|The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist
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In The Rite, journalist Matt Baglio uses the astonishing story of one American priest's training as an exorcist to reveal that the phenomena of possession, demons, the Devil, and exorcism are not merely a remnant of the archaic past, but remain a fearsome power in many people's lives even today.
Father Gary Thomas was working as a parish priest in California when he was asked by his bishop to travel to Rome for training in the rite of exorcism. Though initially surprised, and slightly reluctant, he accepted this call, and enrolled in a new exorcism course at a Vatican-affiliated university, which taught him, among other things, how to distinguish between a genuine possession and mental illness. Eventually he would go on to participate in more than eighty exorcisms as an apprentice to a veteran Italian exorcist. His experiences profoundly changed the way he viewed the spiritual world, and as he moved from rational skeptic to practicing exorcist he came to understand the battle between good and evil in a whole new light. Journalist Matt Baglio had full access to Father Gary over the course of his training, and much of what he learned defies explanation.
The Rite provides fascinating vignettes from the lives of exorcists and people possessed by demons, including firsthand accounts of exorcists at work casting out demons, culminating in Father Gary's own confrontations with the Devil. Baglio also traces the history of exorcism, revealing its rites and rituals, explaining what the Catholic Church really teaches about demonic possession, and delving into such related topics as the hierarchy of angels and demons, satanic cults, black masses, curses, and the various theories used by modern scientists and anthropologists who seek to quantify such phenomena.
Written with an investigative eye that will captivate both skeptics and believers alike, The Rite shows that the truth about demonic possession is not only stranger than fiction, but also far more chilling.
- 3.5 stars; metliculous and interesting
I've been struggling with how I should review The Rite by Matt Baglio. Here we have this book that is meticulously researched about a subject you either firmly believe in or scoff at and involves nothing but second hand accounts. When I picked up The Rite, I was expecting a first hand account of the journalist as he researched what exorcism actually was. What I got, instead, was a story of Father Gary Thomas and a small biography of his time spent with exorcisms.
It's hard to deride some of the knowledge contained in this book. Baglio spends a good portion at the end, laying out his sources and providing notes and a good background reasoning for what was included. It's unfortunate, though, that he doesn't link it to particular passages, requiring you to go back after the fact to figure out what he was talking about. He did it for "ease of reading," but it would have been nice to check the sources and get a fuller understanding while I was reading the book and not after.
So, The Rite details Father Thomas' selection to attend exorcism school and his attempts to understand everything there is to know. Baglio takes us on this journey and documents it via transcripts, interviews and articles but we never really get the journalistic inquisitive mind behind it. What's presented is more often than not presented as fact and there were plenty of times where I wanted to have Baglio pull back from his story and question those things. I'm not one to just wily nily believe what's put in front of me, especially when it comes to something as supernatural and silent as exorcism. I hardly found many sections where anyone was questioning anything and that was a turn off.
When I started reading The Rite, I was expecting a book that not only painted a picture of the process and made it more down-to-earth (which it does for the most part), but also a fuller understanding and a questioning inherent in journalism that would, at least, try to make me believe it. Instead, the questions are missing and all I'm left with is a second hand account of one exorcist. Enjoyable read, but there are better books out there that tackle the subject matter more adroitly....more info
- Deliver Us From Evil
"The Rite" is a riveting, at times even terrifying account of a priest learning to be an exorcist in Rome. In 2005 Pope Benedict XVI requested that bishops in the United States appoint a priest to be an exorcist from their diocese, and Fr. Gary Thomas was one of those selected to go to Rome for training. He became an apprentice to Fr. Carmine de Filippis, and observed over 80 exorcisms, as well as the lectures and other classes available to him in Rome. Ordained in 1983, Fr. Gary hailed from the San Jose, California area, and Chapter 2 is a brief biography of him, and how events in his life made him an ideal candidate for this experience.
Author Matt Baglio is an AP reporter who has masterfully pulled all the diverse pieces of this true story in a cohesive and memorable way. There is so much to exorcism that is a far cry from how we see it represented in the Hollywood films; in some cases the patient undergoes the process for years, with it being a "...journey of faith for the person, the family, and for the parish."
To many "modern thinkers," the devil or the spirit world is not real, but as "The Rite" quotes Charles Baudlaire, "The Devil has finally convinced the world that he no longer exists." Read this book and see for yourself. It is clear, concise, and not driven by any emotion or particular point of view. Just the fascinating facts, in a book that captures the imagination and reason at the same time. ...more info
- An Ancient Rite
Baglio traces the journey of Father Gary from his years working in the family funeral home business to his training for the priesthood and finally to his appointment as an exorcist. In this book the reader learns about the history of exorcism and its current standing and relevance in the Church and the world. He also explores the Church's teachings and views of theologians about angels and devils, both incorporeal creatures.
Baglio emphasizes that the exorcist must be a skeptic, because some people fake their possession to gain attention and because some manifestations mistaken for diabolic possession are actually psychological or physiological conditions. Some possible causes for these pseudo-possessions are: migraines, bipolar disorder, Tourette's syndrome, somatization disorder, multiple personality disorder.
In the chapter titled Liberation Baglio relates attempts of science to explore and explain the paranormal. But science is at a loss to explain phenomena like levitation of people and heavy objects, people suddenly speaking in foreign languages, sudden mysterious drops in room temperature and bizarre oral projections of sperm or small reptiles. The author cautions that science should not discount what it can't explain.
For the most part this book is an objective look at exorcism and exorcists and the author tries to be the skeptic that exorcists are cautioned to be. However, the author's Catholicism is evident in some chapters; with multiple quotations from the Bible and the Catechism the story does take on a religious and almost preachy bent. Both the author and Father Gary experience a strengthening of faith along their journey.
- How could anyone render this topic so boring?
I was looking forward to reading this book. I don't believe in demons, but the subject is a fascinating one. I wanted to learn about how an exorcist is trained, and just what the Catholic Church's stance is. Learning that there is an actual course in exorcism for Priests was a shocker. The description of this book promised a lot. I was rather expecting a page turner. How could it not be?
Well, someone's got to be the one to give this book one star, and I'm the one.
By page two, I was thinking "my, this writing is dry." I thought, perhaps, that in the interest of good journalism, and because exorcism is sensationalist enough without any hyperbole, Baglio was keeping his tone a bit low. But, by page 33, I had had enough. I could not keep my interest up. For a week, the book sat at the side of my sofa, with it's tantalizing cover. Yet, I could not bring myself to read it.
Other books, about subjects far less inherently interesting, have been far more readable. When a textbook about medical transcription is more interesting than a book about the Catholic Church and the training of a modern-day exorcist, there's a problem.
Obviously, others have enjoyed this book. The book is being heavily advertised. I even saw an ad for it on Facebook.
I like my non-fiction books to be well written. It's not that this book is poorly written. It's just dry as a bone. A friend asked me to explain to her exactly what was so boring, and so we looked at the book together. Sorry, I take it back; this book is not well written. Baglio gives us details upon details about irrelevancies. Then, when we get to what we've come to read (exorcism and possession), he gives us little. Here's a taste:
"Father Gary continued to probe, noting that Maria had no history of drug abuse; and as far as he could surmise, she appeared sane. According to her parents, the witch doctor had told them that the troubles were most likely related to a curse."
This does read like a medical transcription. What is a curse? Who is the witch doctor? We don't find out, but we do learn a lot about the traffic in Rome:
"When Father Gary Thomas stepped out onto Via delle Fornaci at 7:45 on the morning of October 13, 2005, the road was already clogged with traffic. A long line of cars and buses inched toward the intersection of Via di Porta Cavalleggeri, funneled into the mouth of the tunnel by a canyon of four- and five-story buildings that ran along the base of the Gianicolo, one of Rome's many hills. A traffic cop, dressed like an airline captain festooned with epaulets, was doing his best to maintain order, waving cars through and screeching at the more aggressive motorists with his whistle. When the light turned greened, drivers wasted no time laying into their horns."
That is the opening paragraph to Chapter One in a book subtitled "The Making of a Modern Exorcist", not a guide to visiting Italy.
I would caution anyone that you will only enjoy this book if you are extremely interested in the subject matter. If it's only of passing interest, pass this book by. Then again, even if you are truly interested, you may still be disappointed. Don't say I didn't warn you....more info
- good start
this is a areat book for those intersted in llearning what we need to do to resist eviland why. ...more info
- Interesting and respectful treatment of the topic
Like so many people the word exorcist evokes the movie of the same name. When I was younger I was Catholic, so I had heard of exorcists and the fact that each diocese has an priest appointed for that task.
This is the story of a priest that spends his sabbatical in Rome and takes a course of study on exorcism. He has been appointed exorcist for his diocese. He also has the chance to observe exorcisms while "interning" with a priest who has been an exorcist for many years.
This book is interesting. It is respectful of the catholic faith, neither sensationalized nor preachy. It discusses some sensational events, some inexplicable occurances, and things that are very odd. It makes me wonder about the nature of evil and how people can align themselves with evil things.
I am not totally convinced but there is a lot to think about in this book. I think it is well worth reading if you have ever wanted to learn more about this topic and are looking for a respectful and factual discussion of exorcism and its place in the Catholic church....more info
- The Making of a Modern Exorcist
What should a modern Christian make of exorcism?
New Testament scholars agree that exorcism was a crucial component of Jesus' ministry. Mark 1:39 summarizes his ministry this way: "So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons." Those same scholars disagree as to the nature of exorcism. Conservatives understand it literally, as the casting out of a demonic spirit. Liberals interpret it metaphorically, as the healing of a mentally ill person.
Modern Christians must choose between these two options.
Matt Baglio's The Rite is the fascinating story of how one Roman Catholic priest made his choice. Father Gary Thomas was a parish priest in northern California until his bishop appointed him diocesan exorcist. Like many American and European priests, he sided with a more liberal interpretation of Gospel texts, but he was open-minded. So he traveled to Rome for instruction in the theology and practice of exorcism. Part of his instruction was an apprenticeship to a veteran Italian exorcist named Father Carmine de Fillipis. The instruction opened his eyes and changed his life.
As a Pentecostal pastor, I was interested in reading this book for a number of reasons: learning more about possession and exorcism, seeing how modern Christians deal with the supernatural (and, frankly, weird) aspects of their faith, learning what the Catholic church teaches on the subject. The Rite ably satisfied my thirst for information. It also provoked the following thoughts:
Father Gary's instructors taught him to use exorcism as a last resort and only with the permission of the bishop. They encouraged him to provide ordinary pastoral support--counseling, prayer, and confession--to those seeking exorcism before performing the rite of exorcism over them. This support could also include referral to psychologists and doctors, who would be able to confirm that the person's behavior was not psychological or physical in nature. Additionally, the bishop had to grant permission for the exorcism to occur, adding a layer of accountability to the whole procedure. All of this seems reasonable to me. If modern Christians believe in exorcism because we are Christians, we also believe in biochemical and psychological causes of strange and deviant behavior because we are modern. It seems that the only responsible thing to do is to determine whether the cause of "demonic activity" is actually demonic--as opposed to manic-depressive--before an exorcism takes place. The Catholic rite is a model of the integration of faith and reason in this regard.
And yet, I was troubled by specifically Catholic understandings of exorcism. Performance of the rite is limited to priests who are obedient to their bishops. While this provides a layer of accountability to the process, it also reflects the post-biblical concentration of believers' spiritual gifts into the hands of the clergy.
Second, while the rite of exorcism itself is Christ-centered, the experience of exorcism involves an undue emphasis on the saints. Baglio interviewed many of the exorcized after the fact. They reported seeing visions of Mary, John Paul II, and various other saints, and these visions provided comfort to the exorcizee. No one seemed to have had a vision of Jesus.
Third, the exorcisms were not one-time affairs but could stretch out over lengthy periods of times and many visits to the exorcists. In the Gospels and Acts, Jesus and the Apostles exorcize demons "at once," not over the course of months and even years.
Fourth, all of the exorcizees were baptized and confirmed Catholics. In Catholic theology, a Christian believer can be possessed. As a Pentecostal, I have a hard time swallowing that belief. How can a person filled with the Holy Spirit be filled with a demonic spirit as well?
Now, I fully understand that many people reading this review--especially my atheist and agnostic friends--are sure I've gone off my rocker at this point. The mere fact that I believe in supernatural beings has them laughing, let alone that I go on to pick fights with Catholics over the finer points of exorcism. To them, I say, "Read this book!" It may change your mind. Reporting on De Fillipis and Thomas up close awoke Baglio from "cultural Catholicism" to a more authentic practice of the faith. And as Hamlet told Horatio, "There are more things in heaven and earth / than are dreamt of in your philosophy."...more info
- Take my wife... Please, Father!
To be totally honest, I've never run into anyone who I thought was possessed, and that includes co-workers and certain individuals I run into from time to time who I don't particularly care for.
Therefore, the whole concept of Satan rearing his ugly head and taking over someone else's body a la Linda Blair is just a little over the top for me, as it would be for most people.
However, in his volume, "The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist", journalist Matt Baglio chronicles the journey of Father Gary Thomas, an American Roman Catholic priest. Baglio makes a case for exocism as a means to expunge the presence of evil. His narrative takes the reader through some of Father Thomas' personal history and his experience as a modern-day exorcist.
How one would react to "The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist" would be mainly a question of how one reacts to the whole concept of evil. Personally, the writings of C.S. Lewis were enough to persuade me that evil is something subtle, in that it's not easily detected; pervasive, in that it can't be avoided; and simple, meaning that it's integral to humanity - the result of what we commonly call "human nature".
For the most part, the only experience I have with possessed individuals are the news stories I read in the Cleveland Plain Dealer from time to time. Somehow, these stories always seem to revolve around teenagers who go awry. All of which, taken together, are not unlike the driving force behind the vatican's apparent belief that even in the 21st Century, excorcism is a sometimes necessary evil, no pun intended.
Baglio, to his credit, explains the reasons for the vatican's renewed interest in excorcism as a rite and after that, goes into detail about how Father Thomas was integrated into the priesthood and his subsequent education in the rite of exorcism.
