Should the Church Consider Reintroducing the Exorcism Prayers in the Rite of Baptism?

010714In yesterday’s blog post, we examined some reports on the revised Rite of Baptism being proposed in the Church of England. Many argue, I think rightly, that the new Rite results in a watering down of many essential truths. The longer is sin nor the devil explicitly renounced. You can read more of that here: COE Waters Down Baptismal Rite??

But for our own purposes, as Roman Catholics, I think it is only fair, and worth examining that our own Rite of Baptism underwent substantial changes as of 1969. Frankly, I was unaware of how substantial the changes were until I began celebrating baptisms in the Extraordinary Form (EF), according to the norms of Summorum Pontificum. I do not celebrate a lot of these EF Baptisms, perhaps two or three year. And while I like the Ordinary Form of Baptism and celebrate it almost from memory, I also find the older form, to be moving and substantial.

Most significant among the changes in the Rite that occurred in 1969,(And what I like to concentrate on here) was the removal of the exorcisms, four in all. And these were not mild exorcisms at all! They were weighty and imperative (i.e. commanding). The devil is really given his walking papers; he is commanded in no uncertain terms that he must depart, recognizing his sentence as having been defeated by Christ who claims this child now for his own.

Critics at the time argued that the prayers seem to treat the infant as though he or she was possessed. And for this, and other reasons, the exorcisms were removed from the baptismal rites of the Church. The new right does feature a prayer that is technically referred to as an exorcism. But the prayers is so mild-mannered, really more in the form of a mere blessing, that I doubt the celebrant of baptism really thinks of it as an exorcism, (let alone any demons understand that they are being commanded to leave). Here’s the current prayer that is, in the rite, referred to as the exorcism:

Almighty and ever-living God, you sent your only Son in to the world to cast out the power of Satan, spirit of evil, to rescue man from the kingdom of darkness, and bring him into the kingdom of light. We pray for this child: set him free from original sin, make him a temple of your glory, and send your Holy Spirit to dwell with him. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Compare that to the prayers of exorcism from the old Rites which I here reproduce in English, though in EF Baptisms I say them in Latin:

Go forth from him (her), unclean spirit, and give place to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.

I exorcise thee, unclean spirit, in the name of the Father + and of the Son, + and of the Holy + Spirit, that thou goest out and depart from this servant of God, N. For He commands Thee, accursed one, Who walked upon the sea, and stretched out His right hand to Peter about to sink. Therefore, accursed devil, acknowledge thy sentence, and give honor to the living and true God: give honor to Jesus Christ His Son, and to the Holy Spirit; and depart from this servant of God, N. because God and our Lord Jesus Christ hath vouchsafed to call him (her) to His holy grace and benediction and to the font of Baptism.

And this sign of the holy Cross, which we make upon his (her) forehead, do thou, accursed devil, never dare to violate. Through the same Christ our Lord

I exorcise thee, every unclean spirit, in the name of God the Father + Almighty, in the name of Jesus + Christ, His Son, our Lord and Judge, and in the power of the Holy + Spirit, that thou be depart from this creature of God N, which our Lord hath deigned to call unto His holy temple, that it may be made the temple of the living God, and that the Holy Spirit may dwell therein. Through the same Christ our Lord, who shall come to judge the living and the dead, and the world by fire!

It will be granted, that these are strongly worded prayers. However they are not unlike many other exorcisms that were conducted in solemn blessings, such as the blessing of salt, the blessing of water, the blessing of oil, and so forth. It was a common practice in the rites of solemn blessings to first exorcise what was to be blessed and then bless it. It involved a kind of “clearing in the ground” before planting the seed. We’ll see more of this from St. Thomas in a moment.

Should the elimination of the prayers of exorcism concern us? Not insofar as the Church has permitted it. The Sacrament is surely valid. However, from a pastoral perspective I would like to respectfully propose that we make some consideration of restoring them to some extent.

Dr. Ralph martin makes some good observations in this regard that I would like to post here along with his substantial quotes from St Thomas Aquinas:

St. Thomas, in his fidelity to the teaching of the Apostles and the Fathers, takes very seriously the reality of the devil and the need to remove his influence from the lives of candidates for baptism. One reason for the lack of proper fruitfulness in the reception of Sacraments is that the power of the devil is not dealt with. St. Thomas says: “The power of the devil is restrained by prayers, blessings, and the like from hindering the sacramental effect”. (see ST III, q 66, a. 10) – (Dr. Ralph Martin, The Post-Christendom Sacramental Crisis and the Wisdom Thomas Aquinas. In Nova et Vetera. 11.1 pp 57-75)

Dr. Martin then cites the following quote from St. Thomas: in the Summa.  :

Whoever purposes to do a work wisely, first removes the obstacles to his work; hence it is written (in Jeremiah 4:3): “Break up anew your fallow ground and sow not upon thorns.” Now the devil is the enemy of man’s salvation, which man acquires by Baptism; and he has a certain power over man from the very fact that the latter is subject to Original, or even actual, sin. Consequently it is fitting that before Baptism the demons should be cast out by exorcisms, lest they impede man’s salvation. Which expulsion is signified by the (priest) breathing (upon the person to be baptized); while the blessing, with the imposition of hands, bars the way against the return of him who was cast out…. And the anointing with oil signifies man’s ability to fight against the demons…. (ST, III, q. 71, a. 2, Respondeo)

And thus, Dr. Martin, and of course St. Thomas Aquinas provide us with some very significant material for pastoral reflection. St. Thomas’ reflections not only describe the purpose of exorcisms, but also anticipate objections that were raised both then and now.

