One of the latest thrillers to hit theaters is The Nun, a film about a priest and a novice facing a demonic evil force that disguises itself as a nun while they investigate a Romanian nun’s suicide.
There are some things you should know about the Church’s teaching on exorcisms before seeing the movie. Exorcisms and demonic activity are never taken lightly in the Church, and are a serious and powerful rite against Satan.
1) What is an exorcism?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, an exorcism is “when the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion.” (1673)
2) What are the two types of exorcisms?
Simple or minor exorcisms, and major exorcisms. Minor exorcisms happen through the sacrament of Baptism. Major exorcisms are only performed by a priest through the permission of a bishop. And according to the Catechism, “is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church.”
3) What are the different types of demonic influence or activity?
Father Vincent Lampert, an exorcist in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, said that demonic possession occurs, but it is rare. He said there is also infestation, obsession, and vexation.
– Infestation occurs when objects move or there are loud noises.
– Obsession occurs when there are mental attacks, such as continuous evil thoughts “racing through one’s mind.”
– Vexation occurs when a person is physically attacked.
4) How do I avoid demonic influence in my life?
Fr. Lampart said that it is actually very simple to keep the evil one from influencing your life. He said that “if a Catholic is praying, going to Mass, and receiving the sacraments, then the devil is already on the run.”
It is also important to remain in the state of grace, and stay away from things like horoscopes, palm reading, Ouija boards, mediums, paranormal tourism, superstitions, pornography, participating in seances or or other occult practices, and believing in apparitions condemned by the Church.
5) What does this have to do with The Nun?
It is important remember that the lay cannot perform exorcisms. Only priests can. (CCC 1673)
Hollywood tends to exaggerate the paranormal and present exorcism rites as short events. An exorcism can last for several months, and the demoniac must pray and fast during the process.
Watching movies like The Nun can make us think that demonic possession is common, but as said in bullet number three, it is rare. Normally, the devil influences us through temptation.
[See also: Did You Know the Baptismal Rite Includes an Exorcism?]
[See also: The 4 Tell-Tale Signs of Demonic Possession, According to Chicago’s Expert Exorcist]