While the concept of Satan is a pretty abstract one for most, I found the first part of the book to be the most informative and interesting part. The chapter "Know Your Enemy" lays the foundation for the rest of what follows: An understanding the limits of the devil based on both his nature, and based on God's will.
Baglio writes: "According to Christian tradition, Satan was the principal fallen angel, the brightest and most perfect of all God's creations." Blair goes on to mention that the devil can act in both ordinary and extraordinary ways. However, it is the focus of the exorcist to bring pressure to bear on the extraordinary ways that the devils acts.
"The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist" is well-written, and is a fairly easy read. At 243 pages (With about 44 pages of footnotes and a subsequent index), most people will be able to read it in a long sitting. However, if you're looking for something that reads like William Peter Blatty, you'll be disappointed.
While Blair includes several fairly descriptive narratives involving actual exorcisms, they are not the focus of what he is actually writing about. That's because subjects of the narratives are just that; subjects, not characters or protagonists. In other words, we don't really know them; they're just subject of an exocism. Blair's analysis of what takes place is more clinical than anything.
I suppose it's possible that someone might find "The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist" to be the inspiration for the pursuit of a new career path. However, I don't think it's going to be me.
- Unseen Powers
This is an engaging and interesting account of one of the least understood rites of the Roman Catholic Church: Exorcism. This is neither a sensationalist expose nor a psuedo-factual horror story. It is an account of how a Catholic priest in the 21st Century is trained to fill a still important, although often misunderstood church function. Indeed Father Greg from the Dioceses of San Francisco was sponsored by his Bishop to specifically train as an exorcist during a year long sabbatical in Rome. This was in response to a papal decree that each Diocese should have at least one trained exorcist in residence.
As Father Greg struggles to understand exorcism through formal classes and through an apprenticeship with a well known Italian exorcist and priest the reader comes to learn a great deal about this strange rite.
First it should be noted that not all Catholic priests are exorcists and many believe the concept of demonic possession is superstition. Secondly exorcism is a deadly serious rite that is far more concerned with saving the souls of victims showing symptoms of demonic possession than achieving spectacular healings. Third rather surprisingly, exorcisms are not often accomplished in a single rite, must be repeated over years. As one priest remarked exorcism is a spiritual journey in which the priest serves as the spiritual director of the afflicted victim.
Now Catholics are taught that devil is real and a real threat to the soul, but not all of the Church believes in demonic possession. Therefore exorcists must be very careful to ensure that persons seeking exorcism are really possessed or at least think they are. This is the difficult process of `discernment' and involves among other things having the afflicted person given medical and mental examines by certified professionals. Finally under the "only in America" category most U.S. exorcists have a person undergoing exorcism sign a release form to avoid later law suits against the Church.
- very interesting, even though pious
Baglio, a journalist living in Italy, follows the training of an American priest, Father Gary Thomas, to serve as a diocesan exorcist. Father Gary take a formal course, as well as being apprenticed to an exorcist in Rome. The descriptions of the work of the exorcists met by Father Gary and Baglio are fascinating, if at times (perhaps unavoidably) sensational. The author discusses alternative explanations (medical, psychological, cultural) for the observed phenomena, but clearly leans toward a traditional Catholic view. As he notes at the end of the book, his research and writing on this topic renewed his faith. While more skeptical than Baglio, I found this a useful look inside the contemporary practice in exorcism in the Roman Church....more info
- The New Focus on Exorcisms
An insightful look at the modern world of the exorcist in the post-John Paul II era. Follows the training of a contemporary American priest in Rome, both the theological and historical underpinnings, and the new forms and concerns of the Rite of Solemn Exorcism, as well as deliverance ministry. The only real lack is the understanding and contextualization of neopaganism, which cannot be dismissed in one sweep as Satanism. The Church needs to understand the new movements better, to put the same care and scholarship as it has with Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism. One cannot paint all of the new movements with the same "Devil" brush....more info
- The Rite of Exorcism and the Suffering of the Possessed
Anyone who reads THE RITE: THE MAKING OF A MODERN EXORCIST expecting lurid accounts of demonic possession similar to those found in popular fiction, movies, and even some nonfiction accounts is almost certain to be disappointed. What they will encounter in these pages is a thoughtful, measured account of a priest's training to become an exorcist.
Our priest, Father Gary, is his bishop's choice in response to a Vatican call to train at least one exorcist for every diocese in the US. He journeys to Rome on sabbatical to undertake a course of study and goes out of his way to apprentice himself to an exorcist in Rome with, unfortunately, a thriving ministry ministering to persons whose suffering is deemed to be the result of demonic possession. Along the way Father Gary learns a new way of thinking about the rite of exorcism, the importance of the sacraments in people's spiritual lives, and the surprisingly varied forms God's grace can take. He (and we) learns a lot from Father Carmine's methods, wrestles with his own doubts and limitations, and gradually gains more confidence as his training progresses.
THE RITE is an absorbing look into a life and a calling that very few laypeople ever glimpse on such an intimate level. It goes a long way toward stripping an obscure, hidden ritual of much of its lurid sensationalism, and exposes the very human pain and suffering of those afflicted, as well as those who have taken up the challenge of helping them to heal. The writing is solid, sound, and respectful of the ritual and the people involved in this story. ...more info
- Exorcism Illuminated
"The Rite - The Making of a Modern Exorcist" is the story of the journey of American priest, Fr. Gary Thomas, who reluctantly took the appointment as an exorcist from his bishop. In this technological age, the concept of the Devil as a person has been relegated to the superstitious past. But Fr. Gary soon realizes that as a society, this is a mistake. That evil is still all around us. In America, where every diocese should have an exorcist, the whole of the U.S. only has 14. Exorcists are viewed as a relic of the past and sometimes even ridiculed by their fellow priests. It was a daunting task ahead of Fr. Gary, as he begins his training in Rome. He had to overcome language and cultural barriers, indifference from his fellow priests, and a growing anxiety that he may not be cut out for the job.
It is impressing that this book not only takes us along with Fr. Gary's tutelage but also explains a lot about the Catholic Church's teachings and the basis for the belief in the rite of exorcism. It shows the different forms of possession and the varied approaches of the exorcists. In the end it is a matter of faith, that of the possessed and the exorcist. The rite is a manifestation of God's benevolence and deliverance and the priest is the conduit of His grace. Each exorcist brings his own strengths into his vocation as Fr. Gary observed that there is no typical exorcist - they are all different. The things that make them alike is their great faith and conviction in helping those who are suffering.
The book is a solid explanation of the rite of exorcism and it was very helpful that the writer, Mr. Baglio, pointed out that this rite is not something the Church takes lightly. The exorcist does not come tearing down the road like EMTs with sirens blaring. It is long process of discernment of the true nature of the person's ailment with the help of other health professionals.
Fr. Gary learned a lot in his many months in Rome, witnessing more than 60 cases of varying degrees and it is his hope that his training will enable him to establish a similar system of teaching priests what he had learned and dispel any misconceptions about exorcism. Mr. Baglio wrote a well-rounded, well-researched book on a topic that hasn't been astutely written about in decades. He did not sensationalize it but related the cases with compassion, as Fr. Gary saw it, with deep sympathy for the suffering. It is an invaluable guide for any priest who is facing this calling....more info
- "The Devil is present everywhere..."
