Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Trouble with Angels

Some time ago I read Joan Wester Anderson’s thrilling collection of stories attesting to angelic intervention in human affairs. If you do not believe in angels, check out these true stories of angelic intervention. This exhilarating book offers overwhelming evidence that heavenly beings are very much with us -- combating evil, bringing news, warning of danger, consoling us in our suffering. The flip-side of these spiritual faculties, as readers of these pages can attest, is the existence of a dark kingdom, using the same intelligence and power to prevent the spread of God’s kingdom, get more recruits, and consolidate the powers of evil in the world. In Luke 4:7, Satan declares that power over the kingdoms of the world have been delivered to him, and he offers Jesus a share in this power, if only Jesus would worship him; As we hear in the Lenten reading, Jesus avoids the temptation, but does not contradict Satan’s claim of power. With some restrictions, the power is there. The spiritual landscape we encounter includes extraordinarily intelligent, gifted, influential and murderous demons capable of outsmarting all the forces of the other side.

In my book I recounted Pope Leo XIII’s account of a vision of Satan, which gave birth to the St. Michael prayer. As told on this blog, future popes have also discerned diabolical opposition—one thinks of Pope Paul VI’s warning about the “smoke of Satan” in the Church, and Pope Francis’ recent remarks ascribing the persecution of Christians to the devil, and exhorting “Let us renounce Satan and all his works and seductions because he isa seducer.”

We should not lose sight of the tremendous advantages that Satan has in his intention of subverting the Body of Christ—with the help of human minions bent on exterminating Christianity, often aided by great numbers of misled Christians anxious for the Church to gain acceptance by the modern world. The greatest plus for Satan is the experience he has had with Christians for two thousand years, coupled with his awareness of what sort of things destines one to hell. Libido just may have pride of place.

Since the onset of the sexual revolution, we have had to face an ever-increasing display of sexual problems. One has only to think of the tremendous increase in the number of post-1960s illegitimate births and abortions, sexually transmitted diseases, opposition to censorship of pornography (especially on the Internet), and the resulting sexual addiction (in some extreme instances resulting in murder). Consider too the tremendous blows to marriage and the family done by adultery, the battle over the homosexual lifestyle in the United States, Canada and Europe (now to the point of the redefinition of marriage under the law); the increasing incidences of sexual harassment, child pornography on the Internet, Internet predators, date rape, and of course, the divorce rate. Then, too let us not forget the abortafacient properties of the Pill. Clearly attempts to reduce procreation so as to block God’s favorite thing to do, amounts to an offense against Him, is not a matter to be lightly dismissed.

As I recounted in my third chapter, dissent from Humanae Vitae’s proscription against artificial contraception originated a crisis of faith in the Church. The dissent that ensued after Pope Paul VI’s visionary encyclical set the stage for pervasive dismissal of the Vicar of Christ's authority in faith and morals. Given this, Satan, famous for his “non serviam,” was allowed to slip in little snippets of spiritual rebellion here and there, depending on the naiveté of his hearers. In Professor James Hitchcock’s The History ofthe Catholic Church, as the noted historian takes up twentieth- century modernism and the aftermath of the 1960s, he recounts the story of the unmaking of the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Los Angeles, whose program of aggiornamento was guided by the prestigious (now deceased) psychologist Carl Rogers, a one-time student for the Protestant ministry who had developed a negative attitude toward religion. Sadly, the Immaculate Heart “renewal” was a paradigm for many others that followed: many religious, having abandoned both traditional spiritualties and traditional ministries, created vacuums waiting to be filled by new absolutes—left-wing politics, environmentalism, and above all feminism, which produced a drastic decline in vocations to religious life.

Tragically, it was nuns dedicated to Mary, shedding their habits and often their vows, who were the innovators of developments quite removed from service of Mary’s Immaculate Heart. The surest weapon against the onslaughts of Satan, as many saints have taught us, is confidence in, imitation of, and devotion to the Queen of the Angels (see Genesis 3:15), who is far ahead of the strategies and nefarious designs of the fallen angels. This weapon still offers us the best hope for the defeat of the subtle moves of a supremely evil Mastermind.