There are a number of reasons why I found The Rite soothing rather than terrifying: the direct, reportorial approach of author Baglio and the matter-of-fact and somewhat skeptical beginning attitude of Father Gary, the priest being trained as an exorcist. Neither man leaps to conclusions or conjectures widely or draws questionable comparisons (as are common in Holy Blood,Holy Grail). Their experiences are a rather steady unveiling of the other world, which is close but not so strange. In fact, the events are usually left open to some interpretation by the reader. Overall, evil seems diminished. Most of its manifestations are in common human experiences—obsessive thoughts and actions, physical illness. Abnormal or supernatural occurrences are rare, and even then, rarely lead to any harm. The demons themselves are limited. They can be tricked. They can be forced to comply with orders. And the remedy against them is simple. That’s the best part. It takes primarily faith. The basic steps are reading or repeating appropriate scripture and sprinkling holy water. But the main ingredient is faith. That is, of course, the most difficult.
The Devil, as a statement from Father Pedro Barrajon makes clear, “is much more dangerous where he doesn’t let himself be seen, where he can’t be done away with through exorcism.”* That’s the Devil I was wary of as a child (and still am). I see him everywhere and yet don’t see him. I can’t get a bead on him.
* Father Pedro Barrajon, in an interview in Die Welt, cited by Baglio (31).