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Reflections: Catholic Basics Section (Evil/Satan)

Satan (Crushed Underfoot by St. Michael the Archangel)

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Catholic Basics Section:

Evil / Satan

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Devil / Satan / Evil


Why Evil is Allowed


Devil / Satan / Evil

Also See: Evil / Satan (Topic Page)

"At once the Spirit drove [Jesus] out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him." (Mk. 1:12-13)

"And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades as an angel of light. So it is not strange that his ministers also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds." (St. Paul, 2 Cor. 11:14-15)

"Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all (the) flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (St. Paul, Eph. 6:10-17)

"So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (St. James, Jms. 4:7)

"Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour." (St. Peter, 1 Pt. 5:8)

"We know that we belong to God, and the whole world is under the power of the evil one." (St. John, 1 Jn. 5:19)

"Sin it were to believe the devil." (St. Thomas More)

"They that follow not Christ Jesus, follow Satan" (Dom Gueranger)

"[T]he devil flees those who resist him" (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"[Satan] always rejoices at dissension" (Pope St. Boniface I, 422 A.D.)

"The smoke of Satan has entered everywhere. Everywhere!" (Fr. Gabriele Amorth, chief exorcist in Rome) 

"Draw near to God, and Satan will flee from you." (St. Ephraem the Syrian, Doctor of the Church)

"There is no man that Satan does not tempt towards evil." (Fr. Fanzaga)

"[B]y the envy of the devil, death came into the world." (Baltimore Catechism)

"Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good (cf. Rom. 12:21)." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"How many enemies to vanquish - the devil, the world, and ourselves." (Catechism of the Cure de Ars)

"When you have made a good confession, you have chained up the devil." (Catechism of the Cure de Ars)

"We also know the value of our soul by the efforts the devil makes to ruin it." (Catechism of the Cure de Ars)

Q: "Which is the greatest evil in the world?" A: "Sin." (Catechism of St. John Neumann)

"The devil does all he can to defile our soul, and yet our soul is everything." (Catechism of the Cure de Ars)

"[T]he chief aim of the evil one is to deprive us of our heavenly inheritance." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"It is thus that the Sacrament of Penance snatches us from the claws of the devil." (Catechism of the Cure de Ars)

"The Sign of the Cross is formidable to the devil, because by the Cross we escape from him." (Catechism of the Cure de Ars)

"If the demon leaves you alone, it means that you are in his net." (Fr. Fanzaga)

"Remember that the devil doesn't sleep, but seeks our ruin in a thousand ways." (St. Angela Merici)

"The enemy is glad to make you lose time when he cannot make you lose eternity." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"Do not fool yourself. If you travel the way of sin, it is Satan who keeps you on a leash." (Fr. Fanzaga)

"This is the contrivance of the Devil, ever to mix error with truth." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"The Devil attacks men in three ways: by suggestion, by snare, and by possession." (Fr. Delaporte)

"If we do not entrust ourselves to God, we sell ourselves to the devil." (St. Paulinus of Nola)

"[Satan] will continue to attempt the capture of your soul until the final instant of your existence on earth." (Fr. Fanzaga)

"Innocence is a great fortress: a child is stronger than we are against the devil because he is innocent." (Pope Paul VI, 1972)

"The devil's snare doesn't catch you unless you're already nibbling on the devil's bait." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"No wickedness, no heresy, not even the Devil himself can deceive anyone without counterfeiting virtue." (St. Dorotheus of Gaza)

"God gives the devil power against us in two modes: either for punishment when we sin, or for glory when we are tested." (St. Cyprian of Carthage)

"For it is of the devil to cast one's self into dangers, and try whether God will rescue us." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"The tempter, ever on the lookout, wages war most violently against those whom he sees most careful to avoid sin." (Pope St. Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"What are the Church's greatest needs at the present time?...one of the Church's greatest needs is to be defended against the evil we call the Devil." (Pope Paul VI, 1972)

"...having tempted [Christ] in the desert with pleasure, [the devil] retires from Him until the crucifixion, when he was about to tempt Him with sorrow." (St. Theophylact)

"For he accused God to man, saying to Eve, But of envy He has forbidden you the tree: and to God he accused man, as in Job, Does Job serve God, for wrought?" (St. Theophylact)

"After all, what is history, since the revolt of Lucifer, but a picture of the war that is being waged between God and Satan?" (Liturgical Year)

"The angels who did not remain faithful to God were cast into hell, and these are called bad angels, or devils." (Baltimore Catechism)

"The devil amuses us till the last moment, as a poor man is kept amused while the soldiers are coming to take him." (Catechism of the Cure de Ars)

"[W]e must watch over our mind, over our heart, and over our senses, for these are the gates by which the devil penetrates." (Catechism of the Cure de Ars)

"The Angels banished for ever from Paradise and condemned to hell are called demons, and their chief is called Lucifer or Satan." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

"The good God leaves us free to choose life or death; if we choose death, we shall be cast into the fire, and we must burn forever with the devils." (Catechism of the Cure de Ars)

"Satan, however, is overcome not by indolence, sleep, wine, reveling, or lust; but by prayer, labor, watching, fasting, continence and chastity." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"The devil is also called evil, because, although we have never injured him, he wages perpetual war against us, and pursues us with mortal hatred." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"If one were to have recourse to and invoke the devil, he would commit an enormous sin, because the devil is the most wicked enemy both of God and of man." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

