Skip to comments.The Exorcist: Priesthood at the Door of Darkness [Ecumenical]
Posted on 10/05/2008 4:06:13 PM PDT by NYer
"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authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the evil one and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism. Jesus performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power and office of exorcising. In a simple form exorcism is performed at the celebration of Baptism. In solemn exorcism, called a 'major' exorcism, can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demoniac possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter, treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the evil one, and not an illness"
(from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. 1673.)
Exorcism is dangerous business. It is an extremely perilous ministry that has been carefully entrusted to specifically appointed priests within the Church. It is not, Holy Mother Church insists, something that laymen should tamper with, nor even priests without specific training and special credentials. Indeed, it is forbidden --- and for good reason, as we shall see. It is well to soberly reflect upon the perils which these priests confront and the frightening realities to which they are exposed. The combat with evil is very real, and anyone tempted to think it outdated and outmoded is not just sadly but very dangerously wrong. As we see in the citation above, the Church is very careful to distinguish between psychological abnormalities amenable to medical science, and the phenomena of demonic possession and demonic obsession (yes, there is more than just one menacing face of the persona of evil). Evil --- that is to say, evil of a demonic and personal nature --- exists and it constantly strives not simply to perpetuate itself, but to metastasize to anything and everything to which it remotely tangent either through its own native efforts or through the folly or effrontery of men. It seeks, above all else, the ultimate trespass: upon the domain of the human soul.
A priest is given the task to challenge the evil, and to liberate the person concerned from its crippling effects. This is very dangerous and Satan does not want to relinquish what he has taken to be his possession. The priest is prompted by his love of Jesus Christ, of truth, and the salvation of souls.
By his very involvement, his absolute and unremitting contention with, powers and principalities, the priest himself is placed in a vulnerable, volatile, and extremely dangerous situation. His very action will antagonize the evil, and the tremendous conflict must be approached with maturity, fasting and prayer, and a supportive group of those who hold him up to God in prayer. He stands at the door of Darkness itself ... an image of the Light.
A priest in this sacred ministry once confided to me the fact that he needed to keep especially close to Jesus Christ when preparing for an exorcism, to keep his heart pure from sin because after performing an exorcism, there was always reprisal, always something or someone set in his path to cause him to stumble; it takes little imagination to understand this: evil never likes to be exposed to the light. "Flesh for flesh", the father lies said in the Book of Job.
It is almost predictable how satan chooses to do this: he may try to tempt the priest that he himself, the priest, had the power of his own perhaps through a mistaken belief in his own sanctity or personal power over evil in other words, that he, the priest himself, had liberated the person from evil, when in fact he had performed the rite in the Name of Jesus Christ. It is not entered into lightly, and Holy Mother Church does so with much preparation.
We must remember the Seven sons of Sceva:
"Now some also of the Jewish exorcists who went about, attempted to invoke over them that had evil spirits, the name of the Lord Jesus, saying: I conjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preacheth. And there were certain men, seven sons of Sceva, a Jew, a chief priest, that did this. But the wicked spirit, answering, said to them: Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you? And the man in whom the wicked spirit was, leaping upon them, and mastering them both, prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
With the ever increasing attraction to Wicca, or witchcraft, it is not difficult to see why so many priests these emissaries of Christ and arch-enemies of evil are sometimes afflicted by unfounded fears and great temptations. It is our duty as Religious and laity, to be vigilant and to support them, to support all priests, with fasting and prayer.
Whatever the venue of battle, where ever it is waged, we must never, never forget, that Jesus Christ is the Victor within it; that He is the Lord, that He has the power over all other powers, He is perfect love that is love itself, Divine Love that endures eternally. Yes ... Chistus vincit! Christ conquers! For Jesus Christ is Lord.
As we all journey toward our goal in Christ, which is Christ, we grow to understand that life indeed is warfare, incessant battle, a spiritual conflict with the world, the flesh ... and yes, even the devil. All of us, through our Baptism, through that Confirmation by which we became Soldiers of Christ, all of us are involved in that battle in one form or another: at the front, in the rear, on the flanks, it matters not. We do battle, and with whom we do battle is of no small account. We must not be seduced by the bromides of those who would put this great battle to naught by whisperings of legends and myths. No less than St. Paul himself tells us in the clearest terms possible that:
"Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect."
Are we too sophisticated for this? Too "progressive"? Too "enlightened"? Are such things from dark, sacerdotal days of eras long past?
The days, I tell you, have not been darker and the time has never been more present! Look around you who is living the myth ...?
Pray for our priests, pray for those training for the priesthood, pray for those who are discouraged and weak; have they not given their lives for us, for the good of our souls? Shall we not be prepared, are we not compelled, to make sacrifices for them in the form of prayer and fasting? Do you think that your prayers, your fasts, your vigils are of no effect? You are the Body of Christ: what you do affects the whole Body, for well or ill.
Through you ... in this Communion of Saints we call the Holy Catholic Church strength is given to those who would otherwise falter. As Aaron and Hur held up the weary arms of Moses in Joshua's battle against Amelec in Raphidim for as soon as Moses' arms tired and lowered in weakness, the battle went ill (Exodus 17.9-13) so we through our prayers, fasts, and vigils, sustain our priests, our exorcists, our Saints in our times!
We are one. If one fights, all fight. If one conquers, all share in the fruit of that conquest. In one fails, all suffer the scourge of that defeat.
How often the battle is fought one on one ... yes, but we must not be unaware of our place in the scheme of things, our part in the victory through our participation in Christ the Victor, through our prayers and fastings, our mortifications?
Priests are ever at enmity with evil. It is the nature of the priesthood, for the priesthood is Christ's. They are, therefore, those for whom the enemy lays his snares most carefully. One eminent example of the potential danger of the priestly ministry in executing the ministry of exorcism in recent years, is the case of Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who fell from grace in a most extraordinary way, subsequently contracting a 'marriage' with a member of the pagan "Moonie" sect. Our readers are probably well informed about the story.
But how many really looked beneath the surface as to what was really going on? How many saw the evil one manipulating a priest of God? This Archbishop was an appointed exorcist! And that, of itself, tells its own story in the context of this article. In a moment of human weakness he was invaded by evil.
Who can possibly forget the great mercy and love that was shown to him by our Holy Father Pope John Paul? The Holy Father knew, in his deep, deep wisdom, how even a priest of God could be led so astray. Well he knew who prompted this disobedience, the whisperer in the Garden to that first act of disobedience that has become the patrimony of sin from our First Parents. How the Holy Father must have rejoiced at the return of the lost sheep, when Archbishop Milingo performed public penance, expressed his true sorrow and asked public forgiveness?
Yet even here we see the malevolent and dogged tenacity of evil, that unquenchable malice that thirsts for sin and can only sate itself on death, for his same Archbishop fell yet again, once more defying the Holy See and subsequently incurring the deadliest of penalties --- excommunication latae sententiae (that is to say, automatically, through the act itself) --- through defecting from his episcopal office in attempting to consecrate as "bishops" four married men in 2006 ... who also and equally suffered the grave penalty of excommunication (total separation from the Church, the Body of Christ ... the death of the soul to God). Here a modern parable has unfolded before us of the manifold and resolute attack upon the priesthood by the evil one.
What was a victory of sanctity over sin was again vanquished through the insinuation of sin into sanctity! Is it any wonder, then, that Saint Paul himself told us that we work out our salvation --- not through arrogance and presumption --- but in fear and trembling?
We are all human and frail ... we fall, time and time again but to rise up and in utter humility say with conviction, "I am sorry" ... to persevere on the way of the Cross, the Cross beneath which we all bend, and sometimes fall ... is this within our power apart from Christ?
The victory is always Christ's, and it is always in Christ ... and so are we ... in prayer, sacrifice, fasting and penance, in the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and in Holy Communion. No one goes alone into this battle, and no one goes without some vestment in grace through the prayers of many.
Are you part of that victory, of any victory, through your part in Christ?
Pray for all our priests.
Remember that they, too, are men ... an ancient and broken race.
With the election upon us, this seemed an appropriate theme for discussion.
ha ha. Good one. I have to agree with you there about the appropriateness of this topic.
There fixed the article with a word replacement....
Obama = Satan
Many people don’t realize the seriousness of the exorcist’s job. Truly. It’s frightening stuff. And, from personal experience - just stay clear, wear a Crucifix even if it’s on a Scapular, and say Rosaries regularly. What happens even when just reading about the subject is truly frightening. It happened to me.
In Hostage to the Devil, Malachi Martin explains that when a priest begins an exorcism, he enters into a "personal relationship" with the demon, and will have a connection to it for the rest of his life.
It's bad enough having that "devil on your shoulder" always tempting you. But when an exorcist starts accumulating dozens or hundreds of these relationships, he must truly place his faith completely in Christ.
Pray for these brave and selfless men.
Author: Thomas B. Allen Softcover ISBN: 0595132642 Hardcover ISBN: 038542034X Audio ISBN: 0595132642
Possessed: The True Story of an Exorcism
Author: Thomas B. Allen
Softcover ISBN: 0595132642
Hardcover ISBN: 038542034X
Audio ISBN: 0595132642
It is the true story of an exorcism on which the novel The Exorcist is based on...
This post comes to me at an interesting coincidence since I was looking up other criminals inspired by Satan—Ted Bundy and Jeff Dahmer. Bundy allowed Asmodeus and Lust into his heart via PORNOGRAPHY and Dahmer dabbled in the occult via seances.
Polish exorcists with English subtitles:
Uh...you’re not going to like this one:
ping for later
That’s a good one! I’m at work and had to keep the volume off because the screams, even at the lowest audio setting, could be heard by everyone.
Exorcists have to deal with more female rather than males when it comes to possessions. I wonder why? Could be that women are more prone to witchcraft and the attraction to even simple occultic horoscopes?