Do demons and angels truly exist? Or are they just a figurative way of expressing the "lack of good" within a person or activity? While most people are only familiar with the versions of "exorcism" they have seen in movies or read about in the latest supernatural thriller, this book outlines a completely different reality as priests see it.
Much of this book reads like a primer on how to become an exorcist. There is some fascinating information regarding the historical foundations of exorcism within the Catholic church - for example, it used to be that before a baptism, the individual would have to go through a series of exorcisms over a period of days before he or she could be baptized. There is also some interesting accounts of exorcisms in Rome (where it is, apparently, a very common practice) - some very dramatic, and some notably less so. Not only that, but many people who have exorcisms done for them need not one, but in many cases several such faith interventions. However, backed by priests or not, this book is not so much different from another that might say demons don't exist and are nothing more than a mental illness. There is little concrete information that would tend to sway a reader one way or the other.
I did find it ironic that many priests refuse to believe in exorcism because they have never seen one conducted, nor have they seen (that they know of) a person who has been possessed. These are, presumably, the same priests who would tell a person struggling with their faith that belief in God should not be a case of "seeing is believing".
One other small issue - I realize that the author is writing this as a man of faith, but Wicca and witchcraft are *not* the same thing, nor are they completely interchangeable. There are those who call themselves Wiccans who do not place any emphasis on spells or magic - whereas witchcraft, by its very definition, is heavily dependent upon those things.
So, in the end, how you feel after finishing the book is heavily dependent upon how you felt when you started it. If you believe that demons truly exist and need be exorcised, then you will come away feeling that your belief has been enforced. If, however, you do not, then this book may or may not do anything to change your opinions. As with so much related to religion, it all comes down to faith.
- The Real Life Journey of an Exorcist
I wasn't sure what to expect from The Rite, and found it refreshing that the book was not full of 'Hollywood' style descriptions and embellishments. We follow the journey of Father Gary as he trains to be an Exorcist in Rome. I personally really enjoyed the book and was glad that it stay true to its title, which is "The Making of a Modern Exorcist". It's not a story about hundreds of exorcisms being performed with amazing feats. If you are looking for something exciting, you will be wise to pass on this book. However, if you are sincerely interested in how a priest becomes a true exorcist with real human emotions, then you will really enjoy The Rite. I was impressed with the down to earth personality of Father Gary and the other priests. I'm sure many people may find the book boring, and I think that's the point of telling the story. It's time everyone realized the truth about exorcisms, and how Hollywood has either convinced us they are all extremely violent, or stretched our imaginations so far that we don't believe in them at all. The book was eye opening for me, and I really enjoyed it. But again, if you are looking for a movie style supernatural horror story, you won't find one here!...more info
- Good reading for Catholics--thought-provoking for others
Here is a book on a subject that is perennially interesting to the general public--exorcism. As a Catholic myself, I have never had any doubt about the reality of the demonic. I believe that the Enemy of mankind and his minions are active in the world and it is through the willing acceptance of the Sacraments and the Grace offered by Christ that we are protected from their constant temptations and ultimately brought to salvation.
For this reason, I picked up this book with no little trepidation. Many books of this variety feed people's unhealthy fascination with the demonic and may indeed serve as a gateway to the occult. I am happy to report that The Rite by Matt Baglio is not such a book. It is mainly the story of one American priest, Father Gary Thomas, who went to Rome to train as an exorcist. Over the course of his training, Fr. Thomas got to experience dozens of exorcisms first hand as performed by experienced Italian priests. Many of these as described were fairly mundane with the victims experiencing only fits of coughing during the rite or foaming at the mouth. But a few particularly long-suffering victims had dramatic and violent reactions displaying incredible strength and incidents of the demon actually speaking.
It's hard to read a book like this and not come away with the conclusion that something supernatural is actually going on here. That said, Baglio is careful to point out that most exorcists do not make knee-jerk assumptions that everyone is possessed. In fact, one of the Italian exorcists that Fr. Thomas visited sent most of the people who came to him away with a simple blessing. When Fr. Thomas returned to America to begin his role as exorcist in his California diocese, the policy stated that anyone seeking exorcism must first have a psychiatric evaluation by a practitioner who acknowledged the possibility of possession. That struck me as a sensible way to approach the problem as most exorcists freely admit that many people who worry that they are possessed are actually suffering from a readily identifiable mental illness of one kind or another.
One item that stands out loud and clear in this book is that cases of true possession are on the rise around the world. This is due to the increasing influence of the occult both in Europe and America as many occult practices are direct gateways for demonic entrance into people's lives. Given the suffering displayed by the victims of possession as described in this book, it would be well for people to avoid even seemingly innocent occult practices such as messing with tarot or ouija boards.
The book also makes clear that there exists a dearth of priests available who can properly and licitly perform the rite of exorcism. Indeed, to their shame, many priests don't believe in possession--or the devil, for that matter--at all. Fortunately for the victims, this is a situation that is currently being rectified by the Church.
As a work of literature, The Rite is a quick and easy read. The flow of the narrative is a bit disjointed as the author introduces whole chapters on related tangents throughout the book. But as these subjects are usually interesting in their own right, this was not a major problem....more info
- Interesting read
The book has a solid blend of historical fact regarding the Catholic Church's stance towards exorcism and anecdotal scenes of Father Gary's training. Though I remain very skeptical about the reality of possession/exorcism, the book offers a well written and well researched view into a culture in which such matters are very much a day to day concern.
The book strives to avoid sensationalism, and does fairly well given the subject matter....more info
- Well Written! Easy Read!
I thought this book would be full of religious & political jargon. It was just the opposite. A true journey of one man and his spiritual path. ...more info
- Beyond explanation
Demonic possession is the most stigmatized and stereotyped of all border phenomena. And I say border as I refer to the line between what we consider normal and experiences we can't explain. Perhaps the movies are to blame for our idea of what an exorcism consists of, a little girl screams when splashed with holy water, or a deep evil voice manifests. Neuroscience and psychology associate demonic possession with a call for attention or a misinterpretation of a modern disease like schizophrenia. The fact that the whole experience is so deeply coded with religious ritual and theology may discourage even the most open-minded paranormal researcher.
A balanced look at the experience of an exorcist must weigh all of these barriers towards providing a fair and believable look at the truth behind these tormenting experiences. Freelance writer and journalist Matt Baglio succeeds at demonstrating why modern demon possession lore is just the tip of the iceberg through his recently released, The Rite: Making of a Modern Exorcist.
I didn't expect an account of exorcism to be so believable, or so chilling. Partly because Baglio was just as skeptical when he started writing the book, and partly because following San Franciscan Catholic priest Father Gary through his training revealed that he started just as clueless.
When the Catholic Church wrote a letter to every US diocese in 2005, Father Gary was surprised to learn that he had been chosen for the post. Leaving for a sabbatical year, Father Gary spent twelve months at the Continuing Theological Education at the North American College in Rome where he was ordered by his bishop to take a course on how to become an exorcist. That first class was where Baglio and Gary met, Matt seeing an opportunity to follow someone through the process of what he thought might be a sensational ploy at the headlines by the Catholic Church.
