PRAYERCAzT: What does the Latin Exorcism really sound like? FOR PRIESTS ONLY – UPDATED

St. Margaret beating the Devil with a hammer.

UPDATE 17 April 2019:

A while ago I had a request from an exorcist of a US diocese for a recording not only of Chapter 3, but also of Chapter 2.  “Euge! Euge!”, quoth I, “It is, however, long.   But I’ll tackle it.”

It’s long, alright.  I broke it into three files.  Actually, four, since I snipped off the final prayer into its own file.  I did NOT, as last time, provide a half-speed version.  Too much.  And if you are at this point, Father, where you need half speed for the Latin, you might need more than my recordings, if you get my drift.

I will NOT give these to lay people, so don’t even ask.   I will give them to priests who are “on the job”, as it were, especially working as exorcists.

Drop me a line: HERE 

Put in the email subject line: LATIN EXORCISM RECORDING [Exactly that, please, if you want me to respond]. Tell me who you are and where you are and WHICH CHAPTER you need.  

The new recording is NOT half speed, but I speak quite deliberately, compared to my usual pace.  I try to be precise, especially in the exorcism prayers.   There are… whew… a lot of psalms and I might speed up a little.

Again, bishops and priests only.

I will not divulge who asked.  So, even if you are a bishop whose Latin isn’t great, I won’t give you up.

BTW… Once upon a time, I asked an an exorcist about my comment (below) about demons mocking bad Latin.  He related to me what another exorcist told him.  The demon mocked the bad Latin but said that, even as bad as it was, it was still killing him!

The Devil hates Latin.

So, now I have both the entirety of Title XI Chapter 2 and Chapter 3.

___ Originally Published on: Sep 30, 2016

Dunstan 1 - Devil 0

Dunstan 1 – Devil 0

UPDATE:

From a priest reader:

I have been a priest of the archdiocese for 32 years and I am a good friend and co-worker in exorcism and deliverance ministry with….  Demons frequently mock and ridicule poor pronunciation of Latin when they manifest during the rite. We are tired of this distracting tactic.

Original Published on: Sep 30, 2016
___

This is the time of year when we give special attention to the Holy Angels, who do so much for us.   At the same time, we also remember the vile work of the Enemy of the soul and the fallen angels, who hate us with brilliant and undying malice.

On that last note, I was contacted by a priest friend who is doing some training of exorcists.  He asked me to record in Latin the Chapter 3 of Title XI from the Rituale Romanum, used for exorcisms of infested places, etc.  This is not the exorcism of possessed persons.  That’s Chapter 2.

The rubrics at the beginning of this chapter say:

Sequens exorcismus recitari potest ab Episcopis, nec non a Sacerdotibus, qui ab Ordinariis suis ad id auctoritatem habeant.

The following exorcism can be pronounced by bishops, as well as by priests who have  authorization for this from their Ordinaries.

The Devil and fallen angels hate Latin.  Exorcists will often say that the older rite, from the Rituale Romanum in Latin is more effective.  I have also heard them say that demons mock badly used Latin.   Consider how a soldier drills and drills with his weapon, even stripping it down and reassembling it blindfolded, so that when he uses it, it functions properly and he doesn’t do more harm than good with it.  It is important to get it right.   The higher the stakes and the more potent the weapon, the more important it is to get it right.

This is my little contribution to exorcists so that they can be more effect in the field.

I will make my recordings available to priests, with the understanding that they use them properly and with the support of their Ordinaries.   Remember that “Ordinary” can mean many things in law.  A Vicar General of the Diocese is an “Ordinary”.  The rubric says “Ordinary”, not the Diocesan Bishop.  There are times when there is not diocesan bishop in a diocese, but there are ordinaries.  But I digress.

If you are not a priest or bishop, don’t bother asking for the recording.  Period.  If I get an email that says something like, “I’m not a priest, but…”, I will delete it.  If I get an email saying, “I’m Father’s parish secretary.  Father asked me to write to you because he doesn’t use email”, I’ll delete it.

“But Father! But Father!”, some of you might be complaining.  “I’m not a priest, but I want to hear this!  You have to make this available to everyone! We have RIGHTS, but you hate Vatican II, don’t you.  Give us these recordings NOW!”

No.

“But Father! But Father!”, you persist.  “We’ll complain that you aren’t sharing!  We’ll write nasty letters to your bishop and make incessant phone calls just like certain writer for the Fishwrap!  We’ll….”

I gave my short answer.  Here’s my longer anser.

