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Official Exorcism RC

Official Exorcism RC

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Published by: Jim Benghazi Mitchell on May 18, 2010
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CATHOLIC EXORCISM- part of document athttp://www.ewtn.com/library/PRAYER/ROMAN2.TXTINTRODUCTION That there is a world of demons is a teachingof revealedreligion which is perfectly clear to all whoknow SacredScripture and respect and accept its word asinspired of God. Itis part of the whole Christian-Judaeoheritage. There are somewho hold that even if revelation were not soabsolute, aninference of the existence of evil spirits canbe drawn from themagnitude of evil in the world. They say thathuman malice anddepravity even at its worst is not sufficientto account for it,and it must be concluded that the devil is areal person and thathis sway is tremendous. As Francois Mauriacwrites in his life of St. Margaret of Cortona: "Evil is Someone,Someone who ismultiple and whose name is legion.... It isone thing to be inthe realm of the demons, as we all are whenwe have lost thestate of grace, and quite another to be heldand surrounded,literally possessed by him."One gets the impression that the teachingabout the devil'sexistence is not a particularly popular one inour time. C. S.Lewis in his "Screwtape Letters" sayssomething to the effectthat if the little inexperienced novice devils,about to startout on their work of seducing men, canconvince men that thedevil does not exist, then half the battle isalready won. The first book of the Holy Bible recounts theseduction of Adamand Eve by the Prince of Darkness; but it isto the last bookthat we must go for his origin. "Then warbroke out in heaven.Michael and his angels had to fight thedragon; the dragonfought, and so did his angels. But they weredefeated, and aplace was no longer found for them inheaven. That huge dragon,the ancient serpent, was hurled down, hewho is called the deviland Satan, he who leads the whole worldastray. He was hurleddown to death, and his angels were hurleddown with him."[1]Christ our Lord overcame Satan on the cross,and ever since thelatter's empire is shaken. Man is deliveredfrom the power of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of the Son. Yet the devilis not completely vanquished or troddenunderfoot once for all,and the warfare against him is carried out byChrist and HisChurch until the end of time. Therefore, St.Paul is prompted toadmonish us: "Put on all the armor that Godhas forged, that youmay be able to make a stand against thedevil's cunning tricks.Our wrestling is not against weak humannature, but against thePrincipalities and the Powers, against thosethat rule the worldof darkness, the wicked spirits that belong toan order higherthan ours.... With all this take up the shieldof faith, withwhich you will be enabled to put out all theflaming arrows of the wicked enemy."[2]Against these unclean spirits the Churchuses as her weaponsprayers, blessings, holy water, and othersacramentals to combatthe ordinary power that the former wieldover men. But apart fromthis ordinary and general power thatProvidence allows Satanthere is also a special and terrible satanicinfluence calledpossession--the domination by the demon
 
over man's bodily organsand his lower spiritual faculties. In laterChristian times theterm obsession is used instead of possession, the formerconnoting a lesser kind of demonicdisturbance. That Christreckoned with this satanic power in thesame way that the Churchhas throughout her centuries is evident fromthe New Testament;see for example Mt 9.32-34, Lk 8.2, Mk 9.13ff. To be possessed can mean that Satan hasgained mastery over thewill so devastatingly that sinfulness passesbeyond ordinarydepravity in the world, and its cause must besought in a powerabove the order of nature. To be possessedcan mean that Satanhas beclouded the intellect, so that the lightof faith cannotilluminate it. To be possessed can mean thatSatan has befuddleda person's reason; in fact, simple andsuperstitious folk havewrongly made lunacy synonymous withdiabolical infestation. Insome instances of possession recounted inthe New Testament,molestation by the devil is manifested invarious disturbances of the human body itself, where he has gainedcontrol over a man'ssight, hearing, speech, or the physicalorganism in general.[3]Christ handed down to the Church the powerHe once exercised overdemons. The early Christians were deeplyinfluenced by what theyhad learned of their Master's dealing withevil spirits, andthere was on their part frequent use of thecharismatic gifts of healing the sick and driving out devils. Butthe prayers andforms used for exorcism in the first centurieshave not come downto us, outside the ones used in baptism.Exorcism became part of the baptismal rite somewhere around 200A.D. Thus the ancientliturgical records which date from the thirdcentury thosedealing with baptism, give us the earlyChristians' belief aboutSatan and his intervention in the affairs of man. In the devil'shatred for God he turned on man, who ismade in God's image. Inconsequence of original sin men are nolonger temples of the HolySpirit but rather the habitations of thedemon. Not too muchdistinction is made between the possessedand the unbaptized.Isidore of Seville puts both on the samelevel, and says thatexorcism is the ceremony of banishing themost wicked influenceof the devil from catechumens andpossessed alike.[4]It is difficult to fix precisely the time of originof a specialrite for exorcism. The evidence wouldindicate that in the earlyChurch acts of exorcism consisted mainly inthe sign of thecross, invoking the name of Jesus, andrenunciations of Satan andadjurations and threats uttered against him.But later on,especially in the Latin Church, the rites of exorcism become moreand more numerous, until in the highlyimaginative Middle Agesthere is actually a profusion of them. To thisperiod we mustattribute beliefs and practices which aresuperstitious to anextreme. Devils are believed to exist in theguise of certainmaterial bodies. Demonic possession isconfounded with epilepsyand other mental or psychic disorders.Rituals of this timeprescribe that the subject remain in thepresence of the exorcistthroughout the period of exorcism, that heobserve a strict fastand limit his diet to blessed water, salt, andvegetables, thathe wear new clothes, that he abstain fromthe marital act. Noless complicated are the injunctions for theexorcist. And by the
 
time we come to the fourteenth centurymagical practices havebeen introduced into the ceremonies.No doubt the present rite for exorcism willundergo improvementand revision along with the general revisionof the liturgicalbooks recommended by Vatican Council II.But compared to formertimes the rite as given in the Roman Ritualtoday ischaracterized by great sobriety. Some mindsmight still discerntraces of a certain naivete, yet at any rate ithas been purgedof the unfortunate accretions of a periodruled much more byhuman credulity than by the unadulterateddoctrine of the Church.No longer, for example, does the official textafford any groundsfor the erroneous notion that diabolicalpossession isnecessarily a divine retribution visited upona grievous sinner.God allows this terrible evil in His wisdomwithout the afflictedperson being necessarily at fault. It is onething to have falleninto the slavery of sin or to be afflicted witha bodily ormental infirmity, and quite another to havethe devil enter intoa man and take possession of him. The general rules for exorcism that followare a clear indicationthat we have come a long way from thesuperstitious notions thatprevailed in the era of the Middle Ages.Noteworthy among theserules are the ones that direct that the partiesconcerned shouldhave recourse to the holy sacraments, andthat the sacred wordsof Holy Writ should be employed rather thanany forms devised bythe exorcist or someone else. Theinstructions given belowindicate that the Church has carefullyguarded the extraordinarypower over Satan committed to her byChrist, and that Catholicexorcism is poles removed from any form of dabbling in the spiritworld which springs from human chicaneryor malice.--TranslatorENDNOTES1. Apoc 12.7-9.2. Eph 6.12-16.3. Mk 5:1 ff.4. "Dictionnaire D'Archeologie Chretienne etde Liturgie," V, Pt.1, 963 ff.PART XIII. EXORCISMCHAPTER I: GENERAL RULES CONCERNINGEXORCISM1. A priest--one who is expressly andparticularly authorized bythe Ordinary--when he intends to perform anexorcism over personstormented by the devil, must be properlydistinguished for hispiety, prudence, and integrity of life. Heshould fulfill thisdevout undertaking in all constancy andhumility, being utterlyimmune to any striving for humanaggrandizement, and relying, noton his own, but on the divine power.Moreover, he ought to be of mature years, and revered not alone for hisoffice but for hismoral qualities.2. In order to exercise his ministry rightly, heshould resort toa great deal more study of the matter (whichhas to be passedover here for the sake of brevity), byexamining approved authorsand cases from experience; on the otherhand, let him carefully

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