Pope Francis gave another one of his wonderful homilies this week. This one is on the devil, evil and Jesus’ triumph over both of them.
Pope Francis gave another one of his wonderful homilies this week. This one is on the devil, evil and Jesus’ triumph over both of them.
They don’t like to hear about him, any more than they want to hear about hell. The devil and hell are not a real entity and a real place we are told. They are the boogeyman and the boogeyplace that we Christians use to scare people into conversion.
Many Christians also dismiss the devil and hell. Back when I was a protestant, I was often corrected by my various pastors about my belief in both a literal hell and a literal devil. “Hell is separation from Christ,” I was told. “It is, simply the grave with no resurrection.”
“The devil is not an actual personality,” I heard another time. “There is no such thing.”
But the truth is, Jesus spoke often and graphically about both hell and the devil. There is no indication in any of His words that hell is a state of mind or that the devil was a figment of religious imagination. On the contrary, Jesus gave us our most clear portrait of both these realities.
Pope Francis, far from being politically correct, goes against this modern tide and speaks often of the devil and his works in our lives.
Maybe because, as a pastor of souls, he has met the devil many times. I’ve said before that it is a scalding, life-changing thing to look into another person’s eyes and see the devil looking back at you. Perhaps Pope Francis has had this experience. If he has, it would explain a lot.
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Rev 12: 17 – 18
This is the 9th and last day of our Novena to St Michael. We are praying for our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters around the world.
For this last meditation of our Novena, let’s look at what it all means.
What does it mean to be Christ crucified in the world today?
It means that you are the living representation of that day long ago on Calvary when Our Lord, who was without sin, became sin itself for our sakes. It means that, just as satan poured out his rage against God onto Jesus by acting through other people, he is now pouring out his rage against Jesus on you, and he is doing it once again through his actors in this world; other people.
Demonic possession is not just the stuff of movies. It happens in real life, all the time, everyday. However, it doesn’t usually manifest itself in spinning heads, flying objects and spitting pea soup.
When the devil walks in this world, he almost always does it on two feet. When he acts out his hatred and destructive desires, he almost always uses human hands and speaks with a human voice.
There is no bottom to his hatred, and there is no limit to the cruelty and depravity of his followers. Whatever bad thing they do today, they will do worse tomorrow.
Christ is crucified in the world today in places where satan’s disciples are freed by circumstance to act out his hatred of Father, Son and Holy Ghost by attacking the living representation of them: Christians. There is no nation or community on this earth that is exempt from becoming satan’s active disciple by virtue of their virtue or their wisdom or their knowledge.
Germany and the Soviet Union had many of the greatest scientists, most subtle and acute artists and philosophers the world has ever known. And yet they fell prey to satan’s leadership. Rwandans slaughtered with clubs and machetes, but it was fealty to the same satan that drove them to do it.
Only fealty to the Risen Christ can save us from following the darkness away from the Light. The miracle is that by fealty to Christ, we not only save ourselves from falling into the darkness, we become the Light in this world.
Satan is a ravening hunger that craves annihilation. His followers, many of whom do not believe he exists, are shades of him in both those things. They hunger with a hunger for they know not what and crave annihilation with a compulsive drive. That is why everything they do turns in the end to death.
It is also why they attack and try to darken the Light of Christian witness wherever they find it.
The millions of Christians who suffer constant fear, dread of violence and the degradation of second-class citizenship in the world today are, wherever they are, the Light of Christ. When they are reviled, falsely arrested, attacked, beaten, raped, kidnapped, tortured and murdered, they become Christ before Pilate, Christ scourged, Christ mocked, reviled and hung up naked to die in front of a mocking, jeering crowd.
He Who had no sin became sin for us. He suffers again in His followers who are His living martyrs today.
If that was the end of the story, it would just be another holocaust in a devil-besotted world that plays host to a genocide glut. But it is not the end. In fact, it is the beginning.
Jesus died on Calvary. He was buried and left to rot in His tomb. But on the third day, He rose from that grave. Not, notice that He was raised, as He Himself had raised Lazarus. He rose. He is God and He arose from the dead on the third day.
