What is exorcism? It is a rite of deliverance from the influence of demonic entities over an individual. Christ performed exorcisms and commissioned His Apostles to do the same: "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons" (Matthew 10:8). Exorcism is the formal command of the Church for the demon to leave someone, an animal, place or item, infested by the demon, through the Name of Christ and through the sacerdotal authority of the priesthood.
Types of exorcism :
- Solemn exorcism- The aim is to expel the demon from a possessed person and deliver them from demonic influence. Such an exorcism is performed by an priest appointed by a bishop, according to the recommendations of the Ritual. Any valid priest acting in the name and authority of the Church by virtue of the power received in priestly ordination, possessing the permission of the ordinary of the diocese can be an exorcist.
- Private exorcisms- These are prayers offered by all faithful members of the Church, for example in cases of temptations and torments by Satan. They also include: prayers for deliverance – intercessory prayers - these prayers can be used by all priests and religious communities under the leadership of a priest or deacon. Although these prayers aim to deliver from evil influences, they are not exorcisms in the strict sense. These prayers should not be performed in cases of possession, since then a solemn exorcism is needed. These prayers do not contain the formulas of the actual Ritual.
- Baptismal exorcism- This is included in the sacrament of baptism as special prayer.
- Usage of exorcized water, oil, salt and incense- Water, oil, salt and incense can be blessed by every priest.
We witness in the paranormal community so-called deliverance being performed by people lacking either the knowledge of the topic or the sacerdotal authority to do so, e.g.: laymen, some Charismatics, psychics, demonologists, most Old Catholics and others. While one may see an apparent initial improvement in the state of the afflicted, afterwards the demons will indeed return with increased ferocity. It is recommended that these various New Agers, occultists, schismatics, and heretics be avoided and that help should be sought only from valid priests.
It should be noted that an exorcism will be ineffective unless a person has the sincere desire to convert to the Faith and adhere to the Church. This process will require catechesis, baptism, and confession of all sin. We cannot leave the door open to the works of sin and Satan. In the Gospel of St. Matthew Christ tells us that "Whenever an unclean spirit goes out of a person, it wanders through waterless places looking for a place to rest but finds none. Then it says, "I will go back to my home that I left." When it arrives, it finds it empty, swept clean, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and settle there." Therefore the main objective of an exorcism is not only expulsion of the demonic entity but, most of all, conversion of the person.
DANGERS OF EXORCIST FRAUDS
There has been an increase in the number of frauds claiming to be exorcists, no doubt caused partly by the increase in paranormal "reality" television. These dubious ministers are common frauds, who presume to "exorcise" while not living the Gospel, having no authority, and sometimes for money. They are little more than parasites. They range from New Agers, psychics, charmers, wiccans and pagans, to evangelists, "demonologists", and an array of individuals under the "Old Catholic" banner, long since schismatic and heretical for the most part.
Do such “exorcisms” really free the victim of the demonic? The answer is a loud and resounding "No!"
An "exorcism" carried out by these untrained individuals very often becomes a source of misinformation, unecessary pain, a sideshow circus atmosphere. Not to mention the very serious dangers inherent in the actions of such dubious individuals for the victims body and soul. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that we are able to recognize and find a legitimate exorcist. The first step should always be to ask your parish priest for direction. And as a rule NEVER pay money for such ministry.
Frauds may look legitimate at first, but the facade falls apart upon closer examination.
- When they are administered in the name of Jesus, but by televangelist or Charismatic oriented “exorcists” and most Old Catholics, they should be avoided. Also to be avoided are Wiccans, New Agers, bioenergy therapists, psychics and all others conducting exorcisms without proper training.
- An alarm should go off when they are conducted through the power of pagan deities, mysterious energies, Chakra or Light Body therapy, mantras, pendulums and during pagan rituals, through magic, incantation, etc. The source of all power in these cases is demonic!
- When they are conducted for profit – financial or through other goods, you are dealing with a fraud.
- When they allegedly involve casting out spirits of the dead, space creatures, astral bodies, mysterious deities and energies, you are not dealing with a legitimate exorcist.
1. Many laymen and "demonologists" justify their actions by quoting the scriptures:
‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us’. But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us.”
Examining this verse, who can we honestly say is not "for us"? There can be no question that these assorted heretics, pagans, and schismatics are working against the Gospel and against the Body of Christ! A demon will not leave a victim if the exorcism is performed by such people. This also applies to priests, who – due to a lack of knowledge and prudence – conduct exorcisms or so-called "deliverances".
2. Such deliverances or exorcisms often have very dangerous results. The Sacred Scriptures tell us of the sons of Sceva who attempted exorcisms:
“saying, ‘I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.’ Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?’ And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled.” Acts 19:13-17
The point is that not everyone has the authority to cast out demons. It takes more than raising a Bible over the head of the victim and shouting the Name of Jesus. It takes real faith, preparation, training and sacerdotal authority.
3. Many of these frauds will try to convince people that they are under demonic control at the slightest hint of depression, suicidal thoughts, etc. This is no doubt caused by a desparate need on the part of the fraud to provide contrived experiences to supplant his lack of faith, or merely to make money from his victim. An exorcism costs nothing, nor will it be done before psychologists and medical health professionals have examined the client, nor before clear and unmistakable signs of possession are present.
Jesus told his apostles:
"Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts.” Matthew 10:8-10
4. Some of these frauds will say they can heal mental health issues or diseases through "inner healing", "deliverance" or other more nefarious means. This has led to people ending their medical attention, or to stop psychological or psychiatric therapy. This is very dangerous and is a sign of a fraud.
It is important that we seek the right attention for the right issues. These charlatans are essentially narcissistic, self centered opportunists who seek money, power and fame.
I have made it a goal to provide solid, legitimate resources and Biblical information on spiritual warfare and to provide a list of qualified priests, counselors, Christian psychologists and psychiatrists to assist those in need of intervention. Please check back for updates.