The empty show of Satan

Every Easter Sunday, Catholics reaffirm that they reject Satan, and all his works, and all his empty show. This rejection is not merely a polite disagreement or difference of opinion. For Catholics, this rejection brings with it connotations of "throwing off an enemy," "renouncing," and even, "vomiting." There is something visceral about the Christian's rejection of Satan. The more we grow in the love of God, the more repulsed we become by the works of darkness. The more we know the truth, the more we love the truth. The more we love the truth, the more the empty show of Satan turns our stomachs.

This week, large numbers of people will attend an event in Boston, reveling in the satanic. While some attendees may worship Satan, many of them adopt the language of worshiping Satan simply for the shock value. Nonetheless, the conference will promote a vision of the world that is deeply distorted and will advocate disobedience to the commands of God. One -- of many -- grotesque examples of this is the conference sponsors' description of abortion as a "sacred ritual."

That they see God and his commands as an obstacle to their freedom is not a surprise. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. In its consequences the gravest of these works was the mendacious seduction that led man to disobey God" (CCC 394). The work of the devil is to seduce people into the dark abyss and to draw them into hatred for God and for his commands. This seduction is always founded on the lie that the human person can be happy apart from God.

While our visceral disgust for Satan, his works, and his empty show is fitting, many Catholics likely also feel something else in our guts: sorrow. We want these men and women to experience the joy that comes from communion with the Blessed Trinity. That they would reject God's love for them causes us sorrow.

Catholics share some things in common with the persons who will attend this conference. For instance, we have a common enemy. Even though they may claim to be satanists, Satan hates them. He seeks to destroy them in the same way that he seeks to destroy all of us: by drawing us away from God, and by attempting to convince us that the commands of God are unjust and unnecessary. It causes deep sorrow to see people whom God loves so much be lured away from that love.

Another thing we share with these men and women is that the only hope for any of us is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ loves all the people who will attend that event. He poured out His Blood for them and he invites them to share in his victory over sin and death. Jesus Christ has already defeated Satan, his works, and his empty show. None of us is beyond hope.

All of this begs the question, "What then should we do?" What happens in that convention center will be an empty show, a sorry spectacle. Catholics do not need to put on a bigger show or reduce themselves to becoming a sideshow. We have the tranquil assurance that Christ has already won. What can we do? We can humbly confess our sins. We can attend Mass and receive the Eucharist worthily. We can do works of charity. We can spend time before the Blessed Sacrament, pray the holy rosary, and pray for our conversion and the conversion of all sinners.

We can, as the words of Easter Sunday remind us, "renew the promises of holy baptism, by which we once renounced Satan and his works and promised to serve God in the Holy Catholic Church." We can pray that some who attend that conference will, by the grace of God, one day stand beside us at Easter Mass and with us renounce Satan and his works and promise to serve God in the Holy Catholic Church. It is entirely possible because Jesus Christ has already won the victory.