In The Rite, journalist Matt Baglio uses the astonishing story of one American priests 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 peoples 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 Garys 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.
MATT BAGLIO, a reporter living in Rome, has written for the Associated Press and the International Herald Tribune.
The Rite is in my opinion one of the best books ever written on the topic of exorcism I have read very few books that give a description as appropriate, as precise, or as detailed!
- Father Jose Antonio Fortea, author of Interview with an Exorcist
"What sets Baglios book apart from many other contemporary works on the same subject is its sober, measured tone and steady refusal to sensationalize the subject."
"Truth is stranger than fiction ... and far more terrifying. Forget what Hollywood tells you about demonic possession and exorcism; The Rite will open your eyes to the awesome truth about such things."
- John Kachuba, author of Ghosthunters
Journalist Baglio follows a Catholic priest through the latters training to become an exorcist in this incisive look at the churchs 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)
- Publishers Weekly
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 Garys 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 Baglios 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.
- Library Journal