“Worshipping the Devil by Default”

In his very first homily at the Missa Pro Ecclesia in the Sistine Chapel, Pope Francis quoted the famous words of Leon Bloy, stating “Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.” Nature abhors a vacuum. Our experience of the material world tells us that things tend to occupy vacancies; substances naturally move into areas of lower pressure, with less competition for space and survival.

The same is true with spiritual things. Where God is made absent due to human exclusion (remember, even in his omnipotence he does not overpower our free will), the Enemy seeks to fill the void. When he finds this void, either in individuals or in entire societies, he usually enjoys great success and ease in having his way. We, as persons and communities, cannot remain a vacuum. We have to choose who we will serve, or else the choice will be made for us, leaving us to deal with the devastating consequences. Even Bob Dylan could tell you that.

On Sunday, September 21, a public Satanic ritual is scheduled to occur at the Oklahoma City Civic Center. Instigators of this so called “Black Mass,” threaten that a stolen consecrated host, believed by Catholics to be the real Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, will be desecrated and offered to the devil as part of a vile orgy of Satan worship. To date, Oklahoma City officials and representatives of the Civic Center have given every indication that this detestable and offensive event will proceed as scheduled, claiming that their hands are tied on the matter since the venue is a public facility, and, as such, apparently gives license to what any member of the public chooses to do, no matter how disgusting, offensive, and divisive it might be to the rest of the public.

Archbishop Paul Coakley, ordinary of Oklahoma City, has been outspoken in his pleas to public officials to put a stop to this debauchery. He has called upon the faithful of Oklahoma City, and throughout the wider Church, to unite themselves in prayer and fasting for this cause. He has found explicit regional support from his brother Bishops of the Catholic Dioceses of Lincoln, Tulsa, Wichita, and others. Catholics from Europe, Africa, and the Middle East have reached out to the Diocese of Oklahoma City in solidarity. His Excellency has called upon the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel for help in protecting God’s flock. Archishop Coakley recognizes the danger of this event not just for the sacrilege that its diabolical perpetrators have planned against the Body of Christ, but also, just as fearfully, as a public invitation for the devil to enter our midst. Anyone who has ever been frightened by stories of demonic possession caused by tinkering with a Ouija board ought to be absolutely terrified by the horrors that could come from an exhibition like the one planned at the Oklahoma City Civic Center. We know that Jesus answers when we knock on his door (Matthew 7:7)…what do we think the devil will do when we knock on his?

In the New Testament, the only people who consistently recognize and react to Jesus’ presence are those possessed by evil spirits. Satan is constantly aware of the power of Christ (Mark 1:24, 1:34, 3:11, 5:7), while even Jesus’ so called disciples are often oblivious. A recent study concluded that only 46 percent of Catholics are considered “knowledgeable believers” in the Real Presence. Those responsible for this threatened Black Mass, in their own sinister way, recognize the power of the Eucharist. The question is, will we recognize and defend it from public profanation? Often we only realize that Jesus has been in our midst after he has been victimized, even as it is done right in front of us. When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39).

Our shock and disgust with this event should be coupled with an admission that we have asked for it. This is the sort of attack we, as Christians, have opened ourselves up to by resigning ourselves to accept, and even endorse, the current American level of Church/state separation. We have created a social climate in which the Church has been quarantined from and often subjugated to the state in political matters, individual rights have become unlimited ad absurdum, and the agendas of sub-cultures and counter-cultures within society have been protected and exalted to the point of threatening to annihilate the very culture which stands over them. Indifference to this state of affairs is not only inadvisable, it is truly impossible.

Commenting on the heresy of modernism in his classic The Great Heresies, Hilaire Belloc observed that, “the enemy now advancing against us is increasingly conscious of the fact that there can be no question of neutrality. The forces now opposed to the faith design to destroy.” As long as we advocate the sort of society which is unable to explicitly state and defend its belief in, and obedience to, the God of Christians, we abandon that society to the dominion of his Enemy by default. The spiritual world, too, abhors a vacuum.


Dusty Gates currently serves as the Director of Adult Education at the Spiritual Life Center for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, KS, and as an adjunct Professor of Theology at Newman University in Wichita, KS, where he resides with his wife and three children.

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