Catechism of the Catholic ChurchSpecific paragraphs related to demonology & exorcism
Cat-e-chet-ics: /katəˈketiks/ noun: 1) religious teaching in general, typically given in the Roman Catholic Church to converts or children; 2) the branch of theology that deals with the instruction given to Christians before baptism or confirmation.
When it comes to the dogma, doctrines, and teachings of the Church (or any belief system for that matter), two approaches are often considered: 1) the degree of sincerity, zeal or passion to which the faith is adhered to and followed; and, 2) the content itself of that belief system. Which is more important: the sincerity of our belief … or the content itself of what it is we believe? In Roman Catholicism, it is not an “either-or,” but a “both-and” expectation. Both the content of the faith (the Church’s doctrines and dogma) are required to be accepted and believed wholeheartedly, as well as steadfast adherence and fervent dedication to that content, as we go about living out the faith in our everyday lives. The content – the dogma and doctrines – of the Roman Catholic Church are spelled out in cogent detail and order within its wonderful Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). I highly recommend that anyone who considers himself to be serious about their faith to purchase the Catechism, read through it, study it, pray over it, and let it seep into your heart, mind, and soul. Knowing what you believe and why is a critically important part of protection against attacks of the evil one. Satan exploits any weakness or error in mind or worldview. We simply must know, and own, our content of belief, fully and absolutely. In my own opinion, the Catechism should be read alongside the Sacred Scriptures and be a regular part of reciting the Creeds and praying our prayers – all of which opens us up more to the teachings of Christ, the Church, and the Holy Spirit to actively work in the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:1-2).
A link is provided here to the online store of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: Catechism of the Catholic Church: Second Edition
Below are paragraphs within the Catechesis of the Catholic Church (CCC), which I have conveniently separated out into various categories which deal with the relevant subject matter of this website, including angels, demons, Satan, exorcism, and others. Each paragraph’s footnotes are listed just as they are present in the CCC. A thorough reading of these paragraphs will give the reader a sound understanding of Catholic doctrinal positions regarding these important theological topics.
Baptism as Renunciation of the Devil:
517 Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross, (179) but this mystery is at work throughout Christ’s entire life:
– already in his incarnation through which by becoming poor he enriches us with his poverty; (180)
– in his hidden life which by his submission atones for our disobedience; (181)
– in his word which purifies its hearers; (182)
– in his healing and exorcisms by which “he took our infirmities and bore our diseases;” (183)
– and in his Resurrection by which he justifies us. (184)
(179) Cf. Eph 1:7; Col 1:13-14; 1 Pet 1:18-19
(180) Cf. 2 Cor 8:9
(181) Cf. Lk 2:51
(182) Cf. Jn 15:3
(183) Cf. Mt 8:17; cf. Isa 53:4
(184) Cf. Rom 4:25
My Comments: Historically, the Church has made a distinction between the exorcism of converts and the unbaptized (called catechumens) and the exorcism of the possessed (called energumens). As Father Jeffrey Grob points out in his extremely helpful dissertation: A Major Revision of the Discipline on Exorcism: A Comparative Study of the Liturgical Laws in the 1614 and 1998 Rites of Exorcism, 2006, “At an early date the practice began in the Church of exorcising those who desired to become Christian (catechumens). Pre-baptismal exorcism, however, was (and continues to be) fundamentally different in focus from the focus of exorcism under scrutiny in this thesis. Simply stated, the exorcism that originally preceded baptism, and that was later incorporated into the actual baptismal rite, is one of renunciation. The catechumen is considered to be under the general dominion of the devil because of sin. In preparation for the reception of baptism, the catechumen is asked to renounce the devil through a series of exorcisms. On the other hand, in these early days, the individuals who were believed to be possessed by a demon required the assistance of an exorcist to rid themselves of the malevolent presence that was tormenting them or that was thought to have invaded their body.”
Sadly today, this pre-baptismal rite of exorcism that renounces the devil, and is usually set to be carried out within the context of the preparatory rites during RCIA, is often skipped over by “modern” priests. In summary:
The 2 Distinctions of Exorcism:
Exorcism for converts & the unbaptized: a Catechumen / For the purpose of renunciation
Exorcism for the possessed: an Energumen / For the purpose of liberation
It is absolutely critical, if one wants protection from the Evil One and his kingdom, to experience salvation by coming into the community of the faithful (the Church) by way of baptism (and other Sacraments). It is also important that the baptism be done in a “trinitarian formula;” in other words, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The theological and spiritual benefits of baptism are far too deep to be covered here, but be assured that one of the first questions that a competent demonologist, pastor, or priest will ask of someone claiming to be demonically afflicted and wanting help, is whether or not they have been properly baptized.
