REVIEW: Manual of Minor Exorcisms – For the use of Priests (Catholic Truth Society)

I recently received from the UK-based Catholic Truth Society, a copy of their Manual of Minor Exorcisms – For the use of Priests.

And excellent.. excellent… gift for a priest or a transitional deacon about to be ordained (less so for early seminarians and never for lay people, in my opinion).

The US amazon listing is HERE, though it says “out of stock”. The UK amazon site also says “out of stock”.  HERE. Please GO THERE anyway and click the tell publisher you want to see it on KINDLE button.  Please?

The book is small, inside suit coat pocket small, with a ribbon. It was put together in 2010 by Bp. Julian Porteous, auxiliary of Sydney, and is just being released now.

There is a great introduction including a section on

  • The Wiles of the Devil
  • Exposure to the Powers of Darkness
  • Combating the Powers of Darkness
  • Forms of Exorcism
  • The Rite of Exorcism
  • Prayers of Deliverance
  • The Use of Minor Exorcism.

The body of the book contains rites and prayers.  Virtually everything in the book can be used only by priests, though there are a couple prayers that lay people can use.

Before you ask, yes, this book also contains rites and prayers from the older Rituale Romanum!

I was ready to stomp all over this book, until I saw that things from the traditional Rituale Romanum were included, though in English, not in Latin.

The introduction by Bp. Porteous is very good.  He actually believes in the powers of hell and that the devil hates us and that they work for our down fall and that the church and her ministers can do something about it.

I want to caution people, just as Bp. Porteous does in the intro, that there is a rise of prurient interest in dark things, which are often in the media protrayed in a seductively romantic way, that is, an attractive way.  This can lead people into the trap of believing a) that these things are really good when they are not, for there has been a long-standing effort to twist what has always been known to be evil into being at least ambiguous if not just another way of being “good”, and b) attracting the attention of the enemy by too much interest in these dark things.

Never forget that the enemy is angelic.  They are fallen angels.  The angelic nature is vastly more powerful than our puny little human nature, even though Our Lord took our nature to His.  Angels are absolute in their goals and relentless in their actions.  They can influence our memory and our appetites, though they cannot control our wills.  They watch us ceaselessly and, with their superior intellects which don’t need to divide and compose, know us in many ways better than we know ourselves.  And the fallen angels, the enemy, hate us hate us hate us and work constantly to help us sin and lose the life of grace in the soul.

Holy Church has Christ’s power to do something about the more serious forms of temptations, obsessions, oppressions, and possessions (as if there were any other kind than serious!), though her ordained priests and bishops and by using rites of deliverance of different levels.

Priests need to know this stuff. Unfortunately, I never heard that any of this is being taught in any seminary anywhere. I could be wrong. I haven’t heard about it.  There are occasionally courses and workshops offered.

Lay people: Develop a healthy fear of this stuff, even as you recognize the gift of the priesthood and Christ’s gift of His own authority to Holy Church.  Use sacramentals.  GO TO CONFESSION.  Make good Communions.  Ask for the priest’s blessing when you meet him.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. jhayes says:

    Do all priests have faculties to perform exorcisms?

    [All priests may use the Minor Exorcisms. Otherwise, for the Major the priest MUST – MUST – have permission from the local bishop.]

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Excellent post and thank you. One of the biggest problems in Great Britain is the lack of priest exorcists. I was trying to find one last year for a situation a friend of mine was experiencing in her house, which was serious, and the only priest I could find was too busy to do houses. He is old and told me there were not enough priests in England to meet the needs.

    This has led to another serious problem which is that there are many so-called deliverance ministries among Catholic Charismatics which are dangerous and false. I have tried to explain to people not to get involved in such, but I have not been heard. Even at the organized conference in the summer, the Charismatics have these ministries without priests, and, without any training or permission from bishops. It is a horrible situation.

    I pray that every diocese trains at least one, if not a team, of priests to be official exorcists. With so many young people into the occult, wicca, and addictions, (not always demons, I know), we need such priests more than ever.

  3. Wow, thanks for this Father; I intend to order it, and I look forward to cracking it open, I hope this summer.

    Let me echo your caution with a story.

    Many years ago–gosh, it might be 25 years ago now–I was an earnest Christian reading all about spiritual matters. I was at that time an “ex Catholic” who belonged to a Pentecostal church. (Lest there be any confusion, I wasn’t a priest then! And I have returned and been reconciled!)