He became what St Paul calls “the first fruits” of the resurrection that awaits us all.
There is no death.
Not for those who follow Christ.
Nor for their persecutors.
The difference lies in what waits for them on the other side.
Those who follow Our Lord to the death are assured of their place in heaven. Those who are reviled, shunned and attacked for Him are also blessed. Rejoice and be glad, Jesus said of people who are slandered for Him, for great is your reward in heaven.
These people who are Christ crucified in our world today are not victims. They are victors. They are guaranteed eternal life in heaven.
Ironically, it is the ones who persecute them who are in the most peril. They are laying up an eternity in hell for themselves where they will be the only thing their master the devil has left to torment and hurt.
It is a scalding thing to look into the eyes of another person and see satan looking back at you. It must be unimaginable suffering to look for eternity into the cold, pitiless, eyes of satan himself.
We must pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray that the Holy Spirit will walk with them through their passion in Our Lord’s name. Pray that the same Holy Spirit will lift them and their sacrifice for Him up high, where all the world can see it. Pray that He will show us all what we can do to help them and to end this persecution.
Pray, finally, that we will not fail when our time of persecution comes, no matter how small it may be. Pray that the Holy Spirit will guard us from denying Him, even in the small social ways of going along with the larger culture. Pray that we will follow Him, as our brothers and sisters are doing, and that He, not the pleasures of this world, will be the Lord of our lives.
All Christians who follow Christ will suffer for Him in this world. There are no exceptions. Some Christians have the privilege of suffering extreme persecution for Him. Others, He does not trust so much. But there can be no peace between the gods of this world and the Kingdom. Not for any of us.
Here is the Novena to St Michael for the Persecuted Church, Day 9. Please pray it and ask others to join you.
Glorious Saint Michael, guardian and defender of the Church of Jesus Christ, come to the assistance of His followers, against whom the powers of hell are unchained. Guard with special care our Holy Father, the Pope, and our bishops, priests, all our religious and lay people, and especially the children. Saint Michael, watch over us during life, defend us against the assaults of the demon, and assist us especially at the hour of death. Help us achieve the happiness of beholding God face to face for all eternity. Amen. Saint Michael, intercede for me with God in all my necessities, especially for the conversion of the world,that from pole to pole,dateline to dateline,all will call out Jesus' name. Obtain for me a favourable outcome in the matter I recommend to you. Mighty prince of the heavenly host, and victor over rebellious spirits, remember me for I am weak and sinful and so prone to pride and ambition. Be for me, I pray, my powerful aid in temptation and difficulty, and above all do not forsake me in my last struggle with the powers of evil. Amen.
I want to congratulate Deacon Greg Kandra.
He has managed to make the devil mad at him.
How do I know this?
Some of the devil’s hate mail to the Deacon has been landing in my box here on Public Catholic. Not much, mind you, but it is mindlessly nasty stuff.
How did a kind and intelligent man like Deacon Greg Kandra inflame the devil so much?
He stood in front of a camera and said that the Catholic Church loves gay people, but that sex belongs in Holy Matrimony, between a man and a woman. He included both gay and straight people in this injunction concerning sex outside of marriage.
The reason for the hate mail is that, by stating this 2,000-year-old consistent teaching of the Church, and indeed, up until the last few years, all Christian churches, he crossed swords with one of the false gods of this world.
For many people and indeed a growing number of churches, god the (little g) god, resides halfway between their waist and their knees. His worship is random sex, his vestments are contraceptives and his sacraments are azt, penicillin, abortion, et al.
Sadly, many of the “Christian” churches are in the process of walking away from the real God to follow after this little g god of our age. They’re drop-kicking the commandments off the front steps of their churches and replacing them with “statements” they write themselves full of meaningless gibberish about “inclusiveness and tolerance,” which basically mean that their little g god follows the world in pelvic region worship and eschews the Christ of the Cross.
Down the road we have other churches which give a lot of lip service to the commandments involving the pelvic regions of the human body, but twist the Scriptures in much the same way their heretical brethren do on other matters. Their little g god is the almighty $ sign.
