When confronted with pure evil, what is a layperson to do?
First, we will look at what sacramentals are given preference in the fight against demons. Secondly, we will touch on the topic of deliverance and see if laypeople can engage in direct combat against the devil.
Besides leading a virtuous life united to the Sacraments of the Church and devoted to a life of prayer, sacramentals are given to us by the Church to aid us in the fight against Satan and his minions. In particular, exorcists suggest the following sacramentals as being most effective in driving out the presence of evil in our lives:
- Blessed Water (Holy Water)
- Blessed Oil
- Blessed Salt
- Relics of Saints
These sacramentals are typically used in the Rite of Exorcism itself and so it makes sense that these sacramentals would then be used outside of the Rite to repel demons from a person, place or object. It would be worthwhile to have these sacramentals in our homes and to make devout use of them on a daily basis.
Other sacramentals that have been known to be effective are the Saint Benedict Medal, the Brown Scapular and the Rosary.
I do want to stress that it should be a devout use of these sacramentals and not a superstitious use. We should not use them in a superstitious way without any faith behind it. They do not always produce an effect and the effects of these sacramentals are tied directly to our faith. If we have a weak faith, these sacramentals will do nothing to combat Satan. If we have a strong faith, rooted in the Sacraments, these sacramentals will have a profound power to expel evil from every place that we go.
As a reminder, the priest who is an exorcist must be, “distinguished for his piety, prudence, and integrity of life. He should fulfill this devout undertaking in all constancy and humility.” These same virtues must be found in our own life if we desire to use sacramentals in a devout and holy way.
In writing about exorcism, one must always keep in mind that only an ordained priest, authorized by his local bishop, can perform the Rite of Exorcism. This means that even the local parish priest can NOT perform the Rite of Exorcism. Simply put, he does not have the authority to do so.
Priests can be granted the authority for many things and even hearing someone’s confession requires the permission of a priest’s bishop. For example, a bishop can revoke the faculty to hear confessions if a serious case presents itself. Even more so with the Rite of Exorcism does a priest need proper approval.
This also means that laypeople can NEVER perform the Rite of Exorcism. We simply do not have the ordained power or proper authority to do so. If we attempt to recite the various prayers of the Rite of Exorcism, the devil will simply laugh in our faces. We do not have that type of power over demons.
At the same time, it is believed that certain people have been granted the “charism” of Exorcism. This is a gift of the Holy Spirit given to them at baptism. These people have an extraordinary sense of the supernatural and have been given a certain amount of power over demons. However, this gift is a singular grace that not everyone has and is not the same as the Rite of Exorcism. These people are able to pray for the deliverance of a person from the devil and God, in His mercy, intervenes and allows it to happen.
Discernment of this “charism” is one that should not be done lightly and only with the proper guidance of a spiritual director.
Additionally, some claim that ANYONE can perform deliverance prayers and deliver evil from a place or person. It is said that the “Our Father” is the perfect “deliverance prayer” on account of its petition of “deliver us from evil.” However, the Church does not have much to say about this ministry and so it should be approached very cautiously. We do not want to get ourselves involved with Satan and then find out that we do not have any power over him. This would not bode well for us.
In the end, let us remember, we have ZERO power over Satan and his minions. Only through the power of GOD can we overcome evil.