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Exorcisms: Catholic and Tibetan

Disclaimer: This work has been completed as an educational tool for students of history, religious and paranormal studies. The author wishes to discourage any use of this work in conjunction with paranormal field investigations of demons.

Presented by Kyle T. Cobb, Jr. to the audience of Dragon-Con 2014

Nos tibi credere.

A  Literary History

Another point of translational confusion that has persisted in English bible versions is the use of the term daimonizo. Most English translations have changed this verb into meaning “to be possessed by a demon.” There is however, no sense of ownership in the original uses of this verb. It is more proper translated as “to be influenced by a demon.”

A subtle difference but as I am sure you will agree being owned and being influenced are two radically different degrees of control. The later then allows for free will in the situation.

Two other quick terms that are important in understanding the biblical references to demons are ekballo and exorkizo.

With only 1 exception biblical Greek texts use the term ekballo ἐκβάλλει, which means “to push out” to describe the removal of a demon. The term exorkizo ἐξορκιστῶν (or exorcism) meaning to “adjure or command” is used only once in the New Testament in Acts 19:13 and that is used when referring to non-Christians expelling demons.    

Exorcism as a Catholic Rite

Exorcism was added to the Baptism ritual around 200 A.D.

Prior to the middle Ages, most Christian priest had semi-standardized prayers written in small books call Sacramentaries. Eventually, the Sacramentaries were expanded as Missals to include portions of the ceremonies. Because each diocese had its own version of the Missals, there was little standardization. In the 16th century, three missals were published under the authority of the Pope.

The Rituale Romanum of 1614 was Pope Paul V (1605-1621) version of the Ritual and was in place as the standard prior to June 17, 1614.

In addition to having exorcisms as part of baptisms and investments ceremonies, a stand-alone exorcism Rite was made part of the ritual.

For 400 years, the Roman Ritual of 1614 was the standard for the Catholic Church. Periodically there would be minor revisions but the core of the document remained fundamentally unchanged. December 1998 saw the first major revision of the Roman Rite. Many Exorcists believed the 1998 Rites of Exorcism marked a decline in the strength of the Ritual. For instance 12 of the 21 instructions in the Ritual’s preface instructing priests have been removed.

The Exorcism Rite in the 1614 Roman Ritual is composed of 11 prayers and 17 biblical text. It is designed to last 20-25 minutes. It is then repeated over and over. One session will last between 2- 12 hours. The sessions are then repeated over several weeks or month. After long sessions, short sessions are often used to retest the possessed to see if they are still possessed.

The 1614 Ritual charges priest considering exorcisms “not believe too readily that a person is possessed by an evil spirit; but he ought to ascertain the signs by which a person possessed can be distinguished from one who is suffering from some illness, especially one of a psychological nature.

Signs of possession may be the following:

The evidence must prove beyond all reason and earthly explanation that the person is possessed by a demonic spirit. This is the single requirement of the early and contemporary Catholic Church.

Charges to the priest

The priest charged with performing an exorcism should:

The Rite warns priest that they should be on guard against “the arts and subterfuges which the evil spirits are wont to use in deceiving the exorcist” which includes using “deceptive answers” with the hope that it will make it difficult to understand them, so that the exorcist “might tire and give up.” The demons, once recognized will try to “conceal themselves and leave the body practically free from every molestation” to allow the exorcist to believe they have succeeded. The demon will also try to convince the priest, that the cause of the malady is natural and not demonic.

It is also common for the demon to attempt to make the priest fall asleep or to make the priest the priest see false visions.

In Preparing for the Exorcism

When the exorcism is conducted:

The subject of the exorcism, if healthy, is encouraged to fast and pray. The Rite also warns that there is always a possibility of the demon or another evil spirit returning.

The Catholic Exorcism ceremony

The Exorcism begins with the Litany of Saints. This is a prayer for various Saints to assist the priest and the possessed in removing the evil spirit.

Next the priest issues a prayer for the Lord to forgive the possessed of their sins.

