The Church proclaims the kingdom of God, the good news of salvation, and Christ’s victory over sin, death and evil. Holy Mother Church speaks most eloquently and persuasively of Christ’s victory in her liturgy. When we are in the state of grace and intentionally live the Church’s liturgical life we are enfolded in the protective cloak of the Precious Blood. In our Eucharistic communion of charity we journey together on a pilgrimage of faith to the Father’s House. The weight of God’s love, the infinite value of the Gift of God, the loftiness of our Christian dignity and destiny beckons us to self-emptying love that manifests in sacrificial service to God and humanity.
By God’s permissive will, on the journey of faith we are confronted by many temptations to divert our path from the straight and narrow road of salvation to the wide and easy path that leads to the abyss of nothingness where Satan and his legions exist in tortuous separation from God’s love. Thus, the Catechism teaches that the life of faith is a spiritual battle (cf. CCC 2726).
No Christian enjoys spiritual warfare. No Catholic delights to speak of the devil’s kingdom that is “destruction”. It would be quite dangerous if a person were to become fascinated by such realities. Yet, in this hour there is a great interest in spiritual warfare because more people are experiencing it in a personal way, among family members, in the workplace, the world and the Church. Most Catholics are not merely curious (that would be dangerous), rather, many are seeking catechesis on how to protect ourselves (cf. Ephesians 6:11) and engage in the good fight (cf. I Timothy 6:12). Disciples of Christ, saints and sinners, are called to take up the sword of the Spirit, to overcome evil by doing good (cf. Romans 12:21).
Demons tempt, encourage our sins and weaknesses to deceive, divert, divide and discourage us (cf. 1 Peter 5:8). Such matters are not edifying to look at or to confess. Yet, the Holy Spirit convicts us of the great need to confess our sins, to convert vice into virtue, and to resist the devil (cf. James 4:7) with ardent confidence in God’s omnipotence. God allows spiritual warfare to purify and prove our love of God and neighbor. In the graciousness of His love he gives us freedom to make poor choices also. His grace is always sufficient, meaning superabundant, to “overcome evil by doing good” (Romans 12:21). He equips the Church with every provision to overcome spiritual enemies.
A call to serve
When I answered the telephone a priest friend greeted me and then proceeded to relate how a woman in dire spiritual distress knocked on the door of the rectory and implored the priests for prayer. The priests responded with charity for a suffering soul and several of them prayed with the lady as requested. Almost immediately they witnessed diabolical manifestations and realized the presence of extraordinary demonic activity. They ceased the prayer ministry after blessing and counseling her and agreed to a follow up session in another setting with more appropriate preparations.
The priest called to ask if I would assist the priests in their ministry of deliverance because it was not prudent for them to offer deliverance prayers for afflicted people without the presence of some female and male witnesses. That time, over 15 years ago, was the start of other exorcist priests inviting me to be part of their ministry team as an intercessor, secretary, discerner and witness. After prayer, discernment and counsel with a priest spiritual director, I became a member of a team that includes medical and legal professionals, Sisters, lay men and women. Over the past ten years, formal training has occurred at conferences that instruct priests and their teams.
In college I studied to become a medical assistant and my first job was to assist a general surgeon during his surgical procedures. I always marveled at the dedication of medical professionals in the care of the sick and suffering. When the Lord called me into the Church’s deliverance ministry, I realized the continuity of His plan. The priest exorcist is a spiritual physician operating on a person who approaches the Church because they are suffering from a spiritual malady. They need the help of the Catholic priest who ministers Christ’s authority over evil spirits and the Father’s healing love.
Team members who assist priests in the ministry of deliverance and exorcism never feel worthy or well enough equipped. It is a ministry that mystifies, not because it is strange, but because we are present to a mystical battle between good and evil that manifests physically. It is a ministry that builds up our faith and hope, and stretches us to sacrificial love. One team member, during six months
of exorcisms lost 25 pounds because he fasted for the liberation of the victim.
