Exorcism in the Church

The Church defines a sacrament as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. One example of a sacrament is Holy Baptism where the outward and visible sign is water. The inward and spiritual grace comes from God, and is an act of love between Creat-or and creat-ed. It is an unconditional love, unearned, and undeserved.

Within the rite of baptism there is a lengthy question and answer portion that the minister asks the candidate. This is followed by another Q&A section where the minister asks those who are present to both remember and renew those same words once spoke during this holy sacrament.

Scholars tell us this portion of the rite is a good old-fashioned exorcism. If you don’t believe me, take a look yourself:

Question     Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?
Answer       I renounce them.

Question     Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?
Answer       I renounce them.

Question     Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?
Answer       I renounce them.

Question     Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior?
Answer       I do.

Question     Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love?
Answer       I do.

Question     Do you promise to follow and obey him as your Lord?
Answer       I do.

What do you think? Exorcism, or no? Also, did you notice that the things that were renounced have a cosmic, worldly, and a personal dimension to them? Did you notice that you couldn’t defeat these things on your own? That is why we turn to Christ, and say, “I do” and receive His grace and love. In other words, we need a Savior. We need help. We cannot confront these things on our own.

It is humbling to think that there are powers and principalities in this world that have been here since before we were born, and will be here after we’re gone. Personally, there is both institutional and individual sin that I am so caught up in that most of the time I’m not even able to see (much less) acknowledge it. Most of what I’ve done (or left undone) during the day goes on without full awareness, and I find myself confessing my sins while stumbling all over the place.

It is also humbling to know that the powers of love, grace, joy, and peace (to name a few) will also be here after I’m gone. Candidates for holy baptism are reminded of this when the community gathered around them say they will do all they can to support them in their life in Christ. They follow this up by making verbal promises to persevere with these persons with their own strength, as well as with the help of God. Again, we all need a Savior. We all need help.

What in your life needs an exorcism? What in our world needs an exorcism? Are you aware of your own limits, or do you think that you are like God and limit-less? What cosmic, worldly, and individual sins are you/we/the world caught up in now?

We all need a Savior. We all need help.

4 thoughts on “Exorcism in the Church

    • James,

      Thanks for reaching out. Your article you sent me brings to light similarities and differences between extemporaneous and liturgical forms of prayer. Both are necessary and beautiful expressions of Christianity. I personally shy away from assigning more value to one than the other because I believe the context one finds themselves in helps determine the form to use.
      Prayer (in whatever form) is the Holy Spirit praying through us; therefore, you are right to warn your audience against “magical” thinking where they mistakingly believe they are the ones solely in control.
      Keep thinking and praying on this. It’s my hope and prayer that God will continue to reveal the rich beauty in the various forms of prayer found within Christ’s Church to you and your audience.

      Grace and Peace,

      ~Fr. Brandon

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Angels and Demons | fatherbrandon

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