Nooooooooo.

I made two recordings. I have a recording of

  • Chapter 3 read deliberately, pedantically, with careful pronunciation.  I omit rubrics, which you would not read aloud.
  • that same recording of Chapter 3 slowed down to 0.7 speed.

I did these recordings in mp3 at 128 bits, but I also saved them in 64 bits, slightly lesser quality but also less bulky, easier to send.

Drop me a line: HERE 

Put in the email subject line: LATIN EXORCISM RECORDING [Exactly that, please.]. Tell me who you are and where you are.  Again, bishops and priests only.  

BISHOPS NB: I won’t tell anyone who wrote to me, so if you are not comfortable yet with Latin, your secret is safe with me.  It seems to me that some of you avoid traditional rites in Latin because you don’t want to be seen not to be comfortable with it.  Don’t let that stop you.  Also, if you need to do something in Latin, CONTACT ME and I’ll record it for you, speaking or singing.  Entirely sub stola.

If there is need for Chapter 2, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

Moderation queue is ON.

PS: Once upon a time I had a bit of a series for priests called PRAYERCAzTs.  I am not averse to reviving it, if there is interest.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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31 Responses to PRAYERCAzT: What does the Latin Exorcism really sound like? FOR PRIESTS ONLY – UPDATED

  1. Clinton R. says:

    Thank you for sharing this with your brother priests, Father. We, the laity do not need to know everything, especially a matter as grave as exorcisms. I am more than content to be a foot soldier of Christ and to pray for the men He has called to battle satan and his minions. May St. Michael the Archangel lead the priests of the Holy Church to victory over the evil one and his fallen angels who desire the ruination of souls. +JMJ+

  2. Del Sydebothom says:

    Do you think the pronunciation system used would change the effectiveness of an exorcism? I know that ecclesiastical pronunciation has taken 19th century Italian Latin as its model. Still, if a priest were using Westminster Latin, the medieval French method, or restored classical pronunciation, would it diminish the effectiveness of his prayer? I ask because I am teaching Latin to my son (or sons, if ever we have more) as a second language. We use it at the dinner table. Nearly all the materials available use Classical Pronunciation. If he becomes a priest, would he need then to unlearn the way he’s learned to speak?

    [I don’t think that the style of pronunciation will be a deal breaker. That said, in the Roman Rite is is best for priests to use the “Roman” pronunciation. This is even recommended in the introduction of the Liber Usualis. Although… I am not sure that the Westminster wouldn’t just set everyone present to titter a bit.]

  3. JabbaPapa says:

    No.

    Quite right — non-priests not only have no access to these texts, but we are as discipline required to actively avoid seeking knowledge of them.

  4. John Nolan says:

    The Latin of these prayers is simple and direct. I can’t imagine any priest being given the authority to perform an exorcism if he were not competent in Latin, and wonder why anyone would need a recording.

    That the Devil and fallen angels hate Latin is well attested. Yet in the Mass and the administration of the sacraments it is conspicuous in most places by its absence. Draw your own conclusions.

    Can someone explain why in Ch. 3 the 1st person plural is used (exorcizamus te … adjuramus te)? [I suspect that it is mostly a matter of style, as in the “plural of majesty”. Chapter 2 has singulars Exorcizo te… adjuro te…. Plural and singular mean virtually the same thing. However, off the top of my head, the exorcism of a place or object might imply a communal good, while the exorcism of a person is more “private”.]

  5. Prayerful says:

    I hope a layman can comment. Keep up the good work. Sadly, many, perhaps most priests now have weak or no Latin. Weak Latin where once meant that St John Vianney found it a little hard to converse in Latin at his seminary, now means a priest can barely compose a grammatical sentence or pronounce the words adequately. This supports them in the very good and necessary work of combating demons. God bless Father!

  6. nine man morris says:

    Jabba et al, you realize Google has the Rituale Romanum 1614 pdf full scan and the 1925, etc etc. And there are numerous recordings for free on the net. Kids play-act with this stuff all the time….. I’m a child doctor.

    Sometimes I get discouraged between what most Catholics think their children and others lives are like versus what is really known, believed and available to them. Catholic apologetics is light-years behind reality.

    And I don’t using Google to see a pdf is a sin; or avoiding it a virtue.

  7. Michael_Thoma says:

    Father, since you brought up exorcism, what is your view on charismatic types – Catholic and otherwise; priest and lay – who think it their purview to deliver “exorcism-lite” aka “deliverance prayers”, etc under the auspices of their “charism”?

