Tag: devil

Do You Know The Devil Hates Latin? Here Is Why

Do You Know The Devil Hates Latin? Here Is Why

A few years ago, at Mass, the priest joking said during the homily: “Can you believe that a parishioner told me that the devil hates Latin?!” This was followed by much laughter by the congregation. But I’m not so sure it’s a laughing matter. Indeed I recalled a piece on “The Devil Hates Sacred Music”, (which is going to be our next post). 

And on a personal level I was reminded of coming out of a radiation treatment for cancer some years ago. Seated on a bench and waiting for my wife to pick me up, I pulled out my breviary and began to say the Liturgy of the Hours. In English.

Now, this is either the worst kind of prayer or the best kind. It’s the best in that one is giving an example of “praying in public” unabashedly and unapologetically. It also allows for people to ask, “Is that a Bible? What are you praying? Are you Catholic?” and thus open a gateway for others, by good example, to follow.

On the other hand, it is the worst form of prayer in that it calls attention to oneself, perhaps unduly, and is maybe the worst form of doing something “good”: so that others may see you doing good and admire you. Regardless, my ride was late, and it was time for nones (midafternoon prayer) so I prayed.

All that said, an older Jewish man—a fellow cancer-radiation patient—sat down next to me on that bench. He produced his prayer book and began his prayers, slightly louder than mine and with the concomitant rocking back-and-forth which is unique to “Our Elder Brethren In The Faith” as St. John Paul II called the Jewish people.

Problem was, I was a bit nauseated from the radiation and the rocking back-and-forth on the part of the Jewish man was making the nausea worse. I turned my head to say something to him but when I did I looked at his prayer book: it was entirely in Hebrew.

I’m not sure why this surprised me as much as it did: all of my doctors from Sloan-Kettering were Jewish and one was a Hasidic Jew whose seven children assiduously studied the Talmud from a young age in the original language.

I felt like a bit of a fraud that day. Any idiot can pray in their native tongue. And given the panoply of televangelists, it seems like many idiots do. Moreover: our Church HAS an official language: Latin—hence the term, “The Latin Church.” True, in the Vatican itself the daily language is Italian, but all the official documents are in Latin. All of the official prayer-books, too, are published first in Latin, as are the Catechism, The Code of Canon Law, and of course, the Vulgate version of the Bible.

Soon after that day I bought The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a bi-lingual edition (Latin and English), conveniently side-by-side. However, the only version of this is the 1962 pre-Vatican II edition, so it’s not the same as the revised Little Office. But that’s no great matter. And when I’d get stuck on some multi-syllable Latin word, I’d switch back to English.

But I have no gift for learning languages. Though I’m married to a Spaniard, I know absolutely no Spanish after 13 years. I have seven years of Italian, five of French and a semester of Irish: all to absolutely no effect. I simply do not have the “chip” needed to learn foreign languages.

However, once I got the feel of The Little of the Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary down in Latin, a bit of serendipity occurred: Benedict XVI issued his motu proprio reifying the Latin Mass and the Latin Divine Office. I promptly purchased the two volume Breviarium Romanum and tried to keep up with the Latin liturgical hours—without the assistance of English (the volumes are published in Germany).

“Well, so what?” a reader might well ask. Well, for one thing: it takes effort to pray the Office in Latin. The pre-Vatican II Liturgical Hours are all longer than the post-Vatican II vernacular version (and there are more of them), so more time is spent in prayer.

Plus, I think God appreciates effort. While the Liturgy of The Hours is indeed “The Prayer of the Church”, after many years of praying from The Breviary it’s impossible NOT to have learned many of the passages—the “psalm-prayers”, the Office of Readings, the Hymns—by heart. This can lead to little more than rote recitation.

And I think God is always calling us out of our “comfort zone”—whether that zone may be sitting on the couch watching the ball game instead of spending time at a soup kitchen or even just going for a walk with our family—or praying in the official tongue of our Catholic Church.

Maybe the best summation of this comes from the very same priest who laughed when he said “The devil hates when we pray in Latin?!” I emailed him about it and expressed my view. His response is worth repeating and I share it with you:

The Gospel of Matthew 5: 41 says, ‘If someone pressing you into walking a mile with them, go an extra mile as well’, and, Matthew 5: 46 says, ‘For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?’ The Gospel always challenges us to go further, be better and strive for perfection. If our way of showing an extra effort, an act of devotion or love is to pray the office in Latin, then so be it! In so many ways, I personally feel that, the Traditional Liturgy, which I am deeply rooted in since childhood, provides me the opportunity to offer that X+ to God as it requires greater active intellectual energy, precisely because it is in Latin and also requires a great deal of memorization, as well as the fact that it is so precise and sober in its every gesture matched with precise words to be said at that same moment. When celebrated properly, the Traditional Liturgy is like a graceful dance or carefully choreographed ballet in match-step to the polyphonic harmonies of the choir and organ. The melismatic passages of chant provide us a sense of line in motion-evoking a fortified energy compelling inner-spiritual refinement externalized in the dignified movement of word and work.”