    I can’t recall just what I was reading, but I was obtaining books that touched on these very subjects of spiritual evil. What books I was reading I cannot recall–but I remember vividly lying on the couch reading a book. I remember having a real fascination with the subject matter. Then, wham! All of a sudden, I became aware of something; about the only real thing I can describe is that I felt the following feelings all at once: a sense of something very powerful; a feeling of attraction; and a profound fear like you cannot imagine.

    Just as fast I closed the book and I took them back or got rid of them or whatever, and that was that. I knew that I’d drawn just a bit too close to these things and I’d felt that “prurient interest” and I am convinced that it was the Holy Spirit, or my guardian angel if you prefer, sounding the alarm. It worked.

    Ever since, I’ve always been just a little leery of books and films and TV shows that delve into these matters too greatly. I talk about these matters but not at length. Perhaps I am overly gun-shy, because at some points, it is necessary, particularly as a priest, to teach about these matters.

    Fairly regularly I speak with people who experience things and they are frightened by them, and they ask me to come and bless their house or reassure them in other ways. I had a stranger knock on the rectory door, late at night, wanting to talk and pray with a priest about something that frightened him and his wife at their home.

    One of my concerns is to take these things seriously enough, without failing to recognize the power of God at work in us to deliver us. That same “prurient interest,” I suspect, can lead us to be so overawed by the power of evil that we lose trust in the power of our own baptism and the angels that protect us and the means of grace so generously available to us.

    It’s worth recalling the warning Moses gave (I cannot recall the citation) against God’s People looking into these hidden matters; he pointed to them the wondrous things that had been revealed to them–why go looking after other things? That still makes a lot of sense to me.

  4. cathdeac says:

    May any of these minor exorcisms be performed by a (permanent) deacon?

    [Not really. Not for the most part. I would leave all these things to priests.]

  5. jbas says:

    I hope this isn’t like your review of the travel Missal (’62) a few years ago. It has been out of print ever since you recommended it!

    [Nah… they are ahead of me on this one. But if enough people tell the publisher to get it onto Kindle, maybe they will also print more copies.]

  6. brotherfee says:

    Very timely. With William Peter Blatty being in the news recently, I started doing some searches on exorcisms myself, out of curiosity. Then I started thinking, why am I doing this? I have enough problems dealing with daily temptations as it is, I do not need to be digging into any dark matters. I am leaving this to the experts, the priests. I am sticking with prayer, daily readings, and reflections.

  7. Scarltherr says:

    Thank you for the warnings. Some of us Lay people need to read about the influence of evil in our lives to explain what is happening when our priests don’t acknowledge the existence of evil. I plan to give this book to my nephew in seminary. But I’ll probably read it first. Is that okay? [I gave my opinion, above.]

  8. flyfree432 says:

    “This has led to another serious problem which is that there are many so-called deliverance ministries among Catholic Charismatics which are dangerous and false.”

    Careful to paint with too broad a brush less others do the same to traditionalists and claim that we are all separated from Rome. The vast majority are very good, faithful groups who are not at all opposed to the traditional gifts of the Church such as the EF Mass. Everything they do is in union with and lead by their priests and bishops. The latest survey that Father Z linked to regarding incoming ordinands said that 11% attended a charismatic youth conference at Steubenville. Our local charismatic parish has more vocations to the priesthood and religious life by and far than any other parish.

  9. pinoytraddie says:

    Ask for A Priest’s Blessing when I See Him? WHY?

  10. Geoffrey says:

    Confession is extremely important.

    A priest at daily Mass several months ago told an interesting story in his homily. He had attended a conference of some kind at a church. While a priest was speaking, someone in the audience began acting out… he was possessed. The priest-speaker instructed that the person be brought to the sacristy after the talk was over. Well, the entire audience tried packing into the sacristy to see what was going to happen. The possessed person, or rather, the demon within, began pointing at various people, and revealing their sins. Everyone began running out of the sacristy.

    Unconfessed sins are known to the devil and can be used against you; confessed sins are forgiven and forgotten by God… and apparently the devil forgets them too.

  11. Supertradmum says:

    pinoytraddie, I always do this and when I was travelling hundreds of miles the other day, I met with two priests for meetings individually for some volunteer work I am doing, I asked both of them, hours apart, for a blessing. In fact, I was blessed on a London train in front of at least 70 strangers, as the priest blessed me when I asked right there by the train door. Why not? We need protection from all types of enemies who are after our souls and the souls of others….We say the St. Michael Prayer, “cast into hell satan and all the evil spirits who roam the world seeking the ruin of souls.” Well, a blessing is like putting on a bit more armor before one goes out into battle. I always ask for blessings not only for protection, but for strength for myself to act and think clearly as I go along with my daily activities.

