The Allure of Evil

For Catholics in England and Wales, today is not Hallowe’en because the Solemnity of All Saints has been transferred to Sunday. That means I do not feel obliged to repeat any of the things I have already said on the subject, although, if you are interested, the Search Box on the right will lead you to them: just try searching All Saints and Hallowe’en. This is, however, a time of year when what we might call occult practices seem to attract more attention. Some are just plain silly: fake paganism of the most tawdry kind. Others are more serious and some, some are downright evil.

If you have been fortunate enough never to have come into contact with real, diabolical evil, you will probably smile, shake your head in disbelief, and make a few mild jokes about excitable types getting worked up over nothing. Those who have come into contact with evil will probably respond more quietly. Evil is, by its very nature, seductive. It has a false glamour. It never presents itself as what it truly is. Remember how Marlowe’s Faustus wanted to see evil in the guise of a holy friar rather than as it was, in and of itself? That is true of all of us. We do not want to see evil for what it is; we do not want to see sin for what it is.

I said yesterday that being a good sinner meant falling down and getting up again. No matter how far we fall, God’s grace is always beneath us. We can never fall beyond the reach of God’s mercy and forgiveness unless we deliberately and knowingly reject Him. Tonight and tomorrow, lots of people will be unthinkingly celebrating everything from fairytale goblins to the devil himself. A few will be sucked into a world of evil. Praying for those who have deliberately and knowingly chosen evil is dangerous; but we can all safely pray for the protection of those who are, so to say, innocents abroad, that they may escape the allure of evil and be brought, safe and sound, to the great feast of light that is All Saints.

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10 thoughts on “The Allure of Evil”

  1. All Saints’ day is our Parish Patronal festival. All Saints’ Church, Belvedere in Kent. We will celebrate All Saints Day with a procession and lunch together afterwards. On Saturday, we will be holding an All Souls Memorial Service for those Saints in the parish who’ve died in past years and we expect a record turnout, with 178 names added to our book of Remembrance for this years service.

    Last years service was moving and memorable, people still grieving some years after the death of their loved one. I was a spectator at that service, but this year I am participating as a Reader and also meeting and hosting some of the grieving families during and after the service. We provide a light, buffet lunch and many parishioners come along to support the grieving families.

    For me, these solemnities should be marked as always, not by the false frivolity and forced gaiety of Hallowe’een. Prayer and reflection is called for, not debauchery.

    • I hesitate to answer because my response may not be fully understood. If one prays for those actively engaged in evil (and I do mean evil, not what I would call silliness) one must be prepared to face the devil. Most of us are not equipped to do that. I certainly am not! Within the Church there are priests appointed as exorcists, and they would be the first to tell you that opposing evil involves one in a very serious conflict. It is rash and even presumptuous to put oneself into a position of such danger. However, one can and should pray for the protection of all.

  2. I am so pleased that you set this out clearly with such measured words. I remember a Priest having a quiet word with me about something he felt might lead towards real evil. At the time I felt he was being wary of something that seemed innocuous. I probably expected evil to be as obvious to spot as a horror mask or costume. I look back now with a cold feeling when I recognise the reality of evil which I once took to be over-reaction. There is real diabolical evil and it is not to be sensationalised or trivialised. I owe a great debt to a kind, wise man (who happened to be a priest) who gently nudged me away from a dark path I did not even know I was on…
    Evil, by its very nature, will attract and mislead.

  3. And what about praying for these people who “deliberately and knowingly chosen evil”, but we do not have such konwledge that they did it and still pray for them?

    • I’m not sure I understand you. I was talking about not laying oneself open to the power of evil by foolhardiness. The example I quoted, of priests appointed as exorcists being the proper persons to deal with diabolical evil, is the clearest answer I can give you. If you know someone engaged in Satanism, say, I would suggest you refer the matter to an exorcist rather than try to ‘take on’ the powers of darkness yourself.

  4. Of course, that I have understood. I mean different situation. I try to pray for many persons, not all of them I know well. And if I pray for person who is possessed or tormented by satan, but I do not know about it, am I in danger of devil’s attack?

    I am asking about it, because not long time ago I made friendship with a girl, and suppose that she might be tormented by satan – she made some kind of allusion to such possibility, but did not express it clearly. Later on I had an impression that she changed in ubelievable way, attacked me verbally, became aggressive, and knew about me things, about which I had nevered talked to her. It was extremely strange to me. I still pray for her, as for all my friends, cousins, colleagues, my enemies. May it be dangerous?

    *** I am not native English speaker so please forgive me my awkward English.

    • Thank you. I understand now and will try to explain as clearly as I can my view of things. I would urge you, however, to discuss this with a priest who speaks your own language. I do not think it is dangerous to pray in a general way for anyone. Indeed, it is our Christian duty to pray for everyone. In the case of the girl you mention, you should not worry about continuing to pray for her in a general way, as you would pray for anyone else. What would or could be dangerous, I think, would be to pray specifically for her to be free of Satan. To do that would be to confront the devil, and unless you are very sure what you are doing, fortified by prayer and the sacraments, that could lead to unexpectedconsequences. I do not mean to alarm you or anyone else; I just want to counsel prudence. Some people rush into spiritual danger in a way they would never think of rushing into physical danger. I will pray for your protection and peace of mind. May God bless and keep you.

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