I am no more conversant in Latin today than I was the first day I picked up the Latin-English Little Office. However, I am convinced that the Devil, whom we are constantly being told does not exist, must truly hate anyone who, with a sincere heart and extra effort, prays in the official language of the Church—a language which traces itself back to the great Fathers of The Church and their inestimable writings. For that matter, I’m pretty confident that the Devil hates prayer in language of any sort, but I like to think Latin drives him absolutely crazy—and keeps him away.

To pray “to keep the devil away” rather than to keep God close—and keep oneself close to God—is to ring the bell backwards. “Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. Resist the devil and he will take flight.” (James 4: 7).

This article was originally posted by Kevin Di Camillo on National Catholic Register – A Service of EWTN

Pope Francis, The Devil And Hell

Pope Francis, The Devil And Hell

Pope Francis has been unequivocal, consistent and emphatic throughout his papacy, regarding and affirming the existence of the devil.

But when it comes to the existence of hell, his teaching has been less unambiguous.

On the morning of April 11, 2014, Pope Francis used his daily homily at the Mass in the chapel of the St. Martha residence in Vatican City to focus on a theme that has long been among his concerns: Satan.

“Jesus’ life was a battle,” Francis said. “He came to conquer evil, to conquer the prince of this world, to conquer the devil.” He added, “Our spiritual life, our Christian life, is a battle. … The devil does not want us to become holy; he does not want us to follow Jesus.”

The Pope continued, “Of course, one of you will say: ‘But Father, you are so old-fashioned, speaking about the devil in the 21st century!’ … Watch out, the devil exists! The devil exists even in the 21st century. And we must not be naive. We must learn from the Gospel how to battle against him.”

The homily of Pope Francis was consistent with his teachings on the reality of the devil from the very start of his pontificate to only a few weeks ago, when he issued his latest apostolic exhortation on holiness, Gaudete et Exsultate (The Call to Holiness in Today’s World), in which he devoted an entire chapter to spiritual combat, discernment and Satan.

On March 14, 2013, the day after his election, he told the cardinals who had elected him, “When one does not profess Jesus Christ — I recall the phrase of Leon Bloy, ‘Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil’ — one professes the worldliness of the devil.”

And this was not some postelection embrace of the Catechism. In his time as the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he made many similar declarations.

In his famous conversation with his friend Rabbi Abraham Skorka, published as On Heaven and Earth (Image, 2013), then-Cardinal Bergoglio said, “In my personal experience, I feel him every time that I am tempted to do something that is not what God wants for me. I believe that the devil exists.”

The Catechism, of course, teaches bluntly about the reality of the devil:

“Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the Church’s Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called ‘Satan’ or the ‘devil’” (391).

The Catechism goes on to emphasize: “The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature.”

The devil as a creature is reiterated by Francis in his new exhortation, with the vital point, “We should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea.”

This point is important because here Francis is articulating a position — the one the Church has always taught — that now is held only by a minority of Catholics.

A recent analysis by CARA (the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University) found that while belief in the devil has held steady over the last decades (with 70% of U.S. adults believing in the devil), belief in Satan as a creature has declined in favor of the devil as a mere symbol. Overall, 69% consider Satan to be a symbol, while 31% believe Satan is a “living being.”

As for Catholics, only 17% see Satan as a “living being,” the lowest among Christian groups and only one percentage higher than the “Nones.” CARA’s assessment is sobering:

“What does that mean? Well, symbols aren’t really going to stir the same concerns in someone that a being might. … Catholics who believe in the devil and hell are more likely than those who do not to be religiously active. But there are other impacts we can see in the survey. For example, Catholics who believe Satan is a being are more likely than those who believe Satan is a symbol to say they believe the world is ‘clearly divided into good and evil’ (42% compared to 22%). Those who see Satan as a symbol are more likely to believe that the world is ‘more complex’ than being clearly divided into good and evil forces.”

Which raises the related question: How do people today perceive hell, and what does Francis have to say about that?

During Holy Week, the 93-year-old atheist founder of La Repubblica, Eugenio Scalfari, caused uproar with the claim that Francis had told him, “Hell does not exist; the disappearance of the souls of sinners exists.”

