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The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist [Hardcover]

by Matt Baglio
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 10, 2009

In The Rite, journalist Matt Baglio uses the astonishing story of one American priest's training as an exorcist to reveal that the phenomena of possession, demons, the Devil, and exorcism are not merely a remnant of the archaic past, but remain a fearsome power in many people's lives even today.

Father Gary Thomas was working as a parish priest in California when he was asked by his bishop to travel to Rome for training in the rite of exorcism. Though initially surprised, and slightly reluctant, he accepted this call, and enrolled in a new exorcism course at a Vatican-affiliated university, which taught him, among other things, how to distinguish between a genuine possession and mental illness. Eventually he would go on to participate in more than eighty exorcisms as an apprentice to a veteran Italian exorcist. His experiences profoundly changed the way he viewed the spiritual world, and as he moved from rational skeptic to practicing exorcist he came to understand the battle between good and evil in a whole new light. Journalist Matt Baglio had full access to Father Gary over the course of his training, and much of what he learned defies explanation.

The Rite provides fascinating vignettes from the lives of exorcists and people possessed by demons, including firsthand accounts of exorcists at work casting out demons, culminating in Father Gary's own confrontations with the Devil. Baglio also traces the history of exorcism, revealing its rites and rituals, explaining what the Catholic Church really teaches about demonic possession, and delving into such related topics as the hierarchy of angels and demons, satanic cults, black masses, curses, and the various theories used by modern scientists and anthropologists who seek to quantify such phenomena.

Written with an investigative eye that will captivate both skeptics and believers alike, The Rite shows that the truth about demonic possession is not only stranger than fiction, but also far more chilling.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Journalist Baglio follows a Catholic priest through the latter's training to become an exorcist in this incisive look at the church's rite of exorcism and its use in contemporary life. Baglio began delving into the topic after hearing about a course at a Vatican-affiliated university, where he met and befriended the Rev. Gary Thomas, a priest in the diocese of San Jose, Calif. Thomas took the exorcism course at the request of his bishop and subsequently apprenticed himself to a seasoned exorcist. Keenly aware of the misunderstanding that abounds about exorcism through film images, Baglio sets about dispelling misconceptions and does so skillfully, separating the real from the imaginary in the mysterious and unsettling sphere of the demonic. Both Thomas and Baglio were changed by their exposure to the rite. Thomas grew spiritually during the process, which bolstered his desire to help his parishioners, and Baglio, previously a nominal Catholic, reconnected with his faith. For anyone seeking a serious and very human examination of this fascinating subject, one that surpasses the sensational, this is absorbing and enlightening reading. (Mar. 10)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Chanting prayers and slinging holy water, the cinematic exorcist faces the forces of evil with strength and faith. But what of his real-life counterpart? In his first book, journalist Baglio follows Brother Gary, an American Roman Catholic priest, as he learns about exorcism firsthand during a sabbatical in Rome, first through a university class and later through an apprenticeship with an Italian exorcist. Spectacular exorcisms do occur, but most of the book focuses on other topics, from Father Gary's early life to the scientific controversies surrounding exorcism. The Rite provides more questions than answers: Why do some exorcists use methods not approved by the Church? Has the popularity of alternative religions led to a rise in possessions and exorcisms, as Baglio's interviewees maintain? If exorcism is a Christian ritual, why does it benefit Hindus and Muslims? More guidance as to how readers might explore these questions would be welcome, but this book is recommended for all public libraries as a place to begin the dialog.—Dan Harms, SUNY at Cortland Memorial Lib.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Religion; First Edition edition (March 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385522703
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385522700
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
161 of 164 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rite Stuff March 12, 2009
This is a well-written book by a journalist who covers an American priest's sabbatical in Rome to learn how to administer exorcism. The book lays a solid foundation for understanding both the practical and theological underpinnings of the actions of demons as understood by the Catholic Church and its measured response to claims of possession. One of the things that makes the book interesting is the reserved and often skeptical approach that the Church takes evaluating claims of possession and its insistence that psychiatric and other disorders be ruled out before proceeding forward. Another strong aspect of the book is that it shows the education and apprenticeship that the priest undergoes in becoming appointed as the exorcist for a diocese. The author does an excellent job of describing the personalities of the key subjects of the book and presents descriptions of exorcisms in a very measured way. If you are looking for a book that covers an obscure part of the Catholic Church in a respectful and matter-of-fact manner, The Rite would be an excellent choice.
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118 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Don't Really Believe Those Exorcist Stories Do You? September 5, 2010
This question (my review headline) was recently asked of me by the Jesuit President of a famous Jesuit university after I had announced to a small group that Rev. Gary Thomas, an exorcist, would be one of our featured guests in the 2010-2011 Oakland Diocese's Catholics@Work Speakers Series. His disparaging response is characteristic of today's American Catholic Clergy as many find the concept of the Devil and exorcism to be a sideshow that no "serious minded "priest would lose time considering and would just as soon forget.

Those who doubt the existence of evil and the Devil are reminded in "The Rite" to be mindful of French poet Charles Baudelaire's philosophic proclamation - "the Devil had finally convinced the world that he no longer existed."

Fortunately, an unintentional spoiler has come along - Matt Baglio, an ambivalent "cultural" Catholic who was living in Italy as a freelance writer and Vatican journalist. In 2005, Baglio heard that one of the Vatican universities was offering a course entitled "Exorcism and the Prayer of Liberation." While writing about exorcism was not at the top of his list of subjects to write about, Baglio was curious, believing this might be a public relations stunt, registered for the course, and ended up writing "The Rite" about his experience and observations.

Baglio quickly learned that the students were anything but superstitious or puritanical and befriended fellow American Fr. Thomas who impressed him with his honesty and transparency. This marked the beginning of an important journey that both would make together. For Fr. Thomas, a story of a "remarkable American priest who answered the call of his Bishop to become the appointed exorcist for his diocese...
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How To Train An Exorcist March 15, 2009
This book gives a bird's eye view of the Roman Catholic Church in training a priest to be an exorcist. This book is excellent because the author presents the topic of exorcism from the view point of an objective investigation done by a top notch news reporter. You get to see how a priest is trained to deal with Satan and his demons using the power of prayer, blessings and rituals in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This book should be read by any one interested in demonology or thinking about entering the priesthood.
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94 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Window into Exorcism Today March 27, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Baglio was a journalist in Rome when he heard about a new class at a Vatican-affiliated university on exorcism. Fascinated if the church in fact still believed in it, he attended and met one Fr. Gary. This American priest came to provide this interesting window into exorcism today in the Roman Catholic church.

This is a great read about how the American bishops were encouraged to appoint a priest to be trained in Rome as their exorcist. Californian Fr. Gary is such an appointee, and then the book unfolds his trip to Rome, class and development as a certified exorcist.

Not all of this was new to me, except that I too had the major misperception that the Rite of Exorcism, if done properly, cast the demon/s out immediately. Fr. Gary discovers this also, that for some it took decades. The proliferation of demon activity in Italy shocked me as well, but shouldn't as we know the proliferation of the occult is growing worldwide. So much for all spirituality being the same.

We Lutherans concur with this belief that the devil and his cohorts are real and active. Before my being certified at Seminary to be eligible for a call into the ministry, three sem professors questioned me for three solid hours on theological matters. At the end, one asked: do you believe in exorcism. I quickly answered yes. They then demanded that I provide evidence supporting this from Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, which I did. They then asked what I would do to determine that a person was potentially demon possessed, and how I would proceed. I responded with much the same criteria that is used in this book by these exorcists, and that I would contact them to find out how to proceed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Amazing description of an ancient Christian Rite
While this topic may be too strange and perhaps considered passe in the light of modern knowledge for some Christians, it is challenging to consider the validity of the situations... Read more
Published 9 days ago by M. L. McDonough
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a SCARY story, this is based on the REAL aspects.
What I enjoyed most about this was how it simply treated the very serious and spiritual rite of exorcism in a clinical nature like it was the most normal and natural thing in the... Read more
Published 9 days ago by TW Brown, Author, Editor, and Reviewer
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and a good read
I enjoyed this book and learned some things too. Baglio does not preach and presents the book's subject in a clear, intelligent, and non-judgmental fashion. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Wyckedwytche
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and Concise
It is amazing to think how far we have come with technology to improve our lives while we have ignored our spiritual connection to all living things. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Edward
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic Look
This book does a great job of cutting through the media hype of exorcism. Really interesting and I would recommend it. Not your drama.... blood-guts-horror type book.
Published 29 days ago by Ryan D
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a horror book at all.
This is a journalistic view on exorcism rather than a sensationalistic Hollywood story. It was very engaging and never condescending. Very interesting read!
Published 1 month ago by Daniel Morimoto
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, informative, and a little scary
This is very interesting and informative (and a little scary), giving facts about how the church deals with demons and exorcisms in the telling of the story. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lenise77
4.0 out of 5 stars Book about the Catholic church's official exorcists
Fascinating study about priests in Rome who have been sanctioned by the Church to become exorcists. Written by a journalist who followed several exorcists around Rome. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Clinton Moore
1.0 out of 5 stars Painfully retrogressive
I am a card-carrying skeptic. But I’m an unusual one. Most “skeptics” I know reject religion in general. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Timothy P. Scanlon
5.0 out of 5 stars Dispels many myths
A fascinating journey into evil that infects mankind and brave men who counter this evil at the expense of their own well-being.
Published 2 months ago by Nick Rao
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