Most American priests fall on one end of a large spectrum, they are either quite skeptical of exorcism or "see demons everywhere". But in Italy, demonic possession is just a fact of life. Oddly enough, the most exorcisms occur in Italy, a country that is over 80% Catholic. Is this because demonic possession primarily affects Catholics or is it because Italians are more likely to seek out an exorcism? These are just some of the interesting mysteries raised by this book.
As Father Gary progresses through the training, he apprentices with Father Carmine, an expert in performing the exorcism ritual. Initially Father Gary only witnessed what he described as people coming in and belching very loudly. Leaving him with many more questions than answers... until he witnessed the case of Sister Janica.
Janica was a nun that suffered from a "very powerful demon." When Father Carmine began the ritual she shook in her chair and began to beat her head against stone wall until it shook. As the prayers continued she growled and then shouted an ear piercing scream just before, "the voice" manifested. It was an otherworldly guttural rasping sound that shouted obscenities at Father Carmine. Her face contorted into rage. Her eyeballs rolled into her head and she screamed, flailing on the floor. And this had been happening regularly for nine years. Movies and lore depicts the exorcism as a one shot deal but this is rarely the case. The possessed are freed from their demons only after a long process of returning to religious ritual in their lives, for Catholics this means confessions, prayer and mass. The exorcism only makes up about 10-20% of the healing process. But in rare cases, priests have performed exorcisms on Muslims and Hindus, after which they returned to their respective rituals. This is one of the theological reasons that God allows possession, to lead people back to a life of devout faith. After witnessing something as horrible as an evil force acting through a human being, I'm sure I would strike up some sort of repeated action to avoid it.
The scientific explanation against possession lacks the ability to account for quite a few unbelievable experiences. For example, one priest went home after an exorcism and his cats began tearing each other to pieces. The next day when talking to his "patient", the demonic voice manifested and said to the priest that it enjoyed playing with his cats. Another case involved a possessed individual taunting a priest with a demonic voice about its ability to erase all his phone's text messages, because he did. Multiple personality disorder and depression can't explain why the possessed have been known to vomit buckets of sperm, live scorpions and black nails. Clairvoyant abilities are provided by the demons through the possessed as they sometimes describe intimate details of priest's lives or objects in hidden areas. In very rare cases, a demon will describe its past possessions the priest was involved in. The descriptions that Matt Baglio received of these horrible exorcisms through first hand interviews are very disturbing. As I read them, chills went down my spine because they are so vivid and honest.
Discernment, the ability to determine if someone is truly possessed, is an interesting dilemma. Many exorcists like to work with a team of psychologists, psychiatrists and other advisers. The key to determining if someone is truly possessed can be rather obscured but typically if someone's condition does not respond to medicine, only to blessings and prayer it is an indication that demonic possession is likely present. Almost always, someone truly possessed won't attribute their problems to a demon. They only seek out the priesthood after being forced by a family member or friend. If one comes to a priest saying that they have a demon in them, that's a clue in the direction of a purely psychological problem.
This gripping account of an often ignored portion of the human experience, The Rite exceeded my expectations and led me to question my hodge-podge worldview. Why is it that demonic possessions occur so often in Catholics and in women? This leads me to speculate that like the campfire creating the shadows, the Catholic Church somehow creates this polar opposite manifest in the phenomena of demonic possession. There is truth in the accounts within this book, as depicted by the shock of seasoned priests to the experience of their first witnessed possession. When the exorcists themselves can't explain what is happening I know it is a profound mystery. What it all means is beyond anyone's understanding, especially mine....more info
- GOES INSIDE THE STRANGE WORLD OF EXORCISMS
This is the story of a parish priest from Silicon Valley California as he trains in Rome to become his diocese's official Exorcist. The work of an Exorcist, as many people know from Hollywood movies, is to drive out evil demons who have possessed unwitting persons. The author follows Father Gary Thomas' progress as he attends a class for new Exorcists and through his apprenticeship with Father Carmine, a Franciscan who speaks little English.
The author gives us the back story on Father Gary as well as a history of the Church's involvement in exorcism, including the currently mostly skeptical attitude about spirit possession in the United States. Father Gary finds a somewhat different attitude in Italy. He is startled to visit a church where the priest is known for his exorcisms and find a crowd of normal-looking people waiting by the door where the priest will appear - people waiting for their turn to have an exorcism. Later, when Father Gary manages to convince Father Carmine to accept him as an apprentice, he is started once again by the constantly-filled waiting room, all people wanting time with the Exorcist. Are so many people really possessed by an evil entity? Why do they appear so normal? These are the questions that press upon Father Gary as he approaches his learning period.
Once Father Gary actually gets to sit in the tiny room in which Father Carmine does his work, Father Gary finds exorcism is not what he thought. Father Carmine's "tools" are a squeeze bottle filled with holy water, a crucifix, a plastic bag and a roll of paper towels (to wipe off faces when people foam at the mouth). But most of his "customers" simply sit there while Father Carmine intones the Latin prayers that make up the rite of exorcism. Some cough. Some yawn. Father Gary is underwhelmed, and he cannot ask the questions that fill his mind because of his limited Italian and Father Carmine's limited English and because there is little time left over after dealing with the many people who come each evening and fill the waiting room.
But Father Gary soon learns that the always-full waiting room is deceiving; many of the people waiting there are repeats. They have been here before, and have undergone repeated exorcisms. Why doesn't the demon leave? Father Gary also encounters some of the strange phenomena associated with demon possession. Some react badly to the prayers or to being sprayed with holy water or tapped with the crucifix. Some people scream or try to attack the priest. In some cases, the demon speaks in a voice that is different from that of the possessed person. Sometimes they need the paper towels as people spit, drool or foam.
Father Gary learns some "rules" for dealing with the demons. Do not initially speak to the demon except to ask his name (making him say his name apparently reduces his power). Do not engage the demon in conversation (they are all liars). If you doubt whether the demon is still present, bring a closed paper bag with something in it and ask the demon to say what is in the bag. Demons can see inside a closed bag, so if they correctly name the item, then it is the demon speaking, not the possessed person. Continue with the rite, even as the possessed person flails around or becomes violent. Father Carmine ended his sessions by tapping the person's forehead; generally, they would return to normal and get up and leave. Most of them went about normal lives in between their exorcisms.
Father Gary came to accept the reality of demon possession, but what about the reader? The author takes no particular point of view and even provides some alternate theories of possession, but he mainly gives us a Catholic history of the phenomenon. Father Gary accepts the idea that the Catholic Church, acting for God, has the authority to drive out demons, even as Jesus did. But there are many other spiritual traditions dealing with possession, and by insisting on only the Church as the vehicle for dealing with possession, Exorcists are closing off a lot of sources of information.
Many religious traditions acknowledge the world of spirits, and contact with spirits, possession by good or evil spirits, is a known phenomenon throughout the ancient and modern world. Some mediums speak with the voice of those entities they have contacted. Some rituals (ancient Dionysians and Haitian Voodoo are examples) involve deliberately becoming "possessed." The Catholic Church identifies evil spirits as "fallen angels," but spirits can also be persons who have died and are speaking "from the other side." The Catholic Church tends to lump all these paranormal activities together as "the occult" and condemn them. But surely exorcising demons is just as much "the occult," but under the control of the Church.
