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For anyone who might think of Satan as just that misunderstood rebel Lucifer, who’s really pretty cool actually, I’d like to start this essay with a very familiar prayer to the one who defeated him and his fallen cohorts in heaven (as pictured above) when he wished to be “like unto God”. It’s the Saint Michael Prayer!
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
by the Divine Power of God,
cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
There are many people nowadays in our increasingly fractious, chaotic society showing ambivalence about the devil, better known as Satan, and even admiration for the Evil One. Although some people might not think of themselves as being Satanists per se they nonetheless are wittingly or not following “the father of lies” as Jesus famously referred to him in John 8:44.
They’re doing so by opening up various demonic doorways in their lives for Satan and his multitudinous minions to create all kinds of havoc and heartbreak for them!
Intriguingly, in 2020, Will Carroll, the drummer for a band called, fittingly enough Death Angel, when at death's door from a bad Covid infection had a literally Hellish near death experience after which he observed that he found that Satan wasn’t quite as cool as he first thought.
I would like to add that not only is Satan “Not quite as cool” he’s not cool at all! What I would like to offer here is a summary of some of the reasons why he should be considered anything but cool.
Many, if not all of you reading this already know the facts at hand here, but I would like to review them briefly to help you shine the light of Christ against whatever darkness you may encounter these days, either in your own soul or in that of others who may need it the most, including those who are unbelievers, atheists or agnostics.
For starters, contrary to what many people might think nowadays, Satan is not some personification of evil, but rather its very embodiment. Just as God’s very essence is love, Satan’s is that of hatred. He hates God and humanity, and that means he hates you and me!
And having rejected God in a manner that sealed his fate (Rev 12:7-9), Satan and his fellow demonic minions, fallen angels, exist to inflict as much pain and humiliation on us and to try to drag as many of us down to Hell with them as possible.
We can attest to their actual existence, if in no way else, then by numerous accounts from many different exorcists who have engaged in battle with them available both in print as well as on the internet from a great YouTube Channel, called appropriately enough Armor of God, Spiritual Warfare. The informative website exorcistfiles.tv is also good.
Whether you believe this or not, your soul is ultimately destined either for an eternity of happiness with God or misery with Satan both in a manner that we can't even begin to comprehend in this world!
It is important to note here as well that those engaging or even just dabbling in various occult practices, such as wicca, witchcraft, playing with ouija boards, tarot cards, spells, divination, seances and the like, are leaving themselves vulnerable to all sorts of trouble from demonic deceptions.
There is a crucial fact I’d like to add here. God allows us to experience sinful temptations so that in resisting them we may grow in Holiness in His grace and humility and freely choose to love Him. When you think of them this way they become easier to resist!
Note as well that a demon can act as what has been called the “lawyer from hell”, goading you into committing a mortal sin while assuring you of God’s Mercy, and then turning on you once you’ve done it, accusing you like some overzealous prosecutor before God, filling you with guilt and shame to make you think that God will never forgive you.
This of course is a typical Satanic falsehood. God is ready and willing to forgive anyone their sins in Confession as long as they sincerely make a good faith effort not to repeat them afterwards.
While we all have hardships, especially nowadays, it is important to give Jesus whatever wounds you experience from them, either physical or emotional, as expiatory sufferings in union with those He endured for us on the Cross at Calvary. He can give you His grace to help you manage them better.
And these trials can have great value when offered up to Him in atonement for your sins, and those of others, including people you may not even know!
When dealing with them on our own by self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, we run the risk of putting out those fires of anger and despair with gasoline rather than water. And the devil is always ready to make you see the people or circumstances afflicting you as being worse than they really are!
I’d like to recommend two books among many that can help shed further light on all this, and no I don’t get a commission from sales of either one. The first is entitled the Liber Christo Method; A Field Manual for Spiritual Combat by Dan Schneider, PhD with a foreword by the well-known exorcist Father Chad Ripperger. The second book is the shorter Manual for Spiritual Combat by Paul Thigpen, both published by Tan Books.
This first book is a bit more comprehensive, covering in great detail the various “wickedness and snares of the devil'' that we speak about in the St. Michael Prayer that can trip up so many of us causing much friction, discord, depression, unforgiveness and even despair in our lives.
