Water, Oil and Salt

Among the means that exorcists and non-exorcists make extensive use of, we mention first and foremost exorcised or at least blessed water, exorcised olive oil, exorcised salt. Any priest can recite the prayers of the Ritual to exorcise these three elements; no special authorization is required. Rather, it is very useful to know the specific use of these three sacramentals which, used with faith, are of great benefit.

Holy water already has a great use in all liturgical rites. Its importance is immediately linked to the baptismal sprinkling. In the prayer of blessing we pray to the Lord so that the sprinkling of water will obtain these three benefits for us: the forgiveness of our sins, the defense from the snares of the evil one, the gift of divine protection.

The exorcism prayer on water adds many other effects: to make all the power of the devil escape so as to eradicate him and chase him away. Even in popular jargon, if you want to indicate two things that absolutely don’t go together, you say that they are like the devil and holy water. Then the prayer continues underlining other effects, in addition to chasing away demons: healing from illnesses, increasing divine grace, protecting homes and all places where the faithful live from any unclean influence caused by the pestiferous Satan. And he adds: that the snares of the infernal enemy are overcome and that we remain protected from any possible presence harmful to the safety or peace of the inhabitants, so that they enjoy serenity and health.

Even OIL, exorcised, used with faith, helps to put to flight the power of demons, their assaults, the ghosts they arouse. It also benefits the health of the soul and body; here we remember the ancient custom of anointing wounds with oil and the power given by Jesus to the apostles to heal the sick with the laying on of hands and anointing them with oil. Then there is a property that is specific to exorcised oil: to separate adversities from the body. Very often I have happened to bless people who have been cursed by eating or drinking something evil. It is easy to understand it from that characteristic stomach ache that we have already described, or from the fact that these people have a particular way of belching or exploding in a form of hiccup or gasping, especially in connection with religious actions: when they go to church, when they pray and especially while they are being exorcised. In these cases, in order to free itself, the organism must expel whatever evil it contains. Exorcised oil helps a lot to detach and free the body from these impurities. Drinking holy water also helps for this purpose. Here it is useful to give some more clarification, even if those who are not familiar and have not seen it will find it difficult to believe these things. What is expelled? Sometimes thick, foamy saliva; or a kind of white, grainy mush. Other times these are the most varied objects: nails, pieces of glass, small wooden dolls, knotted strings of rope, coiled iron wires, cotton threads of various colours, clots of blood… Sometimes these things are expelled for the natural ways; many times vomiting. Note that the body is never harmed or relieved, even if it comes from sharp glass. P. Candido kept a basket of similar objects, expelled by various people. Other times the leak remains mysterious; the person feels, for example, abdominal pain as if he had a nail in his stomach; then he finds a nail on the ground next to him and the pain disappears. The impression is that all these objects materialize the instant they are expelled. P. Candido stated in an interview: “I have seen pieces of glass, iron, hair, bones rejected; sometimes even small plastic objects, in the shape of a cat’s head, or of icons, or of snakes. Surely these strange objects have a connection with the cause that determined the diabolical possession.”

Even exorcised salt is useful for chasing away demons and for the health of the soul and body. But one of its specific properties is that of protecting places from evil influences or presences. In these cases I usually recommend placing exorcised salt on the doorstep of the house and in the four corners of the room or rooms believed to be infested.

That “unbelieving Catholic world” will perhaps laugh at these alleged properties. Certainly the sacramentals act all the more effectively the more faith there is; without this they often remain ineffective. Vatican II, and with the same words the Canon Law can. 1166, defines them as “sacred signs with which, through some imitation of the sacraments, especially spiritual effects are signified and obtained, through the impetration of the Church”. Those who use them with faith see unexpected effects. I know of many ailments, resistant to medications, which have disappeared only because the person concerned made a sign of the cross over them with exorcised oil.

For the homes we will talk about separately, the use of burning blessed incense is also effective. Incense has always been considered, even among pagan peoples, an antidote against evil spirits, as well as an element of praise and adoration of the deity. Its liturgical use has now been greatly reduced, but it does not cease to be an effective element of praise to God and of fighting the evil one. The Ritual also contains a special blessing on clothes. Many times we have seen its effectiveness on people affected by EVIL presences. Other times it was a test to understand whether or not there were diabolical presences in a person. This is also useful to know. Many times we exorcists are questioned by people who are parents, engaged couples… who have the doubt that one of their relatives is affected by the devil, but it is a relative who does not believe in these things, is often devoid of any religious faith and in any case does not he is willing to be blessed by a priest.

How to do? Sometimes, after having had some of his clothes blessed, it was seen that as soon as he put them on, he tore them off, unable to bear the contact with them. We gave an example of this previously. Another test can be done with holy water. For example, a mother who suspects a child or her husband prepares soup made with holy water for everyone; he or she uses it in tea or coffee. It may happen that the affected person finds that food bitter and inedible, even without realizing why.

However, note that these tests can be indicative in a positive case: that is, if a person is sensitive to whether the water is blessed or not it could be a symptom of an evil presence. But the opposite cannot be said, that is, it cannot be said that, if someone is insensitive to these types of tests, a malevolent presence in him can therefore be excluded. The devil tries everything to avoid being discovered.

Even during exorcisms the devil tries to hide; and the Ritual warns the exorcist against diabolical fictions. Sometimes he does not respond or gives silly answers, which cannot be attributed to an intelligent spirit, such as the devil. Other times he pretends to have left the body of the possessed person and to have stopped bothering him, thus hoping to remove the individual from the exorcist’s blessings. Other times it places the most various impediments so that the person is not subjected to exorcisms: these can be physical or, more often, psychological impediments, for which the person does not go to the appointment with the exorcist if he does not have someone close to him to force him ; other times he fakes the signs of an illness, mostly psychological, to confuse the reality of his presence and make people believe that it is a natural evil; sometimes the patient has dreams or visions in which he has the illusion that the Lord, the Madonna or some saint has freed him, and so he avoids going to the appointment with the exorcist, perhaps letting him know that he is already free.

The indicated sacramentals, in addition to the specific help of each one, also serve to at least partially ward off the various deceptions of the evil one. In this field, deceptions are the order of the day, and it takes a lot of praying to obtain the grace of discernment. Among the most frequent cases, I would like to point out: those who believe they have visions or inner voices; those who indulge in a false mysticism or those who pass themselves off as “seers”. Often in these cases, when it is not a question of mental illnesses, there is the deception of the devil.

I close this chapter with a fact regarding holy water. P. Candido was exorcising a possessed man. The sacristan approached him with the water bucket and the sprinkler. Immediately the devil turned to him: “Wash your face with that water!”. Only then did the sacristan remember that he had filled the bucket at the tap, but he had forgotten to have the water blessed. The new Benedictional, mandatory since 11 April 1993, has changed the formulas, but certainly has not diminished their effects, even if they are no longer explicitly remembered.