Friday, February 19, 2010

Deliverance prayer and the Church

Father Jeffrey Steffon, in his book entitled "Satanism: Is It Real?", reminds us that, "Deliverance prayer is one of the oldest traditions of the Catholic Church. In the Our Father we pray, 'Deliver us from evil.' That prayer is a prayer for deliverance. Christians are able to pray for deliverance from evil spirits because Jesus gave them that power. In Luke 10 Jesus commissioned the seventy disciples to spread the kingdom of God. In this action Jesus gave them authority over demonic spirits. The seventy, upon their return to Jesus, exclaimed, 'Even the demons are subject to us in your name!'

Though Jesus gave His followers such power, it is up to individual Christians to use it...Deliverance prayer is not exorcism. There are two forms of exorcism: solemn and private. Solemn exorcism is a liturgical rite and public action of the Catholic Church. Solemn exorcism is performed only by an official delegate of the Bishop. Private exorcism is not a public, liturgical rite. The terms private (or simple) exorcism and deliverance refer to the same action. This style of prayer is used to curb the influence of Satan in the lives of Christians. Whereas in solemn exorcism only the delegate of the Bishop may perform the exorcism, any Christian can say the deliverance prayer.

Deliverance prayer is said in the name of the person of Jesus. Solemn exorcism is prayed in the name of Jesus and the whole Catholic Church. It would seem logical that a priest, by the power of the sacrament of Holy Orders, has a greater commission than the laity to pray the deliverance prayer. This is not always the case, however, because this prayer is a charism. God can give charisms to whomever He chooses..." (pp. 174-175).

Because I believe in the efficacy of deliverance prayer, I recently contacted Father Thien Nguyen of Immaculate Conception Parish in Fitchburg. I received no response. This is really a shame. Not because my feelings were hurt at receiving no response. My ego isn't that large. I'm just not that important. But because deliverance prayer is just too important and, in my humble opinion, very much needed in Fitchburg right now.

So why the lack of response? I really don't know. Perhaps because I am on some sort of diocesan black-list for speaking the hard truths no one wants to hear - constructive criticism isn't welcome by some who consider themselves as being always above reproach and beyond any questioning or fraternal correction. This even though Pope John Paul II said that there is room for constructive criticism in the Church. Fraternal correction isn't welcome by all.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, responding to certain questionable activities, published a statement which said (in part):

..the Bishops are requested to watch that, even in cases where a true diabolical possession is excluded, those who lack the proper permission do not supervise or direct the assemblies in which prayers are used to obtain a releasing, in the course of which the devils are disturbed and their identities sought. However, the declaration of these norms by no means should keep the faithful from praying to be delivered from evil, as Jesus taught. Moreover, the Bishops will be able to use any given opportunity to recall what the tradition of the Church teaches about the role played by the sacraments and the intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the Angels, and of the Saints in the spiritual struggle of Christians against evil spirits."

What are we waiting for then?


Ellen Wironken said...

In his Introduction to the Devout Life, Saint Francis de Sales, a Doctor of the Church, says: "If the declared enemies of God and of the Church ought to be blamed and censured with all possible vigor, charity obliges us to cry 'wolf' when the wolf slips into the midst of the flock, and in every way and place we may meet him."

Fraternal correction is an act of charity. So is deliverance prayer. But charity is waning as the hearts of men grow cold. Pride is blinding so many who refuse to listen to the Church's Magisterium or who believe themselves able to correct Holy Mother Church.

Ted Loiseau said...

Read John 9: 24-41. The new Pharisees are very much like those of Jesus' day. As we French say, "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose."

John Ansley said...

Many priests are afraid of being viewed as too "pre-Vatican II" or as "outdated" if they preach on the Devil and engage in deliverance prayer. I would have expected better from Fr. Thien. I had heard only good things. Let's all pray that he will find the courage to lead in this aea.

Henry Thibeault said...

Michael Brown just published this today (3/27/10):

This author essentially agrees with you. Too bad Fr. Thien and the Worcester diocese do not.

Theresa said...

Which parish is Fr. Thien in? And, are you a parishoner? Has the Charismatic Renewal reached your parish yet?

Site Meter