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.
Mention of the devil offends people.
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.
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.
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.
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.)