The Exorcistic Effect of the Word of God

Many often think of exorcism only in relation to driving out demons from possessed people using ancient prayers. But, truth be told, we all have afflictions, oppressions, temptations and other negative thoughts and drives that are influenced by demons. Such influences may be direct and personal, but there are also sources of error and negativity that come from the world; and the world itself is often under the sway of the “prince of this world” (Satan) who spreads his lies and hate.

Among the Lord’s principal weapons in driving demons out is his Word, given to us in the Scriptures and Sacred Teachings of the Church. In the desert, Jesus rebuked every temptation by recourse to scripture. St. Michael is often depicted holding a sword against Satan. But this sword is not a physical sword of shiny steel, it is the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God (Eph 6:17).

One of the great purposes of the Lord’s Word is to drive back the demons in our lives associated with ignorance, despair, presumption, sinfulness, worldliness, and every other foolish and harmful thought or drive. In the sacred liturgy, the proclamation and preaching of the Word of God is not a mere conveying of information or the telling of ancient stories. The Word of God does not merely inform, it performs, and thereby transforms. In this way demons and their influence are driven back and there is built for us a bulwark of truth. If we faithfully attend Holy Mass and carefully listen to the proclaimed Word of God, it has an exorcistic quality. How much more so then when we also receive the Word Made Flesh, in Holy Communion!

Consider, as a demonstration, a passage from last week’s daily Mass (Tuesday of the 22nd Week of the Year). It describes Jesus in the Synagogue at Capernaum.

Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee. He taught them on the sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon,  and he cried out in a loud voice, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down in front of them and came out of him without doing him any harm. They were all amazed and said to one another, “What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region. (Lk 4:31-37)

Note that Jesus’ authoritative proclamation as he taught them in the synagogue provoked and summoned a demon who stood forth. The authority of Jesus’ words so troubled the demon that he was forced to manifest his presence and admit the truth about Jesus. He now stands before Jesus and is driven out by his mere word.

See the picture here! As noted above, proper and orthodox preaching does this. It is endowed by the Lord’s grace and the power of his word. It summons the opportunistic demons forth who exploit human weaknesses such as ignorance, error, fear, past trauma, despair, doubt, stubbornness, hatred and so forth. While these are human struggles, demons often “pile on” by seeking these doorways, much as bacteria exploit cuts or wounds in our skin. God’s Word, helps to heal us, and disempower demonic strongholds.

Of course Jesus does all this in less than a minute! But the gospels often present deliverance and healing as compressed in time. For most of us, this deliverance, this casting out of negativity and the demons associated is something that takes place over a longer period time, even decades.

Steadily attending to God’s Word through our presence  at holy Mass, devotional reading, the Divine Office and other things, such as parish bible studies, goes to work over time and casts out many evil spirits that assail and tempt us with sinful and worldly thought.

And in this way, God’s holy Word has an exorcistic quality. Of this I am a witness. For almost forty years now, since my entrance into the seminary I have daily read, prayed and studied God’s Word. And it, along with the reception of the Sacraments, has changed me profoundly. Dark, despairing and sinful thoughts have been brought to light and been driven away, along with any demons associated with them. This work is on-going, but the Lord has brought me a mighty long way.

How about you?

10 Replies to “The Exorcistic Effect of the Word of God”

  1. Another excellent reason to immerse oneself in the Holy Scriptures every day. Thank you for this reminder, Msgr. Pope.

  2. As St. Paul says, “do not return evil for evil, but overcome evil with good.” Only good can drive out evil. Thus “the light shined in the darkness, but the darkness has not [and cannot] overcome it.”

    The most perfect way to drive out the demonic from our lives, especially in the form of demonic oppression of our minds and hearts, is an ever increasing presence of Jesus in our lives.

    “May the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the Sheep, by the Blood of the Eternal Covenant, equip you with every thing good, that you may do His Will, working in you that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be Glory forever and ever. Amen.”

    Devotion to the Precious Blood is strongly recommended by the exorcists at https://www.catholicexorcism.org/ also as a strong weapon against the demonic, and was also quoted by Venerable Fulton Sheen as one of the three powerful means of protection against the demonic (the other two being devotion to the Blessed Virgin and the Name of Jesus, I think).

    “Perfect love casts out all fear.”

    “In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” Jesus triumphed, and his Precious Blood allows us to share in the victory.

    Devoutly and prayerfully received Holy Communion is an actual reception of that very Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, and I cannot imagine a stronger protection from the demonic, in any and all its forms, whether oppression, spiritual dryness, fear and tribulation in the midst of persecutions from false brethren (“for not all have faith”), or anything.

  3. Brought to light
    Thank you for a further great post.
    I started to read and study the Word in a daily manner only about a year ago.
    I have experienced that I feel frequently affected as a person. Up to now that is mainly a bringing to light. Which is a very important step which leads to change in combination with attending the Holy Mass and prayer.
    Thank you!

  4. Ecce Crucem Domini!
    Fugite partes adversae!
    Vicit Leo de tribu Iuda!
    Radix David! Alleluia!

    +++

    In principio erat Verbum,
    et Verbum erat apud Deum,
    et Deus erat Verbum.
    Hoc erat in principio apud Deum.
    Omnia per ipsum facta sunt:
    et sine ipso factum est nihil, quod factum est.
    In ipso vita erat,
    et vita erat lux hominum:
    et lux in tenebris lucet,
    et tenebræ eam non comprehenderunt.

  5. I could also strenuously recommend to anyone who wants to grow in devotion to the Word of God that they listen to the audio bible regularly, as often as they feel inspired to. The voice acting is amazing, the background music calming, the cast has been chosen from apparently the best of class, and the translation is the RSVCE, the most beautiful English translation in the opinion of most modern theologians.

    (The Letter to the Hebrews, highly praised for its original Greek and its Latin translation, has been just as highly praised for its English in the RSVCE, and the actor John Rhys-Davies does this translation due justice, bringing out its beauty perfectly.)

    https://www.immaculatalibrary.com/audio-bible.html

  6. I love this so much. I always think of the Ephesians verse: And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God). And from Hebrews: For the word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two edged sword… And every Pater, we ask to be delivered from evil. And He does! Praise and thanks to our Lord Jesus! Thank you Father!

  7. The following is meant to be a complement….I was born a Catholic….attended catholic school until the 6th grade….was an altar boy…..then attended CCD classes but now….I call myself non-denominational and Bible led only….your passage above Msgnr. is more in line with my Pastor Robert Morris and how he explains and clarifies the Word. I might not have ever been in his “class” and grown thru his presentations of the Word if you had given more sermons when I was a Catholic…I kept the sign of the cross tho…….God Bless YOU sir..

  8. The following is meant to be a complement….I was born a Catholic….attended catholic school until the 6th grade….was an altar boy….then attended CCD classes but now….I call myself non-denominational and Bible led only….your passage above Msgnr. is more in line with my Pastor Robert Morris and how he explains and clarifies the Word. I might not have ever been in his “class” and grown thru his presentations of the Word if you had given more sermons when I was a Catholic…I kept the sign of the cross tho…..God Bless YOU sir..

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