Nineteen hundred years ago, Christ, the Son of God, came upon this earth. He gained the victory over Satan, the Prince of this World, and founded His own Kingdom, the Church. He vested His Church with the same powers that He had received from the Father. "As the Father sent Me, so I send you."
When preparing her candidates for the ministry, Holy Mother Church hands these powers over to them that they may continue the mission of Christ's Kingdom on earth. Preparatory to Holy Priesthood the candidate receives the so-called minor and major orders. Among the minor orders is one called the Order of Exorcist. When the Bishop confers this order he pronounces the following significant words: You receive the power to place your hand upon those possessed and through the imposition of your hands, the grace of the Holy Ghost and the words of exorcism you shall drive evil spirits out of the bodies of those so possessed.
The Solemn and powerful meaning attached to this ceremony, not conferred in any of the other orders, can be gleaned from the words: Receive and impress upon your mind that you receive the right to place your hand upon those possessed.
Later on the Bishop invites the faithful to join him in asking that he who is to receive this order may be an effective agent in expelling the evil spirit from those possessed. He continues to pray that the candidate may become an approved physician of the Church through the gift of healing conferred upon her by the Almighty Himself.
The Church bases her action on the example of Christ Himself,
Who frequently drove out evil spirits and endowed His disciples with full authority
to do likewise. The superficial faith of our age regards such an order as
superfluous. The reality of hell, devils, and cases of possession have been
denied as myths of the dark ages. Even if Christ and the Apostles repeatedly
emphasized the powers of the evil spirit, these are looked upon as purely
That Satan has succeeded in making man so indifferent
regarding his actions of misleading men is one of his greatest and most
People rarely listen to anything of a supernatural nature.
Actual happenings of the supernatural order in our times are all the more striking therefore and cannot so readily be dismissed by a mere shrug of the shoulders -- facts such as the numerous and indisputable miracles at Lourdes, the extraordinary visions, stigmata, abstention from food, and gift of languages of Theresa Neumann, the life of the Cure of Ars who was recently proclaimed a saint of the church, to whom for 35 years the sight of hell was constantly and really an ordinary experience. No less worthy of note are the facts in the cases of possession occurring in our times: the case of a possessed boy in Wemding, Suabia, Bavaria, 1891; the case in St. Michael's Mission in Africa in 1906 of two girls possessed; the noted case of the Chinese woman Lautien in Honan, China, in 1926 and 1929, which was under the direction of Father Peter Heier, S.V.D., of Hague, N. D., now a Missioner in China, and several cases in Rockford, Ill., since 1940.
The priest has frequent opportunities for using his power of exorcism. The blessings of holy water, its various uses in the blessing of houses and in the many other blessings and benedictions of the church in her sacramentals, are dependent upon this power. Pope Leo XIII in our own time composed a powerful and solemn prayer of exorcism for priests against the fallen angels and evil spirits. It is said that this Pope, after God permitted him to see in a vision the great devastation Satan is carrying on in our times, composed the prayer of exorcism in honor of St. Michael that is now recited in the vernacular as one of the prayers after Mass.