One objection is why bother exorcizing when the is about to be baptized and thereby freed of sin anyway? The question before us is certainly not the validity, or fact that the Sacrament of Baptism is received with or without the exorcisms; it is. Rather, the question is related to the fruitfulness of the sacrament once conferred.

And thus here Dr. Martin also Quotes St. Thomas in the same question (71) in the reply to the second objection which states: But sin is taken away by Baptism. Therefore men should not be exorcized before Baptism. And St. Thomas answers:

Reply to Objection 2. The power of the devil in so far as he hinders man from obtaining glory, is expelled from man by the baptismal ablution; but in so far as he hinders man from receiving the sacrament, his power is cast out by the exorcisms.

St. Thomas also adds,

Some say that the things done in the exorcism have no effect, but are mere signs. But this is clearly false; since in exorcizing, the Church uses words of command to cast out the devil’s power, for instance, when she says: “Therefore, accursed devil, go out from him,” etc. Therefore we must say that they have some effect, but, other than that of Baptism. For Baptism gives man grace unto the full remission of sins. But those things that are done in the exorcism remove the twofold impediment against the reception of saving grace. Of these, one is the outward impediment, so far as the demons strive to hinder man’s salvation. And this impediment is removed by the breathings, whereby the demon’s power is cast out…. The other impediment is within, forasmuch as, from having contracted original sin, man’s sense is closed to the perception of the mysteries of salvation….. (ST, III, q. 71, a. 3, Resp)

Hence the exorcisms are aimed at improving the fruitfulness of the Sacrament, not the fact of it. Just as we can reasonably conclude that one who is not catechized before or after the reception of the Sacrament of Baptism would generally show far less fruit, so also it seems reasonable to conclude that, other things being equal, the traditional exorcisms help to ensure the fruitfulness of the sacrament that is conferred. To use St. Thomas’ analogy, it does this by preparing the ground, such that when the seed of new life is conferred, it can readily receive it and there is room for it to grow.

As Dr. Martin also points out in his essay, we tend to significantly under-estimate the effects of Original Sin, even in an infant. These days, parents delay baptism for weeks, months, even years. There is little sense that their infant or young child is in any sense under the power of darkness or the evil one. Most parents, even many clergy and leaders,  see Original Sin is a kind of technical legal issue to be resolved, more than a massively serious problem to be dealt with as quickly and urgently as possible.

In this kind of a climate, The exorcisms listed above seem heavy-handed, and “over-the-top” while Original Sin seems to most people a little problem to be dealt with when all the family are in town for the nice little baptism ceremony.

Pastorally,  we need to make a journey back to a more sober appreciation of the condition in which we are all born, namely in Original Sin. It is no small matter, and the evil one clearly has some doorways, and strongholds in the unbaptized.

The old exorcism prayers articulated this well, and even if some consider their wording a bit excessive and the number of them  too numerous they do provide a pastoral framework of sobriety, and they also have the very real effect of helping to clear the ground, and prepare the way for the seed of New Life.

No, the infant or unbaptized person is not possessed in the formal sense of the word, but it never hurts to announce to Satan that is day is done, and give him his walking papers.


1. Obviously, as a parish priest, I am in no way authorized to alter the baptismal rite or any of the liturgies of the Church. I simply propose here a modest discussion among the faithful, (i.e. us)  which may or may not bear any fruit at all.

From time to time there are changes, most of the minor that come from Rome regarding the liturgical rites of the Church. Pope Benedict most recently made a change to the baptismal rite.

I only propose that we, namely the people of God, discuss among ourselves the restoration of some or all of the old exorcism prayers. If God the Holy Spirit desires this, the discussion will grow and ultimately have some wider effects in the Church.

2. Of course one immediate solution is to use the older Extraordinary Form of  Baptism which was recently permitted to be used again. But Let me be clear, I do not here, in this essay, seek to agitate for large-scale return to the extraordinary form of the sacraments. While parents are free to request this form of the sacrament from me, I do not pressure, or agitate for it. I do not even suggest it.  I simply say yes if requested.I am not aware of permission to conduct that Rite in English, and hence the use of Latin remains something of a barrier. (I am aware some clergy think they can conduct EF Baptisms wholly in English. Perhaps they can show me in writing where that is so, and what is the authorized translation to use).

The ordinary forms of the rites will continue to be those used by the vast majority of the faithful.  My main hope would be to initiate a discussion about the prayers of exorcism, be they optional or required, being reintroduced into the new rite of baptism.

This would be somewhat in line with Pope Benedict’s desire that the Extraordinary Form, and the Ordinary Form of the liturgies have some salutary effect on one another.

3. As one who has been engaged in deliverance ministry in recent years,  I have come to experience and understand the evil one is increasing his territory among many of the faithful. Deliverance prayers, to include minor exorcisms, and (with the bishop’s permission) major exorcism, will be something that will likely continue to grow in Church.

