It is common in our culture today to think of Satan as a mythological creature that doesn’t really exist. We tend to think of angels and demons as projections of our own selves, kind of a yin and yang phenomena. Yet, the Scriptures and the Catechism are full of references to these spiritual creatures. Who has not read or heard that Jesus cast out demons or that he was tempted by Satan in the desert after his baptism?
As a child I learned that God created the angels and that some of the angels rebelled against God, led by Lucifer their leader, were defeated and cast from heaven to hell. I learned that angels were spiritual beings with intellect and free will, yet without bodies. I also learned that Satan or Lucifer and his minions were enemies of God who desire the ruin believers through deception. I also learned that sometimes people were possessed by demons and that this gave them superhuman strength and made them animalistic.
I also learned that each of us was assigned a guardian angel to watch over us and protect us. They were also assigned with the task of keeping us from doing evil.
I then went through a period of my life where I thought of angels and demons as mythological creatures. I thought that people who thought they were literal creatures were either ignorant or naïve. Afterall, have you ever seen an angel or devil?
Over time I have come once again to believe in the existence of Satan, and angels. Especially powerful are the accounts of them mentioned in the Bible, the Word of God. Then there are the numerous accounts of possession by demons and exorcisms in modern times. Of particular interest was a homily I heard where a priest talked about the origins of some of our thoughts. Most of us believe our thoughts come from ourselves. Father Mike said that while we think thoughts, some of our thoughts come from Satan and that it was important to recognize them in order to fight them. Where else could evil thoughts come from? I’m sure some come from ourselves, and others from the culture around us. At the same time, we talk of being “inspired” to do good things. Where does inspiration come from?
One of the best ways to protect ourselves from the evil one is this prayer. It is called the St. Michael Prayer. I’ve made it a practice to pray it every day. “St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all evil spirits who prowl throughout the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen”
“May the Lord bless and keep you. May he let his face shine upon you, be gracious to you and give you his peace.”