Sunday, March 9, 2014


Speaking of the Devil, Pope Francis gave a wonderful Angelus talk this morning. He has spoken several times about the devil and in the Angelus talk he tells us how to resist him.

As Catholics, since Vatican II, I fear no one takes the devil seriously any more nor do they think they should. This has been tragic for individual Catholics and the Church collectively.

Thanks be to God, that Pope Francis knows quite well, and especially from his South American context, how decietful the devil is and how capable he is of seducing people with his temptation, just like with Eve. But Jesus gives us the way out. Jesus doesn't dialogue with the devil as Eve does, but quotes Scripture, meaning He uses the Word of God and that is sufficient to derail the devil and his intentions. Jesus reverses in this what Satan actually tempted Adam and Eve to do. Jesus is the New Adam and His Most Holy Mother is the New Eve.

Below is the Holy Father's talk and below that is my homily for this Sunday:

Did you hear about the devil as a real phenomenon, not just symbolic, in the homily at your Church?

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Pope Francis at Angelus: One can't dialogue with Satan

(Vatican Radio) During his weekly Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis spoke about the day’s Gospel reading, which focused on the temptation of Jesus in the desert.

Satan, the Pope said, tried “to divert Jesus from the Father’s plan” by tempting Him “to take an easy path,” a path “of success and power.” Jesus definitively rejects these temptations, reaffirming His “firm intention to follow the path established by the Father, without any compromise with sin or with the logic of the world.” This commitment to follow the plan of the Father is realized in Jesus actions; “His absolute fidelity to the Father's plan of love will lead Him, after about three years, to the final confrontation with the “prince of this world” (Jn 16:11), in the hour of the Passion and of the Cross, and there Jesus will achieve His final victory, the victory of love!”

The Holy Father encouraged all of us to take the opportunity afforded by Lent to renew our Baptismal promises, renouncing Satan and his seductions, “in order to walk the paths of God and ‘to arrive at Easter in the joy of the Spirit.’”

Below, please find the complete text of Pope Francis remarks during the weekly Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Good day!

The Gospel of the first Sunday of Lent each year presents the story of Jesus’ temptations , when the Holy Spirit, having descended upon Him after His baptism in the Jordan, urged Him to openly confront Satan in the wilderness for forty days, before beginning His public mission.

The tempter tries to divert Jesus from the Father's plan, that is, from the path of sacrifice, of love that offers itself in expiation; to make Him take an easy road, [a road] of success and power. The duel between Jesus and Satan is takes place with quotations from the Holy Scriptures. The devil, in fact, to divert Jesus from the way of the Cross, makes present to him the false messianic hopes: economic well-being, indicated by the ability to turn stones into bread; a spectacular and miraculous style, with the idea of casting Himself down from the highest point of the Temple of Jerusalem and being saved by angels; and finally the shortcut of power and domination, in exchange for an act of worship to Satan. There are three groups of temptations. We also know them well.

Jesus decisively rejects all these temptations and reaffirms [His] firm intention to follow the path established by the Father, without any compromise with sin or with the logic of the world. Note well how Jesus responds: He doesn’t dialogue with Satan, as Eve did in the terrestrial Paradise. Jesus knows well that one can’t dialogue with Satan, because he is so cunning. For this reason, instead of dialoguing, as Eve did, Jesus chooses to take refuge in the Word of God and to respond with the power of this Word. Let us remind ourselves of this in the moment of temptation, of our temptation: not arguing with Satan, but defending ourselves with the Word of God. And this will save us. In His responses to Satan, the Lord — using the Word of God — reminds us, first, that “one does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3), and this gives us strength, sustains us in the fight against the worldly mentality that lowers human beings to the level of their basic needs, causing them to lose the hunger for what is true, good, and beautiful, the hunger for God and His love. He also recalls, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’” ( v. 7) , because the road of faith also passes through darkness, doubt, and is nourished by patience and persevering expectation. Jesus notes, finally, that “it is written: ‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve,’” that is, we must get rid of idols, of vanities, and build our lives on the essentials.

These words of Jesus will then find concrete responses in His actions. His absolute fidelity to the Father's plan of love will lead Him, after about three years, to the final confrontation with the “prince of this world” (Jn 16:11), in the hour of the Passion and of the Cross, and there Jesus will achieve His final victory, the victory of love!

Dear brothers and sisters, Lent is a favourable opportunity for all of us to make a journey of conversion, sincerely confronting ourselves with this page of the Gospel. We renew the promises of our Baptism: we renounce Satan and all his works and seductions — because he is a seducer, right? — in order to walk the paths of God and “to arrive at Easter in the joy of the Holy Spirit” (cf. Collect of the First Sunday of Lent, Year A).

 And this is my homily for the first Sunday of Lent:

Introduction: Toward the end of the third century, a group of Christians, despairing of the worldliness of the Church, left to live in the desert as hermits.  Inspired by Jesus’ experience in the desert, they went to find God in the great silence and open space.  They and their future followers became known as the “Desert Fathers.” They regarded society as a shipwreck from which each single individual had to swim for his life. These were men who believed that to let oneself drift along, passively accepting the tenets and values of what they knew as society was purely and simply a disaster.”  What these men felt was true of society of their day is even truer of our society of today.

Topic Statement: While the world, the flesh and the devil pull us in the wrong direction, Jesus Christ saves us by pulling us in the right direction, the direction of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

1.                 The season of Lent focuses us on the interior battle of each soul with the world, the flesh and the devil and Jesus Christ who has won the victory for us.

A.               St. John of the Cross offers very practical advice.  He taught that the vices of the world, its false or evil allurements, were the easiest to overcome and were overcome by the supernatural virtue of hope.  The flesh was the most tenacious of the enemies of the soul, passions run a muck that become lust. These fight us until death and are overcome by the virtue of love.  The devil was the most difficult enemy to overcome because of his wiles, deceptions and lies, but was overcome by the supernatural virtue of unrelenting faith.
It does not take a theologian to figure out that Satan is winning his war with some Catholics. When we hear of Catholics who are lukewarm in their commitment to Christ, His Church and Sunday Mass, who are pro-choice, think that marriage as defined by God should be redefined by the state, when the culture of lust is promoted over the virtues of modesty and chastity, we can rightly give a diagnosis of the influence of Satan and how so many succumb to his temptations. But we know too, without be a theologian, when the Holy Spirit is present and those who have fallen to Satan and his temptation, repent and return to the Church and her divinely revealed truth. When repentance leads to a re-commitment to Christ, His Holy church, Sunday Mass and daily prayer as well as righteous living that is a witness to others, then the Holy Spirit has triumphed.

B.                The New Testament teaches that it is Satan, who is responsible for disease and suffering; who seduced Judas; who was confronted by the words and works of Jesus, against whom we must fight; who is the power against God and is destined for final destruction.  In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus fully equipped for his ministry. He is thrust into the desert and remains focused on his ministry.  The battle between good and evil has erupted. And as Jesus begins His public ministry by going to the desert to prepare for it, he is victorious over Satan and his temptations. In the end, Jesus’ complete victory will be celebrated on the cross. We are invited to share in the victory and not wallow in the life that Satan seduces us into living.

2.                 The victory of Jesus over sin and death demands our wholehearted and undivided response.

A.               Way too many people, however, do not seek the ineffable, incomprehensible God and therefore do not give him the reverence, respect and adoration due him.  In some souls God reigns like the King that He is, in other souls He is ignored, treated as a complete stranger.  Each of us during this season of Lent and throughout our lives must figure out how we treat God in our lives.

B.                The gospel reading from Matthew today is our program for the season of Lent.  By God’s grace and in the victory of Jesus Christ, we are to resist the devil by living on every word from the mouth of God. We will not put the Lord our God to the test and we shall worship the Lord our god and Him alone shall we serve!

Conclusion: The Mass is like a rip current that pulls us in the right direction to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  May we use this season of Lent to turn away from Satan’s temptations and personal sin and believe the Good News of Jesus Christ who has won the victory over the world, the flesh and the devil.


Van said...

My homilist alluded to the devil as being a work of fiction the scripture writers employed, as he expressed the "real" sins of our times are the various "-isms", like consumerism, narcissism, eliteism, etc.

John Nolan said...

Van, why are you still going to this church, when it is clearly not Catholic? Don't be seduced by those who bang on about 'obligation' - it is a two-way process and only made sense when the Mass was more or less universal.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - The suggestion that Van's church is "clearly not Catholic" is supported by what evidence?

And there is nothing - nothing - in the command to fulfill one's Sunday obligation about this command not being legitimate unless the mass is "more or less universal."

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your sermon, Father. Our sermon was very short: the three foods for Catholics during Lent: the Word of God, the Eucharist and the will of God. That was the gist of it.

The priests in our diocese I believe have been asked not to mention the Devil, hell (for fear of offending someone) and we rarely even hear heaven mentioned for that matter. That means we all grow lax and tepid.


Gene said...

Jan, it means that unbelief rules in your diocese...

George said...

If one wants to (or in fact does) hold the position the Satan is just a metaphorical or allegorical construct and not a real being, such a position is antithetical and in diametrical opposition to what the Catholic church teaches.

Baptismal promises(Yes-against a real being)

V. Do you reject Satan?
R. I do.
V. And all his works?
R. I do.
V. And all his empty promises?
R. I do.

rcg said...

PI, I am astonished that you would toy with something as dangerous as this. JN has listed numerous Liturgical forms that are very different yet Universal, Catholic, in their fidelity to God and the Church, and therefore their real loathing of a real Satan; therefore he obviously does not refer to the EF. It is at least foolish to play a game with words on this point.

Pater Ignotus said...

rcg - To conclude, based upon the biased and anecdotal reporting of one traditionalist individual, that a parish is "clearly not Catholic" is the really dangerous circumstance here.

But that's the M.O. of the traddie folks I encounter. We have no idea what was said at Van's church. Was the word "fiction" used by the homilist, or is that Van's choice? What is the context in which the "-isms" were mentioned. What else did the homilist say that Van didn't hear, or didn't understand, or didn't remember, or didn't report on this blog?

My comment had nothing to do with the reality of Satan and the reality of evil.

rcg said...

You could have made that point in your initial reply and could have taken the stance that Van should ponder the lesson to determine what was really said, discussed it with friends to find out what they heard, and even asked the homilist to clarify. We know that what Van thinks he heard is not Catholic teaching, JN's response to the posit is true. Your response allows for the posit to be true as well. Just be careful that your habitual response to people like JN does not put you in defense of something you actually oppose. Those whom we like can do no wrong, those we hate can do nothing right.

Pater Ignotus said...

rcg - For the record, I believe all that the Catholic Church teaches to be revealed by God.

If, at any time, you wonder about what I believe, please refer back to this statement for the clarity you need.

That being said, there are many acceptable and Catholic ways to envision, speak about, image, understand, teach about, or otherwise apprehend Satan, the Devil, the Evil One, Beelzebub, etc.

There are MANY ways a homilist might have preached a homily on the readings of the First Sunday of Lent, including but not limited to, some reference to the Devil.

Just because one person does not hear the exact words he/she wants or expects to hear is not cause to go running off to the "That Parish Is No Longer Catholic" side of the room, wailing and lamenting the loss of faith, the "misleading" statements of the Holy Father, or the coming "Last Straw" that will drive the marplots out of the Church and into the arms of the schismatic SSPX.

Anonymous said...

Gene, absolutely right! Jan