Wherein Fr. Z comments on a @RorateCaeli post about priests, permissions and exorcism prayers. Then @fatherz rants.

Dunstan 1 - Devil 0

Dunstan 1 – Devil 0

At Rorate there is a post especially for priests about the proper and improper use of the exorcism prayers in the older Rituale Romanum.  It’s a good service.

After providing images of a 2009 letter from the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” with responses to questions  (back in the day we got answers to dubia), about deacons blessing with the older Rituale (sort of important, but … not really), they got down to the far more important issue: the danger to priests (or others) which can result from using the restricted exorcism prayers without the proper permission.

The Rorate post adds a anonymous (alas) note about how sins and playing with things like oujia boards can open the door to entrance by demons.   The writer correctly states – and this is accurate and salutary – that demons are legalistic.  Therefore, if a priest uses these restricted prayers without permission, he could be opening the door to the demons attacking him!   I often warn lay people in these electronic pages to avoid getting at all into these matters, these texts.  Avoid them!  If even a priest – having the character imposed by orders – without a permission can get into trouble, how much more lay people?

Some explanation is in order:

The traditional rite of exorcism is found in the traditional Rituale Romanum.

Summorum Pontificum 9, §1 allows the use of the Ritual in force in 1962, that is, the 1952 edition, which was the last official edition prior to 1962. Universae Ecclesiae 35, a document explaining the implementation of SP, says that the Ritual can be used in its entirety. That means that the rites for Exorcism can be used.  HOWEVER… these rites were restricted to bishops and those to priests to whom the ordinary gave permission.  They still are.  Always have been.

The rites of exorcism are found in Title XI of the 1952 Rituale. Title XVI is is 3 chapters.
1. De exorcizandis obsessis a daemonio – An introductory chapter which explains exorcisms, etc. It doesn’t contain rites of exorcism.
2. Ritus exorcizandi obsessos a daemonio – This rite may be pronounced only by bishops and and by priests who have authorization from the Ordinary (keep in mind that that are different kinds of “ordinaries” – a Vicar General is an “Ordinary”). The rite includes the litany, long prayers with signs of the Cross, readings from Scripture, the Athanasian Creed, psalms, etc.  If I wanted to drive the devil out of some Jesuit, I would use this prayer, with the permission of the local bishop or ordinary.
3. Exorcismus in satanam et angelos apostaticos – This prayer – for driving the infesting enemy from people and from places – can be used by bishops and by priests who have authorization from the Ordinary. It consists of a prayer to St. Michael, a couple of exorcism prayers, etc.  For example, if I wanted to exorcise the offices of the Fishwrap I would use this prayer with permission from the local bishop or vicar general (unless the bishop restricted this to himself in KC).

In each case, a priest must have permission.  Any bishop can use them pretty much anywhere.

It was very good that Rorate posted on this.  Hopefully priests will read the post and take it seriously.  Dealing with demons is not a game of bean bag.   They are angelic beings, restrained in large part by God, but angelic nonetheless.

The Rorate post’s comment, however, may go astray on a point.   The writer seems to imply that the 2009 PCED letter (the “protocol”) might have changed something.  After commenting that some priest used the Ch. 3 of Title XI with good effects for some time apparently without specific permission, and that that was recommended in a book which had an imprimatur by Card. Pell, (emphases added):

this protocol makes it clear that it is now unquestionably at least a material disobedience each and every time any priest in the world uses this prayer without the proper permissions. And certainly every devil in the world is well aware of this.”

This is a small matter, but Card. Pell’s book couldn’t have given any permission to use Ch. 3 and I don’t believe there was ever a question about whether or not a priest could use ch. 3 without permission.  If Summorum Pontificum gave permission to use the entire Rituale, it did not thereby remove the restrictions on exorcisms.

Therefore, the 2009 PCED letter did not once again place restrictions on the use of those prayers.  The restrictions were always there.  Period.  It was always wrong and even dangerous for the aforementioned priest to use either ch. 2 or 3 without the permission of the ordinary, before SP and after.

That said, it is true that demons know the law and that they are legalistic.   That’s a good point in the Rorate post.  This is one of the reasons why the Church’s traditional exorcism prayers are seemingly repetitive when breaking demonic bonds.  Demons claim rights to be where they are, because they were invoked or invited by curses or “spells” or through objects and sins, etc.  Once there, they attach like leeches and get legalistic.  The prayers of the Church systematically break their claims and eradicate them and expel them.

And they really hate Latin.

Demons get so legalistic that they will mock priests whose Latin isn’t very good.  That’s why I made this post HERE.

Folks, I’m not making this stuff up.

If after Vatican II the Church’s shepherds stopped talking about sin and its consequences, that doesn’t mean that sin stopped having consequences.

Demons can infest places and things and people like vermin or ringworm or parasites and they are decidedly unhelpful for everyone around.

Don’t kid yourselves.   This is one reason why in our traditional practices as Catholics we use lots of sacramentals, we say prayers before meals asking God to bless our food, etc.  We had – have – blessings for everyday things, tools, foods, common and important places (homes or perhaps sick rooms).  We have blessings and rites for feasts and changes of seasons.  All these practices wove us as individuals into the rich fabric of the Church’s life in the practice of the virtue of religious, and braided us all together in our rites and our identity together with our forebears and descendants.

We are our rites!  Change them, drop them, denigrate them… there are consequences.

Holy Church is the greatest expert on humanity there has every been.  Through centuries of experience she developed what is good for us and WHAT WORKED.  These things can slowly change and shift over time, but they do so slowly.  Human beings don’t really change over the millennia.  Circumstances do, but even then not too much.  So, when the Church figured it out, making sudden changes to… everything, I guess, was consequential.

In the creeds we recite, we say that we believe in things that are “invisible”.  That means the angelic realm, with its good and holy angels who are our friends and guardians as we as the fallen angels, who are demons and who desire our spiritual isolation from God and ultimate torment.  There are hierarchies of angels, good and bad.  Some are vastly more powerful than others, each one being his own species, as different from each other as a giraffe from a spiny hedgehog.  But all angels transcend our human nature.  Thanks be to God we have our Church with sacramentals and even more mighty sacraments.  We have angels and the restraining will of God over all the forces of Hell.

This is why I never fool around with rites for blessings and sacramentals.  I use the older Rituale, with its permitted exorcisms in Latin and clear intentions.

Finally, listen up!

The rite of exorcism is just a sacramental.   Confession and the Eucharist are sacraments and are immensely powerful.   If you are having problems of some kind and suspect demonic involvement, make plans to make a good Holy Communion, examine your conscience and…