"And let us be very careful of the malice and the subtlety of the Satan, who wishes that a man not raise his mind and heart to God." (St. Francis of Assisi)

"The devil and the other demons were created by God good according to their nature, but they made themselves evil by their own doing." (Fourth Lateran Council, 1215)

"There are three principal weapons that the devil likes to carry in order to wound our souls. They are gluttony, arrogance and ambition." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"The devil only tempts those souls that wish to abandon sin and those that are in a state of grace. The others belong to him: he has no need to tempt them." (St. John Vianney)

"The greatest of all evils is not to be tempted, because there are then grounds for believing that the devil looks upon us as his property." (St. John Vianney)

"[A]s chastity is the way that leads to God, so fornication is the way that leads to the Devil" [Pseudo Chrys (as quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church)]

"They do whatever they please with us; they suggest to us evil-speaking, calumny, hatred, vengeance: they even drive us so far as to put our neighbor to death." (Catechism of the Cure de Ars) 

"For because the traitorous angel fell, and was justly cast down from the honors he enjoyed, burning with envy he now endeavors to expel those whom God calls to heaven." (Vespers Hymn)

"When the devil is called the god of this world, it's not because he made it, but because we serve him with our worldliness." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"It is a mark of the evil spirit to take on the appearance of an angel of light. He begins by whispering thoughts that are suited to a devout soul, and ends by suggesting his own." (St. Ignatius Loyola)

"The devil kisseth when he meaneth to kill; he giveth us a draught of poison in a golden cup, and in sumptuous and stately ship wafteth his passengers upon the rock of eternal ruin." (St. Robert Southwell)

"Let not the heretic entrap you by bringing examples from the Scriptures. The devil makes use of the testimony of the Scriptures not to teach but to deceive." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"He is called the enemy on account of the losses he inflicts on men; for the assaults of the Devil are made upon us, though their origin is not in his enmity towards us, but in his enmity towards God." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"Hence instead of cherishing resentment against our neighbor, we should turn our hatred and anger against Satan himself, by whom men are instigated to harm us." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"We always have two secretaries: the devil, who writes down our bad actions, to accuse us of them; and our good angel, who writes down our good ones, to justify us at the Day of Judgment." (Catechism of the Cure de Ars)

"Some say, 'I have done too much evil; the good God cannot pardon me:' My children, this is a great blasphemy; it is putting a limit to the mercy of God, which has no limit - it is infinite." (Catechism of the Cure de Ars)

"A good Christian watches continually, sword in hand, the devil can do nothing against him, for he resists him like a warrior in full armor; he does not fear him, because he has rejected from his heart all that is impure." (Catechism of the Cure de Ars)

"Among the absurd fallacies introduced by the demon into the world none is greater or more pernicious than the forgetfulness of the hour of death and what is to happen at the court of the rigorous Judge." (Ven. Mary of Agreda)

"Let the enemy rage at the gate, let him knock, let him push, let him cry, let him howl, let him do worse; we know for certain that he cannot enter save by the door of our consent." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"[Satan] is 'a murderer from the beginning', is also 'a liar and the father of lies' (Jn 8:44). By deceiving man he leads him to projects of sin and death, making them appear as goals and fruits of life." (Pope John Paul II, 1995)

"The strategy of our adversary can be compared to the tactics of a commander intent upon seizing and plundering a position he desires. The leader of an army will encamp, explore the fortifications and defenses of the fortress, and attack at the weakest point." (St. Ignatius Loyola)

"['(The devil) was a murderer from the beginning' (Jn. 8:44).] The devil did not go, girt with a sword, against man: he sowed an evil word, and slew him. Do not suppose therefore that you are not guilty of murder, when you suggest evil thoughts to your brother." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Believe me, Brethren, Satan dreads the watchings of holy men, and their prayers, and fasts, and voluntary poverty, and works of mercy, and humility, and above all, their ardent love for Christ our Lord, at the mere sign of whose most holy Cross he is disabled and put to flight." (St. Antony)

"All those who love the Mother of God, that is to say, all true Catholics, are persuaded that, after God, Mary is our principal support in our conflicts with Satan. This persuasion is not merely a pious conjecture; it rests on constant experience and on dogmatical foundations the most unshaken." (Fr. Delaporte)

"For however great the power and pertinacity of Satan, he cannot, in his deadly hatred of our race, tempt or torment us as much, or as long as he pleases; but all his power is governed by the control and permission of God." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Whoever, then, purposes to enlist, under the standard of Christ, must first of all, enter into a sacred and solemn engagement to renounce the devil and the world, and always to hold them in utter detestation as his worst enemies." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"The devil has never made anyone or begotten anyone or created anyone; but whoever acts as the devil does becomes in one sense a child of the devil, as if begotten by him. The child resembles the father, not because they are literally kin, but because the child imitates the father." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"The basic, universally accepted subdivision of satanic activity is the following: the demon operates an ordinary activity, temptation, and an extraordinary activity, which includes the entire range of evil disturbances, of various degrees of seriousness and nature." (Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist of Rome)

"We must avoid addressing the demon directly to find out his name and - I add - anything else. All other considerations aside, a direct dialogue with the demon can be dangerous to anyone who dares to initiate it without the due authorization of the Church, and therefore without her protection." (Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist of Rome)

"And while in times past demons, occupying springs or rivers or trees or stones, cheated men by deceptive appearances and imposed upon the credulous by their juggleries, now, after the divine coming of the word, an end is put to their deceptions. For by the sign of the cross, a man but using it, their wiles are put to flight." (St. Athanasius, Doctor of the Church, c. 318 A.D.)

