BIS Reads: Rebuking the Devil

pope francis books devil

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look around at the state of our chaotic world to see the reality that evil and the Devil do, in fact, exist.

Violence, hatred, crimes against women and children, abortion, racism. These and many other sins against God and the dignity of the human person reveal evil is something we deal with and wrestle with this side of Heaven. Satan is a true spiritual being whose entire purpose is to hurt and destroy us.

How the Devil is Portrayed in Our Culture

Far too often, the devil is portrayed comically or humorously as dressed in a red costume with a pitchfork and pointy horns. That is the furthest thing from the truth.

Rarely does he manifest himself in these dramatic ways. Most often, his ways are much more sneaky and sinister by appealing to our desires and passions for comfort and pleasure. He plays on something that is initially good, and twisting and turning it into something so far from the truth that we hardly recognize it.

At the end of June, the USCCB released a new book, Rebuking the Devil. It features a survey of Pope Francis’ important teachings on the history of the devil, his empty promises and works, and how we can actively combat him.

The Holy Father comes out blaring in the Introduction when he addresses the question if the devil really exists. Spoiler alert: he does. He writes, “Make no mistake about it: there is a devil. He is alive and active in today’s world and shows no signs of letting up.”

Shocking Stats

I was shocked to read some startling statistics on how many Catholics view evil and the devil. Only 31% of all adults and 17 % of Catholics thought the devil to be a “living being” rather than a “symbol of evil.”

That is heartbreaking! The growing trend reflects more and more people view the devil as a symbol rather than an actual being.

Rebuking the Devil

The preceding chapters look at a wide range of Pope Francis’ homilies, Angelus addresses, tweets, and speeches on specific elements on who the devil is, his attributes, and how we can fight evil and sin in our own lives. Throughout the book, the Pope uses a variety of cultural references and clever puns such as “snake-tactics” and “fake news” to get the point across of the reality of the devil.

Who the Devil Is

Chapter One carefully looks at the devil, his existence, and his attributes. It is like a detective guide to help a believer be on the look-out so they do not fall for the “snake-tactics” in their own lives. Before he was elected Pope, in 2010, then Cardinal Bergoglio stated in his book On Heaven and Earth, “his greatest achievement in these times has been to make us believe he doesn’t exist.”

On a certain level, that can help one understand why evil flourishes. The devil is a not a character to be taken lightly, his whole purpose is the destruction of our soul, which is why we as believers needs to always be on guard.

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How the Devil Lurks Today + How We Can Fight

Chapter Two addresses how the devil acts specifically in the world today. Sacred Scripture reminds us that Satan is the prince of darkness, the father of all lies. In this chapter, the reader is presented with what the Holy Father has to say about how the Evil One operates in his efforts to influence and destroy us.

Chapter Three looks at what we can do spiritually in our defense against the devil and evil. To follow Jesus as His disciple, we know it is a constant returning to Him. And if we wish to follow Christ with our whole heart, we know the devil will challenge us and want to throw us off course.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2015) reminds us, “The way of perfection passes by the way of the Cross.” And later on, “There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle.” The battle we wage with Satan is in our defense against his empty works and promises.

Christ Has the Final Victory

The conclusion ends on a hopeful note reminding the reader of the strength and might of St. Michael the Archangel who sent Lucifer and his angels back to Hell where they belong.

While Satan was a fallen angel, we know that St. Michael the Archangel and his angels defeat Lucifer resulting in their expulsion from Heaven.

We know that the traditional prayer to St. Michael the Archangel specifically seeks protection against Satan. For many centuries, the Catholic faithful have called upon St. Michael to protect  and defend them from the devil’s influence. In more recent years, many more bishops and priests have reinstituted the Prayer to St. Michael prior to the dismissal of the Mass.

What Do We Do?

Well the first thing we do not hide and cower in fear! We acknowledge evil and the reality of sin and Satan in our world.

We commit ourselves to personal holiness. For it is our personal holiness and seeking to become more like Jesus in all things is what will not let Satan win. Jesus defeated Satan for all time by dying on the Cross for our sins.

Let us recommit ourselves, our families, and our world to loving protection of St. Michael the Archangel, who will always defend us in battle and watch over us.

I hope you will take time to explore and read through this new book from the USCCB. It is a sobering, important read for Catholics in today’s world. 

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Patty Breen is a regular contributor to the BIS blog and a devotion writer. She is a full-time lay minister who finds joy in running, strong cups of coffee, and all things Ignatian spirituality. A Midwestern gal from the mitten state, she is constantly learning to find grace in all things. She is passionate about ministry to divorced Catholics and women whose relationships have been impacted by sexual addiction. You can find out more about her here.

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