One of the submissions in our parish Q&A box came up recently: Does the Church still believe in exorcism? Well, yes:
144. In the rite of exorcism (RCIA 154, 168, 175), which is celebrated by a priest or a deacon, the elect, who have already learned from the Church as their mother the mystery of deliverance from sin by Christ, are freed from the effects of sin and from the influence of the devil. They receive new strength in the midst of their spiritual journey and they open their hearts to receive the gifts of the Savior.
This small section tells us a good bit. The Church celebrates exorcism as part of the scrutiny. The exorcism is defined in the paragraph above, or at least the purpose is given. One thing that strikes me is that unlike the 70′s movie portrayal, exorcism seems to demand of the elect a cooperative response on the part of the person. An open heart (note: not mind) will receive the grace of Christ. The exorcism seems to be less an intellectual exercise, but more one that appeals to a person’s sense of faith. It’s less an action performed to chase away evil than to strengthen and inspire a person to resist evil, perhaps knowing a community of faith and a tradition of millennia is there to back them up.