It is increasingly necessary for the faithful to specifically renounce Satan,  and all his works, and all his empty promises. It is also increasingly essential that many of the faithful be assisted by one-another and by clergy with deliverance prayers, minor exorcisms said by clergy,  to include in rare cases major exorcism.

The times in which we live make these sorts of prayers all the more necessary. It is in this context that I propose this discussion. I am indebted to Dr. Ralph Martin for his excellent article where he covers this issue and many others besides. You can read his full article here The Post-Christendom Sacramental Crisis and the Wisdom of St. Thomas Aquinas

Again I merely propose simple conversation. I am a loyal son of the Church and propose no rebellion or unauthorized practices in terms of adapting the Rites. Any changes, if they ever happen would take place under the Church’s authority.

Your thoughts?

64 Replies to “Should the Church Consider Reintroducing the Exorcism Prayers in the Rite of Baptism?”

  1. I am a cradle Catholic of 59.6 years. My journey home has been colorful, challenging and sweet, but the last 10 have been difficult. Although I have refined my knowledge and love of Christ, the journey has also become more difficult. Difficult not only because the more you grow in love and knowledge of our Good God, the more you understand the human condition and how lowly you are, but the more vicious the attacks by the evil one on your soul, become. We truly need the stronger prayers of exorcism at baptism. We should repeat our prayers of baptism and the renunciation of satan more than once a year (Easter). The daily use of holy water and bi-weekly confession should be practiced as well. The dark powers of evil are mighty, and I do believe that underestimating the devil is his biggest help in the destruction of our souls.

  2. I agree with you, Father. There are, however, relatively few people who attach much real efficacy to the sacrament in the first place. How many baptisms have I seen in my parish where it’s a “must do” photo op when the priest or deacon displays little Gwendolyn like the Lion King movie ? People just don’t take it seriously any more.

  3. There were always exorcisms in the baptismal rites of both East and West until the Vatican II “reforms” stripped the prayers down to nothing in everything from baptism to the blessing of sacramentals. Modern man and modern “scholarship” or even modern sensibilities should not be able to trump the TRADITIONS of the Fathers no matter how seemingly offensive.

    1. Well, OK, but there may be other motives too. Lets not impugn the motives or intelligence of people by putting “scholarship” in quotes. Liturgical studies often uncover complexities in historical data. Reasonable people differ on how to interpret some things. And also, sometimes later discoveries of historical sources help us to refine. Thus, I think we have more recently discovered that many of the earliest rituals were far more elaborate than many presumed back in the early 1960s. Thus, what scholars may have legitimate held then, needs to be re-examined now. I think this is a better way of putting it. Your other point is well stated, And Pope Benedict seems to have affirmed it, namely, that it was not proper or even legal to have wholly suppressed the old Mass and ritual, or as you say to “trump” the traditions.

      1. Yes, they should use the Latin rite but don’t bishops already have the power to use this form when authorising exorcism?
        You can find what are supposed to be true copies of Collectio Rituum Romanum as well as the Laudate Dominum to download for free, though before hand you face a strong & true admonishment over their use.

        But do not get involved with Collectio Rituum Romanum without consulting a monk or priest, nor use any such document without a superior knowledge of Latin and with every prescribed permission not generally included in the Collectio that assumes priests are first trained to use these books. This is not a recipe book from Harry Potter but are serious business for seriously educated who understand, attempts at exorcism are fruitless without Permission. [Fr Malachi Martin relayed this fact that an exorcist cannot proceed with an exorcism without being empowered by a bishop. Therefore what use are the rites? You cannot Un-possess yourself; such is this horrible condition that people who wish to play are possessed of mischief than anything else. You must consent fully and this rarely occurs.

        There are no shortcuts, not incantations, to bypass “The Way of the Cross” also known as living a Christian life. Every step is God’s will, for it is He who chose you, not you who chose him. If you’re bored, than you need to establish your hours in Holy Alliance with Heaven.

        There are excellent books that help to inspire Christian devotion. For passing time in free hours, you could try Frank Peretti’s The Oath. It’s fictional account of an allegory of the human condition when a lie is allowed to gather motion.
        The Philokalia books on watchfulness are vital sources of spiritual nutrition best taken in small doses.
        But nothing beats Holy Scripture.

  4. I think it would be prudent to reinstall some of the exorcism prayers that have been omitted, but more so the prayer to St Michael at the end of mass, I for one believe there are strong demonic forces at work in our society, how else would you explain the obsession with abortion, contraception, sex, violence…we have kids below the age of 18 doing things unheard of, of course now we administer psychotropic drugs to them to remedy the problem, we seem oblivious to the possibility to demonic influences.

