MANUAL OF MINOR EXORCISMS
(Catholic Truth Society, 2012, 80pp, $14.95. ISBN: 978-1-86082-802-7.
PRAYERS FOR THOSE IN SPIRITUAL AFFLICTION
(Catholic Truth Society, 2012, 35pp, $4.95. ISBN: 978-1-86082-792-1. Both available through Freedom Publishing)
Both compiled and introduced by Bishop Julian Porteous
Over recent years various claims have been made that suspected diabolical manifestations are on the increase. This has run parallel with a tendency by many in the Church to downplay the notion of evil, relegating the demonic to a bygone era when we did not enjoy the bright and enlightened reasoning of the modern age.
In 2001 Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, then Archbishop of Genoa, created quite some controversy by dedicating his Lenten pastoral letter to the topic of resisting Satan. He listed ten rules, the first of which is "Do not forget that the Devil exists". A good and necessary reminder for us all!
Two booklets compiled by Bishop Julian Porteous of Sydney are a valuable aid to priests and people in the daily battle that exists between good and evil in the world.
The Manual of Minor Exorcisms is a very helpful resource that fills a noticeable gap in the tools available to priests for assisting those experiencing spiritual affliction. In the first part Bishop Porteous offers a good introduction to the reality of the Devil, the varying degrees of oppression and possession, the danger of being exposed to the powers of darkness, and a description of the various forms of exorcism (a priestly ministry) and prayers of deliverance (open to all the baptised).
Bishop Porteous is careful to point out the need for prudent discernment as to the nature of any affliction that a person presents with. Sometimes this will mean a priest working in co-operation with other professionals, particularly if the person exhibits psychological problems.
The second part of the booklet provides various prayers of minor exorcism. This begins with the reminder that a priest should first investigate whether there is need for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, emphasising that the person's own spiritual dispositions are important.
Two prayers that will be welcomed are the blessing of holy water and salt and the various forms for blessing a home. To have these readily at hand in a small book will appeal to many priests. The other prayers are a rich source from which priests may draw to assist people seeking help.
The other booklet aims to provide prayers, consolation and support for those experiencing spiritual affliction. Here Bishop Porteous responds to a pastoral need that is becoming more and more apparent in our time, given the widespread oppression caused by gambling, pornography and substance abuse.
Often through a lack of formation people have a weakened sense of right and wrong and are easily coerced into sinful habits. Bishop Porteous is careful to point out that demonic attack is not just a danger for those who have fallen into sinful lifestyles or have fragile personalities. He reminds us that people well advanced in the Christian life can experience intense struggles against demonic activity.
In the various prayers and litanies for protection and deliverance which Bishop Porteous has compiled, the faithful will find a sure source of spiritual comfort and a means for obtaining God's grace and protection. This booklet would be a very useful addition to any Catholic home and a helpful gift for those we know to be experiencing spiritual affliction.
These booklets deserve wide circulation and Bishop Porteous is to be commended for addressing a topic that has been ignored for too long.
Fr Nicholas Dillon is Parish Priest of St Philip's, Blackburn North, in the Archdiocese of Melbourne.