The Catholic faith holds that God created an angelic world, composed of beings that are pure spirits. At Christmas we sing that we have heard their song on high. Some remained faithful to God and reached their heavenly destiny, while others, though gifted with divine grace, lost it and were thereby condemned to eternal punishment. It is part of God's providence to have the heavenly angels minister our needs and assist us in reaching heaven. It is also part of divine permissive providence to allow the fallen angels to try and tempt us into sin in order to keep us from heaven. Thus, though it is often ignored, the Church does teach that there exists a dark kingdom, employing the same intelligence and power as have the heavenly angels, to prevent the spread of God’s kingdom, get more recruits, and unite the powers of evil in the world. It has been said: we are as ants to them (Good news: demons are as ants to Christ).
Indeed, in Luke’s gospel Satan declares that power over the kingdoms of the world have been delivered to him. He offers Jesus a share in this power, if Jesus would worship him. Jesus dodges the temptation, but does not deny Satan’s claim of power. Thus the spiritual landscape we are faced with these days includes extraordinarily intelligent, gifted, influential and murderous demons proficient in outwitting all the powers of “the other side.”
In my book I recounted the story of Pope Leo XIII’s account of a vision of Satan, which gave rise to use of the St. Michael prayer following Mass prior to Vatican II. Popes yet to come 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 thepersecution of Christians to the devil, and exhorting “Let us renounce Satan and all his works and seductions because he is a seducer.” Think of those times you have renewed your baptismal promises:
V. Do you renounce Satan? R. I do.
V. And all his works? R. I do.
V. And all his empty promises? R. I do.
Perhaps the greatest advantages in his plan for subverting the Church is the experience he has had with Christians for two thousand years. Theologians posit that He probably doesn't know whether most individuals who have died are in heaven or purgatory, but has very accurate knowledge of all those human souls who have joined his forces in hell, as well as what things brought him or her to this final destiny. Tempting people to murder and steal and lie would be on his agenda. But, as I recount in my third chapter, sex may take first place here—i.e., fornication, adultery, sodomy, pornography/sex addiction, the sex trade and the abortions triggered by those seeking to avoid the consequences of sex, or the use of abortifacients for purposes of “safe sex,” all efforts to reduce procreation so as to block God’s plan, outrageous sins against God Himself.
The dissent that followed Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae vitae on contraception was the point of departure for widespread dismissal of papal authority in matters of faith and morals. Today we do not hear priests preaching about Catholic teaching on contraception, divorce, sodomy, etc. offering the excuse that to do so would keep some in their congregation from entering their doors again. Does silence from the pulpit in the hope of not giving offense reduce evil in the world? (to be continued...)