Scared of the Devil

No one talks about the devil anymore.  No one believes that he exists.  If anyone were to talk about the devil, he’d be considered a religious fanatic, unscientific, and old-fashioned.

Lord Voldemort on the back of Professor Quirre...
Lord Voldemort on the back of Professor Quirrell’s head in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If the devil was real, then what a victory for him!  Isn’t that a principal in warfare?  Convince your target that no threat exists.  The devil, if he exists, has so thoroughly convinced the world that he doesn’t exist that I had to resort to using a work of fiction as an analogy: what Lord Voldemort did in Harry Potter is what the devil is doing in our world, today.  By the time popular culture admits that the devil exists, it would be too late — just like it was too late for the wizarding and Muggle world in J.K. Rowling’s story.  Fortunately, the wizarding/Muggle world had Harry Potter.  We have Christ.

So, I was pleased to hear the leader of the Catholic Church talk about the devil so unabashedly:

There can be no dialogue with the prince of this world: let this be clear!  Today, dialogue is necessary among us humans, it is necessary for peace.  Dialogue is a habit, it is an attitude that we must have among us to feel and understand each other… and that [dialogue] must be maintained forever.  Dialogue comes from charity, from love.  But with that prince, it is impossible to dialogue: one can only respond with the Word of God who defends us, for the world hates us – and just as he did with Jesus, so will he do with us. “Only look,” he will say, “just do this one small little scam… it is a small matter, nothing really” – and so he begins to lead us on a road that is slightly off.  This is a pious lie: “Do it, do it, do it: there is no problem,” and it begins little by little, always, no?  Then [he says]: “But… you’re good, you’re a good person: You [get away with] it.”  It is flattering – and he softens us by flattery: and then, we fall into the trap.

Pope Francis went on to say that the Lord asks us to remain sheep, because if one decides to quit the fold, then he does not have, “a shepherd to defend him and he falls into the clutches of these wolves.”

How can we defend ourselves?  Pope Francis continues:

You may ask the question “Father, what is the weapon to defend against these seductions, from these blandishments, these enticements that the prince of this world offers?”  The weapon is the same weapon of Jesus, the Word of God – not dialogue – but always the Word of God, and then humility and meekness.  We think of Jesus, when they give that slap: what humility!  What meekness!  He could have insulted him, no?  One question, meek and humble. We think of Jesus in His Passion. His Prophet says: “As a sheep going to the slaughter.”  He does not cry out, not at all: humility. Humility and meekness.  These are the weapons that the prince and spirit of this world does not tolerate, for his proposals are proposals for worldly power, proposals of vanity, proposals for ill-gotten riches.


A Drop of Agony

A Catholic acquaintance of mine mentioned on Facebook how none of the mainstream media were covering the murder trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell.  At first, I thought it was just another doctor on trial for abortion.  Then I found the Grand Jury report.  (Apparently, a lot of people are trying to access the PDF document, now.  Fortunately, I got a copy of the report before the server crashed: Copy of Grand Jury Report on Kermit Gosnell Case.)  About an hour before I started writing this post, The Atlantic was the first mainstream outlet to write an article.  It’s tagline?  “The dead babies. The exploited women. The racism. The numerous governmental failures. It just is insanely newsworthy.”

An angel comforting Jesus before his arrest in...
An angel comforting Jesus before his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been thinking about it all afternoon, and like The Atlantic author, Conor Friedersdorf, I felt nauseated.  Yet, I felt compelled to continue reading the 281-page report.  It was written like a horror story, except it was non-fiction.  I kept asking God, “Why did you permit this?”  And as I was praying, I started thinking about Christ’s Agony in the Garden.  The night before he was crucified, Jesus prayed to God to let the cup of suffering past from his lips.  Tradition teaches us that Jesus, at that moment, was taking on the full weight of all of humanity’s sins onto his shoulders.  He saw all the atrocities men and women would commit throughout all of time, including the ones by Dr. Kermit Gosnell.  Christ was so distressed that he started to sweat blood.  The nausea I felt, the injustice, the sheer horror and incredulity that I felt about what Gosnell and his employees did was just a drop in a bucket compared to what Christ saw.  In my own small way, I felt united to Christ at that moment.

All afternoon, I couldn’t help but think of the babies in that report as my own children.  When I came home from work this evening, I went straight to my children, picked them up and hugged them.  I thanked God for them.  I thanked God on behalf of my children, that they were born to Anne Marie and I instead of to parents who have been brainwashed by society to view children as a burden.