  8. Did you see this week’s Crux article related to this subject?

  9. Not that I agree, I should’ve added.
    That and another point, but something came up suddenly that I forgot it.

  10. yatzer says:

    I’m so naive. It took me awhile to figure out why you’d be so restrictive in distributing such a recording. Glad you’re on the alert.

  11. Del Sydebothom says:

    Thank you, Father, for your reply. Since we don’t usually get a chance to hear the chants from the Gradual at Mass, we usually learn them each week from the Liber Usualis and sing them on Sunday morning before we head to Church. Our restored classical habits are hard to break, though. Fortunately, it doesn’t ruin the chants. We’ll probably get the Graduale Novum eventually; that’s a nice book. We just can’t afford it at the moment.

    I’ve actually entertained the notion of offering free Latin lessons to priests and deacons in our area, but have been shy about it because of how non-intuitive ecclesiastical pronunciation is to me now. I’ve also been afraid they’d all think I was weird for offering such lessons at all, but that’s just a personal flaw.

  12. JabbaPapa says:

    Do you think the pronunciation system used would change the effectiveness of an exorcism?

    No. — Latin has always had a variety of regional pronunciations, and it still does. These do not affect the purposes of prayers.

    Westminster Latin, the medieval French method, or restored classical pronunciation … I ask because I am teaching Latin to my son (or sons, if ever we have more) as a second language. We use it at the dinner table. Nearly all the materials available use Classical Pronunciation.

    Quite commendable, but the “restored classical pronunciation”, as its usually taught, is actually wrong in several respects (which BTW also varies internationally) — also, almost nobody would ever actually use Classical Latin at the dinner table, even at the height of the Classical Period !!

    The Latin of daily usage was a much simpler and expressive tongue than the Classical texts would suggest, and it used far simpler structures and less complicated Grammar — particularly as time moved forward. It had far greater affinities with the post-Latin Romance languages than with the fine structures of Classical Greek that the language imitated in its poetry and high literature.

    The best broadly available text to get at least a sense of this Latin is, particularly for a Christian, the Latin Vulgate — though it’s very important for that purpose to obtain an edition that is devoid of modern punctuations, as they can not only wrongfully alter the meanings in the texts, but they also impose either a “classical” or Church/Mediaeval Latin rhythm and pronunciation where neither belongs. Abbreviations and special characters aside, the original punctuation is devoid of full stops and commas etc, and instead organises the text as lines of verse, as in poetry. (Church Latin does use modern punctuation rules)

    The Deutsche Bibelgessenschaft have a good edition — there’s also a pretty decent online Vulgate here : http://www.sacredbible.org/vulgate2009/index.htm

    Latin Hymns of 10th Century and earlier are also an excellent resource to get a sense of Latin as it was spoken, as they were written for those who spoke it as their mother tongue

  13. JabbaPapa says:

    ah — should have re-read my post more carefully —

    “though it’s very important for that purpose to obtain an edition that is devoid of modern punctuations, as these can not only wrongfully alter the meanings in the texts, but they also impose either a “classical” or Church/Mediaeval Latin rhythm and pronunciation where neither belongs”

  14. John Nolan says:

    Jabbapapa

    ‘Non-priests not only have no access to these texts, but we are to avoid … seeking knowledge of these texts.’ Really? The Rituale Romanum is not an arcane book of spells not to be confided to the non-adept. I have a reprint of the 1944 version (Latin only) which I purchased six years ago from the bookshop at Farnborough Abbey; it slips easily into the pocket.

    Apart from anything else, I entered the Church sixty-five years ago accompanied by the Rituale Romanum (Titulus II, Caput 2 – Ordo Baptismi parvulorum) and if at all possible would prefer to leave this world accompanied by the same (Titulus V, Caps 5-8 – Ordo Commendationis animae) rather than some modern version, and I can’t assume a visiting priest will have a copy.

    One prayer, Deus qui pro redemptione mundi, is directed to be said by the dying person if possible.

    Regarding Latin pronunciation, the classical pronunciation was introduced about a hundred years ago because the English pronunciation had become so idiosyncratic as to render the text unintelligible to non-English speakers. The Italian pronunciation is not used in Germany, Austria and central Europe where the German pronunciation prevails (JP II used to slip into it occasionally) and where it is used it should not be done in an Italian accent, unless one happens to be Italian! When I was growing up I found no difficulty in using one pronunciation in school and another in church.

