In the late 1980s, I was introduced to a self-styled Satanic high priestess. She called herself a witch and dressed the part, with flowing dark clothes and black eye shadow around to her temples. In our many discussions, she acknowledged worshipping Satan as his “queen.”
I’m a man of science and a lover of history; after studying the classics at Princeton, I trained in psychiatry at Yale and in psychoanalysis at Columbia. That background is why a Catholic priest had asked my professional opinion, which I offered pro bono, about whether this woman was suffering from a mental disorder. This was at the height of the national panic about Satanism. (In a case that helped induce the hysteria, Virginia McMartin and others had recently been charged with alleged Satanic ritual abuse at a Los Angeles preschool; the charges were later dropped.) So I was inclined to skepticism. But my subject’s behavior exceeded what I could explain with my training. She could tell some people their secret weaknesses, such as undue pride. She knew how individuals she’d never known had died, including my mother and her fatal case of ovarian cancer. Six people later vouched to me that, during her exorcisms, they heard her speaking multiple languages, including Latin, completely unfamiliar to her outside of her trances. This was not psychosis; it was what I can only describe as paranormal ability. I concluded that she was possessed. Much later, she permitted me to tell her story.
The priest who had asked for my opinion of this bizarre case was the most experienced exorcist in the country at the time, an erudite and sensible man. I had told him that, even as a practicing Catholic, I wasn’t likely to go in for a lot of hocus-pocus. “Well,” he replied, “unless we thought you were not easily fooled, we would hardly have wanted you to assist us.”
So began an unlikely partnership. For the past two-and-a-halfdecades and over several hundred consultations, I’ve helped clergy from multiple denominations and faiths to filter episodes of mental illness — which represent the overwhelming majority of cases — from, literally, the devil’s work. It’s an unlikely role for an academic physician, but I don’t see these two aspects of my career in conflict. The same habits that shape what I do as a professor and psychiatrist — open-mindedness, respect for evidence and compassion for suffering people — led me to aid in the work of discerning attacks by what I believe are evil spirits and, just as critically, differentiating these extremely rare events from medical conditions.
Is it possible to be a sophisticated psychiatrist and believe that evil spirits are, however seldom, assailing humans? Most of my scientific colleagues and friends say no, because of their frequent contact with patients who are deluded about demons, their general skepticism of the supernatural, and their commitment to employ only standard, peer-reviewed treatments that do not potentially mislead (a definite risk) or harm vulnerable patients. But careful observation of the evidence presented to me in my career has led me to believe that certain extremely uncommon cases can be explained no other way.
Do read the entire piece... it's simply fascinating, not just its content but the fact that it's in the Washington Post. Most intriguing indeed.
391 Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy.266 Scripture and the Church's Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called "Satan" or the "devil".267 The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: "The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing."268
392 Scripture speaks of a sin of these angels.269 This "fall" consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection of that rebellion in the tempter's words to our first parents: "You will be like God."270 The devil "has sinned from the beginning"; he is "a liar and the father of lies".271
393 It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels' sin unforgivable. "There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death."272
394 Scripture witnesses to the disastrous influence of the one Jesus calls "a murderer from the beginning", who would even try to divert Jesus from the mission received from his Father.273 "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil."274 In its consequences the gravest of these works was the mendacious seduction that led man to disobey God.
395 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. He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries - of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature- to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but "we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him."275
Great mystery indeed but one I believe happens more often than we let on. All the more reason to pray this powerful intercessory prayer daily:
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our protection 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, thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
In one of the most cogent and analytical responses to the Orlando terrorist attack, Stephen Turley provides insights to what, if not corrected, will be the deathknell of western culture:
Why does our society find it so difficult to blame radical jihadists for the murders they commit?
I think the key to understanding this incoherence can be found in what scholars call a “risk society,” which refers to the unique ways in which modern people deal with hazards and insecurities as they relate to the future. There are two reasons for why we moderns are unique in the way we handle potential threats and hazards:
First, we are more reliant on scientific and technological processes in our day-to-day living than any previous society. Science and technology have penetrated into virtually every aspect of our lives, from the moment we wake up to a digital alarm and turn on our lights, to making our cup of coffee and microwaving our breakfasts, to driving to work to sitting at a computer sending out emails and texts on our smart phones.