Based on what Father Gary observed, you have to wonder if exorcisms are actually effective. One person had been coming FOR NINE YEARS for exorcisms and still was not free of the demon. In another case, the person became free of the demon, but at the time and location specified by the demon himself. That seems to indicate the demon was more powerful than the Exorcist. Readers will no doubt divide into those who accept the existence of demon possession and those who prefer an alternate explanation. Whatever your conclusion, this book is a valuable look inside the work of modern priests who perform a very old rite whose purpose and meaning will continue to be controversial.
- Posession is nine tenths of the law
For those of you who believe the realm of demonic possesion went the way of the Salem Witch Trials, you are in for a surprise. Indeed, there are cases deemed by the Latin Catholic Church to be legitimate demonic possesion. The book gives a good review of the rites and mechanisms of casting out these demons. Whether you believe or not, you have a lot to gain just by picking up on the psychology of the process. Keep in mind that Psyche is the Greek root for soul, and if the psyche is caught up in a loop, it is indeed posessed. The book explains the means to an end, which is freeing the psyche from that loop. It is a superb read for anyone,be they preist, psychologist, or laity....more info
- One journalist journeys into the world of modern day exorcism.
This true story follows California priest Father Gary as he, after being appointed the diocesan exorcist, skeptically begins his training in Rome. Before he can begin battling demons, Father Gary must first come to grips with his own attitude about exorcism, and the less-than-supportive attitudes of many US priests. Upon conquering that challenge, he begins to realize that he can actually better serve God and his parishioners by embracing his new mission, and he begins to apprentice with a well established exorcist in Rome. It is here that the true powers of the devil, and the greater power of God, are revealed to him.
This book sat on my shelf for quite some time after it was delivered. Not because I was too busy, or even because I didn't want to read it, but because I was scared to read it. I had always believed in possession and the other-wordly, and ordered the book with the hope of learning more about the demonic, possession, and exorcism. However, once I received the book, I got cold feet, and wasn't sure that I actually really wanted to delve into the topic. I pictured myself reading the book late at night, with my amped-up mind turning every little noise into the devil himself coming to get me.
I overcame my fear, and am very glad that I did. Author Matt Baglio uses his training as a journalist along with his Catholic upbringing to document the story of one American priest's training as a modern day exorcist. The book is well-written, and is not overly dramatic or unnecessarily graphic when discussing possession of those being exorcised. It simply tells it like it is, educating the reader on not just the demonic but also the education and training the Catholic Church provides her appointed exorcists. The author obviously did extensive research, and spoke with many exorcists as well as mental health professionals before writing the book. He makes no attempt to either support or debunk the exorcist calling, but simply relays in a factual way what Father Gary and his colleagues encounter, and lets the reader draw their own conclusions. Despite my initial trepidation, I was actually sorry when it ended.
I do wish the author had gone a bit more into what happened when Father Gary's apprenticeship was over and he began performing actual exorcisms (the book lacked a sense of closure) but other than that I finished the book feeling both educated and informed. This factual, well-developed book will be enjoyed by Christians and non-believers alike, as well as mental health professionals exploring other options for some of their more difficult cases.
- A First Class, Well Written Book on Exorcism
Matt Baglio has written an excellent book on the topic of exorcism. This book has excellent journalistic, theological, and biographical elements that all work together really well.
This book is undoubtedly a must-read for priests, pastors and lay ministers in the church. Baglio avoids sensationalism, bias, unwarranted criticism and misguided opinion in this narrative. He uses his journalistic skills and methods to excel in providing quality substance from interviews and research. In following Fr. Gary Thomas' journey of becoming an exorcist, Baglio provides expert accounts from seasoned and respected exorcists.
Baglio has also done his research on the topic and offers informed, balanced writing on the subject. Fr. Thomas seems like the ideal candidate for exorcism training, as he is unpretentious, humble and not eager to jump into these unknown waters. He treads softly into his training unsure of what to expect. Baglio deftly tells his story of becoming certain of the battle between good and evil, God and the devil that manifests in exorcisms. The consequence is his growing desire to help the people troubled by the enemy of all people.
Baglio writes skillfully throughout the book that reads much like a novel in the sense that it is stimulating and shares a story. It tells more than a story; the book teaches on one of the most controversial and mysterious aspects of Christianity, the Bible and the priesthood--exorcism. I think this book will (should) become a real asset to priests and pastors and those who train them.
Craig Stephans, author of Shakespeare On Spirituality: Life-Changing Wisdom from Shakespeare's Plays
- A Look Into A Previously Hidden World
In 2005, The Vatican decreed that every Diocese should have a trained, specially-appointed Exorcist. THE RITE follows one of the appointed Exorcists, Father Gary, from his appointment, through his training and apprenticeship, finishing with his performing Exorcisms in his own Diocese in California. Author Matt Baglio does a solid, credible job of presenting this long-hidden facet of The Catholic Church, easing the readers through the world of Catholicism, presenting Demonic Possession and Exorcism in a very matter-of-fact way, avoiding any sensationalism. I found some of the descriptions of the Exorcisms to be chilling, but your own beliefs or non-beliefs may cause your mileage to vary. The book occasionally lapses into dryness, but Baglio generally manages to keep things interesting and informative....more info
- Strangely gripping and surprisingly believable
When my top Vine choices were no longer available, I impulsively chose this book to review. I put it to the test, carrying it with me on a long bus ride to Tacoma. It passed: the Rite held my interest as much as a novel would have.
Matt Baglio brings a journalist's writing skill and curiosity to explore a little-known religious phenomenon, the Catholic rite of exorcism. While I found myself skimming through the details of the rite, the human stories were truly compelling.
Father Gary Thomas was encouraged to take an exorcism course during his sabbatical in Rome. The Rite introduces exorcism by following Gary's journey.
Father Gary was an inspired (or perhaps just lucky) choice for both the position and the book. Trained as a funeral director, he was accustomed to dead bodies and gruesome deathbed scenes. His down-to-earth, sensible persona contrasts with the exorcism rite that initially seems bizarre. The story of Gary's classroom training unfolds calmly, as if he were setting out for a degree in mathematics or literature. Even his search for an apprenticeship seems curiously mundane, as one possibility after another evaporates due to very ordinary reasons.
Author Baglio describes specific exorcisms in graphic, disturbing detail. But rather than playing up the drama, Baglio somehow shows them as clinical cases. Father Gary's mentor performs them routinely, almost systematically. After a horrendous episode of eye-rolling, shrieking, head-banging and more, it's, "Next, please."
Everyone is careful to distinguish psychiatric problems from possession. Indeed, one of the best parts of the book comes at the end, where Baglio explores how different cultures view healing and healers. I came away thinking the book wasn't about whether exorcism really drives out demonns. It's about cultural interpretations of and responses to various phenomena.
