The Five D's of the Demonic

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"The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun" - by William Blake .  .  .  .  .
Dragon (Satan) stalks Woman and Child (symbolic of Holy Mother the Church, and Her priests) from the Book of Revelation


The Five D's of the Demonic

by Fr Patrick McHugh

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pope_paul_VI.gif (21036 bytes)The weekly allocutions of the popes are formal dignified discourses that are read from carefully prepared scripts, but at least on one occasion Pope Paul VI gave a cry from the heart. On November 15, 1972 he said: ". . . the smoke of Satan has entered the Church. . . ."

That, coming as it did from a Pope on such an occasion, was a strange and terrible statement indeed. The Word of God speaks clearly and explicitly on devils. There is no need to go on quoting texts - there are so many of them. The Gospels not only present Jesus speaking of devils but speaking directly to them:

"What is your name"?
"Our name is Legion, there are many of us here".
"Get out of him!".

Jesus called Satan ruler of this world, a mysterious phrase that seems to imply real power over us and our world. He said that He came, as He put it, "to cast out Satan". When He entered into His Passion, He indicated that powers of darkness were at work in what was about to happen. All of this is clear from the Gospels, but what remains mysterious -- what we need to think about -- is how and in what way demons enter into our minds and wills, how devils make us devilish in our attitude to God and His creation.

Devils are at war against the structure of creation, they enter into humans to manipulate them to destroy the family. It is not that the devils scream against God in blasphemy -- that and nothing else besides -- they are consumed with hatred for all that is decent, wholesome and humane. The question arises: how and in what way does all of this become manifest? The answer -- and it is a terrible one -- lies in the five D's of the Demonic: to deceive . . . to degrade . . . to divide . . . to defile . . . to destroy. Whenever these five signs appear as part of an onslaught, something unspeakably evil and malign is present and active.


To Deceive

Truth is ripped apart with such cunning that words mean their opposite -- murder becomes freedom to choose, slavery becomes peace ; language is turned inside out. Barabbas is lionized and cheered, Jesus is branded as "disturbing the people" and led away to be crucified. Jesus said of Satan that . . . the truth is not in him. The first thrust of the devil is against reality within human minds, against Truth.

It is not that people believe nothing -- they believe anything. Where there had beenSM_dir3.gif (8332 bytes) order and good sense now there is the wild torrent of raw emotions that hurls humans to the Unreal. The problem of evil can never be discussed in an academic vacuum. Evil is terribly personal. The disorder we experience is a reflection in space and time of a disorder that began before our world came into being. The conflict that broke out in the heavens before the world was made, that was led on one side by Michael and on the other by Lucifer is still carried on in space and time. This does not mean that men are mere puppets manipulated by demons or that we should think in mere dualistic terms as if Good and Evil were somehow equal and that the outcome of this war is in doubt. God allows evil, the malice of the devils fits into His eternal plan. Even so, the reality of angelic ill-will remains and we cannot hope to begin to come to any understanding of SMarch.gif (8305 bytes)Evil if we leave aside the mysterious personal dimension therein. To quote Shakespeare, . . . "hell breathes forth contagion on the world". The abominations in our world are only partly man-made. Human malice is not the full explanation. Spirits of a realm of Disorder and Evil and Hate are loose upon the earth. An imaginary observer from outer space looking down in us would see the titanic War of the Spirits -- the primal conflict between Michael and Lucifer -- carried on in a world of space and time.

In the Second Vatican Council, the Church reminds us: "Since we know not the day nor the hour, on our Lord s advice we must constantly stand guard". This when we have finished the one and only course of our earthly life we may merit to enter into the marriage feast with Him and to be numbered among the blessed. Thus we may not be commanded to go into eternal fire like the wicked and slothful servant, into the exterior darkness where there will be a weeping and a gnashing of teeth. For before we reign with the glorious Christ, all of us will be made manifest before the tribunal of Christ, so that each one may receive what he has won through the body, according to his works, whether good or evil. At the end of the world, they who have done good shall come forth unto resurrection of life; but who have done evil unto resurrection of judgement.


To Degrade

The demonic lie is like a missile aimed at someone or some community that enshrines the Humane, the Beautiful, the Holy, the Good. In his Newsletter, Pastor Wurmbrand described how degradation was the chief weapon the Communists used to dehumanize their victims and the ways they would go about doing that were diabolical -- there was a cunning and a hatred out of this world working through all they did.

Degradation can also be psychological, so that the victim loses all sense of personal worth and, as that fades, the will to live shrivels up. The effect on others is to render a person vile and beneath contempt, so that in their eyes, and ultimately in the eyes of the victim, that person has no worth or presence. The assault is against the humanity of the other as devils have a special hatred for anything and everything that is humane.

As He approached the Gerasene boundary, He encountered two men coming out of the tombs. They were possessed by demons and were so savage that no one could travel along that road. With a sudden shriek they cried: "Why meddle with us, Son of God? Have you come to torture us before the appointed time?" (Matthew 8:28-29).

Savage is the word the Holy Spirit inspired to describe the demonic onslaught against Man and all that is humane. The Gospel of Mark describes the dehumanization of the men who were possessed.

