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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.


Popular piety


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

other interests.


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,




2669, 2678