  12. Supertradmum says:

    flyfree432, if you know some trad Charismatics, good and well. The vast majority I know, and I have met thousands (no exaggeration) here and in the States, are far from traditional, not under bishops in their “ministries”, and frequently ignorant of the teachings of the Catholic Church. I have done personal damage control by trying to bring some of these Charismatics to Church teaching, and found out that most have never opened the CCC. Most are into dubious private revelation. The emphasis is all on experiential religion and not doctrine. In addition, many follow Protestant paradigms for ministry; for example, being involved in personal deliverance ministries outside the hierarchy of the Church. That you know some in obedience and within the normal work of the Church is great, but I can attest to more disobedience than not. Most of the Charismatics I have met hate the Latin Mass and will not attend it. I am glad you have found the opposite to be true. In America, Great Britain, Ireland and even Malta,because of some classes I attended and some work with which I was involved, I have found charismatic groups to be full of border-line Catholics, even in disobedience to basic teachings,. Here is a partial list: new age nonsense, such as honoring angels not mentioned in the Scriptures, and non-Christian forms of prayer, such as centering prayer, false healing ministries and false discernment, contraception, liberation theology, false ecumenism, including confusion as to the superiority of the Catholic Church, confusion on sexual ethics, and all into ministries not even under the authority of their pastors, such less bishops. Most do not have spiritual directors who are clergy, or if they do, those priests are liberal in doctrine, tending to be “pastoral”. I could mention specific retreat centers and even religious orders which encourage false teaching. Some of the newer orders founded through the renewal have less than formal liturgies still. I shall not mention the order, but I attended two Masses last year expecting reverence and solid teaching and found the opposite. The Charismatic liturgies here are full of abuses. In fact, last year, I was in a position to speak with two priests working at the national Charismatic gathering in Walsingham. Some friends of mine attended the conference. I was working in Walsingham at the time in another capacity. Some of my friends came to me for help. The abuses regarding outdoor Masses and the indiscriminate giving of Holy Communion were addressed by some of us, but not changed by those in charge. I was told “it was not an issue the priests would address”. In addition, there were undisciplined, individual “deliverance” teams with dubious leaders, acting without priests on a regular basis. One young woman told me that one of the women in a team there a few years ago asked her if she wanted to talk with her dead grandma. That is necromancy. There are few Charismatic authorities, so nothing is done. Because of my connections in the Church both in the States and abroad, I know these faults are serious and have escaped notice in most dioceses. As a youth, in the 1970s, I was involved in Charismatic Renewal, but it was a large group which was extremely disciplined; and the group with which I was involved even had representation in Rome. This is not the case anymore with many groupings. One of my friends who has recently left the Renewal said that in twenty years of going to prayer meetings, there has never been a priest present at any of the meetings, and deliverance and healing ministries were happening on a regular basis. Sorry, I stand by my wide brush.

  13. jcr says:

    What are these minor exorcisms? The only “minor exorcisms” I am aware of are those used on catechumens (RCIA) and in the rite of baptism. In the Roman Ritual (EF) I find the Ritus exorcizandi obsessos a daemonio and the exorcism of Leo XIII, both of which can be used only by priests with due permission from their Ordinary. None of these seem like something that priests in general would want to carry around in their vest pocket.

    There are also the indirect exorcisms via the blessing of water, salt, and oil, the blessing of the St. Benedict Medal, etc., but it doesn’t sound like these are what we’re talking about either.

  14. jhayes says:

    I found this on Fr. Finigan’s blog:

    One question which has bothered me is that of the precise difference between a major and a minor exorcism. Fr Davies locates the distinction in the kind of demonic activity. A major exorcism is carried out in the case of genuine possession where a person’s will lacks control over some part of himself (the will is never entirely blotted out); and, to the extent that the person’s will is in control, he has good will the person has good will; i.e. he seeks to follow Christ. (Fr Davies points out that Jesus did not exorcise Judas nor Peter Ananias, nor Paul Elymas.)

    Regarding simple (minor) exorcisms, there is an interesting quotation from Noldin which I followed up the other day. The renowned moralist said:

    “It is much to be desired that ministers of the Church should perform simple exorcisms more frequently, remembering the words of the Lord, ‘In my name they shall cast out demons’ … They should use this,m or a similar formula: ‘In the name of Jesus Christ I command you, unclean spirit, to leave this creature of God.'”

    Priests should also follow the advice of Tanquerey not to tell the penitent about this if there is any fear of undue excitement or worry but simply say that he is going to recite a prayer approved by the Church. (He could say it in Latin or quietly.)

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