Spiritual Warfare in the Catholic Church


In the last and current century exorcism in the Roman Catholic Church has continued in the previous centuries.  Today, with proper authorization, “exorcism” may be practiced for Roman Catholic Church members, non-Catholics, and those who have been excommunicated. Also, the tradition of “baptismal exorcism” has been retained, but the exorcism of salt and water was discontinued in 1969. So we see that the Catholic Church has not only maintained its traditional practice of exorcism, but also its belief that a Christian can have an unclean spirit.

Today the Church’s exorcism continues to be governed by the Roman Ritual even though it was formulated in 1614. The exorcism itself is about seven pages long, consisting of prayers, scripture readings, responses, ritual commands, mini-sermons, signings of the cross, and the use of holy water. If in its recitation, progress is being made, priests are encouraged to continue repeating the ceremony for as long as it takes to cast out the spirit, for several hours or more, if necessary.  Just as exorcism has become rare in the Catholic Church, so has the exorcist.

However, Catholic exorcism of the possessed has become more theory than reality, simply because nowadays demonizing is rarely recognized. Demonizing is not recognized unless the subject speaks in unlearned languages and displays clairvoyant or other ESP powers. Modern Catholics admit that according to this definition few if any of the New Testament cases of demonizing would have been recognized as such. So the Church awaits the formation of a more practical definition. As a result, all disturbed people are sent to the psychiatrists, not the exorcists.

The Eastern Orthodox Church (comprised of the Greek Orthodox, the Russian Orthodox, and the Orthodox churches of the other Eastern European countries) is, of course, very similar to the Roman Catholic Church in most forms, including the practice of deliverance of those who are demonized. Thus it still believes in the reality of demonizing and in the practice of spiritual deliverance of baptismal candidates. It has its own manual of authorized spiritual deliverance contained in the Assemanni.  This manual contains twenty-one forms of “exorcism” for various occasions. However, the Church differs from the Catholics in that it has retained the office of the exorcist.

Knowing and using God’s Word, the sword of the Spirit, is key for victory (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 77:12; I Chronicles 28:9; Matthew 22:37-38; I Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 4:8).  That’s how Jesus defeated Satan (Matthew 4:1-11).  Satan tries to plant doubts about God’s word in man’s mind.  This is how he got to Eve.  She misquoted God’s Word to Satan and when he added to God’s Word (making God seem like He was keeping something good from her) she didn’t pick it up.  Satan was undermining God’s Word, and he won!  We must be skillful in the use of our sword to win.  Below are some verses to memorize and use.

When Jesus was tempted He quoted Scripture to have victory over Satan’s temptations.  Paul says our only offensive weapon is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.  Psalm 119:9,11 tell us that it’s through God’s Word that we have victory.  When you have these thoughts and attacks use Scripture to have victory.  Ask God to give you some verses that will help against these things, write them down and memorize them.  Say them over and over when these thoughts attack you.  That is the only way to victory, and God guarantees it will work!

(For more information on the subject of spiritual warfare go to SW.ChristianTrainingOrganization.org  or email me at jerry@schmoyer.net and I’ll send you a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook).

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