In The Rite, journalist Matt Baglio uses the astonishing story of one American priest's training as an exorcist to reveal that the phenomena of possession, demons, the Devil, and exorcism are not merely a remnant of the archaic past, but remain a fearsome power in many people's lives even today.--Publisher description.
Original publication date
In this class Mr. Baglio met and an American Priest from California who was appointed by his bishop to become the diocese exorcist. The book is written mainly as a biography of this priest, Father Gary Thomas. So with the investigative eye of a journalist, the insights of the exorcist and interviews of the subjects of some exorcisms we are given a glimpse into the world where good still battles evil.
The small biography of Father Thomas is a fast read that shows the sad truth that most priest do not even believe in the devil until the come face to face with pure evil. This was where Father Thomas was until he started the class to become an exorcist and actually started attending some exorcism. Every diocese is supposed to have an official exorcist appointed but the majority live in Italy and there is only a handful in the U.S.A. Most countries have none at all.
The author also covers the teachings of the Catholic Church on demonic possession and the basis for the belief in the rite of exorcism. Through Father Thomas’ eyes we are shown different forms of possession and learn that each exorcist is a unique individual with his own strength and weaknesses. In order for the rite to be successful both the possessed and the exorcist must have faith in God. For the rite is a manifestation of God's benevolence and deliverance and the priest is only the conduit of His grace as a priest is for all the sacraments. And there is no standard situation when it comes to demonic possession or for how long the exorcism could take, which can sometimes years.
I found this a very interesting read and the author has a very short section at the end where he shares from his own personal experience from his time researching for this books. The author also provides copious notes and a bibliography. From his own words it is obvious he has many more notes from which he can pull from. So perhaps the author will write a book from his own perspective giving us a look behind the Rite and delve deeper into the subject. The book is a good introduction to a subject that most feel have been relegated to the back lots of Hollywood.
This book follows the path of Father Gary Thomas as he attends a newly formed class in Rome on exorcism. The class is set up to fill a void in the Catholic Education system that has left Faith with few exorcist, and plenty of misgivings about the theology of demons and spirits in general. The author, Matt Baglio, does a good job of telling the story of Father Gary while at the same time giving forgotten or new information on spirit theology as well as modern thoughts on the matter. In some cases Baglio breaks from the storyline to give the opinions of those who oppose the idea of demonic possessions and how they might try to "explain away" the symptoms.
Even though this book is not formally a manual on how to do deliverance ministry or exorcism, I think it is a must read for anyone who is even vaguly interested in the topic, it is not extreme or outlandish in its details and give in my opinion a fair account.
The book is 304 pages however, the last 70 pages are mostly notes which are interesting to read but not necessary to understand the story. It is a very good style of writing and found that for me it almost read like a fiction novel.
Quote: “The Devil is present everywhere that evil things happen within the normal laws of nature . . . in many places, in all massacres, in every murder, in physical catastrophes, in every concentration camp, in all evil. Sometimes he shows himself, strangely, but also in cases of possession. But he’s much more dangerous where he doesn’t let himself be seen, where he can’t be done away with through exorcism.” -Father Pedro Barrajon
I found this book on an unusual topic surprisingly engaging – despite being unsure, I finished it in just a few days. It was a mixture of the personal story of Father Gary Thomas and a more scholarly consideration of the topic of exorcism. Father Thomas’ story is interesting – the right combination of faith, skepticism, and determination, while the drier portion did not last too long. Perhaps most interesting, however, was the personal tales of people who have undergone exorcisms and tales of ceremonies witnessed by Father Thomas and the author, which are quite different than Hollywood’s take on demonic possession. While I’m not sure if it engrossing enough to hold someone with no interest whatsoever in the topic, I think most who are intrigued by the possibility of unseen forces in the universe would find it a worthwhile read.
Not much to say really, was quite bored a lot of the time as the book went into all the different theologies surround the catholic faith etc.
Some nice moments but far too repetitive.