  5. I am most impressed with your arguments, Msgr. Pope, as to WHY the older form of Baptism be used once again, because I too, as a layman, have increasingly come to believe that we live in a most terrible time that is fraught with much spiritual danger, because of the growing moral laxity and the almost, for one instance, almost CASUAL defense of so-called “gay marriage,” sometimes EVEN from those who should KNOW BETTER. In the light of many remarks that Pope Francis has made as to the SPIRITUAL REALITY of lucifer who seemingly is “roaring like a lion” all around us today, like you have alluded to, it certainly wouldn’t “hoit” to take prudential precautions against the ‘evil one’ who is palpably active among a most sodden secularist society that would appear to take so much evil afflicting us, i.e., the ongoing genocide of legalized slaughter, abortion on demand, with such a collective grain of salt. Once again, I think you’re on to something, so let’s bring the discussions re the older form of Baptism vs. the “watered down” version so used today, yeah, let’s bring it on. And once again, God Bless you, Msgr., for your perspicacity…

  6. English can be used in the Administration of the Sacrament of Baptism per the permission granted in 1959.

    From the 1961 Collectio Rituum:

    “In accordance with the new edition of the Collectio Rituum (approved October 11, 1959) the use of English alone is permissible only in those portions of the rite where it is printed in parallel columns with the Latin in the above-mentioned Collectio Rituum. This edition of the ‘Priest’s Ritual’ contains the rites for Baptism of one or more infants, for the Supplying of Ceremonies of Baptism, for Extreme Unction and Matrimony in accordance with the new Collectio Rituum. Thus for Baptism the left-hand page contains the Latin text only, whereas the right-hand pages give the parts that may be said in English only. For Extreme Unction and Matrimony the Latin and English are arranged in parallel columns to indicate what parts may be said in English only. All the other rites and blessings contained in this Ritual must be performed in Latin only.* For many of the prayers and blessings, however, English translations have been added after the Latin text to serve as a guide for the instruction of the faithful.

    *An exception is made in regard to many of the prayers for the sick and the dying which may still be said in English only as has been the custom in this country.”

    I believe that leaves only the following that must be said in latin:

    Blessing of the salt.
    the two exorcisms
    in odorum suavitatis
    oil of catechumens
    the form of the sacrament and
    the chrism.

    It follows that this applies according to the prescriptions of 28 of Universae Ecclesiae

    28 – Praeterea, cum sane de lege speciali agitur, quoad materiam propriam, Litterae Apostolicae Summorum Pontificum derogant omnibus legibus liturgicis, sacrorum rituum propriis, exinde ab anno 1962 promulgatis, et cum rubricis librorum liturgicorum anni 1962 non congruentibus.

    Good luck trying to find the Collectio Rituum though, It took me 10 years…. though that was pre-Summorum.

    1. Thanks for this. It looks like if I refer to a 1961 Collectio (which I have) it will have both a valid translation and clearly specify what must still be done in Latin! Does any one know if Ecclesia Dei has had anything else to say? # 28 you list above seems pretty clear, All existing liturgical law as of that time seems to still apply, insofar as the rites themselves. Does anyone know of later distinctions or rulings form Ecclesia Dei that might apply here?

      1. I do not believe there have abeen any additional comments whatsoever on this from the PCED. … Most likely due to the fact that #28 in Universae Ecclesiae was most likely meant to give confidence to the SSPX of stability of rite in their talks with PCED

        1. For readers, PCED = the Commission in Rome tasked with overseeing the Extraordinary form of the liturgies, sacraments and rites. SSPX – The Society of St. Pius 10th – a Schismatic group.

  7. First let me say that having undergone deliverance prayer, I can attest to how miraculous the effect is.

    Marilou, it seems to me the closer you get to God’s plan for you, the harder Satan works to thwart you. How many innocent babies did Satan murder to block Jesus and Moses from entering the world?

    Peter, just because people don’t understand it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. Perhaps the issue lies in the education of the parents before the baptism. I had three children and only had one baptismal class. The point of that class was the church didn’t care about me, only that my child had a good God-parent. A little lacking in substance, don’t you agree?

    Justin, there are a LOT of good things that came out of Vatican II. I hope you take the opportunity to read all the documents for yourself. They are available in English on the Vatican’s website.

  8. Dear and Reverend Monsignor,

    In the first place, I whole-heartedly agree that: [1] the prayers for “exorcism” are so anemic in the usus recentior as to be so in name only (i.e., legal positivism), [2] the prayers of exorcism in the usus antiquior are substantial and reflect/express a very thick account of a theology of sin, grace, and redemption, and [3] a discussion of an enrichment of the newer baptism rite is long overdue.

    It seems to me that the Roman Church has, until 1969, reflected very strongly the indisputable truth of revelation that the Father: “has transferred us from the domination of darkness into the Kingdom of His Beloved Son” (Col 1:13) through Baptism. This is the Church’s faith of all time. It does not seem to me that the newer rite reflects in a significant way this truth of our Faith, affirmed dogmatically and infallibly at the Council of Trent. Indeed, it was at a baptism in the more ancient rite that I heard, for the first time, that the baby belonged to the kingdom of the Devil. At first, I was shocked, but, after some investigation, lo and behold this is what both Scripture and Tradition unanimously affirm! Whod’a thunk it? Well, you can image that ever since, I have always (and God willing will always) affirm that Novus baptisms are valid (I mean, after Augustine, it really doesn’t take much), but are seriously impaired in their efficacy/fruition.

