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Exorcist Diary #120: Branded by Satan

"The Baptism of Christ" by Andrea del Verrocchio and Leonardo da Vinci

Jason woke up with a very ugly four-inch, upside-down cross burned deeply into his shoulder. Strangely, he said he didn't feel it, just a little tingling. Four days later it rapidly disappeared.

Jason had foolishly asked Satan for success in his business and finances. Years later he repented and had returned to the Church. But Satan had not forgotten him and was now laying claim to him. At night, Jason hears the voice of Satan in his head, "You belong to me."

The upside-down cross is a mockery of the cross of Christ. The fact of its appearance without pain and impossible rapid healing attest to its preternatural origin. Like the branding of an animal, Satan was claiming ownership.

In the midst of the exorcism sessions using the new Rite of Exorcism, Jason repeated his baptismal vows. He rejected Satan and all his works. I had Jason explicitly add three times, "I belong to Jesus. Jesus is my Lord and Savior."

In the Rite of Baptism for infants, the priest prays, "I claim you for Christ our Savior by the sign of the cross." Echoing these sacramental words, I then prayed over Jason, "I invoke the power of the keys of Peter and by the authority of the Church, I break any covenants between Jason and the Evil One. The death and resurrection of Jesus cancels any ownership Satan may believe he had over him. I claim Jason for Christ our Savior. In the holy name of Jesus, I set him free."

At root, an exorcism is a rejection of Satan's claim of ownership. In baptism, we are claimed for Christ our Savior. The new Rite of Exorcism is a renewal of the sacrament of baptism and once more freeing a soul from Satan's grasp. I have come away from these experiences with a more profound appreciation and gratitude for the sacrament of baptism we all receive and its power to free us from the Evil One.


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