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Posts Tagged ‘Satan’

In God We Trust?

In 16 Deacon Ruben Tamayo on 2015/04/10 at 12:00 AM

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God gives us every reason to trust Him. We read throughout both the Old and New Testaments that God is trustworthy not just a few times but many times. One such example is Psalm 145: “The LORD is trustworthy in every word, and faithful in every work.”
The Bible is also littered with plenty of examples of humanity deciding that God and His ways should not be trusted, doing things their way, and then suffering the painful consequences of their petulance and obstinacy. Here are just a few examples:
Adam and Eve disobey God, not because their lives aren’t all good and full of blessings, but because the serpent plants a seed of doubt in them about God’s love for them.
After growing impatient waiting to conceive Abraham’s child as God had promised, Sarah takes matters into her own hands and has Abraham lie with her maidservant Hagar so that Abraham may have the child God promised Him.
The Israelites create a golden calf and worship it despite the great miracles God performed for them simply because Moses took “too long” to return from his meeting with God at Mt. Sinai.
In Luke chapter 11, the Pharisees accuse Jesus of driving out demons with the help of Satan himself even after witnessing Jesus feed thousands with just five loaves of bread and two fish, bringing back to life the widow’s son, and healing many others.
So, why does this pattern, i.e. our continually turning our backs on God despite His proven faithfulness to us, keep repeating over and over throughout all of history and in our lives today? The short answer is because we provide Satan with an opening to drive a wedge, pride, between us and God. God is always trustworthy. How about us humans? Sadly not so much. St. Teresa of Avila says this well: “Consider seriously how quickly people change, and how little trust is to be had in them; and hold fast to God, who does not change.”
Satan, whom Jesus calls the “Father of Lies” (John 8:44) appeals to our pride and attachment to earthly vices to convince us that he is the one who is trustworthy, not God. After all, God doesn’t give us what we want when we snap our fingers so God must be lying when He tells us that He loves us. God even lets us suffer – what kind of love is that?! We are foolish to fall for these lies!!!

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This is reminiscent of the scene from the Disney animated film, the Jungle Book, where Kaa, the serpent, hypnotizes the young boy Mowgli while singing: “Trust in me, just in me, shut your eyes, trust in me.” Kaa obviously doesn’t care about the well-being of the boy – he just wants to gain control of him to eat him. “Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” from 1 Peter 5:8 comes to mind as well.
The good news is that God gives us free will and Satan has no power over us. But we must grow in humility and recognize that we always need God’s help – God who is always trustworthy. St. Vincent de Paul provides great advice on this point: “The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it.”
Reflection based on the Mass readings for the 3rd Thursday of Lent 2015: Jeremiah 7:23-28, Psalm 95, and Luke 11:14-23)

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Politics and the Devil by Charles J. Chaput, Part I

In 03 Archbishop Charles Chaput on 2011/12/01 at 11:01 AM
Politics and the Devil  by Charles J. Chaput,  April 11, 2011
A healthy democracy depends on people of conviction working hard to advance their ideas in the public square—respectfully and peacefully, but vigorously and without apologies. We cannot simultaneously serve the poor and accept the legal killing of unborn children.

I have chosen to address the theme of “politics and the devil,” not because I plan to suggest that anyone in our national political life has made a pact with Lucifer—although, given the current environment, you never know; it’s not the sort of thing you’d put in a press release—but because it is the title of an essay by the late University of Chicago philosopher Leszek Kolakowski. Kolakowski was a former Marxist, a very gifted scholar, and a skeptic about many things—but not about the reality of evil or the nature of the devil. One of the disturbing things for Kolakowski’s secular colleagues was that he talked about Satan not as a metaphor or legend or the figment of neurotic imaginations, but as a living actor in history. That deserves some discussion, but let’s start at the beginning.

Politics often works like a virus. The simpler a political slogan is, the faster people absorb it, the faster they transmit it, and the less likely they are to really think about it—which means they don’t develop an immunity to its content.