"['(The devil) was a murderer from the beginning' (Jn. 8:44).] Consider too, it was not one man only that he killed, but the whole human race, inasmuch as in Adam all die; so that he is truly called a murderer from the beginning." [Origen ("the greatest scholar of Christian antiquity" - although he would eventually be excommunicated and be regarded as a heretic), 3rd century A.D.]

"Satan is a pure spirit. We have given him a physical image in order to picture him in our minds. When he appears to us, he takes on a concrete form. However ugly we can picture him in our minds, he is infinitely uglier still. I am not speaking of physical ugliness, but of perfidy and distance from God, who is the summit and culmination of every beauty." (Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist of Rome)

"When he saw that man was made in the image and likeness of God, the Devil realized that it was useless for him to fight against God, so instead he entangled God's image in evil. In the same way, an angry man might throw stones at the emperor's image, since he cannot throw them at the emperor and so must be content with striking the wood that bears his likeness." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"That is truly the devil's language, which seeks to cast down the soul of man from the high ground of its good deeds, while he shows at the same time both his weakness and malice, for he can injure no one that does not first cast himself down. For he who forsaking heavenly things pursues earthly, rushes as it were willfully down the self-sought precipice of a falling life." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"Language is inadequate to depict the cruel tyranny which the devil exercises over those who, having shaken off the sweet yoke of God, and broken the most lovely bond of charity by which our spirit is bound to God our Father, have gone over to their relentless enemy, who is therefore called in Scripture, the prince and ruler of the world, the prince of darkness, and king over all the children of pride." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"But our Lord calls the devil the father of a lie for this reason: Every one who lies is not the father of his own lie; for you may tell a lie, which you have received from another; in which ease you have lied, but are not the father of the lie. But the lie wherewith, as with a serpent's bite, the devil slew man, had no source but himself: and therefore he is the father of a lie, as God is the Father of the truth." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"But it is not Satan alone that tempts men, for sometimes a host of demons combine to attack an individual. This that evil spirit confessed, who, having been asked his name by Christ the Lord, replied, My name is legion; that is to say, a multitude of demons, tormented their unhappy victim. And of another demon it is written: He taketh with them seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"The sign of the cross is the most terrible weapon against the Devil. Thus the Church wishes not only that we should have it continually in front of our minds to recall to us just what our souls are worth and what they cost Jesus Christ, but also that we should make it at every juncture ourselves: when we go to bed, when we awaken during the night, when we get up, when we begin any action, and above all, when we are tempted." (St. John Vianney)

"This matter of the Devil and of the influence he can exert on individuals as well as on communities, entire societies or events, is a very important chapter of Catholic doctrine which should be studied again, although it is given little attention today. Some think a sufficient compensation can be found in psychoanalytic and psychiatric studies or in spiritualistic experiences, which are unfortunately so widespread in some countries today." (Pope Paul VI, 1972)

"The evil spirits, cunning thieves that they are, can take us by surprise and rob us of all we possess. They are watching day and night for the right moment. They roam incessantly seeking to devour us and to snatch us in one brief moment of sin all the grace and merit we have taken years to acquire. Their malice and their experience, their cunning and their numbers ought to make us fearful of such a misfortune happening to us." (St. Louis de Montfort)

"Every believer, through baptism and confirmation, must feel engaged in the battle against the demon. We know that we are temples of the Holy Spirit; the demon would like to wrest that privilege from us... Just as the demon fights against us daily, so we must battle daily against him... Today, it seems that this sense of battle is absent from our preaching and our catechesis. And yet, the entire Bible, particularly the New Testament, insists upon it." (Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist of Rome)

"Believe me when I tell you that Satan's nefarious and dark activity - as Pope [John] Paul II calls it - is more widespread and deadly than we think. The skeptical sarcasm of worldly pseudo-experts, and sometimes even Christians and teachers of religion, is the fruit of disinformation and, therefore, of superficiality. This skepticism is itself one of the main components of the victory that the evil one wants to win, under the cover of silence." (Bishop Gemma)

"[The demon] can bring about physical effects on matter and physical illness on the human body. He can also affect our psyche through dreams, thoughts, and imagination. He can transmit his own thoughts to us, such as hatred or despair. All these phenomena can appear in victims of satanic ailments and, most of all, in victims of possession. The true perfidy and ugliness of this spiritual being is greater than anything we humans can imagine or depict." (Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist of Rome)

"[Referring to Lk. 4:9-13:] Whence know you, Satan, that those things are written? Have you read the Prophets, or the oracles of God? You have read them indeed, but not that yourself might be the better for the reading, but that from the mere letter you might slay them who are friends to the letter. You know that if you were to speak from His other books, you would not deceive." [Origen ("the greatest scholar of Christian antiquity" - although he would eventually be excommunicated and be regarded as a heretic), 3rd century A.D.]

"But the Lord, to prevent the thought that those things which had been prophesied of Him were fulfilled according to the devil's will, and not by the authority of His own divine power, again so foils his cunning, that he who had alleged the testimony of Scripture, should by Scripture himself be overthrown. Hence it follows, And Jesus answering said, It is said, You shall not tempt the Lord thy God (Lk. 4:12)." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"Or thus: The devil is not a singular, but a common name. In whomsoever the works of the devil are found, he is to be called the devil. It is the name of a work, not of a nature. Here then our Lord means by the father of the Jews, Cain; whom they wished to imitate, by killing the Savior: for he it was who set the first example of murdering a brother. That he spoke a lie of his own, means that no one sins but by his own will. And inasmuch as Cain imitated the devil, and followed his works, the devil is said to be his father." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Finally, in every instance of vexation, contempt, and abhorrence, you pronounce the name of Satan. He it is whom we call the angel of wickedness, the author of every error, the corrupter of the whole world, through whom man was deceived in the very beginning so that he transgressed the command of God. On account of his transgression man was given over to death; and the whole human race, which was infected by his seed, was made the transmitter of condemnation." [Tertullian ("an excellent early Christian writer" - although he would ultimately fall into heresy), c. 2nd century A.D.]

"Isaiah, setting forth the devil under the figure of the prince of Babylon, says, How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! Ezekiel says, You have been in Eden, the garden of God. Which passages, as they cannot be interpreted in any other way, show that we must take the word, He stood not in the truth, to mean, that he was in truth, but did not remain in it; and the other, that the devil sins from the beginning, to mean, that he was a sinner not from the beginning of his creation, but from the beginning of sin. For sin began in him, and he was the beginning of sin." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Sorcery, by means of enchantments, divinations, superstitions and the invoking of demons, is prohibited by both civil laws and the sanctions of the sacred canons. We rule, decree and ordain that clerics who are found guilty of these things are to be branded with disgrace at the judgment of superiors. If they do not desist, they are to be demoted, forced into a monastery for a period of time that is to be fixed by the will of the superior, and deprived of their benefices and ecclesiastical offices. Lay men and women, however, are to be subject to excommunication and the other penalties of both civil and canon law." (Fifth Lateran Council) 

"We can surmise that [the devil's] sinister activity is present wherever denial of God becomes radical. While our natural tendency is toward God, wherever the devil is active we find a radical denial, which can be as subtle, difficult, or sophisticated as you please, but it is radical denial nevertheless... [W]e can see the hand of Satan in every hypocritical and powerful lie against the truth. We can identify the prodding of the devil wherever love is absent, dead, and where selfishness is cold, cruel, and so on, and where the name of Jesus is defamed with conscious and rebellious hatred." (Pope Paul VI, 1972)

"[The Church] firmly believes, professes, and teaches that no one conceived of man and woman was ever freed of the domination of the Devil, except through the merit of the mediator between God and men, our Lord Jesus Christ; He who was conceived without sin, was born and died, through His death alone laid low the enemy of the human race by destroying our sins, and opened the entrance to the kingdom of heaven, which the first man by his own sin had lost with all succession; and that He would come sometime, all the sacred rites of the Old Testament, sacrifices, sacraments, and ceremonies disclosed." (Pope Eugenius IV, "Cantata Domino", 1441/2 A.D.)

"Two things may be considered in the assault of the demons - the assault itself, and the ordering thereof. The assault itself is due to the malice of the demons, who through envy endeavor to hinder man's progress; and through pride usurp a semblance of Divine power, by deputing certain ministers to assail man, as the angels of God in their various offices minister to man's salvation. But the ordering of the assault is from God, Who knows how to make orderly use of evil by ordering it to good. On the other hand, in regard to the angels, both their guardianship and the ordering thereof are to be referred to God as their first author." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The wicked angels assail men in two ways. Firstly by instigating them to sin; and thus they are not sent by God to assail us, but are sometimes permitted to do so according to God's just judgments. But sometimes their assault is a punishment to man: and thus they are sent by God; as the lying spirit was sent to punish Achab, King of Israel, as is related in 3 Kings [1 Kings] 22:20 For punishment is referred to God as its first author. Nevertheless the demons who are sent to punish, do so with an intention other than that for which they are sent; for they punish from hatred or envy; whereas they are sent by God on account of His justice." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"From all this we may understand that the power of these enemies [the demons] is great, their courage undaunted, their hatred of us enormous and unmeasured; that they also wage against us a perpetual war, so that with them there can be no peace, no truce. How great is their audacity is evidenced by the words of Satan, recorded by the Prophet: I will ascend into heaven. He attacked our first parents in Paradise; he assailed the Prophets; he beset the Apostles in order, as the Lord says in the Gospel, that he might sift them as wheat. Nor was he abashed even by the presence of Christ the Lord Himself. His insatiable desire and unwearied diligence St. Peter therefore expressed when he said: Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion goeth about, seeking whom he may devour." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"The one need that holds my attention this morning is unusual and difficult: defense. The thought haunts me. Defense against whom? Saint Paul tells us that we must fight. We know that, but against whom? Saint Paul reminds us often that we might fight, like soldiers. He says that our fight is not against visible things, such as flesh and blood. Still, we must engage in battle. I call it 'combat against the darkness'. We must fight against spirits, the spirits that swarm around us. In other words, we must fight against the demon... Anyone who refuses to acknowledge the existence of this terrible reality departs from the truth of biblical and ecclesiastical teaching... How many times does Christ himself alert us to the importance of the reality that is Satan?" (Pope Paul VI, 1972)

