In honor of this week of Halloween, and remembering the departed, I will post about themes that deal with the battle of darkness versus light. This post’s theme: exorcisms.
As I write this on Halloween night, I know there will be some who will enjoy the viewing of great horror movies dealing with exorcisms. There is the classic, “The Exorcist,” and others will see newer stuff like “The Last .”
Would you be scared to see an “exorcism” in real life? Well, guess what? You most likely already have…and if your Christian, you had one already done unto you!
The reality is that many terms, like “exorcism,” get their depth of meaning lost or warped with the trends of pop culture. Exorcisms occur so that, “a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1673) The most popular exorcism done is called baptism. A person getting baptized is being washed from previous influences of evil, from the bondage of original sin, and receives grace to withstand future temptation.
Ah, I already realize we can get deep. But let’s make this brief. Some points to understand: original sin’s harshest effect is the possibility of never entering heaven; evil exists in the world because people have free will to choose God or not; evil will always lurk around us until we die and transition from this physical reality to the spiritual reality.
These points make it clear of the usefulness of exorcisms, i.e. a formal ritual asking God to cleanse and protect a person or object. Baptism is the main one that is practiced to help Christians become united to God (Romans 6:1-13), and gain the help they need (grace) to not easily fall into the temptation of evil. But an exorcism would not take away temptation. This is a burden we must pray against, and strengthen ourselves to dispel it lest it does win over our will.
God will not take away our free will. An exorcism will not force us to have faith in God or God’s power. This is important because a deep study of Jesus and his exorcisms in the Gospels will help us notice that so often people would be fearful or doubtful of the power of Jesus over demons, but those directly affected by the exorcism would be incredibly grateful.
So, the next time you see someone getting baptized, pray that you are inspired by the person’s willingness to say “yes” to the teachings of Jesus, and beware of believing that a baptism is magical and would make someone invincible over evil.
Since it is not easy to do this by our self, why not join a community of faith to help encourage you to keep the faith?
And now, an except from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, cited by paragraph number:
1673 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 exorcizing. In a simple form, exorcism is performed at the celebration of Baptism. The 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 demonic 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.
- Catholic Priests in Poland Launch Magazine Focused on Exorcism (bltnotjustasandwich.com)
- An easy book on the subject: Interview with an Exorcist
- A researched statement from Vatican: “Christian Faith and Demonology”