I believe not only in God

Posted on January 30, 2011

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Time was when people directly attributed sickness, misfortune, or death to the work of a dark, invisible beast with two horns, a tail, and a giant fork. Now, with the help of science, we can explain cases of “possession” as schizophrenic attacks, or “curses to the family” as genetic or generational disorders.

Science, however, can only explain the things it can see. That the devil is invisible — much like angels, or abstract realities like mercy, compassion, and altruism — does not mean he is unreal.

We can see a chilling picture of the enemy in the upcoming movie ‘The Rite,’ based on the actual stories of Catholic exorcists and topbilled by Anthony Hopkins. I watched the movie’s advanced screening last Friday in support of a fundraising activity of Jesuit Communications, the media arm of the Philippine Jesuits. In the movie, a skeptical American seminarian reluctantly comes to Rome and meets an unorthodox exorcist — who, unsurprisingly, turns out to be a Jesuit. To avoid giving spoilers, let me lift a quote from the movie’s promo materials where the exorcist tells the soon-to-be priest: “Choosing not to believe in the devil won’t protect you from him.”

I think the world will be a better place if the devil appears to all in his hideous form, as we commonly see in the movies. For us who wage the war or are caught in the middle of it, the battle between good and evil would be a no-brainer if the devil showed up always as a monster.

The devil knows that, unfortunately, so he often parades in the most attractive garb. He comes in the form of seductive magazines, nasty gossip, lavish lifestyles, and drugs that give us moments of ecstasy. The devil has also built his workshop deep within us — sowing envy, prejudice, unfounded fears, and insecurities. The devil lives up to his name, which, in Hebrew, means “deceiver.”

The last thing he wants us to know is that he’s always been there.

St. Michael the Archangel,

Defend us in battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness 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, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen.

— Pope Leo XIII

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