However, secondly, this technological age comes at a cost: technology-based societies tend to reject traditional moral conceptions of life. This is because technology is organized and governed by modern scientific processes which are considered value neutral and thus devoid of moral frames of reference. So, in many respects, we are living in what we might call a “post-traditional” or “post-moral age.” Indeed, this is why we have LGBT values, which are not found in traditional moral societies, in the first place.
And so, these scientific and technological processes have opened up to us a whole new future of unprecedented possibilities and potentialities, but without the aid of traditional morality to guide us into this brave new world.
So now that we are in this post-moral, post-traditional society, the question is: Whom do we blame when massacres like Orlando occur? Post-moral societies basically have two options: They can blame material and environmental factors or they can blame the previous moral tradition that once dominated society but is now reinterpreted as inherently oppressive.
There's more... and I think it's not only on point but prophetic.
A culture dismissive of transcendent mores and values is a culture in steep decay, a culture destined to come to an end.
“We have a much more challenging mission than most universities. Most universities strive simply to be excellent educational institutions by the accepted standards of the profession. We do this at Notre Dame, and we have had great success. But we also foster and celebrate a distinctive mission to be a Catholic university, inspired and guided by a great spiritual tradition.”
Let's start with their recent decision to 'confer the Laetare Medal, an honor given to Catholics “in recognition of outstanding service to the Church and society,” upon Vice-President Joseph Biden at their 2016 commencement.'
Thomas McKenna: Your Eminence, recently the University of Notre Dame announced that it was going to bestow their Laetare Medal which is presented “in recognition of outstanding service to the Church and society,” to Vice President Joseph Biden. Vice President Biden is on record consistently supporting abortion rights and same sex marriage. Recently Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the ordinary of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend where Notre Dame is located, released a public statement declaring:
“I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any “pro-choice” public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service, since direct abortion is gravely contrary to the natural law and violates a very fundamental principle of Catholic moral and social teaching: the inalienable right to life of every innocent human being from the moment of conception. I also question the propriety of honoring a public official who was a major spokesman for the redefinition of marriage. I disagree with awarding someone for ‘outstanding service to the Church and society’ who has not been faithful to this obligation.”
Does Your Eminence agree with the position taken by Bishop Rhoades and could you comment on it?
Cardinal Burke: Bishop Rhoades is simply exercising his responsibility as a teacher of the faith and as a bishop who has the care of a prominent Catholic university in his diocese, and what he says is absolutely true and most commendable. I find it difficult to imagine that a Catholic university would assign its highest honor to any politician who favors abortion and who also advocates for the recognition of the sexual liaison of two people of the same sex as equal to marriage. It is even more difficult to imagine that the university would confer such an honor upon a Roman Catholic who supports these anti-life and anti-family policies and legislation. It is my hope that Notre Dame University will hear the voice of their shepherd, the successor of the Apostles in their midst, and change this gravely wrong and most scandalous decision.
Thomas McKenna: The university of Notre Dame says that it is bestowing this award to honor Vice President Biden for his public service in politics and that they are not recognizing him for his positions regarding support for abortion and same-sex marriage. What would Your Eminence respond to this?
Cardinal Burke: Well, we honor people for the integrity of their lives. Notwithstanding the fact that Vice President Biden may have sound views on other matters, his positions with regard to human life and marriage are contradictory to the natural moral law and obviously, therefore, to the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ. So, as much as one may want to praise certain positions which he has taken, at the same time one must realize that other positions are in the most grievous violation of the moral law and therefore make him ineligible to receive such an award from a Catholic university.
There's more at the link and it's well worth the click over.
But wait... there's more.
I'd love to state that this is the only 'scandal' taking place at this formerly prestigious Catholic institution.
Catholics celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation on Monday, when the Virgin Mary said “yes” to God and Christ was conceived in her womb through the power of the Holy Spirit. But at the University of Notre Dame, a number of students spent Monday night on campus listening to former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis describe the benefits for women of choosing abortion or using contraception.
