"My dear brethren, do not ever forget, when you hear the progress of lights praised, that the loveliest trick of the Devil is to persuade you that he does not exist!" -- Charles Baudelaire, The Generous Gambler (1864)
For the believer, Satan seems to be extraordinarily busy these days. Since the onset of the First World War just over 100 years ago, humanity has suffered more than in all previous history, and all as a result of our sinfulness. The two world wars, the cold war with its threat of annihilation, the ongoing battle against Islamist terrorists, the increased persecution of Christians in every corner of the world, the slaughter of God's most innocent, the unborn, by the millions -- these and other modern horrors are all symptoms of the spiritual war being waged by Satan.
I suppose the unbeliever would attribute the chaos of the past century to a variety of other causes. After all, if one does not believe in God, he can hardly accept the reality of sin. For the same reason the unbeliever cannot logically accept the existence of Satan. When the only reality is a material reality, the spiritual must be consigned to the fanciful.
|Jesus Casts Out Satan|
Over the years I've encountered many Christians, both lay and clergy, even a number of well-known theologians, who do not accept the existence of angels and devils. The idea of spiritual beings, a personal reality outside of our material world, seems to upset them. I suspect some even question the existence of a personal God and would probably prefer a Star Wars-like "force" to the Holy Trinity. Many do not accept such basic Christian beliefs as the truth of the Gospels, the miracles of Jesus, His bodily Resurrection, etc., etc. And sadly, they teach and preach these distorted beliefs as if they come from the heart of the Church.
While these pseudo-believers work tirelessly to persuade God's people that the devil doesn't exist, Satan is roaming the earth doing his work. Fortunately the Church has not abandoned its beliefs. Pope Francis, for example, has repeatedly warned the faithful of the reality of the devil.
"The Prince of this world, Satan, doesn't want our holiness; he doesn't want us to follow Christ. Maybe some of you might say: 'But Father, how old fashioned you are to speak about the devil in the 21st century!' But look out because the devil is present! The devil is here...even in the 21st century! And we mustn't be naive, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan." [Pope Francis Homily, 10 April 2014].
|Fr. Gary Thomas|
Recently a Vatican-trained and formed exorcist, Father Gary Thomas, of the Diocese of San Jose, California, was interviewed by Wesley Baines of Beliefnet. It's a fascinating interview that deserves to be read by all Christians, especially those who question the existence of Satan. Here's the link: Interview With an Exorcist
And here's another brief article about Fr. Thomas and his ministry as exorcist: The Devil Hates Latin, Says Exorcist
Even better, I've included the video of a talk by Fr. Thomas on his ministry. It's well worth watching.