Scalfari, who has said he doesn’t take notes and recreates his interviews from memory, has previously made similar assertions about the Pope, and the Vatican then and now has responded with various disclaimers that the “quotation” should not “be considered as a faithful transcription of the Holy Father’s words.”

However, a far more fulsome denial of Scalfari is in order from the Holy See and from Francis himself.

Since his election, Francis has spoken on hell as he obviously has the devil, but Scalfari, who has been granted a papal interview several times, has claimed more than once that the Pope has denied the existence of hell.

Given the seriousness of Scalfari’s repeated claim, which implies the Pope might subscribe to the old but persistent heresy of Annihilationism, this assertion demands a clear refutation — most effectively from Francis himself, since he has yet to repudiate Scalfari’s remarks personally and publicly.

Found among some Protestant theologians, as well as a few modern Catholic ones, Annihilationism argues that, rather than face eternal damnation, the souls of unrepentant sinners simply cease to exist. There is more that can be said about the lingering heresy, but the Catechism declares:

“The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death, the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.’ The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs” (1035).

Is Francis somehow an Annihilationist? Compare the Catechism to Francis’ Message for Lent in 2016 that noted that “the danger always remains that, by a constant refusal to open the doors of their hearts to Christ, who knocks on them in the poor, the proud, rich and powerful will end up condemning themselves and plunging into the eternal abyss of solitude, which is hell.” 

This is rather obscure, and the timing of the Pope’s new controversy over hell is particularly problematic because, while belief in the devil as a creature rather than a myth or symbol has waned among Catholics, so, too, has belief in hell.

According to the 2014 “Religious Landscape Study” by the Pew Research Center, 58% of U.S. adults believe in hell, essentially unchanged from 2007.

Among Catholics, however, only 69% believe in hell, and 29% do not. By comparison, 82% of evangelicals believe in hell, and 11% do not, while 60% of mainline Protestants believe, and 29% do not.

And just as the denial of Satan’s reality is toxic for other aspects of faith and morals, so, too, does a waning belief in hell form part of a withering of wider belief and practice and a severely malnourished eschatology.

Consider the latest findings by Gallup that Mass attendance is down to 39%, a 6% decline from 2014 to 2017.

Pew found that the less one attends church and prays, the less one believes in hell.

In an era of declining belief in the Real Presence, collapsing Mass attendance and the denial by many theologians of objective moral truth, the idea of the devil as a hazy symbol of evil is hardly surprising. 

Gaudete et Exsultate provides a helpful doctrinal corrective on the devil to an increasingly disbelieving Catholic faithful.

However, a friend with whom Francis has spoken repeatedly and candidly is claiming the pontiff is suggesting heresy regarding hell.

It is vital for the Church — starting with Pope Francis — to teach with coherence and vigor on the Four Last Things: death, judgment, heaven and hell.

Consequently, it is also vital to have a manifest and specific denial of Scalfari and a public declaration of what the Holy Father believes about the destiny of our souls.

The devil may be in the details, but even more so in their absence.

The Day The Devil Went To ‘Confess’ Before St. Padre Pio.

The Day The Devil Went To ‘Confess’ Before St. Padre Pio.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: 

“Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion.”

It is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus’ call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father from whom one has strayed by sin. It is called the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner’s personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction.

It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a “confession” – acknowledgment and praise – of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man.

It is called the Sacrament of Forgiveness, Since by the priest’s Sacramental absolution, God grants the penitent “Pardon and Peace”.

Confession was the principal daily activity of Padre Pio. He had the ability to look within the souls of his penitents. It was not possible to lie to Padre Pio during a confession. He saw inside people’s hearts. Often, when the sinners were timid, Padre Pio listed their sins during the confession.

Padre Pio invited all believers to confess at least once a week. He said: “Even if a room is closed, it is necessary to dust it after a week.”

In the sacrament of confession Padre Pio was very demanding. He couldn’t bear people that went to him only out of curiosity.

A monk once told the following story: 

“One day Padre Pio didn’t give absolution to a penitent and he told him: “If you go to confess to another priest to have gain absolution you will go to hell together with him”. 

He meant that the sacrament of confession is profaned by people that don’t want to change their lives. They are guilty in front of God.

