Something extremely grave prompted Catholics to action: the proposed desecration of the Eucharist in a Satanic ceremony. We can’t be naive about this: it goes on with some regularity, although how much no one can say. Satanism is secretive, and they don’t advertise what they do.
But this time, we knew about it: more, we knew the place and time it was to happen, and that it was to occur under the name of one of our most prestigious universities.
Inaction–which is usually the best course to follow with people merely seeking attention–was no longer an option. Catholics have given their lives to protect the Real Presence. The very least we could do was raise our voices, even if that gave the offenders just what they wanted: an angry audience.
And then something unexpected happened. The tide turned. What began on blogs, begun by Women of Grace and driven by the tireless Elizabeth Scalia, migrated to the mainstream media. Harvard was forced to respond. They started out being arrogant and dismissive, and ended with the university president correctly acknowledging the grave offense and promising to attend Holy Hour in support of the Catholic community.
Let’s look at just what happened in this Week of Satan.
Before we even got to Harvard, the stage was set by Pope Francis. He’s been talking about the devil a lot, and the people who like to fantasize that he’s something other than a Catholic Pope finally noticed.
Naturally, the man the press had assumed was a kind of genial social worker in white–a global community organizer like their beloved president–turned out to actually believe all that Catholicy stuff about the devil. He was even more vocal about it than his predecessor. It must be a quaint South American thing, they probably thought, but didn’t quite know how to say that without sounding like condescending bigots.
Washington Post published this head-scratching, gently clueless piece pondering the pope’s continued warnings about the devil, and, of course, sounded like condescending bigots. (The author also keeps invoking the word “mystical,” which he clearly does not understand in context.) Francis is indeed constantly warning people about the devil, as well he should. It’s a hard teaching, and people need to be reminded that Satan is real and dangerous.
Some revisionist Catholics like to imagine that Vatican II did away with that belief so we could all move forward without worrying about such “primitive superstitions.” Francis is here to correct that notion, and good for him. Recognizing the enemy is an important step in fighting him, and reducing the enemy to metaphor (“Satan is merely what we call sin/temptation/etc”) is exactly what he wants. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.
It’s interesting, then, that a so-called “Satanic Temple” (which is neither Satanic nor a temple) chose this time to start trying to attract attention. These are, of course, not Satanists, who believe in God and have chosen the side of the adversary, but atheists who have wrapped themselves in a BS philosophy of protest, anti-social behavior, and sex. And now, thanks to this stunt, they’ve been exposed as little more than scam artists looking to score free ink and make a buck.
In the process, we were given two gifts: a fight for the Body of Christ, and a teaching moment. Thanks to the media attention, the teaching of the Real Presence in the Eucharist has reached more people than was otherwise possible.
Will that bear fruit? I sure hope so.
I hope people watching and reading the news will learn of this powerful reality and become intrigued. “You mean Catholics claim to receive Jesus himself–the actual body and blood of Christ–in the Eucharist at every mass? Tell me more.”
Magnificent. A couple thousand people gathered in procession and adoration. People who were there are saying it was an incredibly powerful outpouring of the spirit.
Catholics have been reminded of something important: our precious Sacrament is the target of wicked people, and even though this incident was stopped, others continue. Now more people are aware of that fact, and are offering acts of reparation for this wounding. That would not have happened if this incident had not forced the issue into public consciousness.
We also needed to be reminded that these people–both fake Satanists and real–are also children of God. They’ve invited demons into their souls, almost certainly without realizing what that means. Jesus did not curse the possessed: he exorcised them. We, too, should pray for these tools of the enemy, that they may be freed from their bondage to evil and welcome into the light of Christ, where they shall always have a loving home.
More than one Satanist has found his way to Holy Mother Church, and if we are to be Christians, we must not lose sight that it’s our job to lead them back, while also fighting the evil they wish to bring into the world.
And while we do this, we must remember that the battleground of Satan is within us as well. As Solzhenitsyn wrote, the line separating good and evil passes right through every human heart. I’d rather not lose a single soul to Hell. Not one. Not even the soul of my worst enemy.
This was a very small skirmish–little more than a probing maneuver–in a very large battle that will never cease until He comes again. We need to be vigilant, we need to be aware of the enemy and his deceits, and we need to pray constantly. We are well past the time when the Prayer to St. Michael should be returned to each mass, but the least we can do is pray it ourselves every day:
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen