Rats in the Rectory – Redivivi

It looks as if in Macon, Georgia it may be time to pick up that Rituale Romanum again and flip to the part with the deprecatory prayers against rats.

Poor Fr. McDonald at Southern Orders is fighting off the rats again.  We have seen this before.

In your kindness say a prayer for the priests there.

Here is an excerpt from the Rituale for such an eventually:


I cast out you noxious vermin, by God + the Father almighty, by Jesus + Christ, His only-begotten Son, and by the Holy + Spirit. May you speedily be banished from our land and fields, [rectories, … chanceries, … I’m just sayin’ …. ] lingering here no longer, but passing on to places where you can do no harm. In the name of the almighty God and the entire heavenly court, as well as in the name of the holy Church of God, we pronounce a curse on you, that wherever you go you may be cursed, decreasing from day to day until you are obliterated. Let no remnant of you remain anywhere, except what might be necessary for the welfare and use of mankind. Be pleased to grant our request, you who are coming to judge both the living and the dead and the world by fire.

All: Amen.

The places infested are sprinkled with holy water.


The estimable Laudator picked up on this entry and added a fascinating bit of information I must share:

Cf. Geoponica 13.5 (tr. James George Frazer):

Take a sheet of paper and write on it as follows:—”I adjure you, ye mice here present, that ye neither injure me, nor suffer another mouse to do so. I give you yonder field” (here you specify the field, perhaps a neighbour’s) “but if I ever catch you here again, by the mother of the gods, I will rend you in seven pieces”; write this and stick the paper on an unhewn stone in the field before sunrise, taking care to keep the written side uppermost.

Otto Weinreich discusses this “Mäuseexorzismus der Geoponika” in his Ausgewählte Schriften III (Amsterdam: B.R. Grüner, 1979), pp. 43-45.

Both it and the exorcism from the Rituale Romanum (at least the part about “lingering here no longer, but passing on to places where you can do no harm”) are examples of epipompe, a method of getting rid of evil not by destroying it but by sending it somewhere else.

I had forgotten about epipompe.  Thanks for that reminder and lesson!

WDTPRS KUDOS to the Laudator.


If the rats weren’t bad enough, now there is an enormous bee hive to worry about.

The Rituale Romanum has a spiffy blessing for bees and bee hives, by the way.  Different bees.  Bees in boxes, etc.  You know what I mean.

And then there were the 60,000 bees, more or less, Dr. Maturin brought aboard HMS Lively in a glass hive and kept in the main cabin.  Which its one of the funniest bits in the series.

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  1. Agnes says:

    There’s the loophole. The infestation is providing the priests ample opportunity for prayer, penance, detachment, humor, and the material comfort of the neighborhood exterminator. “Necessary for the welfare and use of mankind.”

    Just wonderful.

    I bought a cat about a year ago and the house mice and centipedes have miraculously vanished. The cat, however, is getting on the heavy side.

  2. Medieval Peasant says:

    When a priest is beset with rats he should think of the life of St. John Vianney.

  3. skull kid says:

    We had a rat problem in our house here in Ireland some years ago. We put down poison. It works, but you have the smell of dead rat for a couple weeks… We recently had the attic and various parts of the house re-insulated, and they found 2 dead rats and 2 dead mice. They’d been dead for quite a long time.

  4. Daniel Latinus says:

    Right now, I can hear the tune of Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Caradle”, but the words I’m hearing are “the rats in the rectory…”

  5. fieldsparrow says:

    I will say a prayer for them, having had my own dealings with mice (problem solved; thanks, cats!)… but I have to admit the image with this post is giving me the serious giggles.

  6. benedetta says:

    Sometimes I wish I had a head clip such as the one shown in the photo of Fr. McDonald’s blog. A human sized one which would merely capture in a humane way, for the purpose of releasing into the wild. For use on perpetrators of such artifacts of “culture” such as those in academia who allotted a sizable amount of tuition funded dollars to compensate the appearance of the person known as snooki to a large university campus. I don’t frequently wish for something such as this, only sometimes.

  7. southern orders says:

    Thank you so much, but really at this point it’s my mental health that concerns me the most! Pray for that too!

  8. Henry Edwards says:

    Perhaps, Father Z, for comparison you can provide us with the corresponding exorcism from the newer Book of Blessings. Or would it now be a blessing of all precious rodents in God’s creation?

  9. Jack Hughes says:

    Agnes and field sparrow

    although we don’t have a rat problem in my house I wish that our cat was as enthusiastic about hunting !!!

  10. Henry Edwards: newer Book of Blessings. Or would it now be a blessing of all precious rodents

    Your instinct is sound. We must never be speciesist. We must be sensitive to our non-human siblings.