  9. There are spiritual realities involved here. Combat in the spiritual realm is a reality, and man’s nature has a spiritual component. It is absolutely necessary that the Church, speaking as the body of Christ, claim what is hers and preserve it pure and safe. I am grateful that in my baptism I received the benefit of the older prayers. I will not speculate on the spiritual consequences of their elimination except to note that demonic dangers increasingly seem to be out and about in my lifetime. I am not speaking about concupiscence, temptation, and sin, which have been with us since the Fall. I am speaking about assaults on human nature itself, on the very possibility of living an authentically human life, which for the first time ever is now at risk.

  10. I of course believe in what baptism does; but am dismayed by so many relatives of mine that were raised in the Church pre Vatican II and are no longer practicing Catholics. Apparently they were cultural Catholics taught by nuns.

  11. Msgr Pope,

    This would be analagous to going to confession before receiving Communion even if one is in the state of grace. The more we can remove the impediments the more the sacrament can work effectively. There is “ex opero operato” but also “not placing an obstacle” in the way of receiving the effect of the sacrament (can’t remember exact latin term for this)

  12. I wholeheartedly agree with you, Monsignor. The Church should reinstitute the exorcisms at Baptism. We need more protection from the evil one in these times, not less.

  13. I think these prayers would be more beneficial (pastorally) if they were used in the Rite of Confession ore than Baptism (but that too). Isn’t confession sometimes reckoned as a kind of “second baptism”? I j=know there is onyl one baptism and that this is not literal…but still…I think in confession these prayers would be most powerfully effective and helpful.

    And as a related aside: I wish the Vatican had decided to merge the EF and OF into one “new” Rite instead of having dual rites with their own trappings. Or at least have EF and OF both follow one liturgical calendar. It seems like liturgical schizophrenia to me, not unity in diversity such as is found in the various Rites or Ordinariates.

    This is not on baptism but it is a question I cannot to which I cannot find an answer: In the ER Ordinations, is subdeacon still the step into clerical state or in EF it is now also diaconate as in the OF? Does the EF still so porter, lector, exorcist etc? Thank you.

  14. Articles like this one (ordinary vs. extraordinary) are imformative but hardly helpful toward spiritual growth. The truth is that V2 and the changes since then have also been an effort to make our Traditions more faithful to the original praxis. You know, like Jesus facing the Apostles at the last supper and stuff like that. I don’t see in scripture where the Apostles exorcised people before baptizing them.

    1. As for spiritual growth, speak for yourself. As for your Last supper imagery and the general norm that First Century Palestine is the only reference for what is authentic, I suppose we should only allow men to present for mass, and only 12 at a time? Further, exorcisms related to baptism and other blessings go back to the earliest years and rituals. You say that Jesus didn’t do exorcisms before baptism, but you use an argument from silence, a weak form of argument to say the least. So your arguments here are poorly constructed, and ignore well of 1500 years of Church history in favor of an argument from silence. That V2 removed them, I am not sure, the council did not craft new rituals, a later concilium did that, and as I demonstrate in the article, changes and restorations do occur as time goes on. I simply suggest that this be one that happens at some point. Disagree is you like, but please don’t imply that others who disagree with you are in need of spiritual growth or in some tension with V2. Rituals do receive updating for pastoral reasons. We are frozen neither in 30 AD nor in 1969.

      1. Nowhere in my comment did I suggest that “First Century Palestine is the only reference for what is authentic”. I gave two examples, that of Jesus at the last supper and exorcisms not accompanying baptism, and a wild extrapolation ensued. I think we agree that on exorcism at baptism the church has indeed changed the prayers. Why? Who knows for sure? Could it be that as I mentioned previously the Church was making an attempt to bring us back to a more faithful expression of the sacrament? You are very respectively questioning the changes the Church has made, that’s fine, it’s even fun for some. The spiritual growth comment I made was wrong, I see that now that you mentioned it to me. I am very sorry. I meant to harm.

        1. You assert that the prayers might have been removed because the Church was attempting to restore a more faithful expression of the Sacrament or more “faithful to the original praxis”. That presumes that the development over nearly 2000 years was a deformation instead of enhancement; it’s also an idea flatly condemned by Pius X where he says that we should not prefer liturgical forms simply because they are older or supposedly what was done by the Apostles. The liturgy has developed over 2000 years in many ways to emphasize the underlying spiritual and theological truths and to provide greater efficacy. The Church could strip the liturgy down to only what we know to have been done in the first century or in Scripture, but the Liturgy would be severely impoverished of its beauty and lose many of the pointers towards Truth.

          1. “an idea flatly condemned by Pius X where he says that we should not prefer liturgical forms simply because they are older”

            But then what about the EF?!

          2. “Simply” is part of the key. He further contrasts antiquity versus tradition or continuance; that is, returning to something older because it is older is not sound and abandoning something which has been done with little change for centuries is ordinarily not good. The EF is a slight modification of earlier rights, which has developed and changed over the centuries, while keeping many details from the earliest days; in other words, it is not because it is ancient, but that it is tradition that is should be maintained.

    2. “The truth is that V2 and the changes since then have also been an effort to make our Traditions more faithful to the original praxis. ”

      More likely, what some scholars *thought* the original praxis was. Which, we’ve since learned, was not necessarily the case.

      But this is at risk for falling prey to the “archaeologism” that Pius XII warned against in Mediator Dei.