As I rocked my baby to sleep this evening, I started to pray the rosary.  Being Friday, it was the Sorrowful Mysteries.   The first mystery was the Agony in the Garden.  My natural reaction to this case is disgust for Gosnell, his employees, and the whole pro-choice movement.  Praise Him, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I ended up praying for the murderers, instead.  As I went through my “Hail Marys…” I realized that the women and babies who died are now in a better place, but the souls of these murderers are still up for grabs.  The real enemy aren’t the people on trial, or the government officials who turned a blind eye, or people who advocate for abortion rights.  The real enemy is Satan.  The devil wants the souls of these murderers, the officials, and the people whose passion comes from love.  These souls are in greater danger than the victims.  So, I prayed for them.  I admitted to God that I felt they didn’t deserve it, but I also didn’t want the devil to win.

The evil that took place at the Women’s Medical Society will continue to haunt me, but now I can unite the drop of agony I feel to Christ’s agony when he prayed for all of us.

What If My Children were Gay?

An old friend found my reflection about gay marriage and Satan ridiculous and challenged me to consider what I would do if I found out my children were gay.  My eldest daughter is now two years old and the other is just four months.  I have about six years or so before their sexual awareness.  So, I have time.

Nevertheless, it’s a very good question to explore, now.

Same-sex attraction is as natural as concupiscence.  It doesn’t make them bad people just as my tendency towards sexual immorality doesn’t make me a bad person.  We’re just broken in different ways.  What will bother me the most is the vitriol thrown at homosexuals by self-righteous people.

Moral Insiders Treating Others Without Dignity

Moral insiders often do not treat homosexuals with human dignity; I’d be even more sensitive to that if my girls were gay.  I think it is an injustice, the way we moral insiders treat moral outsiders.  I’ve been reflecting on the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  As the elder brothers, we should be going out to find our wayward younger brothers who are squandering our Father’s inheritance.  We should not be brooding in our Father’s house, objecting to His mercy.

My girls, if they are imperfect, need to be confident of my love for them – just as I am confident of Our Heavenly Father’s love for me, as imperfect as I am.  They need to understand the true meaning of free will, and the reality of God’s prodigal mercy.  Our goal in life is to become the best-version-of-ourselves.  If my girls discover that they are gay, then my job as their father is to help them become the best version of themselves, despite the heaviness of that Cross.  I am to be like Simon of Cyrene and help them carry their burden, not like the Pharisees who are ready to cast the first stone.

Maya drinks a bottle of milk and then a bottle of water or two before bed.  So, she needs to go to the bathroom three to five times before falling asleep.  My wife finds going potty that many times is excessive and that Maya is merely trying to avoid sleep.  When Maya sneaks out of her room and finds mommy, she cries while being told “it’s the last time.”  When she finds daddy, she gives a sheepish grin, takes his hand and skips to the bathroom.

Maya learns discipline from mommy, forgiveness from daddy (what Anne Marie terms “spoiling.”)  In matters of the Spirit, our Mother Church teaches me what is right and wrong, and our Heavenly Father teaches me about His abundant mercy.  Our home is our daughters’ first experience of the Trinity; if they cannot be accepted in our family for being gay, then we would have failed as parents to live out the Gospel message of love.

My love as a parent, though, doesn’t give me the right to define what is moral.  If my daughters choose to live a sinful life, then I will continue to love and bless them as God even now continues to love and bless me in my broken, sinful state.  How is their father any better as a Christian, any less of a sinner?  How is their sexual sin any worse than mine?  The sun will continue to shine on them as it does on me.

If they insist on gay marriage and children from that marriage, I will tell them that this is not what God wants.  There will be consequences, but I will be there for them.   I will continue to love, pray, fast and sacrifice myself for their sake.  I will care for their spouse, when she is sick.  I will babysit and cook for them so that they can have a break.  I will love them and the new community they’ll bring into my life, even though they are living a life of sin because God loves me even though I myself live a life of sin.  How can I do any less than my own Father?  Christ surrounded himself with moral outcasts and gave them hope.  Perhaps I am called to do the same with the help of my daughters?

