Thirty pieces of silver, anyone?
In a normal situation, Deuteronomy 25,4 and 1 Corinthians 9,9 would apply, analogously, to a pastor of souls, who is, as it were, an ox, which is not to be muzzled while it is treading out the grain. Right. O.K. That’s true. No argument from me… about… a… normal… situation…
But exorcism is not a normal situation, for here we have extremely vulnerable people. They will do just about anything before and just after an exorcism, so relieved are they to be helped, so grateful are they to have been helped. You’re the one who could help them. No one else. Don’t take advantage of them!
There are exorcists who will take gifts, and even request something for their efforts, at least their car travel, etc., but I think this is totally wrong-headed. It is bad for the exorcist and bad for those who are being helped. It throws a totally different set of dynamics upon the friendships made, and now tainted. This is very sad indeed. Exorcism is the occasion for many to come back to the Church, and they need a selfless exorcist who is only concerned for their well being, not anything they can get out of such a ministry. The more they insist you take gifts, the more you have to refuse the gifts, ever so gently. “Can it be true”, they think, “that someone was so good to me?” “Yes! Jesus! Thank Him! I just work for Him!” is a good response.
But what if you are really impoverished, as can be the case with a priest who is rather selfless, and you don’t have the wherewithal even to get from one place to the next, since some of those who are possessed are in no shape whatsoever to travel? What if the bishop wants to test the viability of the ministry in our Lord’s providence by letting you fend for yourself? What if, where you’re going, the local priest won’t put you up in the rectory? What if… What if… What if… Answer: Make due. This is the battle of the Church Militant to further establish the Kingdom of Heaven, a battle with hell, a battle which can very well involve the eternal salvation of someone’s soul (and those around them), a battle which is best to win, a battle for which sacrifices have to be made. “The Son of man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8,20; Luke 9,58). Confirmation makes one a soldier of Christ. Does not Holy Orders jack this up in intensity? Does not the mandate to be an exorcist involve not having any care for one’s physical comfort?
In contrast: Know that your not taking gifts or money will be perceived to be in very sharp contrast to those to whom some of your candidates for exorcism will have gone before coming to you so as to seek relief from whatever the problem was the occasion to start off their saga. Some of the possessed will have gone to see an occultist of some kind. An occultist will hardly take gifts, but will instead demand what he himself chooses, including houses, property and entire bank accounts. People will give over their lives to be relieved of their misery, which does go away temporarily, only to come back much, much worse, meaning that they have to pay more in whatever way every time. Tragic. A nightmare. Though worse. Then they come to you as a last resort. How trite if you were to ask for something as well, now that they have absolutely nothing, are at wits end, and are close to committing suicide. If you ask someone for something in this condition, you will see their spirits literally wither inside them. Not good. Really.
Your “pay” is, of course, to have Christ’s own joy in watching them be delivered of torment and rejoice in new found friendship with our Lord. This is the most wonderful thing to see. This is what you want to see. This friendship, and seeing this friendship with our Lord is priceless!