The journey started with a powerful spiritual experience when I was a seminarian.
"Stop Saying That Name!"
In the middle of an exorcism session, out of the mouth of the energumen (a possessed person) came the cry, "Stop saying that name!" We had been saying the holy name of Jesus, and it was really getting to the demons. They hated to hear it. So, realizing they hated it, we said it all the more. Again and again, we chanted, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus."
The name of Jesus is holy. It should never be used in vain or as a cuss word. This would be like throwing something holy in the mud. "At the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth" (Phil 2:10). I often quote this passage in the midst of a session and emphasize the phrase "under the earth." Even in Hell, the name of Jesus is all powerful, and every knee should bend.
On earth, the name of Jesus has power to cast out demons. As the Rite of Exorcism says, "In nomine Domini nostri Iesu Christi eradicare et effugare ab hoc plasmate Dei" which is, "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: be uprooted and be put to flight from this creature of God."
How many saints have died with the name of Jesus on their lips! But to the demons, His name is torture or, truly, a pure Hell.
Theological Reflection: Invoking the Name of Jesus
In the time of Jesus, as well as in our own day, doing an action "in the name of" someone meant doing it on that person's behalf. One is delegated to act in that person's stead with all the requisite authority and power. Since we are one in Jesus, it is Jesus Himself who acts through us when we do His will. We read in Colossians: "Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Col 3:17).
This is true of casting out demons as well. The exorcist has no authority over demons except that which the Lord Himself gives through the delegation of the bishop. Jesus explicitly told us to act on His behalf to cast out demons. We read in the Gospel of Luke: "He summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons" (Luke 9:1). When the demons hear the exorcist invoke the name of Jesus, they are directly confronted with the power and authority of Jesus Himself. Against Him, they are no match.
Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti. "Exorcist Diary 1" from Diary of an American Exorcist (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2021).
Reprinted with permission of Sophia Institute Press.
Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti, Ph.D., is the President of the St. Michael Center for Spiritual Renewal and a research associate professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. A licensed psychologist and the author of several books, Msgr. Rossetti has participated in hundreds of exorcisms. During his journey to priesthood, he experienced a spiritual episode in which, "in two seconds I learned 80 percent of what an exorcist needs to know." He is the author of Diary of an American Exorcist.Copyright © 2021 Sophia Institute Press
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