How come we don’t talk about the Devil anymore? I haven’t in years. Jesus talked about him quite a bit. Do we, as His Church, think He was lying? Speaking hyperbolically? I don’t think so either.
Cardinal Georges Cottier, O.P. wrote this piece as an introduction to Father Gabriel Amorth’s book reprinted this week by CatholicInsight.com.:
The Church must speak about the devil. Though he sinned, the fallen angel has not lost all the power he had, in the governance of the world, according to God’s plan. Now he uses this power for evil. John’s Gospel calls him “the prince of this world” (John 12:31) and also in the First Letter of John, one reads: “The whole world is in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Paul speaks of our battle against spiritual powers (cf. Ephesians 6:10-17). We can also refer to Revelation.
We must fight not only against the human, but also the superhuman, forces of evil in their origin and inspiration – suffice it to think of Auschwitz, of the massacres of entire peoples, of all the horrendous crimes that are committed, of the scandals of which little ones and the innocent are victims, of the success of the ideologies of death, etc.
It is appropriate to recall some principles. The evil of sin is committed by a free will. Only God can penetrate the depth of a person’s heart; the devil does not have the power to enter that sanctuary. He acts only on the exterior, on the imagination and on feelings of a sentient origin. Moreover, his action is limited by the permission of Almighty God.
The devil generally acts through temptation and deceit; he is a liar (cf. John 8:44). He can deceive, induce to error, cause illusion and, probably more than arouse vices, he can support the vices and the origins of the vices that are in us.
It seems to me that in this day and age when temptation is all around us through this culture that now would be the perfect time to discuss this issue. But we continue to remain silent.
In the face of deceit, it is desirable that the Catholic faithful have an ever-more-profound knowledge of Christian doctrine. The apostolate must be promoted on behalf of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is of extraordinary usefulness to combat ignorance. The devil perhaps is instigator of this ignorance: he distracts man from God and it is a great loss that can be contained by promoting an adequate apostolate in the media, in particular television, considering the amount of time that many people spend watching television programs, often with contents that are culturally inconsistent and immoral.
The action of the devil is also unleashed against the (priests) of the Church. In 1972, Pope Paul VI spoke of the “smoke of Satan that has entered the temple of God.”
I actually wonder what would happen if a priest spoke about Satan at my local Mass. Would there be giggles? Would there be a rolling of the eyes? Or would there be recognition of a long ignored fear? Would there finally be thanks?