You may have already seen one occur right before your eyes.
Did you know that you may have already seen an exorcism? It probably wasn’t anything like The Exorcist, but it shares the same goal of expelling the influence of evil from a person.
These exorcisms are performed each year and begin on the Third Sunday of Lent. It is part of the final preparations for catechumens who will be baptized and received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil.
This final phase of Christian preparation is called the “Period of Purification and Enlightenment” and is aimed at personal conversion, preparing the heart to receive the many graces of God.
Included in this phase is the celebration of “scrutinies” that are “are meant to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect; to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good … to give them strength in Christ … and deepen their resolve to hold fast to Christ and to carry out their decision to love God above all.”
The scrutinies are typically performed during Sunday Mass, after the homily, and take the usual place of the petitions. Then at the end of the petitions there is a “minor exorcism” where the priest or deacon invokes God’s intercession over the catechumens to remove any darkness that inhibits the light of Christ.
God of power, you sent your Son to be our Savior. Grant that these catechumens, who, like the woman of Samaria, thirst for living water, may turn to the Lord as they hear his word and acknowledge the sins and weaknesses that weigh them down. Protect them from vain reliance on self and defend them from the power of Satan. Free them from the spirit of deceit, so that, admitting the wrong they have done, they may attain purity of heart and advance on the way to salvation.
This rite is similar to the minor exorcism performed before the sacrament of Baptism, but is longer and occurs on three subsequent Sundays.
While it may not be as flashy as the exorcisms of Hollywood, the Church believes that these exorcisms are powerful and are an essential part of the preparation before being baptized into the Catholic Church.