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Have we Forgotten about Satan?

We marvel at the physical miracles, big and small, that Jesus performed during his time here on earth – for example raising Lazarus from the dead and healing St. Peter’s mother-in-law of her fever. And well we should.

But what we often overlook is the frequency with which Jesus spoke to and expelled demons – as is mentioned in today’s Gospel. Isn’t it foolish to think that there is less demonic presence in our current times then when Jesus walked this earth?

The reality of Satan and the never ending spiritual battle to which we are subjected during our earthly lives are two topics rarely discussed or considered these days. Too few among us recognize that we are engaged in spiritual combat with the unseen demons roaming the world in search of our souls.

This is not, according to Father George P. Schommer, O.P., a good thing:

The devil is real.  We fail to recognize the reality of his existence and power and therefore we often fall prey to his many tricks.  Satan’s goal is to lead us away from God and to separate us from Him for all eternity…Satan wants us to despair, to give up, to separate us from God and lead us to hopelessness.  We cannot fight this spiritual battle on our own.  We fail because we rely on our own resources.  We fail to grasp that a missile is coming in from the enemy.  We try on our own to defeat Satan.  We cannot succeed on our own.

This good Dominican is not alone. The late Servant of God, Archbishop J. Sheen, insisted that many seeking the assistance of psychologists and psychiatrists suffer not from mental illness, but from their failure to recognize and repent of the sin in their lives. They would be better served by spending less time on the couch and more time at the foot of Jesus’ Cross, on their knees in front of His tabernacle and in the confessional from which flows the spiritual cleansing and healing graces they seek and which our loving and merciful Lord offers in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Let’s be clear then. Satan and his cohorts are real. Just look around you. There is abundant and irrefutable evidence.

We don’t look around with eyes open to the spiritual reality. Consequently, evil often roams unimpeded and countless souls are lost.

[Editors note: Mike’s book Forgotten Truths To Set Faith Afire! – Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct is now available. You can read more about it here.]


Mike Seagriff is a Lay Dominican, husband, father, grandfather, attorney and former Administrative Law Judge. Mike is the author of Forgotten Truths To Set Faith Afire! – Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct. Visit his blog at Harvesting the Fruits of Contemplation.
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  • Thaumatology

    I suspect there is a mixed answer here. The first is that while the Bible is the inspired truth, it doesn’t necessarily mean that every word is literally true. We could never get past the most sophomoric objections of the atheist crowd who delight in pointing out where the Bible contains contradictions.

    Those who penned the actual verses, and those who later assembled, edited, and compiled them into the form we have today did so under divine inspiration, but they were not necessarily gifted with pure and complete insight into the nature of reality. How would a witness in 30 AD describe the affliction of a paranoid schizophrenic? And subsequent healing?

    Do we really have to assume that “demons” are at the root of everything? Like we really need the help to do evil?

    • “Paranoid schizophrenic” is just a label. How do you know the cause of this person’s malady? Is it purely biological, or is it spiritual? Let’s not reject the 2,000 year old wisdom of the Church by declaring that a 100 year old medical “science” somehow knows the truth.

      • Thaumatology

        I am not suggesting that, I am answering a direct question in the article which was basically why was there a lot of talk about demons in the Gospel but not so much today?

        And that is part of the larger question, which is why was God showing up in person all the time in the OT but not so much today?

        It isn’t a particularly helpful observation.

        • Mary Kochan

          “Why was God showing up in person all the time in the OT but not so much today?” Good question.

          I have just posted an article that addresses this point: http://www.catholiclane.com/in-bible-times/

          • My intent in writing this piece was not to ask why there was more talk of demons in the Gospel but not so much today.

            Rather it was to re-emphasize several fundamental but essentially forgotten truths: that Jesus heals both physically and spiritually and that it is the spiritual healing that we often overlook and which is more vital to our salvation; that as a result of original sin, we are prone to sin ourselves and that without God’s grace we will never overcome our sinful propensities; that Satan is real and that he seeks to prevent us from enjoying our heavenly inheritance; that there is an on-going spiritual struggle in which all of us must engage as long as we live on this earth; that if we don’t recognize that sin and evil exist and that Satan is our real enemy, we will likely be conquered; and that much of the emotional turmoil and stress in our lives are at their core a spiritual and moral struggle.

            Blessed John Paul II expressed it more clearly than I: “Spiritual combat” is another element of life which needs to be taught anew and proposed once more to all Christians today. It is a secret and interior art, an invisible struggle in which (we) engage every day against the temptations, the evil suggestions that the demon tries to plant in (our) hearts.

            I am simply repeating what other writers have noted: much of our world lives and acts as if there is nothing beyond this earthly life and they do so to their eternal detriment.