    That said, I did not spot a prayer in the new “Book of Blessings” for the disinvitation of other-specied sharers of our biosphere.

    It may be that the people who put together the newer book never had an uncomfortable or life-threatening moment in their scholarly lives.

    Real-life situations such as the need to grow sufficient crops – or you die, the need to protect crops and children from vermin – or you die, threat of floods or lack of rain – which can kill you, plagues and infestations of grasshoppers and other pests – which can destroy your stuff and kill you – … perhaps none of these unpleasant things entered into their minds. All those things are so boring.

    Rats? Oh… sometimes they are spotted down on the Tiber embankment. Curious.

    In Rome, by the way, there is an “assessore… alderman” for “non-human citizens”. I am not making that up.

    In De benedictionibus there is, by the way, a form for the “blessing” of of farms, fields, and pastures. It can be done by a priest, or a deacon, or a lay person (with a slight adaptation). Along the way, in an ablative absolute construction, it talks about “the danger of storms and hail having been removed”… though that is pretty indirect. At the end it “blesses” not the places, but the people there and asks God to make fecund their work.

    In the “blessing” for animals, the book refers indirectly to God’s original blessing on all living things and then asks God to make the serve our needs…. which seems speciesist to me.

    In many places in the world still, if your useful critters die, you die.

    I will not use this book.

    The older Rituale also has a section for processions to be held to ask for rain, or drive off storms, for times of famine and plague, in thanksgiving.

  11. Dear Father,

    Can laypeople say that prayer without making the Signs of the Cross or is it reserved for Priests? [Well… anyone can say it. I think a layperson would be firing blanks.]

    It would be nice if we could drive liberals out of our lives with a similar prayer…

    God bless

    PS Fr McDonald, I work in the mental health field, I will pray for you to keep your sanity. God love you.

  12. marcpuckett says:

    I’m curious; in the past, when the Rituale was in universal use, would priests have been right to judge themselves entitled to supply additional words (e.g. ‘rectories, chanceries’) [ehem… that was my own sardonic addition.] to adapt the text to circumstances (is there perhaps some rubric about this in the Rituale itself)? or would it have been necessary to use the text without any addition, even of the sort being discussed here?

  13. marcpuckett says:

    Sorry, Father, my question wasn’t clear. Would a priest today be justified to make such an emendation, perhaps thinking of the extensive, ahem, liberty allowed in the ordinary use of the Rite? or indeed does the rubrical apparatus already existing in the Rituale allow such a change, in view of the specific circumstances? [I think he could. I remember once blessing the artificial knee that was going into the… knee of an old priest. I adapted the blessing for mountain climbing equipment. o{];¬) ]

  14. asperges says:

    There is probably a mediaeval tome “benedictio cattorum” – or if there isn’t, there ought to be.

    My cat, whose livery is somewhat Dominican in appearance, although more Benedictine in culinary taste, is in minor orders: a little higher than a “janitor” and a little lower than a “lector.” It also substitutes as a minor canon.

  15. marcpuckett says:

    How does one say, ‘articifial knee’, ha? and, I must try to find an edition of the RR.

  16. Jack Hughes says:

    When I visited the Fathers of Mercy last october one of the priests told me that he had once blessed a local tarantuala named Faustina

  17. GirlCanChant says:

    In Rome, by the way, there is an “assessore… alderman” for “non-human citizens”. I am not making that up.

    So either cats are being worshipped again (like in Ancient Egypt) or First Contact has already happened and they’re not telling us. I mean, it’s logical, right? Don’t aliens always say, “Take me to your leader”? If the first person they found was Catholic…..

  18. Hi Father

    Thanks for the answer. I was asking because on this site http://auxiliumchristianorum.org/prayers.html there are some prayers that are used against demons and the only difference between the laity and Priest version is on Wednesday where we don’t make the sign of the cross or say by the virtue of my priesthood. I was just wondering if your prayer was the same thing.

    I say the prayers on that site when I’m at work in the group home for the mentally ill and they do seem to help my residents with the voices they hear and some other issues like tourettes, extreme anxiety, visual hallucinations of snakes biting them and suicidal residents. Every spring we get infested with spiders–real ones, not ones that my residents hallucinate–and it would be nice to be able to send them away. I work 10 hour shifts at night alone and have an irrational fear of spiders. (It must be a woman thing :-) )

    God bless

  19. AnAmericanMother says:

    The bees are probably already gone . . .

    . . . that is a lovely swarm, very large, very healthy. The large swarms tend to ‘rest’ low down within reach. Wish I’d known, we would have brought our box and our smokers and rounded them up.

    The only problem with NOT calling a beekeeper is that sometimes the swarm decides to establish their new and desirable country residence in your house wall or chimney. Hopefully the bee-ladies moved on to a hollow tree . . . .

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