2/19/00: Over dinner at their home, my sister and brother-in-law tell me about the ghost they have both seen in their house, and which they suspect has disturbed my nephew.

This is more disturbing coming from them, since I consider them notably rational, pragmatic people, given neither to fabrications nor hallucinations.

My Reverend Powers have been on my mind lately, so I ask them if they need an exorcism. My sister says "oh, he's not hostile, he doesn't seem to know we're here, I think he just got lost, or doesn't know he doesn't belong here anymore". Is that a yes or a no? It is almost as if they find their ghost a charming curiosity, and don't mind keeping it, despite the suspected terror it inspires in their toddler.

I have never seen a ghost; I have always had some atavistic fear of being alone in the dark, but I recognize it as being as irrational as my hysterical response to needles, or my phobic reaction to spiders. I tend to believe in consensual hallucination more than ghosts, and that phrase seems applicable here.

Three factors persuade me to really follow through with my informal exorcism: first, if I ever did see a ghost, I would probably soil myself. I consider myself a rationalist, and contact with a supernormal entity would undermine my entire worldview, over and above the immediate creep-out factor. Second, even if my sister and her husband get something out of being haunted, my nephew has no such will and deserves a childhood free of hauntings. Third, if some poor restless soul is "stuck" in the house, wouldn't it be happier elsewhere?

Once on each floor, including cellar and attic, I pray the Lord's Prayer, and ask the God of my understanding to extend His comfort, peace, and kingdom to any restless souls on the property - admittedly, so that I don't have to see them, but also for my nephew's sake, and for the sake of the confused, deceased stranger as well. This procession takes a little courage on my part; I'm decidely creeped out already, and it would be easy for the rationalist in me to rationalize inaction.

That's a really lame exorcism story, I know, but it's the only one I have. I promise I won't node any more exorcisms unless I actually sense the restless spirit myself.

May 2001: It occurs to me to ask my sister about their haunt. "Haven't seen him for... well, a long time now. Maybe a year. Why?" I hadn't mentioned the exorcism, at the time, so I take the opportunity. I find it curious that the sightings stopped, with no knowledge of my actions on their part, coinciding with the exorcism.

Believe it or not, I actually performed a very simple exorcism several decades ago as a freshly ordained Catholic priest.

At that time I became convinced that some kind of evil spirit moved into my mother's apartment. Something was there, something negative. I could feel its presence every time I was in the apartment. I don't know what it was, but back then I was a devout Catholic, so I believed it was the devil.

I had no idea what to do. I thought of exorcism, but had no idea how to perform one. Plus, I was scared, as I had heard stories of the devil really giving a hard time to the exorcists, even if they were very experienced.

So I asked an older priest who was my teacher, spiritual advisor, confessor, etc, and who also was very much into everything psychic.

Well, he confirmed all the horror stories, but told me there was a very simple exorcism formula that was safe for the exorcist. He said it would either work, in which case that would be the end of the story, or it would not, in which case more serious measures would need to be taken. The formula was in Latin, and went like this:

Exorciso te, immunde spiritus,
et omnes administros tuos,
in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti,
et in nomine beatissimae Virginis Mariae.

I was to say those words and make a sign of the cross as usual with the "in nomine Patris..." section.

So, next time I was in my mother's apartment, I did say those words and made the sign of the cross. Immediately after, I heard very strong noise, then saw a flash of very bright light, and then everything was quiet and peaceful, and I never felt the presence again.

I don't know whether it was a product of a young priest's imagination, or perhaps makyo, or there actually was something. It still feels like something was there and the ritual actually worked. For whatever reasons. It is still spooky to think about it even after all those years.

And I still remember the formula even though I never wrote it down (until now) or never seen it anywhere since.

Incidentally, if Latin is not your forte, here is my translation of the formula:

I exorcise you, unclean spirit,
and all your assists,
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and in the name the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.

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