No Sympathy for the Devil
Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate. As we advance in years, this joke becomes more amusing. Jesus teaches us to love our enemies. Good parents teach their kids never to hate people and to use the word with precision. Hate is a dangerous sentiment and can risk one’s salvation.
But we are not sentimentalists. As we love the sinner, our religion teaches us to hate sin. That is a healthy distinction. The only being God permits us—even encourages us—to hate is the Devil. The Devil desires our eternal destruction. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body [Jesus says] but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) The Devil hates us in his envy. We are members of God’s material creation—which is loathsome from the Devil’s point of view—and sabotaging our salvation would fuel his perverted designs for us.
Before God created the world, Lucifer in his angelic splendor and his countless companions refused to serve God. Saint Michael and his legions suppressed their revolt and cast Satan into the abyss of hell for eternity. The victory is ours. Still it seems we do a great deal of cowering in the face of those who hate us. So, with a Catholic mind, let’s turn the tables on Satan.
Here are five effective ways to insult the Devil.
Insult 1: Beaten by the Third String Team
A great battle in heaven took place in heaven, but Saint Michael the Archangel scores the victory. Michael is a magnificent angel. But in the grand angelic scheme, he is not among the angelic elites. Michael is neither a member of the first tier of the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones. He’s not even numbered among the second tier of Dominions, Virtues, and Powers. He’s a third-tier angel, the lowest order of the hierarchy of Principalities, Archangels, and Angels.
So a squadron of third-string archangels and angels whipped the demons, humiliating Lucifer, the most splendid of them all. Even Michael’s name is a taunt: “Who is like God?”
Insult 2: Use Holy Water
As we consider the hierarchy of creation, pure spirits take precedence over matter: The angels, man, animals, plants, organisms, minerals, water.
A human being is a body-soul composite. By the Devil’s calculus, our bodies disqualify us for satanic dignity. We will never measure up to the pure spirit status of the demons. So it is particularly hateful and degrading for demons to be subject to material things.
Thus the prospect of tossing holy water in the face of the demons is appealing to our sense of justice. They will scowl and growl, but simple holy water has more power than a legion of their kind. So use holy water in your homes liberally.
Insult 3: The Word was made flesh
We’ve established that the angelic third-string beat the Devil into submission and that simple holy water puts the fear of God into the whimpering little beast. But here’s the greatest insult of all: The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.
According to the Church Fathers, before God created the world, the angels came aware of God’s overall plan. A significant number of angels blew a gasket when they realized that the Creator would deign to become—not an angelic creature—but a lowly human being. The promise was too much for their pride. So in a flash, their arrogance consumed them, they rebelled, and Michael ejected them from heaven for eternity.
Mary adds insult to injury. A humble virgin—faithful to the word of God, sinless, virtuous—would become the Mother of God! Of course, Mary is not God. But she bore the whole Christ—God and man. Mary is Theotokos, as the Greeks say. And while we never worship Mary in any way, we venerate her above all the angels and saints because she brought Jesus into the world to crush the head of Satan and save us from our sins.
The Devil hates Mary, and he hates this tiny phrase—pregnant with meaning—that flows from our lips: “…blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” The Hail Mary prayer—and the rosary—are eloquent ways to insult the Devil.
Insult 4: The Blessed Eucharist
Can there be anything more maddening for an evil spirit than Transubstantiation? Mere bread and wine, God’s good creation and work of human hands, becoming the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, through Whom all things were created? No wonder the Devil has convinced so many that Mass is a non-essential service!
Insult 5: Refuse to be discouraged
The Devil loves discouragement. He wants us to give up and play by his rules of self-destruction. But things are hopelessly desperate only without Christ.
We are baptized. We are incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ by the Sacraments. We are in the state of grace—or if we’re not, we have Confession to get us back in the saddle. But let’s get this straight. The Devil fears us because he fears Jesus.
Mary is our loving Mother. When Mary gazes on us, because of the Incarnation, she sees her Son. After the Resurrection and Pentecost, God’s grace has raised our dignity as human beings higher than that of the angels with incorporation into His Mystical Body. If we remain in God’s grace, there is nothing to fear from the Devil. Throughout her life, Mary could have used many of her experiences to cultivate discouragement and despair. But she did not surrender. Even at the foot of the Cross, Mary kept the faith.
Goodness and virtue are muscular and intimidating. Our lives in Jesus are not fragile and vulnerable. Let’s resolve to help the Devil’s legions, his minions, and his earthly allies—realize that they live shallow and weak and meaningless lives without Christ.
Fear is useless. We are Christians. “In him, we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) So live courageously.
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