  15. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    JabbaPapa, huh? Non-priests have no access to these texts? Laity are not to study them? What are you talking about? Anyway, it’s Pater’s recording, and he can limit its distribution to green-eyed, left-handed, girls from Greenland if he wants to.

    Now, about that “A Vicar General of the Diocese is an ‘Ordinary’. The rubric says ‘Ordinary’, not the Diocesan Bishop. There are times when there is not a diocesan bishop in a diocese, but there are ordinaries. But I digress.” This usage is, as you know Pater, a real mess.

    Rome never quite caught on to its own mandated new use of the word “ordinary” in law, and Rome still frequently uses it in contexts that CRY OUT “diocesan bishop”, but which can mean many people, as you note. An episcopal vicar for, I dunno, elementary schools, can be an “ordinary”, but do we really want him deciding when exorcisms are in order? Yikes.

    [Yah, I know. “Ordinary” generally screams “the local diocesan bishop”. But the text says “Ordinary”.]

  16. KateD says:

    In that vein that Del Sydebothom was on, is there a preferable text or system for teaching potential future priests to speak Latin well? We have Latina Christina for our little guys and Henle for high school. Seems like we have a couple other books somewhere in boxes…

    Interesting that fallen angels ridicule priests whose Latin is imperfect….I know parishioners who do that, too…hmmm….

  17. KateD says:

    Dr. Peters,

    Re: Green eyed, left handed girls from Greenland…

    …..”I’ve got straight white teeth…”

  18. tlawson says:

    Ahhhhh –

    The mark of a REAL manly man, in today’s feminized, cajone-less Church — a priest who will actually utter the word, “No,” in order to and with the goal of putting The Lord first (lay people definitely do NOT need to hear something like this). If only we had a few (more) bishops who had this oh-so-rare spiritual gene, GOD, if only we did…

    As always, thank you Father, for your fidelity, consistency and authentic fatherliness. For you priests (and bishops) out there, THIS is how it’s done. Our Lord deserves nothing less…

  19. John Nolan says:

    There are two books published in the 1940s by Cora and Charles Scanlon and now republished by TAN Books. The first, ‘Latin Grammar – for the reading of the Missal and Breviary’ has twenty lessons and a comprehensive vocabulary, and assumes a one-year course of study. The follow -up volume ‘Second Latin’ has grammar, vocabularies and exercises in preparation for the reading of Philosophy, Theology and Canon Law.

    Jabbapapa wildly overstates the case for an unpunctuated Clementine Vulgate, even if one were available – the site he links to has normal punctuation. Latin being an inflected language, punctuation aids reading but can rarely alter the meaning, and any Latin text one is likely to come across (including Canon Law) is punctuated. The use of an acute accent to indicate a stressed syllable is useful, and before some pedant points out that classical Latin doesn’t have stressed syllables I will remind him that neither does modern French, and Latin is above all a living language in (literally) everyday use.

  20. un-ionized says:

    John, I haven’t much facility with language, being past the age where learning languages comes easily, but have used volume one of Scanlon and Scanlon to good effect.

  21. ldunne says:

    Fr. Z says: The Devil and fallen angels hate Latin.

    The devil might hate Latin, . . . but, he REALLY hates Old Church Slavonic. Just sayin’ . . .

  22. JabbaPapa says:

    John Nolan :

    the site he links to has normal punctuation

    oops, you’re right

    … the Deutsche Bibelgessenschaft edition doesn’t, though

    Latin being an inflected language, punctuation aids reading but can rarely alter the meaning

    No, that’s really not true — punctuation can split sentences into pieces, or combine sentences together, create unexpected ones from the end of one sentence and the beginning of the next, etc etc etc

    And it’s particularly problematic with non-Classical texts earlier than the emergence of Mediaeval/Church Latin

    and any Latin text one is likely to come across (including Canon Law) is punctuated

    Any text written since the standardisation of punctuation after the invention of printing should definitely be punctuated

    before some pedant points out that classical Latin doesn’t have stressed syllables I will remind him that neither does modern French, and Latin is above all a living language in (literally) everyday use.

    Wrong on all three counts — Latin accents are both stressed and tonic, French places stress on the last syllable of a word, and a “living language” is by definition one that people have as their mother tongue.

    Is that enough pedantry ?

    I do like the sound of your book recommendations … :-)

  23. JabbaPapa says:

    “An Ordinary” is nearly always intended to refer to a Diocesan Bishop or an Abbot, isn’t it ?

