What is an exorcism?

What is an exorcism? It is a service of deliverance from influences of evil spirits, Jesus Christ did it and commissioned His disciples to do so using words “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons” (Mt 10,8). Exorcism (from Greek “exorkizein” means “to curse”) is the command to leave a human being, an animal, place or item, given to the demon in Name of God. It is a special sort of blessing (sacramental) that a priest conducts in certain situations and needs.

Common meaning of exorcism :

  1. Solemn exorcism (public, great) its aim is to drive out the devil from a possessed person and deliver them from evil influences. Such an exorcism is performed by an ordinary of the diocese (for example a bishop) according to the recommendations of the Roman Ritual. Any 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. This rule is specified in Canon Law 1172
  2. Private exorcisms (minor and simple) they are prayers for individual praying by all worshippers, for example in cases of temptations and torments by evil spirit. 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 Roman Ritual.
  3. Baptismal exorcism is included in sacrament of baptism as special prayer since the begginings of christianity
  4. Usage of exorcized water, oil, salt and incense by every believer in appropriate situations. Water, oil, salt and incense can be blessed by every priest (not only by an exorcist) according to the prayer of the Roman Ritual.

Very often the practices of deliverance are performed by people unaware of the danger, e.g.: laymen, bioenergotherapists, fortune-tellers and others. Their actions are characterised by an apparent initial improvement in the state of the tormented person (it is a placebo effect or evil deception), but afterwards the ailments return with doubled force. It is necessary to avoid such “healers” and rely on the help of exorcist priests. (you can read about it here).

The blessing given by a priest will be ineffective unless a person has the will of conversion. Such a person should break with sin. We cannot leave the door of our soul open to evil, because it can attack with double impact. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus teaches 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 driving out the evil but, most of all, conversion of the person and showing them living faith. Convertion and breaking with sin is the basis.


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