For example, a theme we’ve heard from many of our cultural leaders over the past few years—at least when they’re not battling over the economy or health care—goes like this. America needs to return science to its “rightful place” in public life. And of course, who can argue with that? Science does an enormous amount of good. Obviously, science should have its rightful place alongside every other important human endeavor. But one thing that this theme often means, in practice, is that we need to spend a lot more money on research. Especially the controversial kind. And while we’re at it, we should stop asking so many annoying ethical questions, so that science can get on with its vital work.

I want to focus on those words “rightful place,” an interesting phrase. A “rightful” place suggests that there is also a wrongful place, a bad alternative. And words like right and wrong, good and bad, are loaded with moral judgment. A “good” law embodies what somebody thinks is right. A “bad” public policy embodies what somebody thinks is wrong, or at least inadequate.

All law in some sense teaches and forms us, while also regulating our behavior. The same applies to our public policies, including the ones that govern our scientific research. There is no such thing as morally neutral legislation or morally neutral public policy. Every law is the public expression of what somebody thinks we “ought” to do. The question that matters is this: Which moral convictions of which somebodies are going to shape our country’s political and cultural future—including the way we do our science?

The answer is pretty obvious: if you and I as citizens don’t do the shaping, then somebody else will. That is the nature of a democracy. A healthy democracy depends on people of conviction working hard to advance their ideas in the public square—respectfully and peacefully, but vigorously and without apologies. Politics always involves the exercise of power in the pursuit of somebody’s idea of the common good. And politics always and naturally involves the imposition of somebody’s values on the public at large. So if a citizen fails to bring his moral beliefs into our country’s political conversation, if he fails to work for them publicly and energetically, then the only thing he ensures is the defeat of his own beliefs.

We also need to remember that most people—not everyone, of course, but most of us—root our moral convictions in our religious beliefs. What we believe about God shapes what we think about the nature of men and women, the structure of good human relationships, and our idea of a just society. This has very practical consequences, including the political kind. We act on what we really believe. If we don’t act on our beliefs, then we don’t really believe them.

As a result, the idea that the “separation of Church and state” should force us to exclude our religious beliefs from guiding our political behavior makes no sense at all, even superficially. If we don’t remain true in our public actions to what we claim to believe in our personal lives, then we only deceive ourselves. Because God certainly isn’t fooled. He sees who and what we are. God sees that our duplicity is really a kind of cowardice, and our lack of courage does a lot more damage than simply wounding our own integrity. It also saps the courage of other good people who really do try to publicly witness what they believe. And that compounds a sin of dishonesty with a sin of injustice.

Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Denver and the author of Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life. This essay is adapted from the keynote address Archbishop Chaput delivered as part of the University of Notre Dame student-organized Right to Life lecture series.

Copyright 2011 the Witherspoon Institute.  All rights reserved. Re-printed on this blog with permission.  


Politics and the Devil by Charles J. Chaput, Part II

In 03 Archbishop Charles Chaput on 2011/12/01 at 10:09 AM

Dwelling on the issue of science for just another moment, let me present some thoughts from two very different sources. Here’s the first source:

Science, by itself, cannot establish the ends to which it is put. Science can discover vaccines and cures for diseases, but it can also create infectious agents; it can uncover the physics of semiconductors, but also the physics of the hydrogen bomb. Science [as] science is indifferent to whether data are gathered under rules that scrupulously protect the interest of human research subjects . . . [or by] bending the rules or ignoring them altogether. A number of the Nazi doctors who injected concentration camp victims with infectious agents or tortured prisoners by freezing or burning them to death were in fact legitimate scientists who gathered real data that could potentially be put to good use.

The same source goes on to worry that, today, many of the bioethicists who claim to counsel and guide the moral course of American science “have become nothing more than sophisticated (and sophistic) justifiers of whatever it is the scientific community wants. . . . In any discussion of cloning, stem-cell research, gene-line engineering and the like, it is usually the professional bioethicist who can be relied on to take the most permissive position of anyone in the room.”