"Jesus also calls the demon 'murderer from the beginning', 'father of lies'. He is the sophisticated seducer of man's moral balance. He is the evil and cunning charmer who knows how to infiltrate everyone's individual psychology. He finds the open door and comes in: through our senses, our imagination, and our concupiscence... Again through utopian logic, disordered social contacts, bad friends, and bad worldly ideas, [the devil slips] into our actions and introduces deviations that are all the more deadly because they appear to conform to the physical or psychological and instinctive structure of our person: this is why temptation is so seductive. These structures run deep and influence our personality. He takes advantage of our own fabric, our makeup, to enter our psychology subtly." (Pope Paul VI, 1972)

"How comes it that man is ever ready to join hands with Satan for his own destruction? But Lucifer himself was at first his own only enemy; and surely his folly is more difficult to explain than that of the frail creature he strives to draw after him along the path of pride which led him to perdition. It is pride that made him the prince of folly and the father of lies. His intellect, though the loftiest in heaven, was not proof against self-love, which induced him to take complacency in his created nothingness, to 'detain the truth of God in injustice,' and to prefer darkness to the light. Thus it is that men, following Satan's example and dishonoring God to exalt themselves, 'become vain in their thoughts', till such a darkness comes over their mind and heart and senses, as strikes with astonishment the soul that remains simple and upright in its humility." (Liturgical Year)

"[W]e know that this dark and disturbing being truly exists and is still active with predatory cunning. He is the hidden enemy who sows error, misfortune, decadence, and degradation in human history. We must remember - this is also genuine Gospel - the revealing parable of the weeds sown among the wheat. The servants, those who cultivated the fields, marvel at this: 'Where have the weeds come from?' The master of the field, who symbolizes God, answers:...'it is the enemy of man who did this.' Evil, which is spread throughout the world, has its own personal, intentional history. God himself tolerates, almost defends this state of affairs: 'Do not pull up the weeds because you may uproot the wheat along with them...then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, 'first collect the weeds and tie them.' The day will come, the last day, when this distinction will be made and the judgment will be absolute." (Pope Paul VI, 1972)

"According to the interpretation of St. Basil the Great, St. Chrysostom and St. Augustine, the devil is specially called the evil one, because he was the author of man's transgression, that is, of his sin and iniquity, and also because God makes use of him as an instrument to chastise sinful and impious men. For the evils which mankind endures in punishment of sin are appointed by God... The devil is also called evil, because, although we have never injured him, he wages perpetual war against us, and pursues us with mortal hatred. If we put on the armor of faith and the shield of innocence, he can have no power to hurt us; nevertheless he unceasingly tempts us by external evils and every other means of annoyance within his reach. We therefore beseech God to deliver us from the evil one." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"The question of the Devil is not one of mere curiosity. The question is of a living enemy, powerful, present, dangerous, furious. You are reminded that he has caused the terrible, irremediable ruin of a multitude of your fellow-beings. You are warned, in particular, to avoid dark associations, inspired by him, mysterious operations, of which he himself...is the invisible agent. When flight is impossible, fight. Avoid more carefully even those trivial faults which make the Devil bolder and stronger against you; avoid, especially mortal sin, which would deliver your soul to him. Never sleep, if you possibly can, in the captivity of Satan. Be on your guard against the love of riches, which fills his nets; the love of pleasure, which leads to idolatry; and pride, the father of all errors. Grieve not the Spirit of God. Watch, pray. Soon you shall repose in the triumphant peace of heaven." (Fr. Delaporte)

"The conduct of bad men helps us, alas! to understand that of the Devil. They walk in the ways of darkness; they rejoice when they have done evil, and they take delight in wicked actions. Devoured by the want of acting, and no longer able to share with man the grace, the joy, the purity he has lost, the Devil tries to inculcate him with impiety, blasphemy, aversion to the Supreme Good. He sees the faithful angel, after having conquered in the great struggle between the two angelic armies, accomplishing for man, his young brother, the charitable ministry which has been confided to him; he sees man, overwhelmed with those magnificent gifts of which he is ignominiously despoiled, ascending towards the throne which his fall left vacant. He is jealous, and his jealously urges him unceasingly, with sin and by sin, to make death reign on earth. In short, powerless to strike God, whose arm chastises his insolence, he tries to avenge himself on the weaker beings whom God surrounds with His paternal tenderness." (Fr. Delaporte)

