The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
lished by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or
to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority
which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness,
is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science.
Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that
one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.
Besides sacramental liturgy and sacramentals, catechesis
must take into account the forms of piety and popular devotions
among the faithful. The religious sense of the Christian people has
always found expression in various forms of piety surrounding the
Church’s sacramental life, such as the veneration of relics, visits to
sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the cross,
religious dances, the rosary, medals,
These expressions of piety extend the liturgical life of the Church,
but do not replace it. They “should be so drawn up that they harmonize
with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in some way
derived from it and lead the people to it, since in fact the liturgy by its very
nature is far superior to any of them.”
Pastoral discernment is needed to sustain and support popular
piety and, if necessary, to purify and correct the religious sense which
underlies these devotions so that the faithful may advance in knowledge
of the mystery of Christ.
Their exercise is subject to the care and
judgment of the bishops and to the general norms of the Church.
At its core the piety of the people is a storehouse of values
that offers answers of Christian wisdom to the great ques-
tions of life. The Catholic wisdom of the people is capable of
fashioning a vital synthesis. . . . It creatively combines the
divine and the human, Christ and Mary, spirit and body,
communion and institution, person and community, faith
and homeland, intelligence and emotion. This wisdom is a
Christian humanism that radically affirms the dignity of
every person as a child of God, establishes a basic fraternity,
teaches people to encounter nature and understand work,
provides reasons for joy and humor even in the midst of a
very hard life. For the people this wisdom is also a principle
of discernment and an evangelical instinct through which
they spontaneously sense when the Gospel is served in the
Church and when it is emptied of its content and stifled by
179 Cf. CIC, can. 1172.
180 Cf. Council of Nicæa II: DS 601; 603; Council of Trent: DS 1822.
13 § 3.
182 Cf. John Paul II,
183 CELAM, Third General Conference (Puebla, 1979), Final Document, § 448
(tr. NCCB, 1979); cf. Paul VI,