I’ll talk more about that later. The point for now is simply that little g gods are being worshipped in lieu of the real God in many of our churches.
Whatever your sin, you can go find a little g god worshipping church to tell you that (a) it’s not a sin, and (b) the people who claim it’s a sin are in fact sinning when they say it.
However, that’s not enough. The devil who is the real little g god behind all these false idols, is a ravening hunger that craves annihilation. He can not rest so long as there is one matchstick of light and truth out there, anywhere. He doesn’t attack the little g worshipping churches. It doesn’t matter to him if he’s snared them with their lust for sex or their lust for money. Their light is cold and dead and they are his.
What he attacks — and as the world grows darker, his attacks become more focused — is any beam of the light of the real God, anywhere.
I don’t think it’s an accident that the Church which is under the most aggressive attacks today is the Catholic Church. The devil appears to hate the Catholic Church above all others. Why should this be so?
After all, the Church is full to the top with sinners. We’ve got all-too-human priests trying to shepherd a laity that aborts, divorces, lies, steals and watches porn. All of humanity is represented somewhere in the Catholic Church, including every single human sin.
So, why would a Church like that make the devil mad?
Because, this Church, for all its failings, does not put a little g god on its altars. Its sacraments are conduits of grace and the real presence of the living Christ. This Church will not tell people that their sins are ok. It does not comfort them and sustain them and support them in their sinfulness as it leads them down the wide path to their own eternal damnation. This Church, for all its many faults, is not in league with the devil.
Unlike the rapidly multiplying fallen churches out there, the Catholic Church does not encourage people to sin. It tells them their sins can be forgiven, but they must repent of those sins from the heart and try to change their ways. The Catholic Church doesn’t teach sin, it forgives sin.
And for that, it is hated. For that, it is attacked. For simply saying that the Church is following Christ with its teachings, even little people like me can get smacked with a few brickbats.
Sometimes, I get the by-blows of attacks that are really aimed at someone I admire. In this case, that someone is Deacon Kandra who had the honesty to tell people that the Church loves them and stands ready to support them in their life in Christ, no matter their sexual orientation, but that their sins are, in fact, sins, which need the forgiveness of God.
These poor, sad souls who come swooping in over the internet to drop their load of anger need prayer. They are lost and their fallen churches with their little g gods are even more lost. I am talking about pastors, and even whole denominations who claim to be shepherds of souls, but who deliberately lie to people about the state of their souls in order to be popular in the here and now.
This is sad beyond sad.
We need to do two things.
We need to examine our own hearts and cast out everything that comes between us and Christ. We need to pray for forgiveness and the grace to follow Him faithfully through the minefield of this world.
Then, we need to pray for our fallen brothers and sister who are being misled by little g god worshipping pastors and churches. We also need to pray for these churches and pastors. They are in grave peril.
We need to do this because rewriting a church’s mission statement doesn’t change anything but the church’s mission statement. The reality of sin and death, salvation through the cross and eternal hell still exist. Coming onto this blog or staging demonstrations that involve yelling and insulting and throwing tantrums to demand that God change the way things are doesn’t accomplish anything, either.
These things may feel like they are accomplishing something. They can bully other people. Enough of this kind of thing can get laws changed. It can even push whole denominations into denying themselves and re-writing who they are. But no amount of wind-milling temper tantrums can change the ultimate order of things.
God is God and we are not.
Little g gods are just reflections of our worst, most venal selves in action. Following them leads us wandering in circles in the wilderness of life.
However, we don’t have to be lost. If fact, we are only lost if we chose to be. There is an easy-to-follow, readily-accessible, true compass that will lead you home. That true compass is the 2,000 year old consistent teachings of the Catholic Church.
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.
Catholics prayed this prayer, which has always seemed like a mini-exorcism to me, at the end of mass for a period of about 75 years.
Pope Leo XIII wrote the prayer in 1884, just a few decades before the Our Lady visited Fatima. He had just finished saying mass. I’ve read several descriptions of what happened next. Basically, the Holy Father was stricken with what appeared to onlookers to be a trance that lasted for a few minutes. When he revived, he recounted a vision he had seen or heard of Satan’s future attack on the Church.