    3. P.S. Nowhere in Sacrosanctum Concilium did the Council call for stripping out prayers of exorcism from the a Rite of Baptism. This is, very arguably, yet another area where the reformers of the Concilium greatly exceeded their brief.

  15. “Critics at the time argued that the prayers seem to treat the infant as though he or she was possessed.”

    Clearly none of those critics were parents…

  16. I have been member of two FSSP, traditional parishes, one currently. The old form of Baptism is used and the exorcism prayers, of course, for babies and for adults.

  17. For my more serious comment – at Lutheran Baptisms:

    P: Do you renounce the devil?
    R: Yes, with the help of God

    P: And all of his works?
    R: Yes, with the help of God

    P: And all of his ways?
    R: Yes, with the help of God

  18. Daughter had the EF baptism. Deo gratias! And on taylormarshalls site u can see an FSSP priest i believe only performing the exorcisms/main parts in Latin.

  19. While the exorcisms may not be as vocally present in the current rite, I think it is important for baptizers to recall what they are doing – even in the current ritual. One thing I point out to families every time by way of explanation goes something like: “The anointing (Oil of Catechumens) and prayers are a way of saying this child is chosen by God, blessed by God, set apart for His service, and Satan has to keep his grubby mitts off!” While maybe not a great formulation in the liturgical sense, as a way of explaining the intention of the Church and reminding me of the seriousness of what is happening for this young soul – I think it is invaluable. Understanding the intention of the Church helps to overcome the perceived (or real?) shortcomings in the liturgical formulations we now have.

    Thank you Msgr. for reminding this priest to stay in the battle for souls in whatever way I can.

  20. Thank you, Monsignor; thanks also to all holy and faithful Catholics who recognize and call out how terribly much has been lost in the truncation of the historic rites of the Church, and what smoothly paved roads the Devil now travels within Her very heart, and how many souls are thus imperiled.

  21. Were the changes made by Annibale Bugnini? He seemed to have been allowed to run amok with the liturgy.

  22. Certainly a return to the old rite of baptism would be preferable but not immediately possible. Perhaps priests with a willingness to offer the sacrament in both rites could present both options to parents who request baptisms, rather than automatically offer the new one as the default choice?

    I second the earlier call for a return of the Leonine prayers after Mass. Since they technically take place after Mass, there is nothing in the new rite that prohibits it. It’s a small but important way for any parish to protect against the evil one….it costs nothing and takes only a few minutes.

  23. Thank you for this post, Monsignor. I wasn’t aware that there had been these changes, but I agree with many others here: these exorcisms should be reinstated. I have no doubt that the removal of these has had a profoundly negative consequence – in society, in the Church, and within the family.

    My oldest son was baptized as an infant in the Church but no longer attends (my fault since I left the RC Church and raised him and his sister in a Baptist church). Every year though, I manage to get him to come with us on the Sunday when we celebrate the Lord’s Baptism – just so he gets the chance to renew his baptismal vows.

  24. why not , even more I believe it should be done before accepting the host before first communion , and besides we denounce satan during every baptism

  25. You might have more convincing to do among your brother priests. Exorcism is prescribed three times in the Rite of Christian Initiation. I know one local pastor who limits his RCIA director to doing it just once because he finds them “negative.”

    Exorcism is not magical. It also can be an excuse for taking personal responsibility for sin. There is no devil who makes us do everything bad. People make choices to commit the most horrific sins. There is a rite for confessing these sins. There is also a virtue in practicing humility and self-sacrifice outside of the sacrament by cultivating an open heart and practicing the request of and granting forgiveness.

    If an exorcism is needed in the Rite of Baptism, what of the adults present: the minister, the parents, the godparents, family and friends–it would seem these people need it more.

    1. There’s a lot of convincing to do everywhere. As for the RCIA, i think there are also a couple of other issues related to that. Most priests experience the RCIA as a bewildering set of rituals, and options. It is not a very coherent package for busy men to sort thorough. Even DREs and RCIA coordinators have trouble figuring it all out. More pertinent to this discussions, is that prayers have no imprecatory quality at all and are at best very mild mannered deprecatory prayers. Exorcisms has always used a combination of imprecatory (commanding) and deprecatory (beseeching) prayers. If one wants to call them exorcisms at all the best we can say is that they have been wholly de-fanged. Anyway, I am with you in that many especially older priests seem to fear even a whiff of negativity. There is work to do.

      1. I am not surprised in regards to the RCIA program when it comes to the rituals, and in a special way, during the last 3 weeks of Lent, when there are going to be people who will be baptized who take part in a ritual called the “scrutinies”. Right now I am in training in this ministry in my diocese. From what I have been told, the process of the scrutinies serves as a process of conversion for the person(s) who are going to be baptized. The big focus of the RCIA program centers on baptism. My parish has given the responsibility of the RCIA ministry to one of the two permanent deacons. The other permanent deacon handles the one for children coming into the Church. It can be very complex, even for those who are being trained in this ministry.

  26. I was baptized in the old rite so I got all the exorcisms. The whole process was a little strenuous with standing and kneeling multiple times. Holding your body completely still while kneeling and standing for a good amount of time takes more effort than one might think. When we finally got to the actual baptism, I was pretty warm so the water on my forehead felt really cold and refreshing.

    It’s not allowed to just substitute parts of the old rite, I’m guessing. I can understand why the TLM shouldn’t be tampered with but if the influence is going the other direction, the old rite influencing the new, that seems like a good thing. Can you just add in the exorcisms? I remember Pope Benedict saying somehting about the two rites ultimately blending together–why don’t they just allow that to happen? At the prompting of a priest I went to the new mass recently. He said I could kneel to receive communion. When they give communion they just say, “the body of the Lord.” In the TLM they say, “the body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto life everlasting.” If I can stand or kneel to receive communion, can the priest say the words from the TLM?

  27. I am 51 years old so when I was baptized in April 1962 it was under the older rite of the Church. I think also it was a mistake to remove the exorcism prayers even according to the former head of HLI Father Thomas. It is a matter of not posses babies but of protecting them from evil. Like Jesus says at the end of the Our Father. BTW, the only growth going on in the Church all over the world is in the Traditional Mass and Sacraments.

  28. I would be interested in the history of the rite and how this has been dealt with over time. When and how did they come in? Is this universal, or a peculiarity of certain rites? What were the reasons of the reformers? Perhaps one strongly worded exorcism can be added back in instead of four, for the benefit of the recipient, and to reaffirm among the faithful the truth of original sin and the existence of demonic beings. There’s nothing wrong with adjusting a reform, especially in light of new data on the ground not present when the reform took place. And, for disclosure, my three children have been baptized in the EF form.

  29. The adversary’s influence is deepening and spreading. I was baptized at 3 months in 1947 with the EF. I strongly feel it has given me many many spiritual advantages. I would not be as strong in our faith without it. The faithful, who are very close to Christ are being viciously attacked. In the last week alone, i was abandoned, seriously ill, left with little to eat, had no money and no one, it felt like, to care for me. In both cases, within 2 hours of prayer and deep conversation with Abba, things did a total turn around. My older son came up and took care of it and me. Thank You Jesus. The point being, this latest, was one of a long series of moves which would utterly disrupt my life and being taken care of within 2 hours each time.

    We have wakened our defenses by watering down the Baptismal Rites and the Rites of Exorcism, as Father Amorth so poignantly states. Why not just unlock all the Church defenses… Thank you for a very good question and discussion Father.

  30. I am a former Seminarian and am married and have three grown children. I am a Tridentine Mass attendee and am glad it is offered. The Novus Ordo, while legitimate and especially since corrected for the consecration and the formulary from Mathew pro vobis et Multis, not Omnibus (For you and for many – not for you and all! I was given a unique experience when our son was struck down with cancer, not once but twice, as a 16-18 yr old. It was traumatic. He was given a 10% chance to recover the second time. There was a stigmatist in the area in
    Santa Maria, CA. I went to her and her daughter (9 year old) was given messages while in a trance, and translated into English as they were Latinas. The Stigmatist – her mother. She had the Stigmata during Lent. I asked the girls to ask Mary for a favor, that our son be healed and was told That I too could ask for that. I was asked to pray at 3:00pm EACH DAY to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (I discovered that this was a Divine Mercy hour, and I did the Chaplet each day, though the time was difficult to pray. Our son WAS/IS healed and the Doctors at UCLA Medical Center, confused but admitted “your son had outside help, but we are not taught that in Medical School!” My real point here is: Clergy do not believe in Miracles much anymore. I was told that this happens in Lourdes and Fatima, but in Santa Maria? Well, it remended me of what was said about the Holy Family being from Bethlehem, by the local Jewish community. I am NOT holy. I am NOT special. I was praying the Rosary at the Stigmatist family home outside where there is a bleeding Madonna – Virgin de Guadalupe icon
    and at the 5th Sorrowful Mystery, and the weather being cold, a sudden burst of warm air surrounded me and went thru me. The mother and Stigmatist, turned and looked at me, went inside, had the Stigmata, and came out and handed a ball of cotton with the blood on it and gave it to me. I will always remember that uniquely and
    fearful day. I thought that Jesus had passed right thru me on His way to speak to the Stigmatist. Frightening as well. I told the local Parish after morning Mass and the had it printed up but the Pastor was away and when he came back and saw the write up in the Bulletin, he was angry. Priests today are skeptics. The UCLA doctors were NOT! We have too many ordained but faith deficit minded clergy in our parishes these days. Bishops refuse to accept the Orthodox candidates. The parable about the Good Shepherd is NOT believed in.

  31. One could almost be forgiven for thinking the devil himself had something to do with removing condemnations of himself from the baptismal rites, the new rite of exorcism, and for ensuring that modern priests are not automatically granted the power to exorcise when they receive holy orders. Qui bono, indeed. All of these subtle and not so subtle changes. And good Catholics dare to defend the changes in the modern Church. As Monsignor said, “I was not aware…” Well, now we are aware. Can we dare to tell the truth more forcefully please?

  32. Reading your article I see the point of discussion is weather the new rite of exorcism prayer is worded strongly enough to be effective. I think the new is just as effective as the old. If you agree with this all other arguments are moot.