These include mortal sins not renounced and confessed in the sacrament of Penance, also better known as Confession as well as misplaced feelings of pride, shame, guilt, rejection, and the like, along with those sufferings not offered up to God that demons can use against you and thus hinder your ability to receive God’s grace. And the devil can rub salt in your wounds when you foster resentments thinking that this might bring you relief from them in some way.
The book might be a a bit pricey for some of you, but there is a cheaper Kindle version also available from Amazon. The book by Paul Thigpen is shorter and covers the essential points more succinctly but it is also good and it contains sections of some great quotes from the saints and various prayers to help you fight whatever darkness you might be dealing with these days, and we all know full well that there’s quite a bit of it out there now!
There are a number of other good books available on the devil, exorcismm and fighting demonsm including The History of Exorcism by Adam Blai, Slaying Dragons by Charles Fraume, and The Devil is Afraid of Me by the remowned exorcist Father Gabreil Amorth.
And while we should not obsess about the devil, the opposite emotion, thinking of him as just some harmless symbolic character wearing red tights and carrying a pitchfork is no good either.
Father Ripperger once noted, as recorded in a YouTube video that “It has been said that the great achievement of Satan in the modern world is to get people to think that he does not exist, and that is indeed true. Even if people do believe he exists they don’t believe he’s involved in people’s lives or things of this sort. A lot of people don’t even believe that Hell exists. This is done, so Satan pulled this off, he did this in order to infiltrate the various areas of human lives.”
Father gives us a good reminder here that demonic entities are at work not just in those involved in the occult, but in our daily lives in more subtle but still harmful ways.
They’re trying to bring out in each of us whatever feelings of doubt, despair, and ill will towards others they can, as touched on earlier. You don’t need to be participating in strange rituals from secret societies to be vulnerable to demonic interference and temptations.
The best course of action is to discern whenever possible in difficult situations what to do or think that is in accordance with God’s will. This is best done with the help of the Holy Spirit in prayer and with a properly catechized conscience. Dan Schneider’s book, incidentally has a great section on what constitutes a thorough examination of conscience for an effective Confession.
Getting back to the subject of Hell for a minute, nowadays many people downplay Hell as being Heck, with Hitler as one of its only inhabitants perhaps. Yet our Lord warned us of the dangers of our winding up there numerous times in scripture, such as in the Sermon on the Mount.
While Jesus died to open the gates of heaven for us, our place there is not a guaranteed birthright. Hence each of us must stay close to God in prayer and staying in a state of grace, fortified by Communion to increase our sanctity, and Confession, for God’s forgiveness for any mortal sins we may commit. Just one mortal sin can remove God’s grace from you and send you to hell if you die not having confessed it in the sacrament of Penance, being unrepentant.
As a reminder, saints such as St. Teresa of Avila and St. Faustina were shown Hell during their lifetimes. St. Faustina summed up its horrors in her famous Diary, entry number 741.
These include an eternity of total misery and regret, pits of torture from Hell’s demonic inhabitants, a fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it, and as she put it “the constant company of Satan”. Not only is he not cool, apparently he’s not loads of fun to be around either!
Incidentally, Jesus gave St. Faustina and thus all of us as well, the Divine Mercy Chaplet which can also be effective for Spiritual Warfare when prayed with faith and trust in God!
And while there have been cases of people engaging in the famous "Faustian bargain" known as a deal with the devil for fortune and fame, those doing so are risking sacrificing an eternity of love and peace for temporary gratification leading instead to an eternity of misery, pain and anguish in Hell!
Remember that Satan emerged when he as Lucifer, the highest of the angels, along with an additional third of them, rebelling against God, were defeated in their battle in heaven by St. Michael the Archangel and his angels fighting with him as mentioned earlier.
The book of Revelation recounts this battle (Rev 12:7-9) and there are also scriptural references from our Lord in Luke about his having seen Satan fall like lightning from heaven (Luke 10:18) and Isaiah (12:17) to Lucifer’s defeat.
It is a generally accepted fact that Lucifer’s rebellion came out of his pride and envy to be as God. Also, he and his cohorts made the irrevocable decision, as suited their angelic nature to see all the aspects of a particular situation instantaneously, not to obey God and serve humanity.
The late Father Malachi Martin once speculated, although this is not recorded in scripture, that Lucifer, as the highest of the angels, felt it way beneath him to serve us mere human beings. His toxic pride made him and the fallen angels who joined in his rebellion become demons, our eternal mortal enemies. As such we are like so much vermin to them!
