Sunday, April 16, 2017

Youcat commented through CCC – Question n. 273.

YOUCAT Question n. 273 - Does the Church still practice exorcism?

(Youcat answer) At every Baptism a so-called simple exorcism is performed, a prayer in which the person being baptized is taken away from the devil and is strengthened against the “principalities and powers” that Jesus overcame. Major exorcism is a prayer offered by Jesus’ authority and in his strength through which a baptized Christian is delivered from the influence and power of the devil; the Church rarely uses this prayer, and only after the most rigorous examination.

A deepening through CCC

(CCC 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authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism.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 (Cf. Mk 1:25-26; 3:15; 6:7, 13; 16:17). 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 (Cf. CIC, can. 1172). 

Reflecting and meditating 

(Youcat comment) The depiction of “exorcisms” in Hollywood films for the most part does not reflect the truth about Jesus and the Church. It was often reported about Jesus that he drove out demons. He had power over evil principalities and powers and could deliver men from them. To the apostles Jesus gave “authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity” (Mt 10:1). The Church does the same today whenever an authorized priest pronounces the prayer of exorcism over a person who requests it. First, however, the possibility must be excluded that the phenomenon is psychological in nature (a psychiatrist is competent in such matters). An exorcism wards off spiritual temptation and oppression and delivers from the power of the evil one.

 (CCC Comment)

(CCC 550) The coming of God's kingdom means the defeat of Satan's: "If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Mt 12:26, 28). Jesus' exorcisms free some individuals from the domination of demons. They anticipate Jesus' great victory over "the ruler of this world" (Jn 12:31; cf. Lk 8:26-39). The kingdom of God will be definitively established through Christ's cross: "God reigned from the wood" (LH, Lent, Holy Week, Evening Prayer, Hymn Vexilla Regis: “Regnavit a ligno Deus”). (CCC 1237) Since Baptism signifies liberation from sin and from its instigator the devil, one or more exorcisms are pronounced over the candidate. The celebrant then anoints him with the oil of catechumens, or lays his hands on him, and he explicitly renounces Satan. Thus prepared, he is able to confess the faith of the Church, to which he will be "entrusted" by Baptism (Cf. Rom 6:17).

(The next question is: How important is so-called “popular piety”?)

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