["St. Catherine of Siena beseiged by demons," detail, unknown artist]
It was a rough case for sure, but much progress was being made. Several team members of laity and priests were present for the sessions. For this session, the afflicted person’s priest-spiritual director was also present, which we encourage. It was his first participation in a solemn exorcism of a possessed person. For solemn exorcisms especially, we carefully screen who is in the room. We admit only mature Catholics who are strong in faith with a recognized calling for this ministry. Still, the first session can be a bit overwhelming, especially when there is a strong manifestation of the Evil One. Nothing can really prepare you to look into the face of complete Evil. Ugh. When the lengthy session ended, the Exorcist, as always, prayed the cleansing and protection prayers. Then the team adjourned to the next room to meet and recap. The priest-spiritual director was present as well. At one point, the priest tried to speak but kept messing up his words. He said he couldn’t think straight and had problems talking coherently. He was confused and added, “I can’t understand why my brain is not working.” The Exorcist asked him about his symptoms in more depth. He concluded, “It sounds like you've been ‘slimed’" (borrowing a popular movie expression). The Exorcist reminded him of a movie scene when an evil presence went through a person leaving behind a slimy residue which mentally disoriented him. “Yeah,” the priest said, “It kinda felt like that.”
So the Exorcist did another round of cleansing prayers for him and the entire team. These “prayers for protection” and the “cleansing prayers” at the beginning and end of an exorcism session are important and largely effective.* But in tough cases, some demonic effects can break through. At these times, a second round of cleansing is needed.
As an exorcism team, we endeavor to practice our ministry with integrity. We are obedient to all the Church teaches and to our ecclesiastical superiors. It is important for us to "stay under the umbrella" of the Church's protection. We willingly do so. Nevertheless, in particularly difficult cases, we can get "slimed" and have some passing, limited demonic symptoms.
We take it as a small price for being involved in this ministry. And we pray that our little sacrifices are an additional grace to the suffering people who come to us for help. Our hearts go out to them and we pray for their swift deliverance.
*Protection, binding and cleansing prayers can all be found on our app: "Catholic Exorcism" or on our website: www.catholicexorcism.org.