In our meditation on God the Father and Creator, we have been focusing on the invisible creation. We have looked at the creation of our souls, the creation of the angels and the work of the angels in our lives. We have seen that the angels are real, that they are powerful and that they serve the Lord. The angels are faithful to God and are faithful in service to Him. But there are angels who were not faithful, and who turned from service to the Lord in a sin that cannot be overcome. These fallen angels are led by the one who is named in the title of this meditation.
In reference to the leader of the fallen angels, Jesus, as He was answering the questions of those who opposed Him, says this:
“You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
In this day and age we want to live as if there is no enemy of our salvation, as if there is no foe that wants nothing more than to prevent our souls from reaching heaven and the eternal life and blessing of being eternally in the presence of God. But that is not the truth. We cannot deny what is true because we don’t WANT to believe it! We must look at the truth of God as He reveals it to us! The denial of the devil’s existence is a spiritual weapon used by the “father of lies” in order to cause us to relax our guard, to put away our spiritual defenses, to lower our spiritual drawbridge and let him into the castle of our souls.
This tactic is explained in a great book written by the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, C. S. Lewis. Lewis was an atheist that came to a moment and then a lifetime of conversion. He knew intimately the intellectual and spiritual battles that need to be fought in our lives. In another great book of his, The Screwtape Letters, he depicts a devil-in-training being given advice by his Uncle Screwtape, an older and more experienced devil. The “patient” here is the Christian soul whom the young devil is attempting to lead toward damnation. The elder uncle is explaining how the younger tempter can get the Christian to drop his guard and thus make great inroads on the path to damnation:
“I do not think you will have much difficulty in keeping the patient in the dark. The fact that ‘devils’ are predominately comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that (it is an old textbook method of confusing them) he therefore cannot believe in you.” (page 32)
The outcome is a danger for the soul. The outcome is, in fact, damnation and eternity separated from God. Pope Francis has warned us again and again not to dismiss the reality of the devil:
“The Prince of this world, Satan, doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want us to follow Christ. Maybe some of you might say: ‘But Father, how old fashioned you are to speak about the devil in the 21st century!’ But look out because the devil is present! The devil is here… even in the 21st century! And we mustn’t be naïve, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan. (Homily on 4/10/2014)
And what is it that the Sacred Scriptures tells us about this enemy?
St. Paul tells us: “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.” (Ephesian 6:11-13)
St. Peter tells us: “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)
As we prepare for our week and for our next meditation, let us remember these words of Pope St. John Paul II:
“Begone, Satan!’ The Messiah’s resolute attitude is an example and an invitation for us to follow him with courageous determination. The devil, the “prince of this world”, even today continues his deceitful action. Every man, over and above his own concupiscence and the bad example of others, is also tempted by the devil, and the more so when he is least aware of it.” (Angelus 17 Feb, 2002)