He immediately went to his quarters and wrote The Saint Michael Prayer and gave instructions that it should be prayed at the end of every low mass throughout the world. This practice ended after the Second Vatican Council in 1964.
Pope John Paul II encouraged faithful Catholics to pray the St Michael Prayer privately, a practice that I follow. I have even altered the prayer to fit my circumstance. My prayers asking St Michael to help me have been answered many times. I am convinced that St Michael the Archangel stands ready to aid us when we are attacked by Satan, including those times when the devil sends his emissaries on two feet to attack us for him.
I am glad that Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis joined together yesterday to consecrate the Vatican to St Michael’s protection. I do not understand exactly what is going on in the Vatican, but, based on the rumblings in the press, it appears that there are troubles of some sort inside those walls, and that it is probably of an evil nature.
I do know that the Church is under attack all over the world. If you doubt that, hold your nose and spend an hour reading some of the Christian-bashing blogs floating around. Their target, always and endlessly, is the Catholic Church. The Church is vilified and pilloried in private conversations, the press, and public demonstrations somewhere in the world at every minute of the day. At the same time, some of our own priests and bishops have provided kindling for the fires with their behavior.
Whatever the immediate reasons, I believe that consecrating the Vatican to St Michael’s protection is a wise move. I entrust my own self and the lives of those I love to his protection as part of my daily prayers. I encourage you to do the same.
From Vatican Radio:
(Vatican Radio) To the joy of Vatican City State workers, Friday morning Pope Francis was joined by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in the gardens for a ceremony during which the Holy Father blessed a statue of St Michael Archangel, at the same time consecrating the Vatican to the Archangel’s protection.
Following a brief ceremony, Pope Francis addressed those present noting how St. Michael defends the People of God from its enemy par excellence, the devil. He said even if the devil attempts to disfigure the face of the Archangel and thus the face of humanity, St Michael wins, because God acts in him and is stronger:
“In the Vatican Gardens there are several works of art. But this, which has now been added, takes on particular importance, in its location as well as the meaning it expresses. In fact it is not just celebratory work but an invitation to reflection and prayer, that fits well into the Year of Faith. Michael – which means “Who is like God” – is the champion of the primacy of God, of His transcendence and power. Michael struggles to restore divine justice and defends the People of God from his enemies, above all by the enemy par excellence, the devil. And St. Michael wins because in him, there is He God who acts. This sculpture reminds us then that evil is overcome, the accuser is unmasked, his head crushed, because salvation was accomplished once and for all in the blood of Christ. Though the devil always tries to disfigure the face of the Archangel and that of humanity, God is stronger, it is His victory and His salvation that is offered to all men. We are not alone on the journey or in the trials of life, we are accompanied and supported by the Angels of God, who offer, so to speak, their wings to help us overcome so many dangers, in order to fly high compared to those realities that can weigh down our lives or drag us down. In consecrating Vatican City State to St. Michael the Archangel, I ask him to defend us from the evil one and banish him. “
“We also consecrate Vatican City State in St. Joseph, guardian of Jesus, the guardian of the Holy Family. May his presence make us stronger and more courageous in making space for God in our lives to always defeat evil with good. We ask Him to protect, take care of us, so that a life of grace grows stronger in each of us every day. “
Live for yourself! Lookin’ out for number one! Do unto others before they do it to you first! Greed is good. Survival of the fittest. He who has the gold, rules.
These sentiments are how we make a little hell of our time here on earth. They enable us to lie, steal, cheat and destroy everything that gives real satisfaction, meaning and purpose to our lives.
The underlying worldview for so many of the abuses trendy fringies are pushing on our society have at their base a Me Only, I’m All That Matters value system. This leads us to believe that children are not people but commodities that we can design, kill, exploit, abuse and indoctrinate at our pleasure. It’s the force that empowers the infidelities, battering and incests that change home from a sanctuary into a place of dread.
We want what we want when we want it, and we are so verbally gifted that we can make up stories that allow us to convince ourselves that our wants and desires are somehow a manifestation of the common good. We are destroying ourselves from the inside out as a people, a nation and a culture with the excesses of I want it and I will have it and I don’t accept any argument to the contrary.
