What is Exorcism? Exorcism in the Catholic Church
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What is Exorcism? Exorcism in the Catholic Church

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 I think we are all familiar with the term Exorcism. Reasons can be many but the most common reasons I have found is because the word or topic itself is quite interesting for the maximum of us and leaves a lingering curiosity to learn and explore more. We all have a curious mind where something that catches our eye or attention we tend to draw close to it and we tend to pay more and more attention to it. Similarly, this topic itself caught my attention and I further went on to explore the facts unknown to me.

 The Oxford University defines ‘Exorcism’ as “The expulsion or attempted expulsion of a supposed evil spirit from a person or place.”  In simple words, exorcism would mean a religious practice of expelling an unholy entity or entities from a person, a place, or a specified area that is believed or assumed to be possessed. Generally, it is considered that a person who is said to be possessed is not regarded to be evil in themselves or wholly responsible for their actions. In many cases, possession is taken to be manipulation of an unwilling spirit.

The Catechism of Catholic Church states when the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism. 

Catholic Church and Exorcism

In the Catholic Church exorcisms are performed in the name of  Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church allows or authorizes the use of Exorcism for those who are believed to become a dwelling of an unclean spirit or in other words be possessed or be victims of demonic possession. In Roman Catholicism Exorcism is Sacramental but not a Sacrament, unlike Baptism or Confession. According to the Canon Law of the Church, Solemn exorcisms can only be practiced by an ordained priest under the permission of the Local Bishop and under the prescription that proclaims that the person is excluded or doesn’t have any mental illness or any such possibility. In Catholicism, exorcisms are performed in the name of  Jesus Christ. A distinction is made between a formal exorcism (solemn exorcism), which can only be conducted by a priest during a baptism or with the permission of a bishop, and “prayers of deliverance” which can be said by anyone. In the Catholic practice, the person performing an exorcism is known as an exorcist, is usually an ordained priest. The exorcist or the priest recites prayers according to the rubrics or documents of the rite and may use religious materials such as icons, sacramentals, and relics to perform this action. An exorcist is a person who is specially trained or instructed. An exorcist may be a priest, a nun, a monk, or a healer. The exorcist invokes  God —especially the  Name of Jesus  Christ—as well as members of the  Triumphant Church and St. Michael the Archangel to intervene. According to the Catholic Church’s understanding, several weekly exorcisms over many years are sometimes required to expel a deeply rooted demon.  Saint Michael’s Prayer against Satan and the Rebellious Angels, attributed to Pope Leo X, is the strongest prayer used by the Catholic Church against cases of diabolic possession. The  Holy Rosary is said to have intercessory power for exorcism. It is made sure that there is no violence to the possessed, only that they are tied down if there is a potential for violence.  However, there are Biblical verses, like John 13:27, that convey that demonic possession can be voluntary, as in the case of  Judas Iscariot, who willingly submitted to the  Devil.  Authorized exorcism never includes any violent contact, touching any intimate areas or interaction that could be interpreted as having sexual connotations or intentions. The term “deliverance ministry” is preferred to be “exorcism”, and it is seen as part of the Church’s broader ministry of healing. Things listed according to the Church as indicators of being possessed are speaking foreign or ancient languages of which the possessed has no prior knowledge; supernatural abilities and strength; knowledge of hidden or remote things which the possessed has no way of knowing; a dislike to anything holy; and profuse blasphemy or sacrilege. It is noticed or observed and said that the person who is said to be under the influence of Satanic or demonic possession is said to be questioned: 

  • Their name
  • Their origin
  • Where they come from
  • And why have they taken hold of this particular individual and
  • What is their intention?

The particular person gives signs to confirm that the person is under the influence of those Souls who have not rested in peace after their deaths.

Different kinds of possession? 

Possession is meant to hold onto something physically. Though legally it is quite difficult to define the concept of possession as there is no definite or exact definition of this term. It is simultaneously factual and legal. But it can be summed down to this that “it is the physical custody or occupancy of anything definite with a definite intention of ownership.” Possession can be major and minor. Most of the time exorcists differentiate between “ordinary” Satanic or demonic activity or influence of everyday temptations and “extraordinary” Satanic/demonic activity, which can take six different forms, ranging from complete control by Satan or demons to voluntary submission.

  • Possession, in which Satan or demons take full possession of a person’s body without their consent and knowledge. It is usually said. This possession usually comes as a result of a person’s actions; actions that lead to an increased susceptibility to Satan’s influence.
  • Obsession, which includes sudden attacks of irrationally obsessive thoughts, usually culminating suicidal, and which influences dreams mostly.
  •  Oppression, in which there is no loss of consciousness or involuntary actions, such as in the biblical  Book of Job in which Job was tormented by Satan through a series of misfortunes in business, material possessions, family, and health.
  • External physical pain caused by Satan or demons such as scratches or bruises hurts in other words inflicting pain on oneself under the influence of the unclean spirit.
  • Infestation, which affects houses, objects or things, or animals.
  • Subjection, in which a person voluntarily submits to Satan or demons.

When is Exorcism Necessary? 

There are instances when a person needs to be protected against the evil power of the Evil One or to be freed from the demonic possession. The  Catholic Church authorizes the use of exorcism for those who are believed to be the victims of demonic possession.  In other words when someone is under the control of unknown or unfamiliar spirits and souls then this Act of Exorcism is given to the concerned person.  In simple words, Exorcism is practiced when a person needs to be freed from the clutches and the consequences of the Evil Spirit.

The goal of Exorcism

The main motive of exorcism is always under the pretext that the person is made to set free from the grip of the Evil One since Exorcism signifies freeing a place, person, or even object from some form of negative spiritual influence. May misunderstand exorcism as a ritual which is necessary only for those who have been p[osssesed by the demonic. However, we sometimes forget that exorcism is performed almost every instant. Every time we have our lunch and invoke God’s presence, we exorcise the food, when we pray with our friends or simply bless ourselves, we invoke God’s spirit upon us to make us holy and free us from any kind of unholiness that might be there upon us. One must understand that we should wait for the last stage of demonic possession to happen, however, we must frequently go to confession and receive the sacraments. This what will help most of us who are not completely possessed but still possessed in some way or the other. For example, addiction to anything is a kind of possession. 

What should someone do if they feel they are possessed?

We must first understand the primary goal of the demonic- take away the souls from the sight of God. they want to steal souls. They want to rob us of the mercy of God. They want us to believe in its lies. Lies- there is no mercy, no forgiveness, no eternal happiness, no eternal peace, no hope, no light, no victory, etc., etc. If you think that you are being attacked by the demonic or being possessed, the first thing that you need to do is to go visit a priest and do as he advises you to do. there are many other things that you can, and most probably the priest will also tell you to do the same. Spend an hour before the Blessed Sacrament and adopre Jesus present in the blessed sacrament, go for confession, read the scripture daily, go for Sunday masses, and receive communion. The more the demon tempts you to go away from  Jesus, the more should you fall in love with Jesus. Fight the demon with Jesus. Yes, with Jesus, because you cannot fight the supernatural with your human strenght. Always say the rosary and seek the intercession of our Blessed Mother. the demons hate her and is so scared of her. Doing all of this, you will be fine in a matter of days.

Author of this blog: Mary Margaret Anthony

Mary is currently pursuing her professional course in Bachelor of Education and belongs to St John’s Parish, Sealdah( Kolkata, India) Kolkata Diocese.

Available for Hire

Contact:  maryanthony0555@gmail.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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