  24. ” Can someone explain why in Ch. 3 the 1st person plural is used (exorcizamus te … adjuramus te)? ”

    I am not trained and don’t know from nuthin’ but when I saw this question, what came to mind is the ‘We’ of the Church. The Pope used to say this in decrees and letters. So the phrase made me think of ‘we’ as the whole Church and all the Authority that backs up my priestly power.
    That would give the ritual the biggest guns.

    We are lost without solid obedience to Authority and the permissions that it gives.

    Thank you for your dedication Father!

  25. NoraLee9 says:

    I strongly recommend the Familia Sancti Hieronymi to all Latin learners. They have a self-study course, multiple cds of the Latin Bible and an annual cenaculum where everyone speaks Latin for a week. They are dedicated to keeping Latin as a living language, particularly within the Church. See http://www.hieronymus.us.com/ for more info.

  26. Heck, I’m not sure that even every priest needs to have this sort of thing. Priests must be authorized by the bishop to perform “major” exorcisms (there are prayers, in preparation for baptism, that are termed “minor” exorcisms and can be prayed by priests and deacons), and I am not so authorized, so…I will leave this alone, but thanks.

    What many people fail to realize is that there is a fascination with evil that people can fall prey to, even while assuring themselves that their interest is wholesome. Some people think too little about the existence of evil forces; but some people think too much about them.

  27. Facta Non Verba says:

    I have no desire in obtaining your recording, so it is not the premise of my question. My question is out of curiosity only: from the stern tone of your post, I infer that you believe it is vitally important to have your recording only in custody of those men properly trained to use it. Is your concern that, if in the wrong hands, the recording could be misused for evil purposes? [This is not stuff for lay people, since it provokes dangers they are not equipped to deal with.]

  28. Gab says:

    Father Z says “The demon mocked the bad Latin but said that, even as bad as it was, it was still killing him!”

    Good to know. I often wonder if my telling the devil to get away from me in Latin had no effect due to my poor Latin skills!

    And yes, you are, of course, quite right not to divulge these recordings to we laity. We have no authority to perform exorcisms, authority which can only be given by the Church through Bishops to priests and even saying the prayers with the intentional use can be harmful to us spiritually.

  29. veritas vincit says:

    Michael_Thoma: ‘Father, since you brought up exorcism, what is your view on charismatic types – Catholic and otherwise; priest and lay – who think it their purview to deliver “exorcism-lite” aka “deliverance prayers”, etc under the auspices of their “charism”?’

    As a convert who entered the Church via the Charismatic Renewal over 30 years ago, who was exposed to such prayers, I can guess Father Z would discourage if not strongly forbid such prayers. Most people in the renewal tried to distinguish between prayers of exorcism or deliverance that only a priest could perform, and prayers to relieve demonic “oppression” or similar for the laity. But whenever a priest talked about the devil to any charismatic gathering I could remember, the practice was discouraged. One priest suggested the laity use sacramentals such as blessed salt or holy water, and prayers to Our Lady, to oppose demons.

    [Avoid any group that involves any laying on of hands and deliverance like a plague.]

  30. Missouri Knight says:

    I got a chuckle reading through these comments. I’m still trying to correctly pronounce the prayers in Mass. I feel like a Trad hillbilly sometimes! :-)

  31. Pius Admirabilis says:

    nine man morris is right. Getting information is really easy these days, and it is just as easy to obtain the texts of the exorcism texts.

    As a theologian, I have to work with those texts, and since I own a copy of the latest Rituale Romanum (ancient rite), I can quite easily access them in my library. However, I am afraid of these texts, and I do not read them aloud (which I would NEVER do under ANY circumstance). I also avoid opening this chapter when possible.

    I am of the opinion that while it is certainly not sinful for laypeople to seek out these texts, they still shouldn’t do it for their own sake. The texts can be dangerous, and there is a reason the Church only gives certain priests the permission to use them. I also think no layperson should ever recite any kind of exorcism of any kind. The exorcism against the apostatic angels has been forbidden for lay recitation (by the authority of John Paul II), and I think this was a wise choice. While there are pious Catholics who have the best intentions, and recite exorcisms as a form of devotion, or to actually scare off demons, it is playing with fire.

    Please don’t do it!

    If you want to scare off the demons, get Holy Water and sprinkle it in your home, sprinkle yourself with it, and sprinkle your loved ones with it. Get blessed candles, light them during your prayer times, pray the Holy Rosary and keep it exposed. If you think someone might be possessed, try to get professional help, but NEVER recite an exorcism!