  33. I was once an evangelical Christian who listened for God to speak to me. He never did. God never spoke to me in a still, small voice. God never “moved” me or “led” me. I blamed myself and left the Church. Now that I am older, I have had time to look at the evidence, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it was never me…it was always God. Here is the evidence I found:

    Disease and Illness: Christians have the same rates of disease and illness as non-Christians. Jesus doesn’t seem to answer prayers for healing. The percentage of non-Christians, including atheists, who recover from illness is the same as that of Christians. Christians who claim that they were healed due to prayer cannot prove that their healing was not due to some other factor, such as the medication that their doctor was giving them or pure coincidence. If Jesus really heals people due to prayer, Christians should have a much higher healing rate. They don’t.

    Death rates: The average life span of Christians is no better than that of non-Christians, including atheists.

    Accident rates: Christians have just as many accidents as non-Christians. There is no evidence that Jesus provides any better protection for Christians behind the wheel than non-Christians, including atheists. So asking Jesus to keep you and your family safe on your road trip doesn’t seem to be of any benefit.

    Job promotion: Is there any evidence that Christians are promoted in their jobs more often than non-Christians? I doubt it. Praying to Jesus to give you that promotion or that raise that your family really and truly needs doesn’t seem to work.

    Food poisoning: Most Christians pray before every meal for God to bless their food. However, no study I am aware of indicates that Christians have fewer incidences of food poisoning or that Christians are healthier than non-Christians. Jesus doesn’t seem to respond to prayers for “blessing” food.

    Child Safety: This is a big one for most Christian parents. We pray to Jesus to keep our children safe. Studies, however, demonstrate that the rate of accidents, injuries, disease, and death among the children of Christians is no different than the rates for the children of non-Christians. Praying to Jesus to keep your children safe is not effective.

    Now, maybe it isn’t God’s will for Christians to have lower disease rates, lower death rates, lower accident rates, lower food poisoning rates, lower child injury rates, and higher job promotion rates. But get this: Christians, and even evangelical Christians, have the same divorce rate as non-Christians! So either evangelical Christians are not praying to Jesus regarding their selection of a life partner (which I don’t believe for a second) or Jesus isn’t listening.

    Or…Jesus isn’t there.

  34. I was among the last to get the old rite as an infant in 1972. Mine was a “celebrity baptism” of sorts. My Baptism and accompanying exorcisms were said by one of my father’s relations, who was a Jesuit who was actually involved in the exorcism that inspired the movie “The Exorcist” and actually had a bit part in it. All the extras who were Jesuits in the movie assisted in the exorcism. My younger brother and sister got the new rite and they were little heathens. I didn’t connect the two until now. I just thought they were born bad. That said, I was helping out a priest I knew about 25 years ago (late 1980s-early 1990s) when I unexpectedly ended up assisting with a (new rite) baptism. He was the newly-appointed pastor of a parish which had one other priest and two churches. He’s novus ordo (he says mass in English and does the new rites) but older. (Supposedly when he was given his new assignment, and it was made clear that at times, he would be one priest with two churches, he said, “what am I supposed to do? Bi-locate?”) The priests had said all the masses scheduled for that Sunday, and they had gone back to the rectory office when a crowd showed up shortly thereafter. Upon further examination, it turned out to be two distinct crowds: one a group for a wedding rehearsal, which the pastor fobbed off on the other priest, and the other, parents and godparents who asked that their baby be baptized. (This was before computerized scheduling software: he had been double-booked.) I should explain that nobody in the party of laypeople was in danger of death: parents, godparents and baby were all in perfect shape, yet he had insisted on doing the baptism immediately, but he was in a state of agitation when he didn’t see _how_ he was going to do it. I was 17, I had never seen a priest actually freak out before. I reminded him that he had two churches, and that since the local shops had bottled water, he could baptize with it if necessary (the other church lacked running water). We all ran to the other church, where he started getting ready. He told me he had been reading the rubrics when he announced that though there were at times things that could be left out of rituals if need be, he wasn’t _comfortable_ doing without _one_ particular element in this case. He explained that though a priest could usually do without altar servers, this wasn’t the case here. He needed someone who could outrank an ordinary altar server, though, because there was an exorcism involved and the rule was to never do an exorcism alone. That’s when he declared a state of emergency, and as a normally mild-mannered individual, surprised the hell out of me when he started barking orders! At first I thought he’d gone histrionic, but then it occurred to me that the declared state of emergency was necessary (to him and the situation) so that _I_ could altar serve. (Which girls weren’t allowed to do in the NY Archdiocese in those days. We also weren’t allowed to go in the sanctuary with our wrong body parts, which posed a bit of a problem when Father forgot his biretta.) Yes, he told me he wanted me, and that I was _supposed_ to serve because only I was available to serve. I totally wasn’t expecting the field promotion to temporary deacon and standby exorcist. Yes, I did it though I was scared sh!tless at the time (I was wondering what I would do if things went terribly, horribly, The Exorcist wrong, whether I would be actually expected to perform an exorcism exorcism in such a circumstance, and exactly how I would explain things to the secular authorities, assuming I was the one left alive.) When I asked him afterwards about my being pressed into service, he said it had said that he had to be altar-served by a “cleric” but hadn’t said that cleric had to be a man. I was scratching my head about this until I recently found out about consecrated virgins.

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