The Five D's of the Demonic
The Five D's of the Demonic
by Fr Patrick McHugh
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:
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.
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 been 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 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.
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.
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:
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.
When Jesus met the two men possessed by demons, the Gospel tells us that they were " ...so 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:
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.