Narcissism reigns in a devil-dominated world.
“Eat of the fruit, and you will not die,” Satan told the woman in his famous first lying truth. “You will not die,” he said. He didn’t add that one word; he didn’t say, “today.” ”Take, eat, and you will not die today.”
“God is a liar,” he implied, and the woman along with the man after her, bought the lying truth.
We have not progressed in our centuries of “progress” from that initial sin. We still listen to the lying truths of Satan, and we are still destroyed by them.
Glittery promises of something that passes for life abundant are what he offers. Do as you please. Lie to yourself and anyone stupid enough to listen to you about the harm your selfishness does. Lie to everyone around you, including, ultimately, yourself, and do as you please. Do it, not because it’s right or fair or because you are being honest with anyone, including yourself, about the consequences. Do it because it pleases you to do it and you are the only arbiter of right and wrong that you accept.
“Satan is a liar and the father of lies,” Jesus told us.
The other end of the devil’s empty promises is a nothingness, an absolute zero, that only those who’ve looked off into that eternal futility can imagine.
Pope Francis touched on this today during one of his wonderful morning homilies. “We must say that with Satan, the payback is rotten,” he said, ”He always rips us off, Always!”
The Holy Father contrasted the selfish way of living that the devil promotes with the generous and loving way of life that Jesus exemplified. He taught that those who live just for themselves, are, in the end, like Judas, in that they lose everything, including their eternal life. He pointed out that Judas “was an idolator, attached to money … this attitude of selfishness developed into the betrayal of Jesus … he who isolates his conscience in selfishness, loses it in the end.”
Every single one of us is tempted to put ourselves first, always and in everything. We are natural born self-lovers. But those who try to explain us with an over-arching theory of survival of the fittest as our only motivation find themselves stumped almost immediately by the enormous sacrifices human beings make for other people.
St Thomas More
I am not talking only about the things mothers will do to protect their children, or fathers who give their lives to protect their families. I am also referring to people who give their lives for total strangers, or those who, like St Thomas More, give their lives for the love of Christ.
There is much more to us than you can find by dissecting us in an anatomy lab. We, alone of all the creatures on this planet, are moral beings. We understand what evil is, which is why we are capable of committing it. We, again alone of all the creatures on this planet, are responsible — to ourselves, to one another, to our society, our world and ultimately to God.
God numbers the hairs of our heads. He remembers things we do that we forget ourselves as soon as we do them. We are not just grass that lives for a while and then withers and dies. We are part of eternity. As such, what we do balances on an eternal scale.
“Satan is a liar and the father of lies,” Jesus said. The first such lie was and is that God Himself lies to us. From the Garden to today, the lie is the same. “Do as you please. Because God lies when he tells you that if you eat of the fruit of your desires with no thought to the consequences to others, that you will surely die. That is not true. God just wants you to be unhappy. You will not die.”
That is the same lie he told the woman and it is missing the same word now as it was then. It is missing the word today.
You will not die … today.
Credit: Stephen Driscoll, CNA
Vatican City, May 14, 2013 / 08:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Christians who buy into Satan’s temptation to live selfishly get swindled, while those who live life as a “gift” to others are immersed in love and the Church community, Pope Francis said.
“And, we must say, with Satan the payback is rotten. He always rips us off, always!” the Pope emphasized as he contrasted the kind of selfish living that the devil promotes with the generous way of living Jesus exemplified.
“When a Christian begins to isolate himself, he also insulates his consciousness from the sense of community, from a sense of the Church, and from the love that Jesus gives us,” he explained.
“Instead, the Christian who gives his life, what Jesus calls ‘lost,’ finds it and finds it in its fullness,” the Pope preached May 14 in his homily on John 15.
A group of employees from the Vatican Museums and some students of the Pontifical Portuguese College attended the 7:00 a.m. Mass in the chapel of St. Martha’s residence.
The Pope concelebrated the Mass with the Colombian Archbishop of Medellín, Ricardo Antonio Restrepo Tobón.
