Although it is not a warm and fuzzy topic which is discussed in public, the topic of evil in the world and accompanying demons is a factor that a believer cannot afford to be naive or complacent about. After all, the most rebellious angel and his agents are a major cause of much of the stuff that we would describe as chaos or disorder. The other contributor would be sin. For me the most distracting month of the year is October. We are heading toward the dark of the year and it seems that the forces of mischief are in high gear while heading toward their big feast eve. I have had conversations with friends who are closely involved in deliverance ministries and with diocesan exorcists who have observed that indeed October seems to be a month of “increased business” for them. For those of you who are shaking their heads in disbelief at reading this, take a look at this quote from the Pope’s current preacher, Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap; “Many intellectuals do not believe in demons in the first sense. But it must be noted that many great writers, such as Goethe and Dostoyevsky, took Satan’s existence very seriously. Baudelaire, who was certainly no angel, said that ‘the demon’s greatest trick is to make people believe that he does not exist.’” (Magnificat, Vol. 12, No. 8, October 2010, p.118) I think we are there! People who should know better shrink at the thought of the enemy or his agents as being real. I have heard more than one Catholic tell me that they have no reason to believe that the devil really exists.
Perhaps we could take a lesson from nature itself to debunk this spiritually naive way of thinking. We know that God himself fomented creation out of nothing. We don’t really know how long it took in God time or when humans arrived on the scene but let’s take a look at the bigger picture. First, consider nature. I taught science for many years and the one constant that you could depend on was that all of nature constantly moves toward balance. When something is too abundant, there is a die off. When something is sparse, things rise up to replace it. If a species dies out in an ecosystem another fills in the gap. Even the geology of the earth follows this model. Too much stress in one area leads to release in another. Change in temperature, high or low, sends a cascade of reactions that head toward compensating for the change. Even the individual human body adheres to this model. In most living things too much or too little of any essential causes a move of the body to compensate for any imbalance. This often causes sickness as the body tends toward self repair. Fever is actually as good thing as the body tries to change its atmosphere to get rid of attackers. Even in an individual cell, material constantly moves in and out of the membrane as the cell works to maintain a balanced interior atmosphere for optimal function. So we see that in all forms of the material there is a give and take, a positive and a negative. How could it be possible, then that if you look around you and see the good that is occurring, no matter what the cause, that you could not recognize that, as with all of nature, there are also negative forces operating. If only good existed and we as humans were the ones in charge we would have no need for governments, officials, or agencies dedicated toward maintaining order. Things would perfect and there would be no crime. We all can see that is not the case in the world today. Plain and simple, evil exists. Look around; it is quite literally “in our face”. What other logic could explain a record setting, rich, star quarterback sending embarrassingly private photos to a woman he is not married to or a government in China that hates life and secret restaurants there that serve soup made out of fetuses as a delicacy for a very high price?
As we contemplate these spiritual realities there are several things that we need to keep in mind. We need to recognize that being a believer does not grant us some special immunity from the actions of evil in the world. I once heard a preacher teach that “Why do bad things happen to good people” is an immature look at how things work and that the title, rather, should be: Why do bad things happen? From the moment of creation the forces of jealously, envy and rebellion have existed. The same forces were in Eden, at the Cross and are with us today. Remember that Satan had it all, he was the most perfect and beautiful of all the angels but his ego caused him to refuse service to God who gave him all those gifts in the first place. Part of the excitement of being a believer in the world is to recognize that we are the agents of the good here and have been placed here to do battle in situations that no one else can duplicate. Do you realize that your personal ministry is one that has been chosen for you and that all of the places that you frequent are unique opportunities that only you can minister in? That’s why you are there in the first place! So recognizing and acknowledging evil as it exists in the world is a key to being able to accomplish your mission as God has given it to you. As Christians we also need to recognize that we have all the tools that we need to accomplish our task. “Yet the most important thing that the Christian faith has to tell us is not that demons exist, but that Christ has defeated them. …Christ and demons are not two equal, but rater contrary principles, as certain dualistic religions believe to be the case with good and evil. Jesus is the only Lord; Satan is only a creature “gone bad”. If power over men is given to Satan, it is because men have the possibility of freely choosing sides…..” (Op. Cit. Cantalamessa) Your most potent tool, then, is choice. It was the same tool that the enemy used to separate himself from God!
We also need to recognize that spending time worrying about the evil that surrounds us is a useless expenditure of energy. It is also a distraction which moves away from being effective as intercessors, witnesses and spiritual warriors. Padre Pio taught: Pray, hope and don’t worry. The bible exhorts us to fear not three-hundred and sixty-five times. The very first words of the Pontificate of John Paul II were “Be not afraid.” “With Christ we have nothing to fear. Nothing and no one can do us ill unless we ourselves allow it.” (Op. Cit. Cantalamessa) So we are meant to be warriors against all of the forces which are contrary to God in the world. Some of us will be on the firing line, some of us will be the backup, and some of us will take on many roles in the battle field from time to time. The Church, however, provides us with all the weapons we need. It does us well to be acquainted with all of them and to constantly work on our spiritual “skill set”. You never know when a skirmish will happen. Don’t make the ultimate mistake, though, of thinking that the battle is over or that you have no part in it. That would leave you completely defenseless and without protection!
On the Net: Copyright © 2010, Kathryn M. Cunningham, All Rights Reserved.
Check out more of Kathryn’s journey at: www.atravelersview.org
Copyright © 2010, Kathryn M. Cunningham, All Rights Reserved.
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