Our Boosters are matching gifts up to $45,000. We have $32,467 to go. Your gift today will count twice!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Dictionary

A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.

Search:

Or browse the dictionary by selecting a letter!
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

RITE OF EXORCISM

A sacramental by which a duly appointed person, generally a priest, is authorized to use the special power he receives to drive out the eveil spirit. Until recently this power had been conferred in the minor order of exorcist. Nevertheless the power could not be used except by a priest who had received the special and express permission from ecclesiastical authority. The Church, in her directives to exorcists, warns them not to be too ready to assume that there is diabolical possession, since there are so many cases of hysteria or other kinds of emotional disorder that may seem to be "possession." Moreover, explicit directives are given on how to deal with ostensibly possessed persons, notably to exercise great care not to be either deceived or intimidated by the evil spirit.

Over the centuries the rite of exorcism has been long and detailed, with a variety of ritual forms, numerous signs of the cross, recitation of psalms, the Athanasian Creed, prayers to St. Michael, use of holy water, and periodic adjurations. Among other formulas, the priest declares, "I adjure you, ancient serpent, by the Judge of the living and the dead, by your Creator, and the Creator of the world, by Him who has power to send you to hell. Depart immediately with fear and with your army of terror. Depart from this servant of God [name], who takes refuge in the bosom of the Church."

Private exorcism, which is the private adjuring of the devil from harming someone, may be performed by any priest, and also by a lay person; for example, by the use of sacramentals such as holy water or by invoking the name of Jesus.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Contentious Spirits, Beware! 12 hours ago
And here's another very old story: the secular media don't understand Catholic affairs October 29
How not to be persuasive October 29
Francis the Man, Francis the Pope October 28
Clarifying what it might mean for a pope to wish to change Catholic doctrine October 28

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Key synod report calls for 'gradualism' in Church response to irregular family situations CWN - October 13
As synod concludes, bishops issue message, approve document; Pope weighs in CWN - October 20
Synod of Bishops opens with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica CWN - October 6