Up Front and Personal

Don’t Be Fooled! Satan Makes His Presence Felt

by Father Frank Mann

An article published in a recent issue of the New York Times was blood curdling: “25 Cats Found Murdered in Yonkers.”

More than 25 dead cats were found at a grizzly scene; all in different stages of decay. Every cat was stuffed into plastic shopping bags. According to authorities, after examining the skeletal remains they determined that these cat killings may have started as long as a year ago, and have been continuing through the present.

The results of the necropsies performed on the more recently deceased cats indicated that blunt force trauma to the head was used to kill them. Also recovered from the area was a metal pipe, two shovels and a wooden baseball bat. The police were notified immediately. Both the SPCA and the police are working together to find the people responsible for these killings. According to Lt. Patrick McCormack of the Yonkers Police Department, the motive for these cat killings remains a mystery, and no suspects been identified.

In New York State, killing a cat in a “depraved and sadistic” fashion is a felony. This crime is punishable with a fine up to $5,000, with a jail term of up to five years. Penalties for such brutal acts of animal cruelty should be far more rigorous and stringent.

Satanic acts permeate our world on a daily basis. Interestingly, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman stated, “Animals have done us no harm and they have no power of resistance. Cruelty to animals is as if man did not love God. There is something so very dreadful, so Satanic in tormenting those who have never harmed us, who cannot defend themselves…”

Recently, in the news, we witnessed horrific acts of barbarism  and demonic exploitation – schoolgirls abducted in Nigeria, as the terrorists thought to be holding them threaten to “marry off” girls aged as young as nine. The urgency of the situation was underlined  when Boko Haram, the Islamic extremist group, released a video in which its leader gloatingly threatened to sell them as “slaves.”

I have often wondered how we humans, made in the image and likeness of God, can carry out such acts of abhorrent degradation. There appears to be an  answer perhaps: Satan. An emerging theme of Pope Francis is that of a spiritual battle against the devil. The Holy Father referenced the devil and spiritual warfare in his first homily as pope and in his address to the College of Cardinals. He told them not “to give in to the pessimism, to that bitterness, that the Devil places before us every day.”

More radically, he quoted the French author from the turn of the 20th century, Léon Bloy: “He who does not pray to the Lord prays to the Devil.”  Since then, Pope Francis has  included references to the Devil and demonic temptations in his Palm Sunday homily and in recent tweets.

Francis’ actions and attitude toward the devil are not new: As archbishop of Buenos Aires, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio frequently spoke about the devil in our midst. In the book “Heaven and Earth,” Bergoglio devoted the second chapter to “The Devil” and said in no uncertain terms that he believes in the devil and that Satan’s fruits are “destruction, division, hatred and calumny.”

“Perhaps its greatest success in these times has been to make us think that it doesn’t exist, that everything can be traced to a purely human plan,” the Holy Father wrote. The pope stated clearly, “With the prince of this world you can’t have dialogue: Let this be clear!”  The pope likewise stated, “We are all tempted because the law of our spiritual life, our Christian life is a struggle. That’s because the Prince of this world, Satan, doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want us to follow Christ. Maybe some of you might say: ‘But Father, how old fashioned you are to speak about the devil in the 21st century!’ But look out because the devil is present! The devil is here… even in the 21st century! And we mustn’t be naïve, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan.”

Unquestionably, our Divine Savior confronted Satan in a plethora of  situations during his earthly ministry.

It is apparent that the human heart was fashioned to love and to be loved. Compassion and mercy are integral in the prophetic vision and witness of  those who call themselves disciples of the Lord. This is certainly found in all the writings, homilies and presentations of Pope Francis. The cauldron of cruelty and the  banality of evil are the definitive, prowling plans  of the Evil One itself. The demon’s dark distain for the dignity and respect of all created life is its unquestionable hallmark.

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