WHEN DID YOU LAST HEAR HIM MENTIONED ?
“I saw Satan fall like lightening from Heaven” (Luke 10: 18). Every word that came from the lips of Our Lord is priceless to us mere men. Yet we don’t often hear this text read or referred to in homilies, and if it occurs in the readings at Mass it is most often ignored in the homily. Why? Of course we don’t like to think of Satan, but our clergy have a duty to remind us of him and his works.
In the tumult, stress and distress of the post – Conciliar years, when Pope Paul VI could ,with pain ,observe that it was “as if, through some crack, the smoke of Satan had entered the Sanctuary of God” (Homily 29th June, 1972), many clergy adopted the habit of not preaching what they surmised was unpopular. It began with “Humanae Vitae “and the Church’s teaching against contraception. The media say it’s not popular, so we don’t preach it. There are Dioceses in Australia where a priest can face administrative problems if he does. The “smoke of Satan “ lingers even to the extent of not talking about Satan himself. It’s not nice. So Satan is relegated to the ad agencies and the horror movies. It suits his purposes admirably.
But Our Lord, Truth Himself, what was His practice? He was continually very open about him – HE called him the Deceiver, the Father of Lies. Consider St. John’s Gospel 8: 43-44 :
“Why do you not understand My speech? Because you cannot hear My word. The father from whom you are is the devil, the desires of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has not stood in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie he speaks from his very nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Thus Our Lord spoke to a group of the Jews He knew were plotting to kill Him, but who piously insisted that they had Abraham for their Father. When did you last hear that preached?
We ignore Satan at our peril. We should not fear him inordinately – remember – God Himself is our ready defence against his wiles. With St. Patrick we can pray to the Blessed Trinity for delivery “from every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul” and KNOW that “God’s shield “will protect us. But, ignore Satan, and we won’t pray that prayer or anything like it and, when someone comes along promoting abortion whilst talking about “the need to reduce the number of abortions” we won’t want to know who is prompting him, and when some “prophet” comes along teaching millions to kill those who won’t follow his teachings, and that it’s alright to lie to advance his teachings, they won’t want to think who is prompting him and his servants. And when English heretics came along telling English Catholics that their Faith was unpatriotic, they didn’t want to think who was prompting them, and when the good intelligent German people dragged down by defeat, depression and inflation were told the Jews were responsible and were “sub-human”(üntermenschen”) they didn’t want to know who was prompting their Fuhrer. The Father of Lies, he comes in many guises, always attractive - slick, confident and smiling with spin-doctored glibness, or deceitfully promising the poor and ignorant “72 virgins” in a lustful “paradise”, or wrapped in the flag of patriotism – “the last refuge of scoundrels”, or with stage managed spectacles promising a down-trodden people a thousand year Reich, or perhaps more commonly he will just use the seductiveness of physical attraction.
We do need to heed Our Lord’s warnings, and be on our guard. We need to keep our eyes our minds and our hearts on Him, the Man – God Himself- suffering for us on the Cross and then Radiant in His Resurrection. In that Countenance is our sure Hope of Eternal Life.