Then demon is then Commanded:

“unclean spirit, whoever you are, along with all your minions now attacking this servant of God, by the mysteries of the incarnation, passion, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the descent of the Holy Spirit, by the coming of our Lord for judgment, that you tell me by some sign your name, and the day and hour of your departure. I command you, moreover, to obey me to the letter, I who am a minister of God despite my unworthiness; nor shall you be emboldened to harm in any way this creature of God, or the bystanders, or any of their possessions.”

Readings from the Gospels of John, Mark and Luke follow. Next several prayers are recited and the priest touches the head of the possessed.

The First Exorcism is given (this is the same in both the 1614 and 1998 versions):

I cast you out, unclean spirit, along with every satanic power of the enemy, every spectre from hell, and all your fell companions; in the name of our Lord Jesus + Christ Begone and stay far from this creature of God. + For it is He who commands you, He who flung you headlong from the heights of heaven into the depths of hell. It is He who commands you, He who once stilled the sea and the wind and the storm. Hearken, therefore, and tremble in fear, Satan, you enemy of the faith, you foe of the human race, you begetter of death, you robber of life, you corrupter of justice, you root of all evil and vice? seducer of men, betrayer of the nations, instigator of envy, font of avarice, fomentor of discord, author of pain and sorrow. Why, then, do you stand and resist, knowing as you must that Christ the Lord brings your plans to nothing? Fear Him, who in Isaac was offered in sacrifice, in Joseph sold into bondage, slain as the paschal lamb, crucified as man, yet triumphed over the powers of hell. (The three signs of the cross which follow are traced on the brow of the possessed person). Begone, then, in the name of the Father, + and of the Son, + and of the Holy + Spirit. Give place to the Holy Spirit by this sign of the holy + cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.

After a series of prayers the Exorcism continues with:

“Therefore, I adjure you every unclean spirit, every spectre from hell, every satanic power, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who was led into the desert after His baptism by John to vanquish you in your citadel, to cease your assaults against the creature whom He has formed from the slime of the earth for His own honor and glory; to quail before wretched man, seeing in him the image of almighty God, rather than his state of human frailty. Yield then to God, + who by His servant, Moses, cast you and your malice, in the person of Pharaoh and his army, into the depths of the sea. Yield to God, + who, by the singing of holy canticles on the part of David, His faithful servant, banished you from the heart of King Saul. Yield to God, + who condemned you in the person of Judas Iscariot, the traitor. For He now flails you with His divine scourges, + He in whose sight you and your legions once cried out: "What have we to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Have you come to torture us before the time?" Now He is driving you back into the everlasting fire, He who at the end of time will say to the wicked: "Depart from me, you accursed, into the everlasting fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels." For you, O evil one, and for your followers there will be worms that never die. An unquenchable fire stands ready for you and for your minions, you prince of accursed murderers, father of lechery, instigator of sacrileges, model of vileness, promoter of heresies, inventor of every obscenity.

Depart, then, + impious one, depart, + accursed one, depart with all your deceits, for God has willed that man should be His temple. Why do you still linger here? Give honor to God the Father + almighty, before whom every knee must bow. Give place to the Lord Jesus + Christ, who shed His most precious blood for man. Give place to the Holy + Spirit, who by His blessed apostle Peter openly struck you down in the person of Simon Magus; who cursed your lies in Annas and Saphira; who smote you in King Herod because he had not given honor to God; who by His apostle Paul afflicted you with the night of blindness in the magician Elyma, and by the mouth of the same apostle bade you to go out of Pythonissa, the soothsayer. Begone, + now! Begone, + seducer! Your place is in solitude; your abode is in the nest of serpents; get down and crawl with them. This matter brooks no delay; for see, the Lord, the ruler comes quickly, kindling fire before Him, and it will run on ahead of Him and encompass His enemies in flames. You might delude man, but God you cannot mock. It is He who casts you out, from whose sight nothing is hidden. It is He who repels you, to whose might all things are subject. It is He who expels you, He who has prepared everlasting hellfire for you and your angels, from whose mouth shall come a sharp sword, who is coming to judge both the living and the dead and the world by fire.”

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Example of page from a Middle Age Missal

Roman Ritual of 1614

Priests examining a demon

Christ removing a demon from its host.

Exorcisms 4