Speak of the Devil: Knowing Your Enemy


–       Just about every religion believes in spiritual intermediaries between God & man—consider the order of nature and the varying degrees of intelligence from a single-cell organism to man—it seems strange that man would be the last link between man and God

–       We profess belief in pure spirits every Sunday in the Creed (seen/unseen versus visible/invisible)

–       In the NT, words Satan and devil appear 67 times

–       Pope Paul VI in 1972: “What are the greatest needs of the Church today?  Do not let our answer surprise you as being over simple or even superstitious or unreal: one of the greatest needs is defense from that evil which is called the Devil…”

–       Truth is that we are engaged in a war and at stake is our immortal soul

–       Enemy is not at the gates; he is inside


-Satan was the brightest of angels; he became the most evil of demons-their chief

-Catechism teaches that Satan was a good angel created by God

-CCC: “The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing”

-Like humans, God gave the angels free will, in order that they could love Him

-The angels were tested in heaven, just as we are tested on earth

-Many were faithful, but some, led by Satan, rebelled, choosing to place themselves before God

-This was a real war-not physical (angels have no physical bodies), but a war of wills and minds—military symbols we use are too weak to convey how powerful, how dreadful of a war it was

-Different theories as to why Satan rebelled:

*Origen attributed Satan’s fall to pride- “How art thou fallen from heaven, Lucifer, son of Dawn!  How are you cut down to the ground, you who laid nations low!  You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend into heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God” (Isaiah 14:12-13)

*TA in De Malo: Satan’s sin was not that he desired to be equal to God (God’s very nature prohibits this).  The devil, pure intellect, knew such a desire to be impossible to fulfill.  Sin of the devil is of supernatural character: sought to obtain supernatural happiness by his own means, not from God.  Wanted to bring about happiness on his own initiative, not by cooperating with God’s grace

*Another theory: God revealed to the angels His future Incarnation and Satan and the other rebellious angels refused to accept a plan where God would become mere flesh and blood

*Milton in Paradise Lost has Satan say, “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven”

– Genesis says that on the first day God created light and called it good and “God then separated the light from the darkness”àdoesn’t call the darkness good; St. Augustine says that the light represents the creation of the angels and the darkness, the fall of the demons

-After their sin, these fallen angels were stripped of everlasting grace and condemned to eternal punishment—hell—hate has deformed their very nature

-Mystic once describe Satan as “one who has no love”

-(Interestingly, the chief archangel who cast Satan from heaven is Michael, a name which means, “Who is like God?”—interesting juxtaposition)



-Must be careful when discussing the devil: Satan is equally pleased when we overestimate him and when we underestimate him

-After this war in heaven, earth is the only place where there is spiritual warfare (heaven has no evil, hell has no good)

-After the fall of the angels, God created the material world and man and Satan directed his hatred toward man

-As BJPII says, he “transplanted into man the insubordination, rivalry and opposition to God, which had become the motivation of his existence”

-After the fall of man, Satan has been given some degree of dominion over man—described in John 12:31 as the “ruler of this world”

Bishop Sheen said most terrifying line of Scripture: during temptation in the desert, Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world & the power and the glory of them all and said that all these are mine

-Between Christ’s first coming and His second, Satan’s goal is to win over as many to his side-he fights as one who is desperate because he knows his time is short

-God never rejects His creatures, even when they reject Him-thus, Satan still retains his angelic stature and powers

-Simultaneously, God does not allow Satan to do whatever he would like; if such were the case, St. Augustine explains, “no man would be left alive”

-While the Devil is far more powerful than man, he is still a finite creature



-Demons (like angels) can make themselves visible and take on a tangible form—demon can appear as a frightening animal or horrible man (if wants to inspire fear); if wants to appeal to someone, can masquerade as elegant gentlemanà(St. Teresa saw with the “eyes of her soul” a demon clutching a priest by his throat when distributing Holy Communion-Teresa knew priest in mortal sin)

-Two forms of activity: ordinary and extraordinary

1) Ordinary activity: temptation – Jesus submitted to this in the desert

-How do demons tempt us?  Satan wants us to break the first and greatest commandment—persuades us to put anything before God—arouses our passions and puts false pictures of happiness in our imagination

-Temptations come in the form of the world, the flesh, and the devil

“The world”: greed for the things of this world (money, fame, power)

“The flesh”: fallen human nature and lust for self-gratification

“The devil”: sins that come from Satan’s fall-sins of pride, envy, jealousy, resentment

2) Extraordinary activity: comes in 6 forms

1.     External physical pain: has happened to many saints, including St. Padre Pio.  Cases where saints were beaten and pummeled by demons.  Does not afflict the soul, so no need for exorcism.

