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The Ascendancy of the Devil

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When I was about ten years old, I came across a story in a Catholic magazine about the secretive inner workings of a Satanic Mass. The specific incident described involved a sort of ritual torture of some teenagers as part of the ceremony, and it detailed the gruesome things they were forced to consume from the chalice and paten as the means by which the true Sacrament of the Altar was to be mocked and defiled. There was a sexual element to the ceremony well, which at the time I’m not sure I fully understood. Still, it was a story that stuck with me for a long time, filling me with disgust and revulsion. It was hard for me to believe that people could be so evil or that they could do such heinous things to other human beings. It troubled my conscience and left a scar, as it were, on my memory, as certain encounters with evil have a habit of doing.

At that time, in the late 1980s, I never thought I would live to see a day where such an occult practice could happen out in the open. I certainly couldn’t have conceived of a world where such a thing might transpire and yet nobody with the power to stop it would lift a finger.

It’s 2015, and the world is a very different place.  When the story broke in May of last year that a Satanic Mass would be held at Harvard, we were brought face-to-face with the reality of these occult practices in the modern world. In that particular instance, Catholics rallied, and the event was driven off campus. It seems now that despite its rumored relocation, it may never have taken place at all.

The victory was short-lived. It wasn’t long before we heard about the scheduling of a new Satanic Mass, this time in Oklahoma City.  Bishop Slattery of Tulsa started a campaign of prayer and fasting early on to try to curtail it. The Diocese of Oklahoma City sued the group having the Mass in order to get the consecrated host in their possession returned to the Church. Protests and petitions and phone calls happened.

But the Oklahoma City government — following the principles of free speech and religious liberty — allowed the event to continue. Despite hopes that this planned attack on Catholic worship would be averted, yesterday, the first widely-known Satanic Mass in a public space was held. During the leadup to the Satanic Mass, here’s how it was described by Adam Daniels, the self-identified Satanist who “offered” it:

“This is not a game. It’s very serious to us,” Daniels said in a phone conversation this week.

“This will be held as a real black mass, altered to follow state laws,” he said.

He said when his Oklahoma City-based Satanic group — the Dakhma of Angra Mainyu Syndicate — conducts the black mass in private, it involves sex, urine and nudity.

The Civic Center ceremony Sunday will tone down those elements to comply with state law, he said, but in every other way, it will be a genuine Satanic ritual.

The purpose of the mass is to deprogram people from the influences of Catholicism and Christianity, he said.

The 2½- to 3-hour mass will follow a ritual from the late Antoine LeVay, founder of the Church of Satan and author of “The Satanic Bible.”

It will begin with music by the band God in a Machine, followed by a lecture from Daniels on the purpose of the black mass, a ritual denouncing Jesus Christ and swearing allegiance to the devil, blasphemy against Christ, and stomping on and spitting on a wafer, representing the host, the element from the Christian communion, he said.

It will conclude with a reverse exorcism, casting the Holy Spirit out of the person, Daniels said.

It doesn’t sound like a game, does it? Instead, it resembles that horrible experience I read about as a young boy.

There are those who say that we shouldn’t take Satanists at their word. That they don’t worship the literal Satan. Take, for example, “Jex Blackmore,” who is a leader with yet another group calling itself “The Satanic Temple,” which is looking to open up 15 “branches” around the United States. Blackmore describes her religion in vague terms:

“We believe in a metaphorical, literary construct of Satan,” she said. “He’s a symbol for rebellion, a symbol of human nature, the thirst for knowledge.”

And elsewhere:

“Satan, to us, is not a deity or entity, but rather a symbol of the ultimate revolutionary iconoclast exemplified by Milton, William Blake and Anatole France,”

And yet Blackmore throws the “devil horns” symbol at the camera with one tattooed hand, while wearing an upside-down crucifix around her neck. She also admits that her group is the one behind trying to erect a statue of the demon Baphomet in the Oklahoma State Capitol in response to an existing installation of the Ten Commandments, placed there by Christians. In addition, Blackmore is a leading memeber of the group that recently unveiled a massive statue of the demon Baphomet in a lewd ceremony held recently in Detroit – a ceremony that garnered 400 attendees and international media coverage.

Where Blackmore is nuanced and circumspect about her group — named after the devil himself — Daniels, the Satanist who led the Black Mass in Oklahoma, is a bit more frank and straightforward:

Daniels said he was raised partly in the Chicago area and moved around a lot. He became a Satanist in the year 2000, when he was about 20 years old.

He said he and members of his group believe in and worship the literal devil, which they know by its Zoroastrian name, Angra Mainyu.

Asked if he considers Satan good, or if he believes he is worshiping an evil being, Daniels said Satan is a title that means adversarial king.

“My devil is an equal anti-cosmic spirit that is the antithesis to what most call God,” he said.

“If you call chaos, freedom and self-service evil, then I’m one wicked individual. … I’m no more evil than a lion who eats a gazelle.”

He said he was not upset about the outcry across the state and nation against what he is doing.

“We’re glad that we have this opportunity to expose these people’s self-righteous behavior,” he said.

