Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Rite

I see there's a movie coming out based on the book, The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio. Given the US Catholic Bishops recent interest in exorcism (Bishops to Discuss Exorcism - In All Things) I guess the movie can't just be dismissed as fanciful. The film, The Rite, which stars Anthony Hopkins, Colin O'Donoghue, and Alice Braga (and maybe Rutger Hauer?) tells of a young American priest who's sent to Rome to study exorcism - he's skeptical at first but Anthony Hopkins' character sets him straight with some hands-on experience. After watching the trailer, the film seemed to me to be a cross between The Exorcist, The Devils, and The Order, with just a touch of Hannibal .... creepy!

I'm concerned about the church's continuing interest in exorcism. I find it extremely hard to believe people are ever possessed by demons and I'd rather see the church spend its time and money on real problems like poverty. On the other hand, Ignatius of Loyola took for granted that bad spirits exist and influence us (the discernment of spirits). So I'm not sure what to make of all this except that it's creepy :)

For those interested, here's just the beginning of an interview in TIME about the book from which the movie was made ...


The Story of a Modern-Day Exorcist

When he first heard about a Vatican-sponsored course on exorcism for priests, journalist Matt Baglio was intrigued by the idea of this ancient ritual taking place in the modern world. In his new book, The Rite, Baglio follows American priest Father Gary — sent to Rome to train as an exorcist — and his apprenticeship with Father Carmine. Baglio talked to TIME about belief, skeptical priests and the particulars of the exorcism ritual.

TIME: The thing that inspired this book was a class on exorcism. Tell me about it.

BAGLIO: I was a freelance journalist living in Rome and had heard about this course called Exorcism and the Prayer of Liberation. It was organized by the Legion of Christ and their school, the Regina Apostolorum, which is Vatican-affiliated. Not knowing anything about exorcism or if the Church even still believed in it, I was intrigued by the idea of a university-level course teaching priests about exorcism.

What were your first thoughts about the class? Did you think, Wait a minute, this is the 21st century. Why are we even still talking about exorcism?

Absolutely. My first thought was, Why is the church doing this class? Is it just a p.r. stunt? But then I saw that a lot of the course work itself was very theologically and historically based. None of it was practical, which is why Father Gary had to eventually go out and apprentice with a veteran exorcist, Father Carmine. The course would bring in experts — experts in satanic cults, experts in criminology, they even had a psychiatrist come in to talk to the priests about the differences between the various mental illnesses that could be confused for demonic possession vs. what the church says is actually demonic possession ....



Blogger Deacon Denny said...

Well... I do believe that creepy stuff like this does happen, whether it's actual demonic possession or not. Several years ago I got a message one evening from a good friend of a former parishioner. When I called back, the friend was desperate, as the parishioner (late 20's-ish) was feverish, sweating, shouting and screaming, saying all kinds of half-garbled creepy things in a rapid rush. (I could hear her in the background as we talked). I found a priest to go; when I asked him about it the next morning, his discription of the (lengthy) experience was actually quite hair-raising; he said he had never seen anything like it and hoped he never would again. He couldn't declare for sure that it was an actual case of possession, but he said it WAS unexplainable by ordinary standards. He wouldn't say much more than that.

There's some stuff I frankly don't want to run into, or delve into.

11:54 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Denny,

That's interesting. I can't say for sure there's no demonic possession, but I can say that if there is, I don't want to know that ... too scary! :)

1:36 AM  

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