As a career consultant, I couldn't help admiring Father Gary's choice of profession. He gets awesome medical benefits; reading his story of recovery from a hiking accident, I found his health insurance more amazing than his prayers. He gets total job security. He even gets to enjoy sabbaticals in Rome, all expenses paid. Okay, he gives up some things like marriage and relationships, but I suspect some readers are going to performing some pretty interesting calculations as they weigh the trade-offs.
- The Rite
Exorcisms are a part of the Roman Catholic Church that are rarely discussed in this modern era. Many view them as a relic - a way of explaining diseases, as demonic possession, before doctors had an understanding of mental illnesses. The Church hierarchy, however, still teaches the reality of Satan, and there are still specifically trained priests who have exorcism as a part of their job descriptions. One of these priests is Father Gary Thomas of California, who takes a series of classes on exorcisms as part of a recent Church movement to ensure that all exorcists are properly trained with some degree of uniformity.
Quote: "The Devil is present everywhere that evil things happen within the normal laws of nature . . . in many places, in all massacres, in every murder, in physical catastrophes, in every concentration camp, in all evil. Sometimes he shows himself, strangely, but also in cases of possession. But he's much more dangerous where he doesn't let himself be seen, where he can't be done away with through exorcism." -Father Pedro Barrajon
I found this book on an unusual topic surprisingly engaging - despite being unsure, I finished it in just a few days. It was a mixture of the personal story of Father Gary Thomas and a more scholarly consideration of the topic of exorcism. Father Thomas' story is interesting - the right combination of faith, skepticism, and determination, while the drier portion did not last too long. Perhaps most interesting, however, was the personal tales of people who have undergone exorcisms and tales of ceremonies witnessed by Father Thomas and the author, which are quite different than Hollywood's take on demonic possession. While I'm not sure if it engrossing enough to hold someone with no interest whatsoever in the topic, I think most who are intrigued by the possibility of unseen forces in the universe would find it a worthwhile read....more info
- Even, fair and well-balanced
This book traces the journey of a Roman Catholic priest from Parish priest to Diocesan Exorcist. The book centers around Fr. Greg's attendance of an Exorcism class sponsored by one of the many universities associated with the Vatican. The book also delves into the history and nature of exorcism as well as provides numerous examples of exorcism being performed.
The book is well written and is very respectful to both the tradition of the Church as well as being respectful to the people described in the book. There is no sensationalism in this book. If you are looking for lurid accounts of demons, look elsewhere. That is not to say that the author does not take the reality of demonic possession and influence seriously; he most certainly does.
The book does describe exorcisms in great detail. But the author is just as concerned with the spirituality that is expressed through the actions of the priests and the inflicted. The book clearly shows that there is a spiritual reality that we too often ignore. Again and again, the author returns to the refrain of "all for the Glory of God."
It is clear that all of the priests in this book are very humble and spiritual men. The willingness to devote endless hours---exhausting hours---to the service of God serves as a great example to all of us. This book ultimately is not about exorcisms, it is actually about the dedication of men and women to God and the glory of service to God. It is highly recommended. Enjoy!...more info
- THE DEVIL MADE ME READ IT!
This book works in three different ways. First off, its a biography of the priest who goes to Italy, to learn how to be an exorcist. Second, it offers a very humanistic view of the cultural phenomena of demonic posession in modern Italy, and third, it examines the theological perspectives of the Catholic church and its connection to modern exorcism. It succeeds on each level, tho I wouldnt think it has as much of the heavy duty modern catholic theology, if produced purely for the clergy. The first part of the book tells how Father Gary Thomas becomes sellected by his bishop, to move to Rome for a year, to take part in a symposium on demonic posession, and also, to apprentice under a working exorcist. Since the book is written from Fr. Thomas' point of view (tho in third person), it's more engaging on an emotional level. Since we see demonic posession in what seem to be normal, everyday people of all ages and walks of life, we easily identify with the posessed, so we're less likely to either intellectualize the suffering of the posessed, or the horror of the exorcists who face these hellish angels.
I was fascinated by the theology of the book. Apparently, demonic posession is believed by two types of churches in modern America. First, fundamentalist churches believe that all kinds of common behavior can be demonically produced, ie, colds, car accidents, addiction, interest in heavy metal music, etc. If this is your point of view, i'd steer clear of this book. Because THE RITE is written from the Catholic perspective of Posession. Altho posession goes all the way back to the beginning of the Christian religion, when Jesus delivered many suffering people from devils, after the advent of modern science, and espeically psychology, exorcism has been an embarrassment to the catholic church. THE RITE made clear, that before an excorcism may be preformed, first a psychiatrist, then a doctor must look for scientific rational explinations. After that, the priest "tests" the spirit. If there is no underlying psychosis, or hysterical conversion, or epilypsy, or brain tumor, etc, and if the exorcist beleives that a demon is in the person, and if the bishop ALLOWS the rite, then an exorcism can proceed. In the Italian culture, excorcism is as common as capichino. It's widely believed that curses, unsuccessful abortion attempts, messing around with the occult, etc, are all precursors to demonic pocession. Some people go to exorcists every month, or week, for years, where the exorcist provides COMFORT, instead of a complete cures. Father Gary, watches an old pro preform the ROMAN RITE on all sorts of people, who have reactions ranging from yawning, to the full blown "Linda Blair" freak outs. (Altho strong reactions are VERY rare.) We also meet Father Amouth, who wrote "An Exorcist Tells his Story", and believes that ALL bishops need an exorcist in their dioceses. The rational behind this resurrenge in Exorcism, is the huge growth of interest in Wicca, Satanism, the Occult, and other dark practices, in the USA and western Europe. These dark, demonic interests have lead to behavior, that the Catholic church NEEDs to address. If Father Amouth's suggestion is to be followed, then a LOT of exorcists are going to need to be trained, and apprenticed, to deal with the PASTORIAL CONCERNS of the Catholic community, even if it does seem mideaval to the modern mind. My first reaction to the book was, "Is this a put on? Do modern educated people actually beleive in REAL demonic possession?" Having read the book, i have to admit, demon posession is real, if your faith is based on Christ's teachings. But it also seems to be a cultural element in the phenomina, and an element not unlike faith healing. But the best books leave you with questions, as well as information anyway. Its not only the catholic church, and the fundamentalists who accept the doctrine of demonic posession. Anglican priests like Dr. Craig Isaacs, (who's also a psychiatrist) see disease as illness of body, mind and spirit. The body is cured by medical doctors, the mind by psychologists, and the spirit by priests trained driving out demons.
