“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
A church shooting in Charleston. Daily shootings in poor neighborhoods. Riots and looting as political protest. Beheadings of Christians in the Middle East. Millions of babies slaughtered in the womb. Teens and adults led to addiction to drugs and sex. War drums beating across the world. The well connected and the politicians turn the gears of government to serve their greed. Agitators turning tragedy into political opportunities for social unrest. Lies are turned into “truth” and truth is attacked as a lie. Churches and faith in God are attacked among cries of “God is dead”. These are all acts of the dark one, the purveyor of evil, the master of deception – Satan. Satan, cast from Heaven in to Hell, is a true force that seeks to sow chaos and destruction, to destroy faith in God among men toward the ruination of souls. The latest attack on a black church by a white man is just the latest symptom of the satanic forces moving through our world.
Yesterday, video captured a suspect identified as Dylan Roof entering the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church. He stayed for an hour during the prayer service and then opened fire. He spared one woman to tell the story of the slaughter, a sure way to leave no doubt that he was the shooter: a white man with probable connections to white supremacy. What better way for the deceiver to sow chaos? Influence a white man who wears a jacket with images connected to apartheid in South Africa and old Rhodesia to kill members of an historic black church in cold blood. Make sure that at least one survives to bear witness so more seeds can be planted and more hatred can grow. Stir up races one against another. Stir up those who wish to destroy the good that comes from worship of God and make church a place of terror. Satan at his most effective.
It is hard for modern man to accept the real and palpable existence of Satan. It is likewise hard for man to accept the real and palpable existence of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I once rejected my faith in God as an intellectual “humanist” and claimed to be an “agnostic” – an enlightened objectivist only believing what I could prove. As a brain surgeon and scientist, I had arrogantly believed that man and science had figured out how to create a superior society and God was merely a construct of mans’ mind. How wrong I was and I happily returned to my faith a few years ago and now am grateful to be part of God’s Catholic Church again. Embracing God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are much easier than accepting the reality of Satan. Pop culture routinely seeks to undermine faith in God, but seeks to paint as kooks those who recognize Satan’s existence and influence (see the Saturday Night Live’s “Church Lady”). Society often glorifies evil in pop culture through mainstreaming of violence, debauchery and moral relativism – even Satan himself (see Fox’s “Lucifer”). Even the Church, including my own Catholic Church, seeks to be a “church of nice”, avoiding the ugly realities of sin, hell and Satan. The church doesn’t want to “scare people” with talk of theological realities of salvation and damnation. The Catholic church of nice has thus done a disservice to mankind and the faithful in failing to prepare them to do battle with the forces of evil that roam this earth for the ruination of souls.
There will be tense days ahead as Satan’s latest gambit plays out and people are lured toward hatred and riots. As copy cats are lured to attack other churches. As politicians seek to take advantage of the situation for their own gain. As more tyrannical control is placed over man’s legitimate freedom in the name of “security”. It is in these times that we are called to stand most like a rock for God. It is times like these when we are called to embrace the path of good laid out by the Father, the path of redemption offered by Jesus’s sacrifice as the Lamb of God and the Holy Sprit’s voice whispering in our ear: repent, seek love, seek peace. That is why Martin Luther King’s words were so prophetic, surely they came from the Holy spirit. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Those who seek peace and brotherly love can join God’s army of good on this earth and send Satan and his agents firmly back into hell. They can banish Satan by acting as true Christians and God-fearing people. When the agitators come to Charleston, they should be rejected and surrounded by prayer circles. When people truly act in hate toward another, they should be rebuked and then their conversion to God sought through earnest Christian engagement with them. In addition to acting, Christians need to pray for help. Here is the Prayer of St. Michael offered to us through Pope Leo XIII.
“Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.