During Mass on Monday, Pope Francis encouraged the faithful to open their hearts to God and to say “yes” to his message of salvation. “Mary’s ‘yes’ opens the door to Jesus’ ‘yes’: I have come to do Your will, this is the ‘yes’ that Jesus carries with him throughout his life, until the cross” he said. “Today,” he said, “is a beautiful day in which to thank God for showing us that path, but also for thinking about our lives.” The Feast was transferred to April 4 because it would have fallen on Good Friday.
Davis’ message ultimately taught students at the nation’s most recognizable Catholic university that saying “no” to God’s plan for the creation of life and to the Church’s teachings on human dignity can help women achieve worldly success.
Davis — who rose to stardom in the political world following her 2013 filibuster of pro-life legislation in Texas — ran the gamut of pro-abortion, anti-Catholic talking points during an event Monday hosted by the University of Notre Dame Department of Gender Studies. The department co-sponsored the event in coordination with the College Democrats of Notre Dame, the Progressive Student Alliance, Notre Dames, Women in Politics and bridgeND.
The Notre Dame Department of Gender Studies touted Davis’ abortion advocacy in a description of the event posted on the department’s website, calling her “a modern-day Texas heroine”...
G.K. Chesterton once wrote: “We do not want a church that will move with the world. We want a church that will move the world.”
Notre Dame, though not a church, is moving with the world.
To date, Trump has actually enjoyed more support from Catholic voters than Protestants. Recent polls conducted by Monmouth University showed him with higher vote shares among followers of the Roman Catholic Church than with other Christians. In Iowa, he pulled 44% support from Catholic caucus-goers compared to 24% from Protestants. In New Hampshire polling, he took 30% of the Catholic vote, which was slightly higher than his 26% share among Protestants. In South Carolina, he currently holds 42% of the Catholic vote compared with 32% of the Protestant vote.
I find support for Trump in general to be baffling, particularly amongst Christians but disappointingly so amongst Catholics.
As the father of three daughters, I reserved the right to interview their dates. Seemed only fair to me. After all, my wife and I’d spent 16 or 17 years feeding them, dressing them, funding braces, and driving them to volleyball tournaments and piano recitals. A five-minute face-to-face with the guy was a fair expectation. I was entrusting the love of my life to him. For the next few hours, she would be dependent upon his ability to drive a car, avoid the bad crowds, and stay sober. I wanted to know if he could do it. I wanted to know if he was decent.
This was my word: “decent.” Did he behave in a decent manner? Would he treat my daughter with kindness and respect? Could he be trusted to bring her home on time? In his language, actions, and decisions, would he be a decent guy?
Decency mattered to me as a dad.
Decency matters to you. We take note of the person who pays their debts. We appreciate the physician who takes time to listen. When the husband honors his wedding vows, when the teacher makes time for the struggling student, when the employee refuses to gossip about her co-worker, when the losing team congratulates the winning team, we can characterize their behavior with the worddecent.
We appreciate decency. We applaud decency. We teach decency. We seek to develop decency. Decency matters, right?
Then why isn’t decency doing better in the presidential race?
The leading candidate to be the next leader of the free world would not pass my decency interview. I’d send him away. I’d tell my daughter to stay home. I wouldn’t entrust her to his care.
I don’t know Mr. Trump. But I’ve been chagrined at his antics. He ridiculed a war hero. He made mockery of a reporter’s menstrual cycle. He made fun of a disabled reporter. He referred to the former first lady, Barbara Bush as “mommy,” and belittled Jeb Bush for bringing her on the campaign trail. He routinely calls people “stupid,” “loser,” and “dummy.” These were not off-line, backstage, overheard, not-to-be-repeated comments. They were publicly and intentionally tweeted, recorded, and presented.
Such insensitivities wouldn’t even be acceptable even for a middle school student body election. But for the Oval Office? And to do so while brandishing a Bible and boasting of his Christian faith? I’m bewildered, both by his behavior and the public’s support of it.
The stock explanation for his success is this: he has tapped into the anger of the American people. As one man said, “We are voting with our middle finger.” Sounds more like a comment for a gang-fight than a presidential election. Anger-fueled reactions have caused trouble ever since Cain was angry at Abel.
No, that's not a description of the New Hampshire voter though after yesterday's results. one could be excused for thinking so.