The number of incidences of this sort of thing seem to be increasing. Some, like the lewd statue of Satan that showed up recently in Vancouver, are more absurd than threatening. Slightly more troubling are the Satanic coloring books potentially making their way into Florida public schools. Others — like the report of a Brooklyn concert earlier this year put on by the Satanic death metal band Watain are more disturbing. From an eyewitness at the scene:

“S**t started to get weird around the time Watain frontman Erik Danielsson brought out this (I assume) Satanic talisman thingy, which from my vantage point looked kind of like a human skull with ram horns jammed into it, held it aloft, then waved it around like he was casting a spell onto the crowd,” Millard wrote.

He continued, “That’s around the time people started leaving the mosh pit with blood on them. Shortly after that, it started to smell ungodly, like human flesh was actively putrefying in the room. And that, believe it or not, was when people started throwing up.”

Millard noted that some of the crowd really started getting into the show at that point and that they began “stumbling” around the venue “as if they were under a spell, possessed by the unholy.”

In an interview with the band’s lead singer from 2013, the seriousness with which they approach their concerts as a form of Satanic ritual is evident:

We provide a direct link in between something that is human — in this case, it is us — and between something that is very, very far from human. Something that people have been averting their eyes away from it. But they want to catch a glimpse of it, that’s how the human mind works. That’s how we are meant to react when facing something unnatural or disturbing in a sense.

But that thing, that something, is communicating through us and this band. What people hear and read and take a part of, that is the communication between high and low. It is a very eccentric thing, even in music. Most people have a much more mundane approach to their work as an artist. To me, art has always been about communication between high and low. Your job as an artist is to integrate and accept that.

That’s where the inspiration comes from, somewhere else, from another place in the dark side of reality as we know it. If you realize that and you’re open to communicating with that side, you can learn very interesting things. And in our case, we like other people to take part of it. And for me that’s what Watain is about.

Does Watain identify with Satanic practices that some other bands have been involved in, like church burnings and sacrifices?

We very much identify with that. And when you’re working with these kind of anarchies in their primal forms, and you evolve with them, you are calling upon things that eventually will have to manifest physically. And that is why the history of black metal is filled with stories of big buildings being set on fire, of big mass suicides, of people who have been murdered, and people who have murdered. It is those things coming to life from the music. They are very natural outcomes.

A person could conceivably discount any of these individual examples as little more than people seeking attention in the foolish and unhealthy ways. Taken in the aggregate, however, they paint a darker picture. Combined with reports of increasing exorcisms (some illicit) and stories of law enforcement encountering the possessed in the course of their work (as was the case with Catholic NYPD cop Ralph Sarchie, whose experiences inspired this year’s horror film Deliver Us From Evil) it’s hard not to wonder just what, exactly, is going on. Pope Francis himself even experienced a supernatural manifestation when he prayed over a man long-afflicted by demons last year in St. Peter’s Square.

In the 1995 film, The Usual Suspects, Kevin Spacey’s character, Roger “Verbal” Kint, has a scene in which he explains what he knows about the story’s villain, Keyser Soze. He quips:

 

As a general principle, this is exactly the normal mode of operation of the devil. Subtlety is a far more useful tactic than strength in the strategy of the fallen angels, for a simple reason – if you start believing in them, you might just increase your faith in God. It’s far easier for the devil and his minions to work in a world where people are convinced that they are little more than fairy tales; ghost stories told to children or the superstitious. Then their temptations go largely unnoticed, mere artifacts of personal desire rather than uninvited supernatural influence.

And yet we are seeing a surge of demonic activity in the world, much of which is happening right out in the open. It’s impossible to say for sure, but such a brazen display of interaction between our world and the forces of hell seems to indicate that something has changed in the methodology of evil. Has the devil’s time grown short? Is there some historically significant event in play? Only time — and God’s guidance — will tell us the answers.

What we can discern for certain is that now — more than ever — it is important for us to engage consciously in spiritual warfare. And there are concrete means by which we can do this and fortify our defenses.

Keep sacramentals on hand in your homes – items like holy water blessed according to the old rite and St. Benedict medals or crucifixes which have received the exorcism blessing. To better understand the nature of our enemies and the means by which we may best engage with them, I recommend listening to the talks on these topics from the exorcist Fr. Chad Ripperger, available from his website, Sensus Traditionis. Under the guidance of a spiritual director, consider joining the Auxilium Christianorumwhich is a Catholic association dedicated to praying for its own members for protection from the demonic. Pray the rosary daily and keep it on your person, for it is one of the most fearsome weapons in spiritual combat. Make visits to the Blessed Sacrament – in exposition in an adoration chapel whenever possible. Wear a scapular or four-way cross. Go to confession regularly. Receive the Eucharist as often as you can. Enthrone your home to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Catholics around the country rallied again this time, just like they did for the Harvard event. Eucharistic processions, prayer and fasting, acts of reparation. The Society of St. Pius X, which has a strong presence in the American Midwest, produced a moving video of their public Mass of reparation and related activities.

Christ called the devil “The prince of this world,” and his power here appears to be rising. This is spiritual war – not a metaphor, but something deeply and unsettlingly real. The battle is intensifying every day, all around us. If we are not prepared to fight, we will find ourselves defenseless before an enemy with no mercy, bent on our total destruction.

Put on the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18) and make ready. What we’ve seen so far is bad, but it may well be only the beginning.

 

Originally Published on September 23, 2014. The original has been edited to update references to current events.

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