The Existence of Angels – a Truth of Faith:
328 The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls “angels” is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.
Who are the Angels?
329 St. Augustine says: “Angel” is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, ‘spirit,’ from what they do, ‘angel.'” (188) With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they “always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” they are the “mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word.” (189)
330 As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness. (190)
Christ “with all His Angels”
331 Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him …” (191) They belong to him because they were created through and for him: “for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.” (192) They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?” (193)
332 Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvatin from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham’s hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few examples. (194) Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself. (195)
333 From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God, “brings the firstborn into the world, he says: ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.'” (196) Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church’s praise: “Glory to God in the highest!” (197) They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been. (198) Again, it is the angels who “evangelize” by proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection. (199) They will be present at Christ’s return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgment. (200)
The Angels in the Life of the Church
334 In the meantime, the whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels. (201)
335 In her liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the thrice-holy God. She invokes their assistance (in the funeral liturgy’s In Paradisium deducant te angeli … [“May the angels lead you into Paradise …”]). Moreover, in the “Cherubic Hymn” of the Byzantine Liturgy, she celebrates the memory of certain angels more particularly (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, Stl Raphael, and the guardian angels).
336 From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. (202) “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.” (203) Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.
(189) Mt 18:10; Ps 103:20.
(190) Cf. Pius XII, Humani Generis: DS 3891; Lk 20:36; Dan 10:9-12.
(191) Mt 25:31.
(192) Col 1:16.
(193) Heb 1:14.
(194) Cf. Job 38:7 (where angels are called “sons of God”), Gen 3:24, 19, 21:17; 22:11; Acts 7:53; Ex 23:20-23; Judg 13; 6:11-24; Isa 6:6; 1 Kings 19:5.
(195) Cf. Lk 1:11, 26.
(196) Heb 1:6.
(197) Lk 2:14.
(198) Cf. Mt 1:20; 2:13; 19; 4:11; 26:53; Mk 1:13; Lk 22:43; 2 Macc 10:29-30; 11:8.
(199) Cf. Lk 2:8-14; Mk 16:5-7.
(200) Cf. Acts 1:10-11; Mt 13:41; 24:31; Lk 12:8-9.
(201) Cf. Acts 5:18-20; 8:26-29; 10:3-8; 12:6-11; 27:23-25.
(202) Cf. Mt 18:10; Lk 16:22; Ps 34:7; 91:10-13; Job 33:23-24; Zech 1:12; Tob 12:12.
(203) St. Basil, Adv. Eunomium III, 1:PG 29, 656B.
THE FALLEN ANGELS
The Fall of the Angels
391 Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. (266) Scripture and the Church’s Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called “Satan” or the “devil.” (267) The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: “The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing.” (268)
392 Scripture speaks of a sin of these angels. (269) This “fall” consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection of that rebellion in the tempter’s words to our first parents: “You will be like God.” (270) The devil “has sinned from the beginning”; he is “a liar and the father of lies.” (271)
393 It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels’ sin unforgeable. “There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death.” (272)
394 Scripture witnesses to the disastrous influence of the one Jesus calls “a murderer from the beginning,” who would even try to divert Jesus from the mission received from his Father. (273) “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” (274) In its consequences the gravest of these works was the mendacious seduction that led man to disobey God.
395 The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God’s reign. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries – of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature – to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but “we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.” (275)
(266) Cf. Gen 3:1-5; Wis 2:24.
(267) Cf. Jn 8:44; Rev 12:9.
(268) Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 800.
(269) Cf. 2 Pet 2:4.
(270) Gen 3:5.
(271) 1 Jn 3:8; Jn 8:44.
(272) St. John Damascene, De Fide orth. 2, 4:PG 94, 877.
(273) Jn 8:44; cf. Mt 4:1-11.
(274) 1 Jn 3:8.
(275) Rom 8:28.
More CCC paragraphs to follow …