Now, from my second source:

What is our contemporary idiocy? What is the enemy within the [human] city? If I had to give it a name, I think I would call it ‘technological secularism.’ The idiot today is the technological secularist who knows everything . . . about the organization of all the instruments and techniques of power that are available in the contemporary world—and who, at the same time, understands nothing about the nature of man or about the nature of true civilization.

The words from my first source appeared in 2002 from the author and scholar Francis Fukuyama. If you know his work, you know that Fukuyama clearly supports the benefits of science and technology. He is not—to my knowledge—a religious believer, and based on his writings, he seems to have little use for Christianity. But he’s also not a fool. He sees exactly where our advances in biotechnology could lead us if we don’t find an ethical way of guiding them.

The words from my second source were written exactly 50 years ago, in 1961. They come from John Courtney Murray, the great Jesuit priest and Christian scholar. Murray was a thoughtful man, and he chose his language very carefully. He used the word “idiot” in the original Greek sense of the term, which is quite different from its meaning in modern slang.

For the Greeks, the “idiot” was not a mentally deficient man. Rather, he was a man who did not possess a proper public philosophy, or as Murray says, “a man who is not master of the knowledge and skills that underlie the life of a civilized city. The idiot, to the Greek, was just one stage removed from the barbarian. He is the man who is ignorant of the meaning of the word ‘civility’.”

As I said, these two sources are very different. One was a believer. The other is not. Father Murray died more than four decades ago, long before today’s stem-cell and cloning debates. But both men would agree that science and technology are not ends in themselves. They’re enormously valuable tools. But they’re tools that can undermine human dignity—and even destroy what it means to be “human”—just as easily as they can serve human progress. Everything depends on who uses them, and how. Fools with tools are still fools; and the more powerful the tools, the more dangerous the fools. Or to put it another way, neither science nor technology requires a moral conscience to produce results. The evidence for that fact is the record of the last century.

Now I’ve talked about these things so far for a simple reason. The moral and political struggle we face today in defending human dignity is becoming more complex. I believe that abortion is the foundational human rights issue of our lifetime. We can’t simultaneously serve the poor and accept the legal killing of unborn children. We can’t build a just society, and at the same time, legally sanctify the destruction of generations of unborn human life. The rights of the poor and the rights of the unborn child flow from exactly the same human dignity guaranteed by the God who created us.

Of course, working to end abortion doesn’t absolve us from our obligations to the poor. It doesn’t excuse us from our duties to the disabled, the elderly and immigrants. In fact, it demands from us a much stronger commitment to materially support women who find themselves in a difficult pregnancy.

All of these obligations are vital. God will hold us accountable if we ignore them. But none of these other duties can obscure the fact that no human rights are secure if the right to life is not. Unfortunately, abortion is no longer the only major bioethical threat to that right in our culture. In fact, the right to life has never, at any time in the past, faced the range of challenges it faces right now, and will face in the coming decades. Physician-assisted suicide, cloning, brain-computer interface (BCI) research, genetic screening of unwanted fetuses, genetic engineering of preferred physical and intellectual traits, cross-species experimentation, and developments in neuroscience—these things already raise serious questions about the definition of “human nature” and the protection of human dignity in the years ahead.

Politics and the Devil by Charles J. Chaput, Part III

In 03 Archbishop Charles Chaput on 2011/12/01 at 9:11 AM

In Europe and the United States, our knowledge classes like to tell us that we live in an age of declining religious belief. But that isn’t quite true. A culture that rejects God always invents another, lesser godling to take His place. As a result, in the words of the great Jewish bioethicist Leon Kass, we live in an age of “salvific science.” In the place of the God who became man, “we have man become as god.” And in place “of a God who—it is said—sent his son who would, through his own suffering, take away the sins of the world, we have a scientific savior who would take away the sin of suffering altogether.”

The irony is this: the search for human perfection implied in modern science—or at least, the kind of science accountable to no moral authority outside of itself—leads all too easily to a hatred of imperfection in the real human persons who embody it with their disabilities. The simplest way to deal with imperfections is to eliminate the imperfect. In our daily lives, Kass warns, “the eugenic mentality is taking root, and we are subtly learning with the help of science to believe that there really are certain lives unworthy of being born. . . . [T]he most pernicious result of our technological progress . . . [is] the erosion, perhaps the final erosion, of the idea of man as noble, dignified, precious or godlike, and its replacement with a view of man [as] mere raw material for manipulation and homogenization.”

