Friday, March 16, 2012

Book Review: The Rite (2009)

Earlier this week I finished The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio, published in 2009.  In the case of this book, the title does say it all.  The main subject of this non-fiction book is Father Gary Thomas, a parish priest from California who is appointing by his bishop to be the diocesan exorcist and who takes a course on the subject while in Rome on sabbatical.  While studying and living in Rome, Father Gary is taken on by the Franciscan Father Carmine as an apprentice.  Father Gary's experiences are detailed interspersed with comments from prominent exorcists on the rite, its execution, and the pastoral approach when helping people.  Along the way, Baglio has sections that detail the scientific views on exorcism.  They are interesting in themselves and lend the book additional heft while not attempting to discredit or disprove Father Gary's experiences.  The final chapter, named 'The Exorcist', describes Father Gary's return to his home diocese and the beginning of his new ministry.

The basic description gives an idea, but the book contains a lot more in the way of details that really give it flavor as it explains the Catholic milieu in a country like Italy as opposed to the largely protestant United States.  Baglio does an excellent job of sharing with the reader Father Gary's sense of culture shock.  The opening chapters that explain the ins and outs of Catholic thinking on angels and demons also do much to help the reader as the book moves forward through Father Gary's training. 

I enjoyed this book and give it five out of five stars.  On the same subject, I recommend Michael Cuneo's American Exorcism, a look at various forms of exorcism and deliverance as practiced by Christian groups in the US, both protestant and Catholic.

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