Satan went beyond all the limits of deception when he went to Father Pio pretending to be a penitent. This is the Father Pio’s testimony:  

“One day, while I was hearing confessions, a man came to the confessional where I was. He was tall, handsome, dressed with some refinement and he was kind and polite. He started to confess his sins, which were of every kind: against God, against man and against the morals. All the sins were obnoxious! I was disoriented, in fact for all the sins that he told me, but I responded to him with God’s Word, the example of the Church, and the morals of the Saints.   But the enigmatic penitent answered me word for word, justifying his sins, always with extreme ability and politeness.  He excused all the sinful actions, making them sound quite normal and natural, even comprehensible on the human level.. He continued this way with the sins that were gruesome against God, Our Lady, the Saints, always using disrespectful round-about argumentation. He kept this up even with the foulest of sins that could be conjured in the mind of a most sinful man. The answers that he gave me with such skilled subtlety and malice surprised me. I wondered: who is he? What world does he come from? And I tried to look at him in order to read something on his face. At the same time I concentrated on every word he spoke, trying to discover any clue to his identity.. But suddenly; through a vivid, radiant and internal light I clearly recognized who he was. With a sound and imperial tone I told him: “Say long live Jesus, long live Mary!” As soon as I pronounced these sweet and powerful names, Satan instantly disappeared in a trickle of fire, leaving behind him an unbearable stench.”  

(Don Pierino is a priest and one of father Pio’s spiritual sons who were present at the same time).

Fr. Perino tells this story:  

“One day, Padre Pio was in the confessional, hidden by two curtains. The curtains of the confessional were not closed all the way and I succeeded in seeing padre Pio. The men, following the bookings, were prepared on a side, all in single row. From the place where I was, I read the Breviary and, sometimes I looked up to see the Padre. From the little church, through the door, a man came. He was handsome, with small and black eyes, grizzled hair, with a dark jacket and ruled trousers. I didn’t want him to distract me and so I kept on reciting the breviary, but an internal voice told me: “Stop and look!“ I stopped and looked at Padre Pio. That man, while taking footstep back and forth and without waiting his turn, stopped just in front of the confessional, after the previous penitent went away. He immediately entered among the curtains, standing, up in front of Padre Pio. Then I didn’t see the dark haired man after that moment. Following some minutes I saw that man sank on the floor with his legs widened.

On the chair in the confessional, where Padre Pio had been sitting, I didn’t see padre Pio anymore; but, Jesus. He was blond, young and handsome and he gazed upon the man that had fell to the floor. Then again I saw padre Pio coming up from there. He returned to take a seat in his place and his appearance melted with Jesus’ appearance. Then I saw only Padre Pio. I immediately heard his voice: “Hurry up, everyone.” Nobody noticed this happening! Everybody started with their turn again”.

St. Pio Of Pietrelcina, Pray For Us! 

How St. Anthony The Great ‘Crushed’ Satan

How St. Anthony The Great ‘Crushed’ Satan

He lived in solitude in the desert, but he wasn’t alone.

St. Anthony the Abbot (sometimes called St. Anthony of Egypt or St. Anthony the Great), lived a life of solitude, penance and prayer in the Egyptian desert. He was inspired by the Gospels to sell all his possessions and ‘move away from the world’ to go live in the desert. 

He established for himself a quiet hermitage away from the world, but he wasn’t able to completely escape from his most persistent enemy.

The devil, knowing that St. Anthony was a very holy man and close to God, threw everything he had against him. If the devil couldn’t turn Anthony away from God through the riches of the world, he would try to attack him both physically and spiritually. St. Athanasius records several of these encounters in his Life of St. Anthony.

After failing to tempt him with the lure of wealth, the devil “attacked the young man, disturbing him by night and harassing him by day, so that even the onlookers saw the struggle which was going on between them.” After each temptation, however, St. Anthony would “fortify his body with faith, prayers, and fasting.”

Frustrated, the devil tried to confront Anthony by taking on the shape of a boy and conversing with him. Anthony replied, “You are very despicable then, for you are black-hearted and weak as a child. Henceforth I shall have no trouble from you, ‘for the Lord is my helper, and I shall look down on mine enemies.’”

For a time the devil left Anthony alone, but returned again to test him, this time with a multitude of demons. The devil severely beat Anthony physically, hoping that Anthony would return to his former way of life out of fear. Remaining steadfast in his faith, Anthony called out to the devil: 

“Here am I, Anthony; I flee not from your stripes, for even if you inflict more nothing shall separate me from the love of Christ … ‘though a camp be set against me, my heart shall not be afraid.’”

After each encounter Anthony was strengthened in his faith and God came to his aid. In teaching his many disciples Anthony taught them how to defeat the demons, “Sign yourselves therefore with the cross, and depart boldly, and let these make sport for themselves.” And elsewhere he said to them, “But we need not fear their suggestions, for by prayer, fasting, and faith in the Lord their attack immediately fails.”

St. Anthony of Egypt, pray for us! 

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