Tag Archives: evil

Locked doors, open hearts -to Satan

Father George Rutler, pastor of the Church of Our Saviour (NYC) wrote the following in a recent newsletter that ought to be part of our ongoing reflection on what happened to the good people of the Sandy Hook Elementary School:

Locking school doors will not keep Satan out if our
hearts are open to him. Nor will banning weapons ban murder if God is banned
from the conscience. Cain slew Abel without a gun. An illogical world can be
saved from self-destruction only by loving the Logos who was in the Beginning,
who was with God and was God.

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God keeps us waiting because…

“Why does God, who is love, keep us waiting?
Because He is love, and seeks love. Love that does not know how to wait is not
love. To love is to give ourselves. No only for a fraction of a lifetime, nor
with a part of its strength: love is, and seeks, the total gift of self….
Delays in union [with God] are not time lost; far from it. God sees very far
ahead; He makes wonderful use of what we call evilof our wanderings, our
hesitations and detours
, although He does not love them or want them. It is at these
moments, above all, that we need confidence and perseverance. The prayer,
whether for ourselves or for others, that is not discouraged, which persists
and besieges Heaven, touches God’s heart; and that is why He tells us to

Dom Augustin Guillerand, O. Cart.
A French Carthusian monk (1877-1945) of the Charterhouse of La Valsainte, Switzerland

Pope lunches with friends, speaks of struggle against evil

At Monday’s lunch with many of the cardinals –not all–Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the struggle he and they are engaged together: for good against evil. Not exactly a lite topic for discussion for a lunch celebrating one’s 85th birthday and 7th anniversary of election to the Chair of Saint Peter, but a point that is true and needs to be addressed.

In reading his text (below) you will notice the Pope’s use of the concept ecclesia militans – the Church Militant – which he admits is “old fashion” but still fitting today. When we say “the Church Militant” it means all living Christians who struggle against sin, the devil, or as the Apostle Paul says  “..the rulers of the darkness of this world” and “spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

“Church Militant” has two other sisters, “Church Triumphant” and “Church Suffering” that give context to Christian life in light of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints and of what we know the Church to be.

The quick definition of the “Church Triumphant” (Ecclesia Triumphans), indicates those who live in the beatific vision, they see and are seen by God; we say these people are in heaven. The feast day for those in heaven is November 1, All Saints Day.  When we speak of the “Church Suffering” (also called the Church Penitent, Ecclesia Penitens; or Church Expectant, Ecclesia Expectans), we believe that this group of believers are the souls in purgatory. The feast day is  All Souls, November 2.

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Confronting the Devil– one of the Church’s greatest needs

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.

Two Standards Loyola.jpg

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.

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Training Exorcists

Make no joke about it: the devil exists, people do evil things. Of course, the existence of the devil is not at all the same as we seen in the movies. We know this is a fact from our personal experience and from the Gospels: the devil works on believers to get them away from adhering to Jesus Christ. We don’t fool around with the devil and his temptations, nor his ability to possess a person. So, ridicule would not be the correct approach to understanding the nature of the devil and demonic possession. While believers say that evil is real, it is our unqualified belief that evil and the devil are powerless to the power of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. It is Jesus who expels the devil, not the priest. Evil is terminated only through prayer, fasting, the sacraments; when it is discerned by competent authority, the praying of the Rite of Exorcism may be done. The Rite is performed only by a validly ordained Catholic priest who is deputed by the bishop of the diocese in which the priest lives, and who is known to live a life of virtue and sanctity.

Rite of Exorcism.jpgThe Church protects the exercise of the Rite of Exorcism in the Code of Canon Law (1983) by saying, “No one can perform exorcisms legitimately upon the possessed unless he has obtained special and express permission from the local ordinary. The local ordinary is to give this permission only to a prebyter who has piety, knowledge, prudence and intergrity of life (1172).

The awareness of evil in the world is increasing with the desire of the Church to find competent priests and bishops –not every priest and bishop have the qualifications to do an exorcism– i.e., some are incapable of doing the Rite of Exorcism.

“Anyone who does not believe in the Devil does not believe in the Gospel,” Pope John Paul II.  Catholics hold that the Lord gave the power to cast out demons to the Church (cf. Mark 16:17).

A recent story dealing with the training of exorcists today. The Catholic bishop of Sprinfiield in Illinois and canonist, Bishop Thomas Paprocki organized a meeting of priests and bishops to orient them with the 1999 revision De Exorcismis et Supplicationibus Quibusdam (On Exorcism and Certain Supplications). The purpose is to gain the proper skills to correctly discern the need to use the Rite of Exorcism. Its use is infrequent but sometimes necessary.

Some critics suggest this type of meeting is playing into a “reversion” to prior times, playing on the fears of the weak. What Bishop Paprocki did is to provide some members of the clergy the tools, theology and expertise, training and insight into knowing more about matters transcendent.

I have heard from priest friends that the old rites of baptism and exorcism are stronger in getting rid of the devil than the newer ones. You may want to read this article, “The New Rite of Exorcism, The Influence of the Evil One.”

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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