It's actually a description used by Carl Trueman, a pastor in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church who also teaches history at the Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, to describe non-Catholics who've adopted Ash Wednesday (and other Lenten practices) borrowed from the Catholic tradition.
If you’re thinking of the somewhat wooly-minded, generically Protestant Presbyterians in the church in middle of town, you’re not thinking of Carl’s kind of Presbyterian. The mainline Presbyterians are the ones in tweed and corduroy; Carl’s type are in biker leathers. He’s one John Calvin would have recognized as a brother.
Writing on Reformation21, the website of the Alliance for Confessing Evangelicals, Carl notes that Evangelicals have started observing the season and then lets loose:
American evangelicals are past masters at appropriating anything that catches their fancy in church history and claiming it as their own, from the ancient Fathers as the first emergents to the Old School men of Old Princeton as the precursors of the Young, Restless, and Reformed to Dietrich Bonhoeffer as modern American Evangelical.
He is a genial and liberal-minded man. His office bookshelf has very large Aquinas and Newman sections along with the works of Luther, Calvin, and their descendants. (He’s just written a book titled Luther On the Christian Life.) I have spent a pleasant night in the Truemans’ home after speaking at the seminary at his invitation. He is generous to Catholics. But Evangelicals observing Lent, this sets him off. “I also fear that it speaks of a certain carnality,” he continues:
The desire to do something which simply looks cool and which has a certain ostentatious spirituality about it. As an act of piety, it costs nothing yet implies a deep seriousness. In fact, far from revealing deep seriousness, in an evangelical context it simply exposes the superficiality, eclectic consumerism and underlying identity confusion of the movement.
They shouldn’t do this. Their “ecclesiastical commitments do not theologically or historically sanction observance of such things,” he writes in a second article on the website, “Catholicity Reduced to Ashes.” Ash Wednesday is “strictly speaking unbiblical” and therefore can’t be imposed by a church, treated as normative, or understood as offering benefits unavailable in the normal parts of the Christian life. That would be a violation of the Christian liberty the Reformation so stressed (against “the illicit binding of consciences in which the late medieval church indulged,” as he puts it).
The “well-constructed worship service” and “appropriately rich Reformed sacramentalism” render the observance of Ash Wednesday “irrelevant.” Infant baptism, for example, declares better than the imposition of ashes once a year “the priority of God’s grace and the helplessness of sinless humanity in the face of God.” The Lord’s Supper does as well.
Worse, Carl argues, these Evangelicals pick from the Catholic tradition the parts they like when that tradition is an indivisible whole. In for a penny, in for a pound seems to be his understanding of Catholicism. He finds it “most odd,” he writes in the second article, that some might “observe Lent as an act of identification with the church catholic while repudiating a catholic practice such as infant baptism or a catholic doctrine such as eternal generation or any hint of catholic polity.” (The lower-case “c” is his but he means the upper-case.) “The notion of historic catholicity itself has become just another eclectic consumerist construct.”
Mr. Mills has much more, including a beautiful reference to the Church offering "riches like an over-loaded wagon in a fairy tale, spilling gold coins every time it hits a pothole."
I, like David, think it a good thing when Protestants find these Catholic gold coins, after all, there's plenty of them. I consider it a rare day when I don't come across something new and fresh in the writings of the historical Church, the Catechism, or in published Papal writings and based on David's piece alone, it seems many a non-Catholic believer is experiencing similar things.
More power to them, and less to people like Mr. Trueman.
Here's hoping for a movingly productive Lenten season to each one of you, whether you're Catholic or not.
I've been away for a number of days, celebrating some special time with the granddaughter at a place named after some dude named Walt Disney. It was most excellent on a variety of fronts.
While away, lots was apparently going on, most of it political and most of it likely consuming a decent amount of my time had I been near a computer. Yet most of it, in the grand scheme of things, inconsequential.
