One of the greatest Dominican exorcists, a Consultor for I don’t know how many dicasteries of the Roman Curia, a brilliant professor and theologian – who once gave me excellent, incisive advice for a thesis I was thinking about writing at the time with the then Secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and now Cardinal, A.V. – told me that he once neglected to say terce on the day he was to do an exorcism. He said that upon beginning the exorcism, the devil immediately taunted him about this. His reaction was to, then and then, drop to his knees and go to confession to the priest with him. All went well after that.
On another occasion – and this goes back some decades in Rome – there was a young priest who could do nothing except scoff at even the idea of exorcism. Being invited to go to an exorcism, he went, only this time to make a show of his scoffing, crossing his arms, shrugging his shoulders, scowling his disapproval, almost mocking the goings on, certainly not praying in his contempt. As the exorcism became intense, the devil turned to this unbelieving sorry excuse for a priest, and started describing the time that the priest had had the night before in a hotel room with a prostitute, naming the hotel, the works. This priest ran out of the room and kept on running, hopefully right to a confessional.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Perhaps this might put a bit of fear into this or that priest, who will then avoid exorcism. This is not my intention at all! Just the opposite. Take good note: such things do not at all happen to priests who have nothing on their conscience. Our Lord does not command a ministry which humiliates his priests! Our Lord makes it possible to do this ministry without bringing down the priesthood in shame. It is to our Lord’s glory, is it not, that He uses those He has forgiven in order to trounce the devil? This is excruciating irony for the devil, and a joy for us. The Lord is wonderful in His mercy!
Going back to a point I made in the previous post of this series: Don’t be arrogant, thinking that you are doing the exorcism apart from our Lord, as if your fasting, your prayer, your determination, your goodness and kindness, your sincerity, your whatever counted for anything whatsoever before Satan, who could crush you in a second should our Lord permit him to do this. If you are arrogant, you will hear your past sins, however well confessed, shouted for all the world to hear. Why? Arrogance is like a vacuum which sucks back all one’s sins into one’s soul as if they were never confessed. What’s forgiven is forgiven, but arrogance has nothing to grasp but sin. Arrogance can and does take refuge in past sin, however much it was forgiven at the time. Arrogance is just that monstrous. It is the territory of Satan. He excels in arrogance, and will have no one to master him in arrogance. Don’t even try.
Just be humble before our Lord, depending on Him, and you will be alright. Really! You can rejoice in our Lord’s rejoicing over His grace in you. If you want security, you can and must find it in the Lord, by His grace, which He is so very, very willing to give. Just ask, and it is yours.