The coronavirus pandemic has brought the world to its knees as a great part of humanity pray for a miracle that the scourge would end as it continues to claim lives by the thousands.
As people have been shuttered indoors after various quarantine regulations were imposed to stop the spread of the virus, the Roman Catholic Church offered to air Holy Mass, Bible readings and recitation of prayers through various media channels, along with the call for solidarity among the faithful to intercede for the pandemic to cease wreaking havoc in the areas where it has hit.
Various archdioceses and parishes have started airing their own online Masses and prayer rites, but one that particularly stood out was the page of the Archdiocese of Manila — Office of Exorcism, which has its own unique prayer rite recited nightly that hopes to quell the ill effects of the virus.
A spiritual battle
If one chances upon the group’s Facebook page, one could witness the daily recitation of prayers for deliverance and exorcism to stem the scourge of the pandemic during its livestream telecasts.
Recited every 8 p.m., the prayers intended for the world’s protection against evil are recited by two priests, accentuated by the ringing of the sanctus bells each time specific words are mentioned.
According to Fr. Winston Cabading OP, one of the exorcists from the Archdiocese of Manila conducting the nightly prayers, the pandemic is not only a medical battle but a spiritual battle that has to be fought and that people should turn to prayers all the more during this time.
“There are many people who do not realize there is a spiritual battle happening to each one of us in the midst of this pandemic. The spiritual battle is both personal, communal and societal. Either we recognize it and prepare to fight the good fight or we succumb to despondency and lose our humanity,” Fr. Cabading said.
An artist’s depiction of the COVID-19 pandemic, posted on the same Facebook page, shows a multi-headed beast looming over the community and over the Church waiting to pounce for attack.
“The pandemic is just a smokescreen created by a multi-headed beast. (Its) intention is to hide the rampaging monster that is set to attack. The monster has many heads following the unclean spirits mentioned during the deliverance and exorcism prayers to stem the scourge of the pandemic — spirits of death, infirmity, despair, confusion, division (disunity), anxiety, greed or avarice, injustice, fear, anger, hatred, lust, sloth and pride and lack of faith,” artist Jan Richmond Tieng said of his illustration.
“The monster destroys everything in its path. What keeps it at bay from destroying everything is the Catholic Church which is guarded and protected by the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph,and St. Michael the Archangel,” he continued.
Deliverance from evil
The nightly prayers said by the exorcist priests start off with the Act of Contrition, followed by the Oratio Imperata; Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel; Memorare to the Blessed Virgin Mary; Prayer to St. Joseph, Terror of Demons and Protector of the Christian Family; and the Guardian Angel Prayer.
Then the priests recite the Exorcism Prayer of Pope Leo XIII against Satan and the Apostate Angels, which orders the unclean spirits of death, infirmity, despair and anger causing the virus to be driven away with the repetition in Latin of “Vade Satana (Begone, Satan),” with the sanctus bells ringing more persistently.
It ends with the Cleansing Prayer, which intends to cleanse the participants from entanglement with any spirit that they have come in contact with during the course of the intercession, after which the Final Blessing and the singing of a hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary are rendered.
Fr. Cabading pointed out that the deliverance and exorcism prayers are not only done and livestreamed by the Archdiocese of Manila Office of Exorcism as other priests, especially those dioceses with mandated exorcists, have also incorporated the very same prayers in their livestreamed masses or rosaries or retreats.
“This is a collegial and unified effort of all priests of the Philippine Association of Catholic Exorcists (PACE). The prayers made by PACE has also reached overseas, and the International Association of Exorcists (AIE) has recognized this initiative and forwarded the prayers to its worldwide members for their use in the ministry,” Fr. Cabading said.
The live telecast, which started airing in 20 March, has drawn several thousand viewers praying along with the priests as they have encouraged other priests and heads of the family to join the prayers. However, it is notable to mention that during the live streaming of the prayers, the video feed oftentimes gets interrupted and sometimes even gets cuts off entirely.
Are the evil spirits interfering with the practice as they are resisting the prayers and its effects?
“People who joined us commented that their internet suddenly fluctuated during the exorcism prayers. We also noted this when replaying the video especially on crucial parts of commanding the evil spirits to depart — Vade Satana. Now we know, this is not a coincidence or glitch in technology. There are really evil spirits riding on this pandemic that does not want to be expelled,” a representative from the Office of Exorcism commented in one of the live video’s posts.
“Therefore, if the whole people of God command them simultaneously to leave by the power of God they are affected terribly by it. So do not stop praying especially in asking Almighty God to drive away all unclean spirits that take advantage of this sickness that has come upon us,” it related.