EVIL AND THE DEMONIC
APOSTOLIC INSIGHT ~ What can the Apostles and Church Fathers tell us about our times? What advice do they have for our problems? Here are some of their thoughts—
While evil or an Evil One is not a popular subject today, we are being inundated by the demonic far beyond what society knew in previous decades. Insidious and degrading circumstances surround us daily from Washington, D.C., to the nightly news appear to give us endless accounts of murders, car wrecks, and mass killings in schools and bars. Do all of these catastrophes happen by themselves? Do they simply pop up like weeds in the Spring? Or, is there a motivating force lurking in the shadows?
The earliest Church Fathers had no misgivings. They knew that what the scripture called Satan and evil spirits were facts in human experience. These earliest believers knew that the Evil One had to be rebuked for anyone to have spiritual freedom and success. The word “devil” actually meant “slander.” His role in creating guilt, personal devaluation, impaired self-understanding, and inadequacy were great in the past, but have become even more omnipresent in contemporary society. If Satan dared to tempt Jesus, how much more so will he tempt us.
Here is what the Fathers said…
Sin comes from the evil one; Satan has, as it were, these riches in his patrimony. Just as the riches of Christ are virtues, so crimes are the devil’s wealth.
St. Gregory of Nyssa
If we are but instruments of heavenly rotations, then we do not have free will. And if mankind loses freedom, it loses everything.
St. John Cassian
The demons have no means if taking possession of a man’s spirit or body, no power to forcibly enter his soul, unless they first deprive him of all holy thought and make him empty and devoid of spiritual contemplation and prayer.
Satan … we call the angel of evil is the contriver of all error, the corrupter of the whole world.
St. Ignatius of Antioch
Be eager for more frequent gatherings for thanksgiving to God and his glory, for when you meet thus, the forces of Satan are annulled and his destructive power is cancelled in the concord of your faith.
Justin, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew
The clear insight I drew from scriptures and my trust in them have only been confirmed by the deceitful mimicking that the so-called Devil has circulated among the Greeks, and by all that he did likewise through Egyptian sorcerers and false prophets at the time of Elijah.