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296 • Part II. The Sacraments: The Faith Celebrated


Among the sacramentals, blessings hold a major place. There are bless-

ings for persons, meals, objects, places, and special occasions. All bless-

ings praise God for his gifts. Most blessings invoke the Holy Trinity

as expressed in the Sign of the Cross—sometimes accompanied by the

sprinkling of holy water.

There are blessings that consecrate persons to God: leaders of reli-

gious orders or congregations, religious men and women, virgins and

widows, and others, such as readers, acolytes, and catechists. There are

blessings for vessels such as chalices or ciboria, bells, medals, rosaries,

and similar objects for religious use. The text for these and other bless-

ings may be found in the

Book of Blessings

. Making the Sign of the

Cross at the beginning and the end of each day, saying morning and

evening prayers, and offering a prayer before and after meals are among

the most common ways to invoke God’s blessing on our lives.


The Gospels report that Jesus performed exorcisms that removed a per-

son from the power of evil as personified in the fallen angels—Satan and

the devils. For example, when a man with an unclean spirit entered the

synagogue where Jesus was preaching, and the unclean spirit challenged

him, Jesus said to the demon, “Quiet! Come out of him” (Mk 1:25). The

unclean spirit convulsed the man and left him. Christ’s exorcisms were

both a compassionate act of healing as well as a sign of his power over


From Christ the Church has received the power and office of exor-

cism. At each Baptism, there is a simple form of exorcism, accompa-

nied by the renunciation of Satan and sin. Within the Rite of Christian

Initiation of Adults, minor exorcisms are celebrated as we are freed

from sin and its effects. The elect receive new strength in the midst of

their spiritual journey, and they open their hearts to receive the gifts of

the Savior (cf.

Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

, no. 144). A major

exorcism can only be performed by a priest with a bishop’s permission.

The priest is to act prudently and follow the Church’s rules for exor-