The Holy Father explained that wanting to live just for oneself is like Judas, who “in the end loses” his life. (Read more here.)
The apparitions began in 1981 in a village named Kibeho and continued through 1989. Our Mother warned the people of Rwanda of the coming genocide and urged them to turn away from evil with repentance, prayer and fasting. She specifically urged them pray the Seven Sorrows of Mary.
This is a special prayer formulated around the seven major sorrows of Our Lady’s life. Our salvation is based at least in part in her willingness to suffer alongside her son. She gave Him to us in a very real way at the Wedding of Cana where she asked Him perform His first miracle. This action set Him on His ministry and the path that both He and His mother knew would lead to the cross.
“My hour is not yet come.” Jesus told her when she asked Him to help with the wine. “My hour” meaning the road to the cross. It was a wedding. He was probably happy. Having a great time. And His mother was asking him to leave all the joys of normal life and begin the long painful ministry that would lead to His torture and death. Then, as at Gethsemane, He did the human thing. He tried to postpone. “My hour has not yet come.”
But His mother ignored Him. “Do as He tells you.” she told the wine stewards. And Our Lord obeyed her. He did what His mother asked.
Think, for a moment, what courage it took for this mother to give her son to the ages. Think of the young Mary, taking her baby to the Temple for the first time. Her tiny baby boy. Imagine how proud and thrilled she must have been. Then Simeon tells her that “this child” will be the cause of much wrath and that He will be pierced by a sword that will pierce her soul, as well.
How hard that must have been, to have her joy dashed with this prophecy. But she needed to know. God answered Simeon’s prayer by allowing Him to see the Messiah before he died, and at the same time, used him to prophesy this terrible future to Mary.
She knew what she was doing when she asked Jesus to perform that first miracle at Canna. She also knew exactly what He meant when He said, “What does this have to do with us? My hour has not come.” She was woman, all women, the new Eve, undoing the harm of the old Eve by not failing this terrible test. “Do as He tells you,” was a prophetic instruction to the stewards and an instruction to us as well as them. “Do as He tells you,” she told the stewards, and her words echo down the centuries to us today. “Do as He tells you,” she says to us.
It was also a commissioning. She didn’t argue with Jesus. She just turned to the stewards and told them to do as Jesus told them. Our Lord responded by doing what His mother wanted. He began his ministry at that moment. She gave Him to us by this act, set Him on the path of ministry that led to our salvation.
This is the how the Seven Sorrows of Mary are the story of our salvation, bought with blood, suffering and sacrifice. Jesus turned His back on the human temptations to use His power for worldly glories during his forty days in the desert. His mother sent Him forward into His ministry at the Wedding at Cana. And He, by His actions there, sanctified marriage and made it a sacrament of love.
These Seven Sorrows are what Our Lady instructed the people of Rwanda to pray when she appeared to them at Kibeho from 1981 to 1989. She warned them, specifically, of the carnage and bloodshed to come if they didn’t pray, fast and repent.
God was there, even in this harbinger of hell that was the Rwandan genocide. He sent His mother to warn the people of Rwanda and to give them a way out.
I believe the message of Our Lady of Kibeho is a good one for Americans today. We stand in the shadow of six months of senseless slaughter by sad individuals acting in service to the devil. We will talk later about mental health services and legal reforms. But anyone who thinks the devil hasn’t had his hand in this is simply not seeing the obvious.
I am going to pray the Seven Sorrows of Mary for the families who’ve lost children to these murders this past six months, beginning with the parents and families in Connecticut. I am also going to pray for America.
We all need to repent our support of violence, whether it’s in video games, movies or music. We need to repent our hate-filled invective against other people who simply disagree with us. We need to repent the violence and the murder in our hearts when we allow the culture wars to push us to hate. We need to repent the broken marriages and shattered families, the tantrums and curses and cruelties we commit and tolerate.
Without conversion, America will commit suicide. It is in the process of doing that now. We are Christians. We have the only solution, the only salvation there is. We need to live it daily and hourly. Only after we cleanse ourselves can we hope to share this great Hope with others.
You can find directions for praying the Seven Sorrows of Mary here, if you would like to join me.
Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.