Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ordination as Exorcist

Our jurisdiction maintains, as do many other Independent Catholic jurisdictions, the traditional practice of minor orders. After being made a Cleric, a seminarian receives four minor orders: Doorkeeper, Reader, Exorcist, and Acolyte. Then follows the major order of Subdeacon, followed by the sacramental orders of Deacon and Priest. (Bishop being the third sacramental order.) In the Roman Catholic denomination, only the traditionalist orders maintain these minor orders (there are ministries of Reader and Acolyte in the "ordinary form" to which candidates for ordination are admitted, but they are no longer considered ordinations), but many quite liberal indie jurisdictions maintain them. However, many liberal jurisdictions substitute the term Healer for Exorcist. It is true that the theme of healing is present in the traditional ordination rite for Exorcist. The final prayer in the rite is as follows (the translation of the traditional Latin rite is taken from the Old Catholic Missal and Ritual of Abp. Arnold Mathew):

Holy Lord, Father Almighty, everlasting God, be pleased to bless these servants of Thine for the office of Exorcist, that by laying-on of hands, and word of mouth, they may have power and authority to hold unclean spirits in check; that strengthened by the gift of healing and by power from on high, they may be approved healers for Thy Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity, etc. Amen.

However, emphasizing the healer aspect while negating the exorcist role obscures a vital truth about the Christian faith: the need to confront the reality of evil. God willing, I will ordain our seminarian Sandra Hutchinson as an Exorcist this coming Saturday. Sandra has this to say about her upcoming ordination, which sums up what this order is about admirably:

"Of all the minor orders, this is the one that intimidates me the most. Evil is real, and this is a direct challenge to it. But God is real too, I know that. And I'm looking forward to it as well."

Please pray for Sandra as she takes this next step in her journey.

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