Tuesday, May 28, 2013
The Devil's Work!
Christian's, or at least Catholics, use words to denote specific things, which tend to get corrupted by the world at large and devoid of much theological truth.
"Hell" for example, means a state that is eternally seperated from God, humanities ultimate loneliness. It tends to get glossed over by images of a medieval torture chamber, which actually for those who love God might be considered light relief compared to the horror of perpetual exile from his presence. Hell is doctrine that is based on our freewill, we can choose to say yes or no to God and his reign.
"Possession" means to be taken over by the rule of the evil one. It does not necessarilly mean spewing green vomit, swivelling heads or walking on the ceiling. We could say that where Christ is not made present then the devil is, or as Pope Francis has said, "If we are not praying to Christ, we are praying to the devil", because he came to usher in the Kingdom Heaven reclaiming it from the Prince of this world. Traditionally Jesuits spirituality stressed very much that if you do not stand under the banner of Christ then you stand under the banner of Satan.
"Exorcism" means literally to "pray out", in the "old rite" before something was sanctified, it first had to be freed from the pollution of the realm of sin, that included everything from water to babies. It was based on the simple assumption that if something didn't belong to Christ specifically, it belonged to Satan. In the " new rite" exorcisms are removed from any Blessing, and are limited only to baptismal preparation (where culturally appropriate). The Sacraments above all are Exorcisms, the actual Rite of Exorcism is only a special Sacramental to prepare for Confession and the worthy reception of Holy Communion, of course a bad Confession is sacrilege and unworthy reception of Holy Communion leads to our "condemnation", and is certainly the work of the devil, and a direct co-operation with him.
Exorcism has been in the Catholic news lately; various diocese appointing numbers of Exorcists, the Rome Exorcist calling for every priest being free to exorcise who he will, and the big one, did the Pope exorcise the man in the wheel chair? To this, well yes and no. At one level making the sign of the Cross over something is an exorcism, as is mentioning the name of Jesus or saying the Lord's Prayer, the very presence of a holy object or substance, a medal or Holy Water or blessed salt or the light of a blessed candle could be considered an exorcism, Rogation processions were essentially exorcisms.
In Brighton today as people stop believing in God the vacuum tends to be filled with the "spiritual", there are all those shops selling "spiritual" things, from rather camp images of the Sacred Heart through to everything necessary to celebrate a Black Mass or to invoke Satan in a woodland clearing, and everything in between. Even mainstream bookshops are full of rather dubious books. It is terribly dangerous.
"If we are not praying to Christ, we are praying to the devil". Our societies obsession with self, with power and money, with sex and sexual exploitation, with pornography, with unreality of the drug culture, with betrayal in marriage and public life, with the break down of relationships and above all the destruction of the family and our new untested experiments in human ecology and our obsession with atheism are all areas where we are "praying to devil". Direct co-operation with evil is diabolic, it separates us from Christ. We can argue that these things do not possess us but the certainly do both obsess and oppress us, they are the evils that we pray the Father to deliver us from - sed libera nos a malo. There is a fine line between obsession and oppression and actual possession.
The Church has done much in the last 50 years to play down the battle between good and evil, the words of the Pope on so many occassions should cause us to ask if we have been somewhat premature.
"If we are not praying to Christ, we are praying to the devil" and if we do not belong to Christ, who do we belong to?
Posted by Fr Ray Blake