|Padre Gabrielle Amorth - Chief Exorcist of Rome|
More than the healings that Jesus performed, the exorcisms unsettled the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law. It is probably also true that many people today find this claim that Jesus was an effective exorcist a bit difficult to accept.
Angels, both those for God and those who rebelled, are not mythical but real. They are not an optional addition to the Catholic faith; their existence is a dogma of the faith (fourth Lateran Council). Throughout Scripture we read of the reality and presence of angels. Every human being has a guardian angel assigned to him from birth to death – Jesus assured us of this (see Mt 18:10, Lk 16:22). Christ is the centre of the angelic world – they are His angels (CCC 331).
Angels, like human beings, are free creatures i.e. they have free will. Unlike human beings, angels being pure spirits exercised this free will at their creation – some rebelled and we call them demons. Just as good angels seek to help us, so demons seek to harm us by tempting us to sin.
No faithful, baptised Christian can be demon-possessed against his will, but it is possible to be severely oppressed, and of course all of us will be tempted. The Church, which is the mystical Body of Christ, has the power to free those who are ‘possessed’ by performing exorcisms that deliver the person from the dominion of the demon (or demons). Major exorcisms are performed only by priests whom the Church has authorised to do so, but minor exorcisms can be performed by any priest in the course of his pastoral ministry (e.g. an exorcism is performed during the rite of baptism).
Now all of this is difficult for many people to accept because most people view the world in a materialist way, that is, the world is only really what you can see and touch. But we who accept the Christian revelation of God include in that acceptance that the devil is real, otherwise the Bible lies (see 1 Pet 5:8). If we reject the existence of the devil and his demons then we also make Christ to be a fool, for He clearly said they are real and He clearly exorcised demons from people. In the gospel today He challenged His critics; they had to decide whether His power over demons was from God or the Devil. So let us be alert and be watchful for the devil prowls seeking whom he may devour, we are to resist him firm in our faith. And above all we know that in Christ we have nothing to fear, for as long as we are faithful to our Saviour Jesus Christ, no other power can have dominion over us.
Our Lady, Queen of Angels, intercede for us in the moments of temptation.
St Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle.
Guardian Angels watch over us and protect us.