Exorcism: Is This For Real?

Most Americans have at one time or another watched a movie depicting a person— possessed by a demonic spirit—in the process of being “Exorcised.” The most famous of these motion pictures, “The Exorcist,” [1] was released theatrically in the United States by Warner Brothers on December 26, 1973, and was generally acclaimed to be the Scariest Movie Of All Time. Well in those days The Exorcist was certainly scary however during the intervening forty years, various movies have been released whose fear factor met or exceeded the ’73 standard for the scariest movie ever produced.

So most people—when they hear the term Exorcism—automatically relate the Rite to what they saw portrayed in The Exorcist or one of the other motion pictures that have dealt with this subject. Without fail, they immediately conjure up visions of someone whose physical facial features have been transformed into a horribly disfigured countenance and is speaking in a guttural voice, often in Latin or some language the victim has never before had knowledge of. This—almost universal—stereotypical vision most people seem to have of a victim of demonic possession being exorcised; forms in their mind—whenever the subject is brought up—and then they will ask; “Is this for real?” Remarkably, almost every Exorcist will respond; “Yes, but only in very rare cases.”

In the one in a thousand case—the case in that the victim looks like the twelve year old Regan MacNeil (portrayed by Linda Blair in the 1973 movie)—experienced ministers uniformly report that The Exorcist and other movies portray the extreme circumstance fairly accurately. However if you really want to understand what an Exorcism is really like, rent the movie The Rite [2]—the 2011 American supernatural horror film, based on Matt Baglio’s book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist [3] which is available—new or used—on Amazon.com. And while you are at Amazon perusing books on exorcism, be sure to purchase (and read) Father Malachi Martin’s book; Hostage To The Devil. These two books and the fictional movie based on the real events in Baglio’s novel, will give you a very good idea of what really happens during the Rituale Romanum—the rite of Exorcism.

There are many books that relate real life experiences in the war between humans and the principalities of evil—and we deeply suggest that you read these—but until you do, make no mistake; Exorcism is for real. We—who are in this type of ministry—use the term war, in a symbolic sense, just as the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians (chapter 6 verses 11 through 18) used martial metaphor to illustrate his point.


[1] The Exorcist; ©1973 Warner Brothers. Directed by William Friedkin, adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel of the same name.

[2] The Rite; ©2011 Warner Brothers. Directed by Mikael Håfström and written by Michael Petroni.

[3] The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist ©2009 Matt Baglio http://www.amazon.com/The-Rite-Making-Modern-Exorcist/dp/0385522703

[4] Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans Malachi Martin 1976 http://www.amazon.com/Hostage-Devil-Possession-Contemporary-Americans/dp/006065337X

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