The Devil is real. Do you believe it? Our culture tries, in many ways, to hide this reality from our eyes. We are becoming accustomed to just seeing a red creature holding a pitchfork, or a friendly dragon that dances in the woods. But the devil is horrifyingly real. There are many heresies (the willful and persistent rejection of any article of faith by a baptized member of the church) which dance around this issue as well. Many Eastern Religions also hold a similar notion, through teachings such as reincarnation (eventually, through many life-spans, a person will reach eternal bliss). But what do we, as Catholics, believe about Satan?
First let us turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and see what it teaches about the Devil. The Catechism (referenced as CCC) states,
“Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the Church’s Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called “Satan” or the “devil”. The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: “The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing.” (CCC 391).
We see that evil is not of God, but also that God created all things good. Free will led to a separation from God. Furthermore, the Baltimore Catechism taught that, “The devil tempts us because he hates goodness, and does not wish us to enjoy the happiness which he himself has lost.” (Baltimore, Q. 231).
Our current Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been very clear about the existence of Satan and his many malicious tricks. If we could always perceive what the Devil was luring us into, we would not fall. But alas, we are weak! In a Catholic News Service report, Pope Francis taught that, “The sincere and humble admission of one’s weaknesses, of having ‘a sliver of Satan in my flesh,’ shows that the power of salvation comes from God, not oneself.” (June 14, online article). The pope goes on to reflect on our desperate need for God in this battle between good and evil, reminding us that, “we have a treasure — Jesus Christ the Savior, the cross of Jesus Christ, that we are proud of. But we hold it in an earthen vessel.”
The Devil is real. So real, in fact, that in the new translation of the Apostle’s Creed we profess that, “(Christ) descended into hell.” Why would He descend into hell, if hell did not exist? The truth is that both good and evil exist, and the two forces (God vs. the Devil) are in constant battle for our souls. This reality is black and white, with no room for “gray” areas. We need to carry this message into the heart of our culture, since topics such as same-sex marriage, abortion, and other moral issues are no longer seen as evil by some. The longer we present them as “gray” (this is a “if it feels good, do it” mentality) the harder it will be to convince the next generations of their immorality. I pray that, as we daily strive for all that is true, good and beautiful, we may overcome the temptations we face through the power of His cross.