"They came to Gerasene territory on the other side of the lake. As He got out of the boat, He was immediately met by a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit. The man had taken refuge among the tombs; he could no longer be restrained even with a chain. In fact, he had frequently been secured with handcuffs and chains, but had pulled the chains apart and smashed the fetters. No one had proved strong enough to tame him. Uninterruptedly night and day, amid the tombs and on the hillsides, he screamed and gashed himself with stones." (Mark 5:1-5).


To Divide

Heaven is the community of all who love God, and our destiny. That is why community on earth -- any community that truly deserves that name (not an organization merely, or a group or, still less, a mob) is always an earthly preview of what awaits us in the world to come. Community is, therefore, a prime target of demons.

This, too, is the thrust behind dissent within the Church (no matter what glorious and even sublime rhetoric), this tearing apart of the Church is couched in. The onslaught against community and, most of all, against the primal community of the family is one of the ways that powers of darkness carry on their endless war against God and His Creation.

Father Rutler, a well-known preacher and defender of the Faith (he had been a devout Anglican) put this well:

"Satan knows however that he can inch society away from heavenly strength by three assaults.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)host.jpg (3278 bytes)First, he attacks the Blessed Sacrament. The consecrated Host is the most vivid presence of God we have on earth. Old Scratch cannot stand it. For as malign voices shrieked whenever Jesus got close during His earthly ministry, so it is not uncommon to find disturbed and even criminal personalities drawn by a dread fascination whenever the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. Satan tried to annihilate Christ and his obsession with the Eucharist is a case of the culprit returning to the scene of his crime; for this reason, the Christian must do all he can to remind himself of the utter holiness in this Holy Sacrifice.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)mass_latin.gif (10689 bytes)Secondly, old Scratch attacks the priesthood. (Dignity of the Priesthood) Priests mediate between God and the human race. They contact us with the sublime, and that is precisely what the Great Deceiver does not want. So he will tell us that the Church is wrong to have priests. Or that if everyone cannot be a priest then no one should be one. Or that Christ was culturally limited in the way He structured Church order. Or that since priests are sinful as everyone else, they cannot mediate. The priest knows this better than anyone, and Scratch wants no one to know it. So he will plot to turn the priest into a manager, or cheerleader, or psychiatrist, or politician, without his clerical clothes which are a sign of contradiction and let him no longer be called Father. For Satan cannot stand fathers. He rebelled against his once and does not want to be reminded.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)two_small_hearts.gif (9223 bytes)Thirdly, old Scratch attacks the holy names of Jesus and Mary. They are more powerful than Scratch and he knows it. Mary helps and Jesus saves. Invoke their names with faith and all will be well. But Satan does not want us to know that. He wants us to be in awe of no one, and only in fear of himself. The Prince of Darkness would keep us away from the castle from whose windows the King and Queen pour light."


To Defile

Persons and places become poisoned with rancor, suspicion, anger and hate; they become horrible in a strange unearthly way; there is some indefinable soul-corruption there. Demons defile the world. In a moment of rare honesty among many artists, Picasso once admitted how depressed he had allowed himself to become.

"picasso.jpg (3494 bytes)In art the mass of the people no longer seek consolation and exaltation, but those who are refined, rich, unoccupied, who are distillers of quintessences, seek what is new, strange, original, extravagant, scandalous. I myself, since Cubism and before, have satisfied these masters and critics with all the changing oddities which have passed through my head, and the less they understood me, the more they admired me. By amusing myself with all these games, with all these absurdities, puzzles, rebuses, arabesques, I became famous and that very quickly. And fame for a painter means sales, gains, fortune, riches. And today, as you know, I am celebrated, I am rich. But when I am alone with myself, I have not the courage to think of myself as an artist in the great and ancient sense of the term. Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt, were great painters. I am only a public entertainer who has understood his times and exploited as best he could the imbecility, the vanity, the cupidity of his contemporaries. Mine is a bitter confession, more painful than it may appear, but it has the merit of being sincere."


To Destroy

When Jesus met the two men possessed by demons, the Gospel tells us that they were " savage no one could pass that way." Violence is the mark of Satan. Violence is not of the body only - beating, robbing, killing - but also, and indeed, most of all, the violence of reviling, of harassing, of tearing down, of tale-bearing, of mockery, of sneering, of hate. Our Blessed Lord summed up the demonic in one line. He said of Satan that, "... he was a murderer from the beginning."

The word of God projects a struggle, a war, between opposing forces. St John, for example, constantly speaks of light and darkness, life and death. Against Christ appears the great Adversary who is, in Our Lord's own words, ruler of this world. With Satan are arrayed the earthly powers, those who hate the light and become instruments of Satan against God. Jesus Christ came to cast out Satan -- His word -- and the grace He gives us is a powerful counter- force against all that demons can do. St John told the first Christians:

"Dear children, let no one lead you astray. He who does what is just is just, even as He is just. He who commits sins is of the devil, because the devil sins from the beginning. To this end, the Son of God appeared, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever is born of God does not commit sin, because His seed abides in him and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of god and the children of the devil are made known." (1John 3:7-10).

eucharis.gif (12459 bytes)Devils know, if we do not, that the Eucharist is a Force against them that breaks their hold on us and on our world. The Eucharist, we might say, is The Ultimate Weapon against demons, that the Lord hands over to us to use. We believe in devils and their power through the gift of Faith. As Faith fades within the Church, devils gain more power over souls, even over Christians. Historians of some future age will think it a tragic irony that Catholics stopped praying to St Michael the Archangel at the very time they needed to most of all.


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Leonine Prayers