This is a topic where many people have an opinion, but few have been well taught, myself included. What I do know is from about 10 years of experience.
Exorcism is primarily a right of healing. Jesus performed exorcisms as a part of his healing ministry.
For example — the Eucharist is truly Jesus, not just a symbol. Likewise the cross, although it is a symbol, is not just a symbol — it means something. It tells us that the reality is Jesus was incarnate, and that that reality gave us a chance to get to heaven.
His death was the sacrifice. The holy sacrifice is Christ on the cross.
Satan is the adversary; before his fall, he was Lucifer, the angel of life. The nature of angels is spirit, their office is angel. Because their will is so keen, the angels know right from wrong. Satan tried to equate himself with God, out of jealousy of the creation of humanity. And he was cast out of heaven by God and the angels still loyal.
After Vatican II, with the extraction of the St. Michael prayer from the Mass, we don’t have the same strength of memory about Satan and the cosmic battle.
All of the Old Testament covenants were broken, over and over again. But Christ is the sacrifice of the new covenant. In his death, he fulfills that mission. That’s why we have crucifixes, not just crosses.
Before 1614, lay people were involved in exorcism. At that point, the exorcism was formalized. Prior to that, it was a ministry. We can assume it was formalized because of abuses, which is typically the reason for formalization.
After Vatican II, the number of exorcists greatly decreased; later, around 2005, the pope gave a mandate to appoint an exorcist to each bishop.
A possible explanation — Vatican II era, priests were limited to preaching on the scripture rather than choosing topics. Thinking of Christ as not just God, but God and man… Sin became fuzzy, and Satan became fuzzy.
Everybody who comes to me is suffering — that’s why this is a healing ministry. When people call, they are desperate, sick, and they have been turned down again and again.
Demons seek out people with broken relationships or no relationships. 80% of the people I see were sexually abused. That’s a soul wound. Likewise, habits or additions — I hear pornography in confession frequently, and I use a program called Unbound. The process is to crush the stronghold that those things have over them.
Four ordinary means of protection — faith life, prayer life, moral life, and sacramental life.
Classic signs of demons — aversion to the sacred. (The demon wants to hide — Satan’s greatest lie is that he don’t exist.) Strength beyond the natural. Speaking a language a person has no knowledge of. Knowledge of hidden things. Foaming at the mouth — coughing in an unnatural way, prolonged coughing. Seizure, like epilepsy. These are often brought on by Holy Orders or by the Blessed Sacrament.
Demons don’t just show up, there’s a relationship. People who come to me often have curiosity — not just getting their palm read once, but repeatedly. What we do is sever ties.
The occult is false spirituality. People want something they can’t get from God. They want some thing — or some kind of retaliation against someone.
A lot of the people who come to me have been away from the Church for a long time.
The unbroken succession from Jesus to Peter to the present-day bishops is what gives me the authority to ask “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, who am I speaking to?” of a demon, demanding its name. That is the only thing that gives me that authority.
“As faith diminishes, superstition increases.“