The Exorcism Prayer

By Sister M. Deanne Niehaus

As a prisoner during the Second World War, Schoenstatt’s founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, prayed daily the little prayer called the exorcism. By exorcism Father Kentenich did not mean some exotic procedure, but simply the little exorcism prayer based on Psalm 68:

Arise, O Lord, that your enemies may be scattered

and those who hate you may flee before you,

in the name of the Father and of the Son

and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. [1]

Moses used the first part of this exorcism prayer whenever the people of Israel broke camp to continue on their dangerous journey through the wilderness, with the Ark of the Covenant leading the way (Numbers 10:35).

What is an Exorcism?

What does the word exorcism mean? It is the removing of evil spirits from a person or place by the use of prayer. [2] On the website of the US Bishops’ Conference, we find the following explanation:

There are instances when a person needs to be protected against the power of the devil or to be withdrawn from his spiritual dominion. At such times, the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ for this protection or liberation through the use of exorcism. [3]

Praying a “Very Small Exorcism”

One of Father Kentenich’s prayer habits going back well before the time he was a prisoner of the Nazis in the concentration camp of Dachau was to frequently bless and to frequently pray the little exor­cism prayer Arise, O Lord every day. [4] As he said to Pallottine confreres in 1952:

I must admit that I use the exor­cism prayer every day and pray it in all four directions. First an exorcism for me, second for all those whom God has entrusted to me, third for all of my enemies. But I use a very small exorcism. “Arise, O Lord, that your enemies may be scattered and those who hate you may flee before you…” I have that one memorized. [5]

Taking the Devil Seriously

Part of Father Kentenich’s insight into God’s real participation in our lives was to take the presence of the devil seriously. He is the one who constantly tries to upset God’s plans. During one talk in 1963, Schoenstatt’s founder described at length the ways the devil can interfere in human affairs.  Then he said:

Why do I tell you all this?  I think we ought to become more accustomed to reckoning with the influence of the devil. This does not have to be an obstacle to also seeing that there are psy­cho­logical maladies. If, for instance, I am afflicted in this way, I can apply the normal psychological methods to overcome it. But this does not mean I cannot also pray the exorcism.  In fact, I think that every morning and evening we ought to do that over the entire house. You see, this doesn’t mean that I need to see the devil all over the place, just [that I should] reckon with his influence. [6]

A Helpful Travel Prayer

One custom is to pray the exorcism prayer as a travel prayer. As Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, we do a lot of driving and pray this prayer at the beginning of our journey, using the sign of the cross at each invocation. We ask the Lord to be close to us during this trip: Arise, O Lord … Then we ask our Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen, and Victress of Schoenstatt to bless us: Arise, O Mother Thrice Admirable … Thirdly, we ask St. Michael the Archangel, the great battle-leader, to defend us: Arise, O Saint Michael … Finally, we ask for the protection of Father Kentenich and all Schoenstatt intercessors in heaven: Arise, all Schoenstatt saints in heaven … Some sisters add an individual invocation of their patron saint, for example, Arise, Saint Joan, or Arise, Saint Thérèse.  

This prayer isn’t only for us personally but extends to all who are on the road traveling at the time we are traveling. Maybe you want to consider adding this prayer to the beginning of your travels. This powerful prayer can also be prayed when you are afraid or someone in your family needs a blessing. Father Kentenich once said:

I know of an old, venerable father who does that. All his children are away; they are far away, working in different countries. It is one of the fathers who does not talk much, who does not give long speeches. But every night before he goes to bed, he goes outside and at the door blesses his children in all four points of the compass. What does it mean, to bless his children? It means in practice that the devil should stay away from them, and the loving God shall again become their master. Do you understand the deep faith behind that? You see, we must count much more on the power of the devil. [7]

A Prayer for All Occasions

When we think of our friends and families, even our country, we can pray this powerful prayer, asking: Arise, O Lord, that your enemies may be scattered and those who hate you flee before you. Trusting in God’s power over the evil one can give us much peace of mind.

[1]   Fr. Kentenich frequently recommended the regular prayer of the little exorcism.  See for instance his comments to educators in 1950 in Education and the Challenge of our Times (Waukesha, 1996), p. 31.


[3] USCCB website:

[4] Cf. Paul Vautier, conversation with Helene Mueller, 1969 (ASF-PV).

[5]   USA-Terziat, Vol. 2, p. 59 (July 28, 1952).

[6] Monday night talk, April 1, 1963.

[7] Monday night talk, April 1, 1963.