Dr. Kass made those remarks at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, itself a monument to the murderous and genuinely satanic misuse of science and politics in the last century. But he wasn’t speaking about genocide in the past, in some faraway, alien dictatorship. He was talking about the temptations we face today in our own democratic societies, the temptations to create “a more perfect human”—and, in the process, to pervert science and attack our own humanity.

This brings us back to politics and the devil, and also, to the very important question: How does one live as a Catholic in the world as it now is?

The great French scholar Jacques Maritain once wrote that “the devil hangs like a vampire on the side of history. History moves forward nonetheless, and [it] moves forward with the vampire.” The devil is condemned to work within time. He works in the present to capture our hearts and steal our future. But he also attacks our memory, the narrative of our own identity. And he does it for a very good reason. The way we remember history conditions how we think and choose today, in our daily lives. That’s why one of the first things we need to do, if we want to “live as Catholics,” is to remember what being “Catholic” really means—and we need to learn that lesson in our identity not from the world; not from the tepid and self-satisfied; and not from the enemies of the Church, even when they claim to be Catholic; but from the mind and memory of the Church herself, who speaks through her pastors.

Jacques Maritain and Leszek Kolakowski came from very different backgrounds. Maritain was deeply Catholic. Kolakowski was in no sense an orthodox religious thinker. But they would have agreed that good and evil, God and the devil, are very real—and that history is the stage where that struggle is played out, both in our personal choices and in our public actions; where human souls choose their sides and create their futures. In Kolakowski’s own words, “we are not passive observers or victims of this contest, but participants as well, and therefore our destiny is decided on the field on which we run.”

Politics is the exercise of power; and power—as Jesus himself saw when Satan tempted him in the desert—can very easily pervert itself by doing evil in the name of pursuing good ends. But this fact is never an excuse for cowardice or paralysis. Christ never absolved us from defending the weak, or resisting evil in the world, or from solidarity with people who suffer. Our fidelity as Christians is finally to God, but it implies a faithfulness to the needs of God’s creation. That means we’re involved—intimately—in the life of the world, and that we need to act on what we believe: always with humility, always with charity, and always with prudence—but also always with courage. We need to fight for what we believe. As Kolakowski wrote, “Our destiny is decided on the field on which we run.”

I have two final thoughts. First, nothing we do to defend the human person, no matter how small, is ever unfruitful or forgotten. Our actions touch other lives and move other hearts in ways we can never fully understand in this world.

Don’t ever underestimate the beauty and power of the witness you give in your pro-life work. One thing we learn from Scripture is that God doesn’t have much use for the vain or the prideful. But He loves the anawim—the ordinary, simple, everyday people who keep God’s Word, who stay faithful to his commandments, and who sustain the life of the world by leavening it with their own goodness. That’s the work we are called to do. Don’t ever forget it. If you speak up for the unborn child in this life, someone will speak up for you in the next, when we meet God face to face.

Second, a friend once shared with me the unofficial motto of the Texas Rangers: “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fella that’s in the right, and keeps a-comin. The message is true. Virtue does matter. Courage and humility, justice and perseverance, do have power. Good does win, and the sanctity of human life will endure. It will endure because if “God so loved the world that He gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16), then the odds look pretty good, and it’s worth fighting for what is right.

Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Denver and the author of Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life. This essay is adapted from the keynote address Archbishop Chaput delivered as part of the University of Notre Dame student-organized Right to Life lecture series.

Copyright 2011 the Witherspoon Institute. All rights reserved. Re-printed on this blog with permission.  


Assumption, August 15

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2011/08/13 at 8:00 AM

• If we are serious about our devotion to Mary, we must bear a special love for her in our hearts, constantly asking for her prayers, and completely entrusting ourselves to her just as little children fly without reserve into the arms of their mothers.