            Finally, I certainly was not asking “why was God showing up in person all the time in the OT but not so much today?” He is here with us presently and He will remain with us until the end of time. I am, of course, speaking of His Real and Substantial Presence in the Blessed Sacrament where He can be worshipped, adored and loved, where He changes, heals and comforts the hearts and souls (and sometimes bodies) of many. In that sense He is more accessible to us now than in OT times. Sadly, few visit Him…but that is a topic for another day.

      • Thaumatology

        While I agree in principle, if we have a delusional fellow, and medicine and treatment can control or relieve his symptoms… then I don’t see a problem with labeling it a medical condition.

        Obviously a generalization, but I am not sure where “2000 year old wisdom” is being rejected in either case. Details are details. Whether Jesus wore a blue or a red shirt on a particular day not relevant. The Gospels weren’t written down until years after Jesus’ death and Resurrection. No one followed him around with a tape recorder.

        • fishman

          you are forgetting the inexorable link between the spiritual and the physical.

          Just because there is a physical treatment for something doesn’t mean it does not have spiritual cause.

          Most of the time the spiritual causes of depression are minimized by psychologists and simply being ‘stressors’

          Consider the depression suffered by the majority of homosexuals. Is it because they are ‘discriminated against’ that they are depressed or is it because their souls are in the grip of the devil? The fact is they regular engage in grave sin , which invites various demonic forces to play on their minds.

          If the only real causes of depression are ‘self image’ and outside stressors .. then the fact that I am perpetually abusing my sexuality should not cause depression unless it causes a poor self image right?

          • Thaumatology

            Well, the problem here is that your position presupposes a bunch of things which may or may not be true. You state the majority of homosexuals are suffering clinical depression… Is that really true? I am guessing you don’t have links to studies you are quoting? 🙂

            My point is not to dismiss the spiritual argument, but rather to concentrate on efficacious solution.

            Whether my sinfulness is a result of my own stubborn nature or a demon whispering in my ear is pretty much irrelevant because regardless of which of those is true, the solution remains the same – faith and trust in Jesus.

  • Thaumatology

    Yes, the question about God was my own extrapolation, as I have seen it asked many times, and I stated that it was my own furtherance. My point, which I stand by, is that the Bible’s message is Truth, but many of the details are not particularly important.

    As for whether Satan is real or not, I do not dispute that either, but I do have a problem with the common characterization of him as some kind of rival of God rather than an insignificant worm by comparison. God has no peers or rivals. There is not an “evil God” in any sort of polytheistic sense.

    Evil and sin exist, and is a real and true spiritual problem and battle that we can lose. I am not sure why need to give it a name and a face… it is our own fallen natures that we contend with and require God’s grace and intercession to overcome.

    It just seems to me falling back on “The Devil made me do it” scenarios actually gets in the way. I am a flawed sinner without the Devil whispering in my ear :-p

    • Mary Kochan

      Well, when you say, “Evil and sin exist, and is a real and true spiritual problem and battle that we can lose. I am not sure why need to give it a name and a face… it is our own fallen natures that we contend with and require God’s grace and intercession to overcome.”

      That is a problem and here is why. The Church teaches that the Devil is NOT a personification of evil. That is to say, the devil is not merely a “name and a face” that we “give” to evil. But rather, there really exist malevolent spirit beings who have real effects in this world and on us.

      Now that is NOT to say, that we have a “devil made me do it” excuse. It is to say that our remedy for evil has to be based on the reality — not merely of our own inherent condition, but also the battle we have against the unseen foe.

    • fishman

      because if you ignore the reality of a problem you invariably make mistakes in how to deal with it.

      A spiritual problem requires a spiritual response.
      Thus overcome Satan requires ‘prayer and fasting’.

      If all we are overcoming is ‘or own sinful nature’ then what we need is humility.

      As with anything improperly understanding the problem with frustrate the solution.

      Why are there so few vocations? Why is secularism so much stronger then it should be.

      Is it human weakness that has let is rise or is it a personal , conscious evil that actually has a plan and needs to be stopped.

      In the first case you would expect that if Christians were just ‘nicer’ more people would become christian’s ( this attitude fails scrutiny Jesus was not Mr. Rogers or he would not have been Crucified.)

      In the second case, prayer and fasting are what is needed to bring spiritual conversion.

  • GuitarGramma

    Many years ago, I heard a priest say that the reason why we don’t see as many demons today as in OT times is very important: We live in a country where most people are baptized. He stated that in less Christian nations, demons are quite common; that as nations become more and more Christianized — and thus more people are baptized — demonic manifestations become less common.

    Thank you, God, for our wonderful Catholic Church!