“Very few people believe in the devil these days,” stated Fulton Sheen in 1958, “which suits the devil very well. He is always helping to circulate the news of his own death. The essence of God is existence, and He defines Himself as: ‘I am Who am.’ The essence of the devil is the lie, and he defines himself as: ‘I am who am not.’ Satan has very little trouble with those who do not believe in him; they are already on his side.”
And to think Ven. Fulton Sheen uttered those solemn words 60 years ago! That “very few” he mentioned in 1958 has grown considerably since then, with plenty of ridicule nowadays being poured upon those who still believe in him.
But the teaching of the Church does not change with the changing times and fashions. While it is undoubtedly the case that many Catholics, including even some priests and catechists, prefer to remain quiet about the subject of Satan, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is not silent on the matter. “Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents,” it states in the section on The Fall, “lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the Church’s Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called ‘Satan’ or the ‘devil.’” (no. 391). It further notes that the Church “teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God,” and then quotes from the Fourth Lateran Council, which convened in 1215: “The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing.’”
Could this widespread tendency to disbelieve in the existence of the devil be the impetus this “fallen angel” has used to hoodwink so many, and thus draw them gradually within his clutches? Charles Baudelaire, (1821-1867), once said: “My dear brothers, never forget, when you hear the progress of enlightenment vaunted, that the devil’s best trick is to persuade you that he doesn’t exist!”
Yet no Christian could say they believe in the Words of Our Lord Jesus Christ and then say that the devil is a fabrication of mankind. It would be tantamount to calling Jesus Christ a liar!
St Peter warns us to, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”. (1 Peter 5:8).
But referring to those who claim he does not exist and yet are doing his work, St John tells us, “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19).
Unchained from man’s righteous fear of offending God and becoming ‘a slave of the devil’ that would eventually lead him to lose his soul, disbelief in the devil has enabled Satan to gain great freedom to spread his evil. Certainly there has been a growing demand for exorcisms all over the world, according to reports, and most notably in Western nations!
“It’s only in recent years that the demand [for exorcisms] has risen exponentially,” Irish priest Father Pat Collins said, adding that anyone who doesn’t see the need for more exorcists is “out of touch with reality.” Collins wrote an open letter to Irish bishops asking them to begin training more priests to deal with exorcisms, and he cited the International Association of Exorcists’ belief that demonic activity has increased substantially in recent years.
William Friedkin, Academy Award winning director of The Exorcist (1973), has taken note of the increased cases of demonic possession and has now made a new film, The Devil and Father Amorth, on this worrisome subject. In the video below (and after first reporting on a few pieces of general information on his World Over programme) Raymond Arroyo talks to Friedkin about the film. In it Friedkin was granted the rare permission to document a real exorcism conducted by former Vatican chief exorcist, the late Father Gabrielle Amorth.
This is the trailer to the film, The Devil and Father Amorth:
For more information about the reality of demonic possession and exorcisms by Catholic priests trained to help release the victims, watch this startling video entitled, Exorcism Documentary on Real Exorcists and Exorcisms.