By: Father George Rutler
God so loved the world that he spared us the indignity of making us feel good about ourselves. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). If utopians indulge the dangerous sentimentality that thinks Satan is a mythic cipher to explain the problem of evil, Jesus does not. He knows the origin and character of Satan: “He was a murderer from the beginning. When he lies he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
Satan hides behind the plural: he pretends to be more than he is, intimidating others by celebrity and popular support. “What do you have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” But in the presence of the Truth, even Satan cannot lie. He drops the plural and confesses what no mortal yet knew: “I know who you are — the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:24). Our Creator knows more about the problem of evil than we do. Logically, if God did not exist, evil would not be a problem. It would be just an energy equivalent to good. In every age, those who have cooperated with Satan have solved the problem of evil to their satisfaction by saying that it is good. Many of these figures have had a seductive power over people that cannot be explained by simple human charm and persuasiveness.
Satan hates not being God. He is only a creature. His hatred refracts into a hatred of the Church, which is the only power against him in this world. He does not waste his time on false religions, heretics and braggarts. He hates the Sacrament of Reconciliation and tears down Confessionals because he wants to separate man from God. “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” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #395).
Satan never looks like Satan. He drapes himself in celebrity and humor and humanitarianism, using celebrity to mislead, humor to mock, and humanitarianism to de-humanize. One hatred in him always exposes him for what he is. Because our Lord said that we must become like little children to inherit the Kingdom of heaven, Satan hates babies. With great wisdom, the older Rite for the Baptism of a Child begins: “I exorcise you, unclean spirit, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Come forth, depart from this servant of God, for He commands you, accursed and damned spirit, He who walked upon the sea and extended His right hand to Peter as he was sinking.”