In an age when more and more people are turning away from Catholicism in particular and Christianity in general, organizations like the Satanic Temple and the so-called after school Satan clubs may find many inherents to a Holy Trinity not of the Father Son and Holy Spirit, but rather Me, Myself, and I.
Instead of the Divine motto we learn in the Lord’s prayer, as echoed most poignantly by Jesus at Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion at Calvary, “Thy [that is to say God's] Will Be Done”, the Satanic spin on that made famous by the notorious occultist Alestair Crowley is to say “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”.
And while flirtations with the devil have been a part of Rock music since the 1960’s, artists like Sam Smith, and rappers named Lil’ Nas and Doja Cat have of late, whether intentionally or not, glamorized the Evil One. The Lyrics to many Gangster (or should I say Gangsta’) Rap songs, if you can call them that, have been touting gratuitous violence and misogyny for decades as well.
There’s even a popular TV Series named after Lucifer in which he emerges from Hell as a “good” bad guy if you will, running a nightclub and helping to solve crimes with the LAPD!
And on top of all that, this past summer there was even a story in the news about the Walker Arts Center in Minnesota encouraging families to get to know their inner demon as a kind of friend, by participating in what they referred to as a “playful ceremony to summon and befriend their demon”. Like nothing could possibly go wrong with that, right?
One striking demonic deception can be seen from those who consider themselves to be Luciferians, named as such after the highest of angels rather than devils, in which following Lucifer’s supposedly shining example before the fall, which they just ignore, we can become Gods ourselves! Remember, however, that Satan took on that name from Lucifer after his defeat in heaven.
While there are distinctions between Luciferian and Satanic practices, the main thrust of these two forces, as with much else in the occult, is that each of us, in effect can pursue our own ideas of goodness, freedom, and self-actualization and enlightenment free from the supposed shackles of Christianity’s emphasis on following the Ten Commandments in loving obedience to God.
Indeed, the Satanic Temple speaks in part of your being able to have the freedom to do whatever you want as long as you’re not hurting anyone presumably unencumbered by any notions of Divine accountability. However, such a naturalist view of human morality doesn’t take into account the necessity of our needing God’s help and grace to deal with our constant struggles between good and evil in our day-to-day lives.
This notion of our having the freedom to be good without God, is a very seductive, but ultimately a tragically specious one. When you follow God in Christianity, you’re not shackled to a chain, but Satan is.
Consider these encouraging words along that line from St. Padre Pio: “The devil is like a rabid dog tied to a chain; beyond the length of the chain he cannot seize anyone. And you: keep at a distance. If you approach too near, you let yourself be caught. Remember the devil has only one door by which to enter the soul: the will.”
Speaking of doors there are more demonic doorways open now than ever it seems, ensnaring so many of us these days! These include the following: drug addiction from both licit and illicit widely available substances, a hyper sexualized society which young kids are being exposed to pornography in their classrooms, a cancel culture that actually winds up pitting people against each other in different groups, gang violence, corruption from the streets (with rampant carjackings and shoplifting) to the suites (when it seems like everyone has a price for nefarious activities), music that glamorizes debauched behavior, families being torn apart by divorce and fatherless households to begin with, and of course, we can’t forget the increasing stigmatizing of our faith in schools and workplaces.
We’re also plagued with a society filled with those who believe that truth is whatever one says it is with no moral absolutes. (Although it’s worth noting that in the absence of God we’re seeing a disturbing trend towards a cancel culture where people are losing friends and even livelihoods for not having politically correct opinions. And there are powerful people these days who worship the state rather than God!)
St. Paul wrote in Chapter 6 of his letter to the Romans of the necessity of our not being in slavery to sin. Might I suggest that anyone thinking that Christianity inhibits their freedom take into account not just the temporary pleasures or satisfactions sinful activities can bring but rather their long term nasty side effects, such as addictions to drugs, alcohol, or even habits or attitudes inimical not just to our salvation but even to some degree to our overall happiness as well!
And while you may never experience the unfortunate and even tragic circumstances in a life removed from God, such as those I just listed above, the grace He wishes to give each one of us can also serve as guard rails on the road to heaven keeping us from making a wrong turn onto the Highway to Hell.
So, in closing,I'd like to recommend that you keep these words from St. Peter in mind:
“Be sober, be watchful! For your adversary the Devil, like a roaring lion, goes about seeking someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)