"He then points out the manner of the Devil's snares, saying, While men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares in the midst of the wheat, and departed. He here shows that error arose after truth, as indeed the course of events testifies; for the false prophets came after the Prophets, the false apostles after the Apostles, and Antichrist after Christ. For unless the Devil sees what to imitate, and some to lay in wait against, he does not attempt anything. Therefore because he saw that this man bears fruit an hundred, this sixty, and this thirty fold, and that he was not able to carry off or to choke that which had taken root, he turns to other insidious practices, mixing up his own seed, which is a counterfeit of the true, and thereby imposes upon such as are prone to be deceived. So the parable speaks, not of another seed, but of tares which bear a great likeness to wheat corn. Further, the malignity of the Devil is shown in this, that he sowed when all else was completed, that he might do the greater hurt to the husbandman (Mt. 13:24-30)." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"But in this mercifulness of God, dearly beloved, the greatness of which towards us we cannot explain, Christians must be extremely careful lest they be caught again in the devil's wiles and once more entangled in the errors which they have renounced. For the old enemy does not cease to 'transform himself into an angel of light,' and spread everywhere the snares of his deceptions, and make every effort to corrupt the faith of believers. He knows whom to ply with the zest of greed, whom to assail with the allurements of the belly, before whom to set the attractions of self-indulgence, in whom to instill the poison of jealousy: he knows whom to overwhelm with grief, whom to cheat with joy, whom to surprise with fear, whom to bewilder with wonderment: there is no one whose habits he does not sift, whose cares he does not winnow, whose affections he does not pry into: and wherever he sees a man most absorbed in occupation, there he seeks opportunity to injure him. Moreover he has many whom he has bound still more tightly because they are suited for his designs, that he may use their abilities and tongues to deceive others." (Pope St. Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"There are many, who because they do not feel the assaults of demons against them, imagine that the whole matter is fictitious; nor is it surprising that such persons are not attacked by demons, to whom they have voluntarily surrendered themselves. They possess neither piety nor charity, nor any virtue worthy of a Christian; hence they are entirely in the power of the evil, and there is no need of any temptation to overcome them, since their souls have already become his willing abode. But those who have dedicated themselves to God, leading a heavenly life upon earth, are the chief objects of the assaults of Satan. Against them he harbors bitterest hatred, laying snares for them each moment. Sacred Scripture is full of examples of holy men who, in spite of their firmness and resolution, were perverted by his violence of fraud. Adam, David, Solomon and others, whom it would be tedious to enumerate, experienced the violent and crafty cunning of demons, which neither human prudence nor human strength can overcome... But should any of the faithful, though weakness or ignorance, feel terrified at the power of the demons, they are to be encouraged, when tossed by the waves of temptation, to take refuge in this harbor of prayer." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"For our Redeemer and Savior knew what great errors the devil's deceit had dispersed throughout the world and by how many superstitions he had subjected the chief part of mankind to himself. But that the creature formed in God's image might not any longer through ignorance of the Truth be driven on to the precipice of perpetual death, He inserted in the Gospel pages the nature of His judgment that it might recover every man from the snares of the crafty foe; for now all would know what rewards the good might hope for and what punishments the evil must fear. For the instigator and author of sin in order first to fall through pride and then to injure us through envy, because 'he stood not in the Truth' put all his strength in lying and produced every kind of deceit from this poisoned source of his cunning, that he might cut off man's devout hopes from that happiness which he had lost by his own uplifting, and drag them into partnership with his condemnation, to whose reconciliation he himself could not attain. Whoever therefore among men has wronged God by his wickednesses, has been led astray by his guile, and depraved by his villainy. For he easily drives into all evil doings those whom he has deceived in the matter of religion. But knowing that God is denied not only by words but also by deeds, many whom he could not rob of their faith, he has robbed of their love, and by choking the ground of their heart with the weeds of avarice, has spoiled them of the fruit of good works, when he could not spoil them of the confession of their lips." (Pope St. Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"The temptation which comes from the enemy takes the form of a suggestion, as Gregory says (Hom. 16 in Evangelia). Now a suggestion cannot be made to everybody in the same way; it must arise from those things towards which each one has an inclination. Consequently the devil does not straight away tempt the spiritual man to grave sins, but he begins with lighter sins, so as gradually to lead him to those of greater magnitude. Wherefore Gregory (Moralium xxxi), expounding Job 39:25, 'He smelleth the battle afar off, the encouraging of the captains and the shouting of the army,' says: 'The captains are fittingly described as encouraging, and the army as shouting. Because vices begin by insinuating themselves into the mind under some specious pretext: then they come on the mind in such numbers as to drag it into all sorts of folly, deafening it with their bestial clamor.' Thus, too, did the devil set about the temptation of the first man. For at first he enticed his mind to consent to the eating of the forbidden fruit, saying (Genesis 3:1): 'Why hath God commanded you that you should not eat of every tree of paradise?' Secondly [he tempted him] to vainglory by saying: 'Your eyes shall be opened.' Thirdly, he led the temptation to the extreme height of pride, saying: 'You shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.' This same order did he observe in tempting Christ. For at first he tempted Him to that which men desire, however spiritual they may be - namely, the support of the corporeal nature by food. Secondly, he advanced to that matter in which spiritual men are sometimes found wanting, inasmuch as they do certain things for show, which pertains to vainglory. Thirdly, he led the temptation on to that in which no spiritual men, but only carnal men, have a part - namely, to desire worldly riches and fame, to the extent of holding God in contempt. And so in the first two temptations he said: 'If Thou be the Son of God'; but not in the third, which is inapplicable to spiritual men, who are sons of God by adoption, whereas it does apply to the two preceding temptations." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Manifold indeed and beyond human conception are the instructions and gifts of grace which He has laid up in us; as the pattern of heavenly conversation, power against demons, the adoption of sons, and that exceeding great and singular grace, the knowledge of the Father and of the Word Himself, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. But the mind of man is prone to evil exceedingly; moreover, our adversary the devil, envying us the possession of such great blessings, goeth about seeking to snatch away the seed of the word which is sown within us. Wherefore as if by His prophetic warnings He would seal up His instructions in our hearts as His own peculiar treasure, the Lord said, 'Take heed that no man deceive you: for many shall come in My name, saying, I am he; and the time draweth near; and they shall deceive many: go ye not therefore after them.' This is a great gift which the Word has bestowed upon us, that we should not be deceived by appearances, but that, howsoever these things are concealed, we should all the more distinguish them by the grace of the Spirit. For whereas the inventor of wickedness and great spirit of evil, the devil, is utterly hateful, and as soon as he shews himself is rejected of all men - as a serpent, as a dragon, as a lion seeking whom he may seize upon and devour - therefore he conceals and covers what he really is, and craftily personates that Name which all men desire, so that deceiving by a false appearance, he may thenceforth fix fast in his own chains those whom he has led astray. And as if one that desired to kidnap the children of others during the absence of their parents, should personate their appearance, and so putting a cheat on the affections of the offspring, should carry them far away and destroy them; in like manner this evil and wily spirit the devil, having no confidence in himself, and knowing the love which men bear to the truth, personates its appearance, and so spreads his own poison among those that follow after him." (St. Athanasius, Doctor of the Church)

