Recently on Morning Air, Glen Lewerenz had Monsignor Steve Rossetti on the show to talk about bearing witness to the Resurrection from the perspective of an exorcist and why that relationship is so important.
Msgr. Rossetti began by telling the story of one particular exorcism he was performing with another priest. Once the demon had revealed its presence within the victim, the priests commanded that it leave by the power of Christ and His Resurrection. The demon began exclaiming, “We won! We won! He didn’t rise.” The other priest looked shocked as Msgr. Rossetti turned to him agreeing, “This demon needs a history lesson.”
But why not ignore that statement? What bearing does the Resurrection really have on an exorcism? At first glance, they may seem unrelated. In reality, just as the Resurrection is the linchpin of Christianity, it is integral to power over the demonic. As Msgr. Rossetti said, “If Jesus simply died and didn’t rise, how could you possibly cast out demons?” There would be no triumph over death, no confirmation of God’s unlimited divinity and power over sin, and evil would have truly won. It would have successfully vanquished God.
Some of the most common parts of exorcisms involve a crucifix and/or the sign of the cross. We embrace and call upon God by reminding ourselves of the way in which He died because we know that He conquered it.
It’s interesting to note that Satan and his demons will use any and everything to draw people away from God, including atheism or agnosticism. Even though Satan knows that God exists and Jesus is the Son of God, he will not lead people to that truth if it means they will gravitate towards God.
Once a demon has taken a hold of somebody, it’s not entirely up to the priests to get rid of it. They’re not there to perform a magic trick and voila, the demonic presence is gone. According to Msgr. Rossetti, 70% of it is up to the person to undergo this personal conversion. They must rid themselves of the spirit through confession and the sacraments so that their life can no longer be a haven for evil.
One practice that embodies the essence of that personal conversion is the renewal of one’s baptismal vows. Msgr. Rossetti says he uses it very often because of the explicit words of affirmation used in it:
Do you reject Satan? And all his works? And all his empty promises? Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth? Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
God, the all-powerful Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and forgiven all our sins. May he also keep us faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ forever and ever.
We renew these vows every Easter as a minor form of exorcism and as a participation in this celebration of life conquering death. The Resurrection bears such importance to us as Christians in our theology and in our lives as we face temptation, evil, and the demonic. We have nothing to fear as long as we remain fervent believers in the truth that by the power of God, we have power over sin and death.
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