are Catholic, never be afraid to recommend making a good confession;
  • have multiple priests in mind whom you trust (one cannot take them all on);
  • when possible and appropriate conspicuously display a comforting religious image (ex. Madonna and child) in your office which might provide a subtle opening for a patient to feel safe to bring up the spiritual perspective with you.

© Calgary Diocesan CWL