The burning question, so to speak, is this: “Isn’t it an insult to the laity and the worst form of clericalism to forbid non-exorcists to do exorcisms?”
Answer: Actually, the opposite is true. It is an insult to the laity to insist that they only have worth if they be mandated to do something that has been reserved to a handful of clergy. One’s worth does not depend on being able to do what others are mandated to do. The worst form of clericalism is to insist that the laity are worthless until they start to act like priests. The priest who instills this attitude in his parishioners is a priest who is abusing his office of service, gathering around himself those he’s manipulated into an inferiority complex, kicking them in the face so that they think they are useless and laity, and have to be just like a priest in order to be fulfilled and have their rights respected. He is “with them” in their “struggle against injustice and oppression”, and they don’t mind him being “the priest” because of that.
Let’s draw an analogy with the false feminism that started back in the late 1800s. With false feminism, women who already felt inferior for whatever reason asserted that to have any worth whatsoever, they had to act just like men. Some feminists were reasonable, and went after the right to vote, and so on. Great! But it’s just wrong to think that women have to be men to be worthy of living, right? China and India kill their baby girls so that now there is a huge imbalance in the male/female ratio. Now there is wife sharing, wife stealing, wives who are just a piece of meat for sex. It’s dangerous to think one has to be like someone else to be worthy of respect.
Question: But what if the devil is bothering me and there is no exorcist to help me out? Surely Jesus didn’t forbid me to tell Satan to take a hike! Come on!
Answer: One is to take advantage of an exorcist’s exorcism for one’s benefit if this is possible. It is an encouragement to the family of faith to realize that their is a family of faith, and that there is a head to that family. This doesn’t make the priest “better” or “more holy” or “more worthy” or some such thing. Instead, it is just a way for us to rejoice that we have a family of faith on earth, and that our Lord takes care of us within the family. Very cool, that.
However, sometimes a diocese will not have an exorcist. That’s true. I think we can all recognize that we’ve lived through some pretty dark decades, no? That’s just the way it is, though this is changing rapidly, and there are many more exorcists and many more to come. But what to do when there is no exorcist? Is one merely to cower before Satan, thinking that one is deprived of spiritual help because one is forbidden to command Satan to depart in such a direct manner?
Such questions come from an attitude of false inferiority, of clericalism at its worst. A non-exorcist who is bothered by Satan is not bereft of spiritual help just because he cannot himself do an exorcism, just because he cannot himself command Satan to depart.
Would it not be an insult to Jesus, who is The Exorcist, to hold that prayer to our Lord to have Satan depart is utterly useless, an insipid exercise in piety which holds no power? Ah, but that’s it, isn’t it? It’s all about P O W E R, the pride one imagines to have in being able to command Satan oneself, because it is only that which will make someone feel worthy of living, worthy of respect. With an attitude like that, Satan has already won, and Satan has no respect for anyone. The more inferior and subservient, the more kicked in the face they are, the better. Satan is evil. Really.
Jesus, diversely, respects such prayer. Perhaps it might seem an out of place bit of humor to say that if the devil comes knocking on your door, you are just to say, “Jesus, could you get that for me, please?” But, think about it. It presumes that one knows one’s worth before Almighty God, who makes His dwelling with us, happy to be with us. It demonstrates a bond of love, and that one finds one’s security with such good friendship with the Lord, and not in some kind of power that one wields over Satan.
Jesus, however, brings us to Himself with each other, as a family. So, if there is an exorcist available, use him. Jesus will work through him. Otherwise, and in any case, one can always pray directly to Jesus so that Satan might depart. Jesus respects this, and so does Satan. But clericalism, thinking that one’s worth is only had when one acts like a priest, is straight out of hell.
By the way, there are also many good, holy priests who are not mandated to be exorcists and they are also forbidden to do exorcisms. Let’s not forget that part of this clericalism question.
But most importantly, remember the goodness and kindness of Jesus. He really is just so good and kind as to let us know that He loves us, cares for us, is with us, respects us us. He gives us our worth, bringing us to Himself. This is about Jesus, The Exorcist, not about asserting one’s inferiorty complex struggle for rights and respect to be what one is not. It’s not a power struggle.
Take a step back from all this and reflect for a moment. Have not some priests shown themselves to be unworthy? And has there not been a proportional lust to do priestly things by those who are not priests? Strange, huh? Not really. Those priests abused their office. For them, it was an office of power. Those who want to act like priests so as to find their worth speak about the priesthood in terms of power. But just as with the abusive priests, the wannabe priests won’t find their worth in such things. We only find our worth in Jesus. Jesus, who is power, if you want to put it in those terms, is also fully at our service in self-sacrificing love. That’s what it’s about, the love of God, for God is love. And He has for us a family of faith, and that’s good.
No to clericalism. Yes to finding one’s worth in Jesus and rejoicing in the family of faith. It is in this way that we come to know goodness and kindness.