What I did miss, and I think it to be most encouraging, is this picture, and what it represents:
Cebuanos and delegates to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) currently being held in this city trooped to the Cebu Provincial Capitol and filled its surrounding streets to hear the Mass led by Dublin, Ireland Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
According to Fr. Roberto Ebisa, SVD, of DYRF, Police Chief Inspector Ryan Debaras estimated the crowd that gathered for the Mass and procession to be nearly 2 million. Streets leading to the Capitol were closed to make way for the millions of people joining in the international Catholic gathering dubbed as the “World Youth Day of adult Catholics”. Candle-bearing delegates and pilgrims from Cebu and around the world chanted hymns and prayers as the carriage carrying the monstrance made its way slowly from the Capitol through Osmeña Boulevard towards Plaza Independencia while a choir led in the chanting of the Litany of the Saints and other hymns.
Nothing to see there but 2 million Catholics clinging to their much maligned yet vibrant faith (Deacon Greg has video up as well at the link).
As intriguing as the picture of all those people might be, this section in the Kandra post particularly stood out for me:
In his homily, Martin reminded the people that “the Church became present through the Eucharist, through the Holy Communion.” No Eucharist, no Church “There is no Church without the Eucharist. The Eucharist constructs the Church,” he said.
The Eucharist – which comes to us in the Holy Mass when bread and wine mysteriously changes in substance but not in physical appearance to Christ’s body and blood at the blessing of the priest – was at the center of Christian worship even in the earliest stages of Christianity.
Why? Because the Eucharist is Christ (see 1 Cor. 10:16–17, 11:23–29; John 6:32–71 and all the Last Supper accounts).
St Ignatius of Antioch, who was a disciple of John the apostle, writes at the turn of the second century:
“Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ… They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1 [A.D. 110]).
St. Justin Martyr wrote:
“We call this food Eucharist…..For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus” (First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]).
There is no Church without the Eucharist because... the Eucharist is Christ and there can be no Church without Him.
With Donald Trump's latest exhibition of crassness, his mocking of a reporter with a serious disability, he's given a gift to those whose sense of decency has given them qualms about the man... he's given them the gift of the last straw... the gift of walking away while decency still exists.
The State Department is on the brink of releasing a long awaited document declaring the genocide of the Yazidi people in Iraq by ISIS... a declaration that would mean a great deal for the victimized Yazidi in terms of reparations.
A report by a renowned journalist states that Christians are to be excluded from an impending official United States government declaration of ISIS genocide. If true, it would reflect a familiar pattern within the administration of a politically correct bias that views Christians — even non-Western congregations such as those in Iraq and Syria — never as victims but always as Inquisition-style oppressors. (That a State Department genocide designation for ISIS may be imminent was acknowledged last week in congressional testimony, by Ambassador Anne Patterson, the assistant secretary of the State Department’s Near East Bureau.)
Yazidis, according to the story by investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, are going to be officially recognized as genocide victims, and rightly so. Yet Christians, who are also among the most vulnerable religious minority groups that have been deliberately and mercilessly targeted for eradication by ISIS, are not. This is not an academic matter. A genocide designation would have significant policy implications for American efforts to restore property and lands taken from the minority groups and for offers of aid, asylum, and other protections to such victims. Worse, it would mean that, under the Genocide Convention, the United States and other governments would not be bound to act to suppress or even prevent the genocide of these Christians.
An unnamed State Department official was quoted by Isikoff as saying that only the attacks on Yazidis have made “the high bar” of the genocide standard and as pointing to the mass killing of 1,000 Yazidi men and the enslavement of thousands of Yazidi women and girls. To propose that Christians have been simply driven off their land but not suffered similar fates is deeply misinformed. In fact, the last Christians to pray in the language spoken by Jesus are also being deliberately targeted for extinction through equally brutal measures.
Christians have been executed by the thousands. Christian women and girls are vulnerable to sexual enslavement. Many of their clergy have been assassinated and their churches and ancient monasteries demolished or desecrated. They have been systematically stripped of all their wealth, and those too elderly or sick to flee ISIS-controlled territory have been forcibly converted to Islam or killed, such as an 80-year-old woman who was burned to death for refusing to abide by ISIS religious rules. Pope Francis pronounced their suffering “genocide” in July. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a broad array of other churches have done so as well. Analysis from an office of the Holocaust Museum apparently relied on by the State Department asserts that ISIS protects Christians in exchange for jizya, an Islamic tax for “People of the Book,” but the assertion is simply not grounded in fact.
There's more and it's all disgustingly predictable, It's also more evidence for this administration's prejudicial treatment toward Christians.