("Baptism of Christ," Pietro Perugino, c. 1497)
Recently a priest working with a possessed woman called and said: "I just got a text from her demons." I asked, "What did it say?" He replied, "She's mine!" My response: "Typical." At some point in an exorcism, the demons will invariably claim the possessed person belongs to them and demand we back off.
This also tells us that the demons' hold on the person is being seriously threatened, or else they would have not sent the text. Their control is waning and they are frightened.
Every exorcism is, at root, a battle for ownership. Who does this person belong to-- Jesus or Satan? Satan grasps for control; Jesus gives us free choice to choose Him. During an exorcism, we invite the afflicted person to renew his/her baptismal vows: "Do you reject Satan? And all his works? And all his empty show?" The person follows with an affirmation of faith. Then I typically hold up a crucifix and say, as in a baptism: "I claim you for Christ our savior by the sign of his cross."
I am alarmed by the increasing number of people who are not even baptized. It is in this fundamental sacrament that the person is rescued from the clutches of Satan. I remind the Evil One of this in our sessions: "This person belongs to Jesus. He/she has rejected you. He/she has been baptized." The response from the demons? Silence.
On Easter Sunday, we renew our baptismal promises. We profess our faith. We are sprinkled with holy water. It is a minor exorcism. We have been delivered from the power of evil and saved by Jesus Christ. What a glorious day!