"But our curiosity, excited by the certainly of his multiple existence, has a right to raise two questions. Are there signs, and what are they, of the presence of diabolical action? And what means of defense do we have against such an insidious danger?... We have to be cautious about answering the first question, even though the signs of the Evil One seem to be very obvious at times. We can presume that his sinister action is at work where the denial of God becomes radical, subtle and absurd; where lies become powerful and hypocritical in the face of evident truth; where love is smothered by cold, cruel selfishness; where Christ's name is attacked with conscious, rebellious hatred, where the spirit of the Gospel is watered down and rejected where despair is affirmed as the last word; and so forth. But this diagnosis is too extensive and difficult for Us to attempt to probe and authenticate it now. It holds a certain dramatic interest for everyone, however, and has been the subject of some famous passages in modern literature. The problem of evil remains one of the greatest and most lasting problems for the human mind, even after the victorious response given to it by Jesus Christ. 'We know,' writes St. John the Evangelist, 'that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one.'... It is easier to formulate an answer to the other question - what defense, what remedy should we use against the Devil's action? - even though it remains difficult to put into practice. We could say: everything that defends us from sin strengthens us by that very fact against the invisible enemy. Grace is the decisive defense. Innocence takes on the aspect of strength. Everyone recalls how often the apostolic method of teaching used the armor of a soldier as a symbol for the virtues that can make a Christian invulnerable. The Christian must be a militant; he must be vigilant and strong; and he must at times make use of special ascetical practices to escape from certain diabolical attacks. Jesus teaches us this by pointing to 'prayer and fasting' as the remedy. And the Apostle suggests the main line we should follow: 'Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ' With an awareness, therefore, of the opposition that individual souls, the Church and the world must face at the present time, we will try to give both meaning and, effectiveness to the familiar invocation in our principal prayer: 'Our Father...deliver us from evil!'" (Pope Paul VI, 1972)

"Thus we can see how important an awareness of evil is if we are to have a correct Christian concept of the world, life and salvation. We see this first in the unfolding of the Gospel story at the beginning of Christ's public life. Who can forget the highly significant description of the triple temptation of Christ? Or the many episodes in the Gospel where the Devil crosses the Lord's path and figures in His teaching? And how could we forget that Christ, referring three times to the Devil as His adversary, describes him as 'the prince of this world'?... The lurking shadow of this wicked presence is pointed up in many, many passages of the New Testament. St. Paul calls him the 'god of this world,' and warns us of the struggle we Christians must carry on in the dark, not only against one Devil, but against a frightening multiplicity of them. 'I put on the armor of God,' the Apostle tells us, 'that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities and the Powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness on high.' Many passages in the Gospel show us that we are dealing not just with one Devil, but with many. But the principal one is Satan, which means the adversary, the enemy; and along with him are many others, all of them creatures of God, but fallen because they rebelled and were damned - a whole mysterious world, convulsed by a most unfortunate drama about which we know very little. There are many things we do know, however, about this diabolical world, things that touch on our lives and on the whole history of mankind. The Devil is at the origin of mankind's first misfortune - he was the wily, fatal tempter involved in the first sin, the original sin. That fall of Adam gave the Devil a certain dominion over man, from which only Christ's Redemption can free us. It is a history that is still going on: let us recall the exorcisms at Baptism, and the frequent references in Sacred Scripture and in the liturgy to the aggressive and oppressive 'power of darkness.' The Devil is the number one enemy, the preeminent tempter. So we know that this dark disturbing being exists and that he is still at work with his treacherous cunning; he is the hidden enemy who sows errors and misfortunes in human history. It is worth recalling the revealing Gospel parable of the good seed and the cockle, for it synthesizes and explains the lack of logic that seems to preside over our contradictory experiences: 'An enemy has done this.' He is 'a murderer from the beginning,...and the father of lies,' as Christ defines him. He undermines man's moral equilibrium with his sophistry. He is the malign, clever seducer who knows how to make his way into us through the senses, the imagination and the libido, through utopian logic, or through disordered social contacts in the give and take of our activities, so that he can bring about in us deviations that are all the more harmful because they seem to conform to our physical or mental makeup, or to our profound, instinctive aspirations." (Pope Paul VI, 1972)