It is an honor to serve in the care of the afflicted that have fallen and need a hand up. Many are innocent victims of curses or satanic ritual abuse. Some, in desperation, put themselves in the hands of occult practitioners. By the time they turn to the Catholic priest, they desire to re-orient themselves to God.
Generally, laity do not volunteer for the Church’s public ministry of deliverance, but are called into the Church’s ministry by a priest, bishop or his designee. However, mystically the entire Body of Christ is involved in His ministry of healing and deliverance. An Institute that trains priest exorcists reminds them that the pious lady praying in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament far away from the exorcism, may be the strongest intercessor of all. During the exorcism, the priest exercises Christ’s authority in union the entire praying Church and this collective power evicts the evil spirits.
The care of the beloved
Hollywood movies about exorcism cannot convey the real mystical presence of Jesus Christ that manifests during the ministry. There are exorcists’ written accounts that tell of the perceived presence of Mary, angels, and saints. It is true that they come to the rescue of the beloved of God. The priest invokes them and they honor his prayers. Jesus is the Chief Exorcist and he is always present at the Church’s exorcisms.
The priest leader acts courageously against the ancient foe that, for a time, resists by hiding or playing games, taunting the priest, threatening the victim—all signs of desperation. Ultimately, the demons must obey the priest and be expelled. People ask if it is scary. The priest and his team are not the fearful ones. The demons are the fearful ones. The weight of Roman Catholic Church defeats them. What is perceived during the ministry of exorcism is the omnipotent power of Divine Love.
By virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, priests are ministers of Christ’s healing and deliverance ministry. They are charged with the spiritual care of Christ’s beloved people. In the cases of diabolical possession when the Rite of Exorcism is needed, and only after ruling out medical, psychological pathology, the bishop’s designated priest is given permission to exercise the Church’s authority in expelling demons to liberate a person.
By virtue of sacramental baptism, the lay faithful have the responsibility and spiritual authority to pray prayers of protection for our self and those we have authority over—namely, our families. Ordinary diabolical activity (temptation and mild oppression) is overcome by the ordinary means of sacramental life, the practice of virtue over vice, an intentional prayer life that includes the weapons of the Holy Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, approved deliverance prayers such the St. Michael prayer, the St. Patrick Breastplate prayer.
In the many exorcisms that I have witnessed in the USA and Europe, when Mary’s Magnificat prayer (Luke 1:46-55), and the prologue of John’s Gospel (John 1:1-18) are prayerfully said aloud, great violence is done to the demonic realm. The Word of God is truly a living Word; a two-edged sword that separates light from darkness.
An approved prayer for deliverance
This prayer can be used as intercession for a person suffering under demonic influence. It is published in the Manuel of Minor Exorcisms, a manual for priests, but this prayer is approved for laity.
My Lord, You are all powerful, You are God, You are Father. We beg you through the intercession and help of the archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel for the deliverance of our brothers and sisters who are enslaved by the evil one.
From anxiety, sadness and obsessions, we beg You: free us, O Lord.
From hatred, fornication, envy, we beg You: free us, O Lord.
From thoughts of jealousy, rage, and death, we beg You: free us, O Lord.
From every thought of suicide and abortions, we beg You: free us, O Lord.
From every form of sinful sexuality, we beg You: free us, O Lord.
From every division in our family, and every harmful friendship, we beg You: free us, O Lord.
From every sort of spell, malefice, witchcraft and every form of the occult, we beg You: free us, O Lord.
Lord, You who said, “I leave you peace, my peace I give you,” grant that, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may be liberated from every evil spell and enjoy your peace always. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Note: For more spiritual warfare prayers and catechesis, and ways to help the priests who are on the frontlines, for ways to engage in intercessory prayer and the offering of suffering to help liberate your loved one and friends, visit www.foundationforpriests.org. If you subscribe on the Home Page you will receive quarterly newsletters offering more teachings on the above subjects.