If the scientific, and theological content of the book is to be doubted, you only need to turn to the back of the book, where the author places over 40 pages of footnotes to the book, and a selective bibliography that runs 10 pages, including an INDEX! So, this is not your NATIONAL ENQUIRE type sensationalist book about DEVIL BOY INHABITS BEARDED LADY. So, this book should appeal to many. First off, catholics, and those in the catholic ministry, who are interested in having their theological preconceptions about demonic posession reevaluated. Second, anyone investigating the phenomenia of demonic posession, perhaps compairing the modern day catholic view, with simular phenomina in indiginous African religions, still seen today in Haiti, for example. Christian psychologists who deal with patients that believe they have a devil within them, may gleen a little backround information, perhaps breaking the delusion of their patient, or even asking themselves if they DO see signs of the demonic in some. On the other hand, a fundamentalist church member, might feel offended by some of the material here. Also, if you believe you might have committed the "unforgiveable sin" (a VERY common delusion of the psychotic), i would steer clear of this book. No one who may be harmed by this information psycholgically, or spiritually, should get into this book. Naturally, those with a normal curiousity about such things, would find this book very interesting, not filled with techical theological or psychological terminolgy. THE RITE is a fascinating book filled with sociological insight, human interest, and modern insight on a cultural phenomina found THRUOUT THE WORLD....that human beings can be posessed by demonic powers. Even the most suspicious about posession, may find themselves coming away from the book believing it may be more t han superstition. Posession isnt just for Hollywood or the middle ages any more. Here's a very good book, to find out WHY....more info
- Excellent reporting on the rite of exorcism
Matt Baglio is a journalist who followed Father Gary Thomas through his formal university training and apprenticeship as an exorcist. Each Catholic diocese in the United States appoints a priest to serve the Church as an exorcist. Father Thomas was sent to Rome to attend a Vatican-affiliated university's course on how to conduct an exorcism. He was also apprenticed to a highly regarded exorcist, Capuchin priest Father Carmine DeFilippis.
The author describes in great detail how to determine a true case of demonic possession. Physical and psychiatric conditions must be ruled out by physicians before a case is even considered. The Church is very strict about this, approaching every case with skepticism. Actual possession is very rare, but it does exist and is treated seriously by the Church. The author gives the New Testament background and Church tradition to explain the basis for demonic possession and exorcism. I appreciated the writer's painstaking effort to present all the material in a factual, objective manner, with no personal agenda.
The accounts of various "patients" vary from mundane to absolutely chilling. Clearly there are different levels of demonic activity directed at an afflicted person. Some cases are resolved by a simple prayer of deliverance, while other cases are so extreme that it takes years of "treatment."
I found especially interesting the discussions of how a priest is to deal with the demon, never engaging him in direct dialog but addressing him through supplication to God. There are many perils in this kind of work, including physical and mental attack by the demon. An exorcist must be a virtuous priest who is very firm in his faith. Even so, some cases are so bad that a complete liberation is never attained, although the prayers do weaken the power a demon has over his victim.
This book is in no way sensationalistic. The author is committed to telling his story with objectivity and accurate detail. I found everything in the book to be very believable. I believe anyone of faith will be convinced of the reality of demonic possession. The author himself went from a lapsed Catholic to a faithful believer who now practices his faith.
My own faith was strengthened by reading this book. It definitely impressed upon me the importance and efficacy of prayer. Prayer is extremely powerful and is desperately needed in our world today. Therefore, I heartily recommend reading The Rite. ...more info
- Journey Into Another World
At first I was concerned that the book was becoming a biography of its subject, Father Gary. Just when you think the book focuses too much on Fr. Gary, the author transitions to demonology. This for me was the most interesting part of the whole book: A summary of Catholic thought on demons, ranging from Saint Thomas to Justin Martyr to Pope John Paul II. You learn that Martyr believed demons had actual bodies, but Aquinas thought they were "not composed of matter and form, but of essence and existence, act and potentiality." Page 44. The Catholic Church draws on Scripture and Tradition in defining Satan: 1) He is finite 2) He can not perform miracles 3) He can not read your mind, but he can read you like a book 4) He can not foresee the future, but he makes excellent predictions. And there is more. You will have to buy the book and read it for yourself.
There is quite a fascinating discussion about cultic Satanism, which the author traces to mid-second century Gnosticism. There is even some discussion about how to get possessed - or hopefully how to avoid getting that way. The Church believes that transcendental meditation, use of magic rituals and objects, and New Age practices open you up to a potential possession. A curse by a warlock will also do the trick. In any event, God has to allow the possession to occur. Here the Church appears biblically sound in linking this conclusion to Job - where Satan tests Job after getting the green light from God. I was far less impressed with the conclusion on page 43 that the snake in the Garden of Eden was the Devil incarnate, which I regard as anachronistic. The text of Genesis 3 says no such thing about the snake.
The book is well-written in the style of reporter journalism. One of the most terrifying accounts in the whole book comes right away on page 37:
"... all the muscles in her face contorted to such a degree that he could no longer recognize her. Next, her jaw completely unhinged and, dropping down, shifted over to one side of her face, giving the impression that her mouth had become nine inches wide."
Some of Father Gary's own exorcisms, however, were less than movie material - as for example the man who yawned throughtout his own exorcism. Most "exorcisms" are apparently not spectacular, and often amount to no more than a blessing. Unlike the case above, which, if true, clearly requires a supernatural explanation, most cases of alleged demonic possession can easily be explained in psychoanalytic terms. Most of the anecdotes in this book would not impress anyone as proof of demonic phenomena. None the less, this makes for a fascinating read, an interesting look into the life and work of an official exorcist of the Catholic Church.
- 21st Century Exorcism
This book is a well written antidote to most of the silly drivel out there in the Charismatic and Occult sections of your local book store. Matt Baglio gives us a fascinating and honest look into the training of a modern American priest in the ancient rite of exorcism in Rome. If you like watching documentaries on the History Channel, you will also appreciate this journey into the real world of demon possession and exorcism in today's Roman Catholic Church. Baglio gives us insights into the lives and training of exorcists, as well as insight into those who have come into contact with a real and present evil. Baglio follows Father Gary as he apprentices with a veteran exorcist in over 80 exorcisms. Perhaps the best book evert written on the Catholic rite of exorcism, in my opinion....more info
- A fascinating look at a little-known world
"The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist" is a well-written and well-documented book on a topic that most of us know little about beyond Linda Blair spewing green goo at a priest. Who even knew that exorcists exist today, or that the Church is intent upon increasing their numbers?
"The Rite" follows Father Gary Thomas, a CA parish priest who is asked by his bishop to go to Rome to learn the art of exorcism. Father Thomas is as sceptical as many readers probably are at this point, but during his time in Italy he learns that there are indeed things that occur in heaven and on earth that are unknown in his philosphy - and ours.
The book's author, Matt Baglio, is a journalist who takes a commendably objective approach to Father Thomas's journey from sceptic to believer. Thomas' struggles with the language barrier (not to mention his own beliefs) while seeking to learn everything he can about this ancient rite, are presented in a sympathetic and yet well-structured manner. Along the way Baglio presents the origins and history of exorcism, digressing here and there into an examination of the Church thinkers and popes who have kept the ritual alive. He also takes a close look at the actual ritual itself, how it's changed and yet remains in many ways the same over the centuries.
Today it is easy to believe that modern medicine and psychology can completely explain away the sorts of behaviors that led those in prior centuries to call out the exorcist and yet, as Father Thomas begins to assist a charismatic Italian priest, he sees and hears things that are simply unexplainable beyond believing that the person has been possessed.
By the end of his sabbatical in Rome, he has been involved in over 50 exorcisms, some mundane, some theatrical and even bizarre, but each involving a living, breathing human being in considerable distress for reasons that defy simple explanation. As he becomes a believer, readers are likely to join him....more info
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