Also See: Satan / Devil (Catholic Life Reflections) | Satan / Prayer (Prayers & Devotions Reflections) | Mary Vs. Satan (Mary, Our Mother Reflections) | Hell / Eternal Damnation | Exorcism | Why Evil is Allowed | Sin | Original Sin | Temptations | Sign of the Cross | Hell (Topical Scripture) | Devil / Satan (Topical Scripture)

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Also See: Evil / Satan (Topic Page)

"When it was evening, they brought [Jesus] many who were possessed by demons, and he drove out the spirits by a word and cured all the sick" (Mt. 8:16)

"When they came to the crowd a man approached, knelt down before him, and said, 'Lord, have pity on my son, for he is a lunatic and suffers severely; often he falls into fire, and often into water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.' Jesus said in reply, 'O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him here to me.' Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured. Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, 'Why could we not drive it out?' He said to them, 'Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'" (Mt. 17:14-20)

"When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him." (Mk. 1:32-34)

"[Jesus] told them, 'Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.' So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee." (Mk. 1:38-39)

"[Jesus] went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: (he appointed the twelve:) Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him." (Mk. 3:13-19)

"He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick - no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, 'Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.' So they went off and preached repentance. They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them." (Mk. 6:7-13)

"So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hands of Paul that when face cloths or aprons that touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those with evil spirits, saying, 'I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.' When the seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish high priest, tried to do this, the evil spirit said to them in reply, 'Jesus I recognize, Paul I know, but who are you?' The person with the evil spirit then sprang at them and subdued them all. He so overpowered them that they fled naked and wounded from that house. When this became known to all the Jews and Greeks who lived in Ephesus, fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in great esteem." (Acts 19:11-17)

"Without prayer and grace, exorcisms are ineffective." (Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist of Rome)

"All that prevents a life of union with God is also an obstacle to the work of the exorcist." (Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist of Rome)

"Aversion to the sacred, is, without a doubt, a significant symptom of evil interference." (Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist of Rome)

"Can. 1152 Exorcisms by legitimate ministers can be performed not only on the faithful and catechumens, but also upon non-Catholics and the excommunicated." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1153 The ministers of the exorcisms that occur in [the traditional rite of] baptism and in consecrations or blessings are those who are the legitimate ministers of those sacred rites." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"[N]o matter how severe, a single symptom is never sufficient for an accurate diagnosis [of evil interference]; we need several, but, in the end, it is only through exorcisms that we are able to achieve moral certainty." (Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist of Rome)

"Truly, each time we exorcise, we experience that the words of the exorcist are as torture for the demons, gradually becoming more unbearable. According to their own admission, demons prefer the sufferings of hell to our words of blessing." (Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist of Rome)

"Can. 1172 §1 No one can perform exorcisms legitimately upon the possessed unless he has obtained special and express permission from the local ordinary. §2 The local ordinary is to give this permission only to a presbyter who is endowed with piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1151 § 1 No one, even if endowed with the power of exorcism, can legitimately perform an exorcism over the [possessed] unless he has obtained express and specific authorization from the Ordinary. § 2 This authorization from the Ordinary can be granted only to priests outstanding for piety, prudence, and integrity of life; such a one shall not proceed to exorcism unless, after diligent and prudent investigation, he finds that the one to be exorcised is actually [possessed] by a demon." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"In order to provide greater help to the victims of evil ailments, and to protect us from charlatans, the Church has instituted a specific sacramental: exorcism. By using the words appropriately, we avoid misconception and confusion: Exorcism is a sacramental, and, as such, it is instituted by the Church. Only those priests who have received a particular and express mandate from their bishops can administer it (and never a lay person). All other prayers that are intended to deliver from the demon, whether they are recited by priests or lay people, are private prayers and can be identified as 'prayers of deliverance.' ... We speak of exorcism only when we are referring to the sacramental instituted by the Church, which can only be administered by the exorcist, using the specific prayers... All other forms of prayer currently used... are not exorcisms." (Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist of Rome)

Also See: Devil / Satan / Evil | Satan / Devil (Catholic Life Reflections) | Baptism (Sacraments Reflections) | Devil / Satan (Topical Scripture)

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Why Evil is Allowed

"Almighty God would in no wise permit evil to exist in His works, unless He were so almighty and so good as to produce good even from evil." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"God, despite his omnipotence and supreme goodness, allows evils he could prevent to exist in the world, if removing them would cause greater good to be lost or greater evil to ensue." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Since God, then, provides universally for all beings, it belongs to His providence to permit certain defects in particular effects, that the perfect good of the universe may not be hindered, for if all evil were prevented, much good would be absent from the universe." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Every evil that God...permits to be done, is directed to some good; yet not always to the good of those in whom the evil is, but sometimes to the good of others, or of the whole universe: thus He directs the sin of tyrants to the good of the martyrs, and the punishment of the lost to the glory of His justice." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Also See: Devil / Satan / Evil | Suffering & Death (Catholic Life Section)

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As many faithful Catholics already know, the majestic Latin language – the 'official language' of the Catholic Church – promotes unity, helps safeguard the purity of doctrine, connects us with our Catholic ancestors, allows us to pray in "one voice", and even ties back to the inscription on the Cross which was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. The Latin language is still used today in the precious treasure that is the Traditional Latin ('Tridentine') Mass, in 'everyday speech' (much of English is derived from Latin), in mottos, in specialized fields, and in educational endeavors. It has been shown that the study of Latin brings many benefits. "And, Latin is truly the language of heaven!"

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