2.     Demonic possession: Satan takes full possession of the body (not the soul).  Demon speaks and acts without consent of the victim (victim not culpable therefore).  Most grave of Satan’s extraordinary activity.  Signs of possession include: speaking in tongues, extraordinary strength, revealing the unknown.

3.     Diabolical oppression: Example: Job.  Full freedom, but lost children, home, health.  St. Paul speaks of a thorn in his flesh.

4.     Diabolic obsession: Sudden attacks of obsessive thoughts, at times not rational, but can’t free oneself from them.  Person may become desperate and suicidal.  Influences dreams.  Symptoms are inconsistent with known mental illnesses, and thus it becomes clear the cause is demonic.

5.     Diabolic infestation: Demons can infest houses, animals, possessions

6.     Diabolical subjugation or dependence: when someone voluntarily submits to Satan-2 most common forms are blood pact with Satan or total consecration to Satan

-Fr. Amorth explains 4 ways a person can come under Satan’s influence:

1) God allows it to happen—God doesn’t will evil, but He does allow it to happen for a greater good (ex: Job)à no human guilt

2) Evil spell (sorcery is most common)

3) Prolonged state of serious sin—weak state of soul may result in diabolic possession-example: Judas (Luke 22:3: “Then Satan entered Judas…”)

4) Deliberately espousing relationship with evil person or places

-Rest assured: Demons can never take control of someone’s soul, unless freely given the power

-Also, devil cannot know the inner heart of man—can’t know our thoughts-only God can



-Be alert!  Wake up!  Stand up to him, firm in your faith. à devil can only be defeated by our faith

-Christ is the victor!

Christ came “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8)

Christ came to shatter the rule of Satan and to establish the kingdom of God

The first authority Christ gives His apostles is to cast out demons (Matthew 10:1)àpower of the Church over Satan

-Invoke the name of Our Lord

Paul’s Christological hymn in Philippines– Fr. Gabriele would pray it and everyone would kneel at the name of Jesus, including the one possessed

-Our Lady: enemy of Satan since the announcement of salvation (Gen 3:15)

-Invoke your guardian angel

-Eternal pain of demons varies according to how much destruction they caused on earth; glory of the angels in heaven will also vary according to the good they have done (another reason why it is good to invoke your guardian angel)

-Angels’ desire to help us is greater than demons’ desire to destroy us; call upon your guardian angel

-Live in a state of grace

-To live in a state of grace means to say, “Yes” to Christ and, “No” to Satan

-Renew your baptismal vows, when you explicitly reject Satan and all of his works

-Baptism: first act of liberation from the power of Satan (includes exorcism)

-Avoid situations where you freely open your soul to Satan

(includes fortune-telling, séances, Ouija boards)

-Real possession behind The Exorcist began with a Oujia board

-Be careful of what music you listen to: Satan’s influence in rock music: beat (mimicking marital act and arousing sexual feelings), volume (when set several decibels above tolerance level of nervous system, induces depression, rebelliousness, aggression—goal is to bring audience into state of disorder and confusion), subliminal signal (transmitted at such high pitch human ear can’t detect but signal acts on the unconscious and disorients), ritual consecration of record to Satan (done at black mass) à in US, WICCA has 3 record companies

-Be pure in body and in heart–Satan uses the idolatry of sex, which reduces the human body to an instrument of sin, against the Incarnation of the Word who redeemed mankind in the flesh

-Watch for cover-ups, hiding things, falsehood –Satan is the father of lies

-Best exorcism: confession-best direct means to fight Satan because it is the sacrament that tears souls from Satan’s grasp and strengthens one against sin—if undergoing strong temptation, go to weekly confession

-Pray the prayer to St. Michael daily

-Wear a St. Benedict Medal: Back of the medal says “May the holy cross be my light; Lord, let not the dragon be my guide”; letters around the cross say, “Begone, Satan!  Suggest not to me thy vain things.  The cup thou offer me is poison; drink thou thy poison.”

-Medal is a powerful means to protect against witchcraft and spells, protect against torment from demons

-Use holy water, blessed oil & salt (have your house blessed!)


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