Being a Christ-like example of love and mercy may not be enough to inspire my children to a life of conversion.  They may harden their hearts against any religious message because it contradicts the life they’ve chosen.  If that’s the case, then I will offer up my own life in exchange for their immortal souls.  There will be consequences to their actions, but I will pay those consequences myself if, in the end, they do not repent.  For God so loved the world that He gave up His only son for the expiation of their sins.  For I so love my daughters, I will give up my life for them.  What will my Passion be?  That’s for God to decide.  In the meantime, fatherhood is a training ground for that ultimate sacrifice.

So, to answer my friend’s challenge, while I cannot change God’s definition of marriage, I am willing to pay the price for His forgiveness of their sins.

Harry Potter, Gay Marriage, and Social Media

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 ...
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (soundtrack) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many of my friends recently have come out on Facebook in support of gay marriage.  I suspect that my friends, like myself, are appalled by the persecution, demonization and condemnation of homosexuals in modern history.  It is our strong sense of justice and love of our neighbors, families, friends and co-workers who happen to be homosexual that stir us to stand by them as California’s Proposition 8 is being reviewed by the Supreme Court.

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Lord Voldemort uses Harry and other people’s sense of justice and love against each other.  Lord Voldemort is the epitome of

evil and a genius at warfare.  Voldemort successfully convinced the magical world that he did not exist.  In the meantime, Voldemort quietly infiltrated all the institutions designed to protect the world from his return.  When the magical community realized that Voldemort indeed was alive, it was too late.  He was too powerful, and all the good wizards and witches went into hiding.

What if Satan was real?  Then, Satan would be our real-world equivalent of Rowling’s fictional Voldemort.  Satan would do well to convince the whole world that he doesn’t exist, that he is just a superstition of a bygone era while he quietly infiltrates all our public institutions designed to hold our society together.  What better way to destroy the fabric of society than by unraveling the very basic unit of community: the family?  What better way for Satan to get good people to fight for his cause than by appealing to their sense of justice, equality, and love of neighbor?


Back in high school, I competed at the National Championships in forensics by playing a homosexual character.  It was Harvey Fierstein’s Torchsong Trilogy, and I played the part of Arnold Beckoff and my partner played Ma Beckoff, Arnold’s mother.  It’s funny now that I think about it: a Chinese-American teenager play-acting as a gay, adult Jewish man arguing at the gravesite of his murdered lover with a Latina from Alhambra who is supposed to be a typical Jewish mother.  We were good enough to go to Nationals, though, and I really got into the part.  From that point forward, I was always sensitive to the persecution of homosexuals.  Why can’t two committed gay men or lesbians get married?  Who are you to tell others whom they can love?  Promiscuous heterosexuals are no less immoral than promiscuous homosexuals, but if two people want to be in a life-long commitment, why should we stop them?  A child growing up in a loving household of two gay men or two lesbian women is just as good as a loving household with a father and mother.  Studies that show differently probably can find cause from the child being bullied for growing up in a different type of household.

I was so convinced by my sense of justice, so disgusted by religious people violently condemning homosexuals like the Pharisees who were ready to cast the first stone.  Even if homosexuality was a sin, where was their compassion for the sinner?

Fast forward, I became a Catholic.  I never even tried to reconcile what the Church and God teaches about homosexuality, until recently.  My friends on Facebook forced me to look at my internal contradictions.  Why did I have a change of heart?  The most compassionate explanation of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality came from this segment produced by Catholic Answers.  Still, it wasn’t enough to explain why I so quickly adopted God’s teaching on homosexuality.  Even the non-religious arguments against gay marriage, although compelling, did not explain my change of heart.

After much reflection and a meaningful conversation with my wife, I’ve come to understand my change of heart is because of Lord Voldemort — Satan.  I believe that the devil exists and that he is actively trying to unravel the very fabric of our society.  It’s crazy, I know: how can any person in this day and age still believe that the devil exists?  It was easier for the Ministry of Magic to refuse to believe the return of Voldemort than to acknowledge the existence of someone so evil and so powerful.  Just as Harry’s sacrifice at the end of the book protected his friends at Hogwarts, so Christ’s sacrifice on the cross inoculated us from the worse effects of Satan’s powers.  But, we’re not completely immune.  Just as I know the Harry Potter series ends happily, I know the war ends in Christ’s victory, but all the battles in-between are undetermined; my soul and those of my friends and family are still up for grabs.

How does changing the definition of marriage affect society?  I’m not smart enough to foresee the consequences.  I just get the stinking feeling that our real-world Voldemort is trying to use our love for each other against us.

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