• And believe me, we have every reason to entrust ourselves to her maternal protection.

• Our first reading today gives us a rather interesting view of the Blessed Mother. The Book of Revelation describes her as “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”

• In other words she is clothed in supernatural glory, a glory that is the reward of her perfectly sinless life.

• We know by faith that our Lord preserved Mary from all stain of original sin, and thus she was immaculately conceived. And we know by faith that God the Father gave Mary this particular grace so that she would be a fitting mother for His Son, Jesus Christ.

• Because Mary lived a life of perfect obedience to God’s will, because she perfectly fulfilled all that our Lord asked of her, God further honored Mary at the end of her life by assuming her, body and soul, into heaven.

• And it is this great mystery that the Church ponders and celebrates today. Although this mystery is not something that the human mind could know by its own natural power, this is a truth revealed by God and contained with the deposit of faith.

• Pope Pius XII defined this dogma infallibly in 1950, and thus it is a tenet of faith that Catholics are obliged to believe.

• The beauty of this feast is that our Lady’s Assumption is a foreshadowing of the perfection that the Church hopes to reach! Mary is an image of the Church as it will be in eternity! Thus, Mary’s Assumption is a great sign of hope for all Christians.

• The bodily glorification of Mary is an anticipation of the glorification that awaits all of the elect! Thus today is a day of great rejoicing for all mankind.

• One of the other interesting elements about the depiction of Mary from our first reading is that we see her juxtaposed against a “huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns”, whom the Church has always identified as satan.

• What we learn from this juxtaposition of Mary and satan is that our Lady is intimately involved in the battle between good and evil, a battle that we know will be eventually won by our Lord and His heavenly host.

• Curiously, the belief in satan and evil spirits has been downplayed by many in recent decades. However, our Church has always been steadfast in the belief that satan and other evil spirits exist.

• In fact, the reference in today’s first reading that the dragon’s “tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky” has been interpreted by Church Fathers to refer to the angels that followed satan in rebelling against God, and who are now demons.

• Our Catholic faith teaches us that satan and his evil minions are completely and wholly malicious entities. They are predators who prowl the earth “seeking whom they may devour.” Indeed, they seek to devour the souls of all mankind.

• And whether we know it or believe it, they are constantly looking for ways to lead us away from God, from His will, and most importantly from God’s mercy and love. In ordinary circumstances they do this by tempting us to sin.

• They observe us and know our weaknesses and faults, and they are utterly pernicious in using our weaknesses against us, hoping to lead us into mortal sin, which drives God from our souls and cuts us off from His mercy for as long as we persist in mortal sin.

• While the evil one and his cohorts may certainly seem fearsome at times, we must not allow our fear of them to consume us or rule us.

• Today’s feast reminds us that God has designed us for Heaven! Regardless of the vocation He has chosen for us to live out our lives on earth, He desires that all of us go to Heaven when we die.

• Today’s reading from John’s Revelation teaches us that in addition to St. Michael the Archangel and all of the angels, we also have our Lady to help us in our personal struggle against sin and evil.

• Like a good mother Mary desires to wrap each of us in her protective mantle, shielding us from the wickedness and snares of the evil one.

• She prays for each of us by name, begging her divine Son for all the graces we need to fight off the temptations of the evil one.

• And when do fail and fall into sin, Mary gently prompts us to reconcile with our Lord in the confessional so that we may be healed of our spiritual infirmities and once again be counted amongst God’s children.

• Thus she is the known as the Help of Christians and the Refuge of Sinners. She is the tender Mother of Fairest Love, and yet she is as awesome as an army in battle array.

• Therefore, we should be quick to place ourselves under her protection, affectionately invoking her holy name for all of our needs.

• My brothers and sisters, as we celebrate this magnificent feast in honor of our Lady, let us give thanks to our Lord for the great gift of His Mother.

• Let us thank her for all the times she has interceded for us, protecting us from evil and procuring for us the graces we need to avoid sin and grow in holiness. And let us learn to honor her as our mother and as the model of all we are called to be as God’s children.

Copyright 2010 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC