“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist” is a popular line from the movie The Usual Suspects. But has this line of thinking found its way into your life? Have you encountered people, even Catholics, who question or explain away the existence of Satan?
Recently the Superior General of the Society of Jesus said that the devil is a symbol rather than a person. This may have caused some confusion as to what Catholics believe about the devil, since Pope Francis (also a Jesuit) wrote in Gaudete et Exsultate, “We should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea.”
Fr. Michael Maginot, pastor of St. Stephen Martyr Parish in Merrillville, Indiana, stopped on The Drew Mariani Show™ this week to offer a response to these remarks by the Jesuit Superior General, saying, “Now, I’m not here to throw him under the bus, I’m just here to talk about this because you might believe this too.”
Explaining these recent remarks, Fr. Maginot explained, “He recently told Time Magazine, “‘Good and evil are in permanent war in the human conscience. And we have ways to point them out. We recognize God is good, fully good. Symbols are part of reality, and the devil exists as a symbolic reality, not as a personal reality.'”
As a priest who has performed exorcisms, Fr. Maginot has encountered the demonic, and he pointed out that for those who believe that God is a personal reality, it follows that any opposition to God would be a personal reality as well.
“I’m always kind of surprised that people who would believe in God have a difficult time believing in Satan,” he said. “If you see Good and Evil as realities, but say that Satan is a personification of Evil, you can just turn it around and say God is a personification of Good, and thus both become creations of man.”
Fr. Maginot acknowledged that dealing with abstractions is much easier than dealing with persons. It is easier to think of Good and Evil in theory, rather thinking of what God wills for you versus what the devil wills for you. Because those involve interactions with Good and Evil rather than abstractions of Good and Evil.
“It seems they do want to keep it something in the human mind,” Fr. Maginot said. “And thus we can determine what is good for us, what is evil.”
As a parish priest who has been called in to deal with suspected demonic activity, Fr. Maginot offered some insight as to what the devil, as a person, is like, saying, “First of all, it is kind of good to see that he is super intelligent. So an intelligence is not a force. And he’s very manipulative and will use whatever needs to be done to get his way. So if he could get his way by you not believing there is such a reality, he’ll use that. If you heal, he’ll also use that he is just as powerful. So he will use almost any lie he could use.”
But Fr. Maginot points out that recognizing the devil and God as persons with whom we can have a relationship with actually makes it easier to reject evil and choose good. Because the deeper our relationship with Lord the more light will shine in our lives, and the darkness cannot overcome it.
“We do have a choice,” Fr. Maginot said. “We could choose to live in the peace of God, or we could believe in the lie and think that we have full freedom, that we can do whatever we feel like doing. And that is the blessing. That actually, when we do things that are contrary to what God desires for us and created us for, it’s the greatest misery we can bring on ourselves. That’s the reality.”
Listen to the full conversation with Fr. Michael Maginot below: