With last the announcement last week about a study session of the new Rite of Exorcism seemingly many peoples’ interest in the devil and evil soared. But I wonder if we all know the implications of having an interest in the “devil and evil” means. What it means is that we are in a spiritual battle with evil, a fact that is being spoken of more and more.

The Servant of God Pope Paul VI addressed the issue in a General Audience on November 15, 1972. What he said in 1972 remains so very true today:

What are the Church’s greatest needs at the present time? Don’t be surprised at Our answer and don’t write it off as simplistic or even superstitious: one of the Church’s greatest needs is to be defended against the evil we call the Devil.

The papal address is not long and it covers topics of a Christian’s vision of the universe, the mystery of evil, seeking answers to our questions, the biblical witness to evil and the Devil, the Devil’s ability to tempt us, the peril of ignoring the Devil, the presence of diabolical actions and what our defense against the Devil means. Read what Pope Paul said.

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In his meditation of the second week of the Spiritual Exercises Saint Ignatius of Loyola presents to us “On the Two Standards” telling us we are faced with making a choice: “The one of Christ, our Commander-in-chief and Lord; the other Lucifer, mortal enemy of our human nature.” Loyola places in front of us the choice of how we are going to live our lives, either for Christ or against Christ, either for good, or for evil. Why sell our soul for money, power and fame when the Lord offers us a life that’s attractive and beautiful through the virtues of spiritual –and possibly in actual poverty, contempt for worldly honor and humility against pride? Poverty, whether spiritual and/or actual, obedience and humility are virtues that lead to all other virtue and everlasting life in Jesus Christ.

One passage of sacred Scripture that bears spelling out is 1 John 3:1-20. There we read:  

See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

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Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure. Everyone who commits sin commits lawlessness, for sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who remains in him sins; no one who sins has seen him or known him. Children, let no one deceive you. The person who acts in righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous. Whoever sins belongs to the devil, because the devil has sinned from the beginning. Indeed, the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is begotten by God commits sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot sin because he is begotten by God.

In this way, the children of God and the children of the devil are made plain; no one who fails to act in righteousness belongs to God, nor anyone who does not love his brother. For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another, unlike Cain who belonged to the evil one and slaughtered his brother. Why did he slaughter him? Because his own works were evil, and those of his brother righteous. Do not be amazed, (then,) brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. Whoever does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.

The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. (Now) this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.


The Devil is not some goofy guy dressed in a red leotard with horns and pitch fork. That is, the reality of the Devil is not pictured by the image to the right. Rather, the Devil, the fallen angel of Light, created by God but the angel who rejected God and His Love. The Devil is the source of our problems: our turning away from Love, peace, wholeness and substantial unity. As Catholics we know that we were not given the Holy Spirit and the gift of freedom to reject God –though God gave us the gift of freedom knowing full well that we could turn against Him.

How does one resist the temptations of the Devil?
  1. be attentive to prayer: reading of Scripture, praying in front of the crucifix, praying the rosary, spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament – ask the Lord, the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Mother, the saints to guard us;
  2. go to Confession – come clean about your life; reconcile with the Lord, self, others;
  3. walk away from evil temptation; take person
    al initiative to reject the Devil.