The president and chaplain of Catholic Answers join Cy for a conversation about demonic influences in the modern world.
Are demons active in the modern world? Let’s discuss it with Father Hugh Barber and Chris Check.
Hello and welcome again to Catholic Answers Focus. I am Cy Callet, your host, and we’re always so appreciative that you’re here with us today. It’s going to maybe sound a little bit like herding cats. It does when these two guests are together in the studio.
I prefer dogs.
I hate cats. I prefer dogs.
Oh wait, I’m sorry.
Cats are fine.
It already sounds like herding cats. They’ve already proven my point.
No, somebody is going to … I made a comment about cats.
It’s like girls. Girls don’t like other girls. See? So cats don’t like other cats.
I made a comment about cats in a fundraising letter one time and it was a Catholic Answers Newsletter and it was a complete joke and I got several letters from people.
We’re not even 30 seconds in. It’s already out of control.
Cats are great.
Probably lost our direction too.
Bella cat, a cat.
I will list them in order of importance.
They are ladies, according to Catherine Emmerich.
Our first guest is-
Pope Benedict etiquette.
Father Hugh Barber, Norbertine priest, former Prior of St Michael’s Abbey, and now chaplain here at Catholic Answers. Hello, Father.
For three more years, at least.
Is it three more years?
Praise God, yeah.
Right? I’m going to take my resume down then. I’m going to stop looking for another job.
I’m just kidding. And also joining us.
If I can keep you here, that’s great.
Oh, so are you saying you going apply for the chaplain job?
No, I was gonna … if he left I was going to leave. That was the implication.
But how sweet. I’m very touched.
The other cat here today is our president. Christopher Check. Hi Chris.
Thank you for having me on site. Sorry for already making it difficult for you.
That’s okay. We’re going to cut all of this. None of this will appear. Actually, we have a quite serious topic, but I got you here for two foci. This one and the next.
Isn’t that the plural of focuses?
Is it? Is it a fourth? If it’s fourth declension it’s focus.
No, foci, with church pronunciation foci with restored pronunciation. But Not Fokai.
But the English probably say Farsi or foesai. Anyway.
Alright, being an anglophile, I’ll say foci for you. The next, time because things are difficult and we don’t want to, as you’ll see, we’re not going to gloss the difficulties for the church and for the world today, but in the next episode following this one, we will, we’ll do signs of hope in the church and in the world because we need those and we probably will need it as a tonic for this episode, where we talk about, I almost am loath to say it, but the signs of the demonic in the world and in the church today.
Chris, you probably know the thing that set me off that we need to talk about this. You can probably guess.
The diabolical celebration in the State House in Albany.
Of New York state. Right.
And to add to the, I don’t even know what you call these things. It’s like the witches in Macbeth or whatever. But then the lighting up of the buildings.
To celebrate the murder of innocent babies.
Right. And explicitly, the murderer, not even … I would say what you’re saying would not even be controversial because … Maybe … I want to be careful how I say this, but first trimester abortions, we can say there are many people who are confused about that. There is no one on earth who is confused about a child at nine months of development.
Nobody. It’s not possible to be confused about what and who you are killing in that instance.
Was it just yesterday there was a legislator from Virginia who made a comment about a baby being delivered and then the mother and the doctor could decide?
Well, that’s the governor of Virginia.
OK, that was the governor?
Yeah, it was the governor. Right.
I mean, we can-
So here, and by the way, we already know that this practice goes on inside the-
It already happens.
Abortions across our country.
Right. I mean, exactly.
But now it’s out in the open.
Okay. So, um, I suppose, why I wanted to talk to you, that the two of you about this on Focus is that we can see sociological reasons for the decline of morals in our culture. We can see a historical economic reason. I mean we’re affluent and we’re all these different things, but there are deeper reasons for how a society gets this sick.
And that’s what I wanted to ask you about. So I’ll start with you. Father, if you could, give us a primer for those who don’t know what the church tells us about the demonic, what it is and why it’s part of our faith?
Well, the classical teaching, if you want to go all the way back to the fathers of the church, which is not often done, is an explanation of the motivation of God for the creation of the human race. And there you find that at the lowest level, and I mean lowest level of spiritual creatures. After you go through the whole, the nine ranks of angels. You go down and finally, below the angels who are right there at the bottom, angels, archangels, okay, so you have human beings who are composites of body and soul.
Unlike the other angels who are pure spirits, human beings are spirits who are embodied.
And this particular revelation made to the angels in the beginning that God was going to raise to a life worthy of himself, creatures who had physical bodies and material-
And who aren’t human beings without their bodies.
Right. Exactly. This was regarded as an offense to the pride of the angels, the higher angels especially. And so they opposed it, and Saint Thomas teaches, if you connect all the different aspects of his teaching, you’ll see that the fall of Satan and then the angels fell with him, was due to the rejection of the notion that grace, supernatural life, which is the common good of spiritual creatures, could be conveyed to creatures such as we are.
Right. Because we’re gross monkeys.
The material. Right, talking monkeys. Right. So they rejected that. Now there’s another version, which is the more Franciscan version, which is more beautiful and inspiring. Frankly, even though I’m a Thomist, I’ll say that, that they were-
You so open-minded, Father.
I am. They were told. I am, definitely, within limits. That God determined that he would himself take upon himself a human nature. Well, this is the ultimate outrage. Of course.
It is outrageous.
That, so the hatred and envy of the human race on the part of the fallen angels translated itself in their vehement efforts to get our first parents to fall, in which they succeeded, and then the constant harassing of our race all the way to the end. And this will continue until the end of the world, until Christ comes again in glory. But we know as Christians that by his saving work, by his incarnation and by the immaculate conception of his mother and by his suffering and passion, he has already overcome the evil one.
And we have the means whereby we can overcome the power of the evil one. But it doesn’t mean that he will not continue to harass us until finally he is destroyed. And that’s what you read in the book of the apocalypse or the revelation. So basically, when we talk about demonic interference in human life, we’re talking about envy.
Just think about someone who’s consumed with envy against somebody and therefore if it were in their power, not passively, but actively, to keep them from getting whatever good thing they wanted, they would do it.
And that’s what we’re talking about. That’s both the weakness, of the devil because he, he is not in his control what our destiny is.
But he really hates the fact that we have the possibility of a destiny higher than his. Because Jesus is higher than all the angels.
And yet, as the scriptures tell us, but he is still a man. Our Lady is higher than all the angels and she’s just a mere human being.
That’s why when exorcists talk about their contests with the devil, they say they hate our lady most of all.
Because of this little really nothing to them, to their pride, we’re nothing.
Is based on a Zygote, you know, that could have been any number of the zygotes that the or the eggs that Anne had. And this is the one that was actually chosen.
That’s disgusting to them because they’re mighty. If we understood better angelic nature, we would see-
Why it’s such a big deal because each one of them is like a universe to himself that is perfect and self-contained.
And rationally impeccable. That is, even demons don’t make mistakes in judgment if it has to do with natural things in creation. They can only make mistakes based on their intellectual passion of envy towards something higher than their own nature.
And so when they see a mere woman being raised above them, and I don’t mean mere woman in any sense, that would be offensive to anyone today.
But just a mere human creature.
But just a poor human being. They can’t bear it, and so that gives her her power because the envious person is in a certain sense also the weakest person because the envious person doesn’t feel secure in the possession of his own good. He sees someone else’s possession of the good as diminishing his own. Whereas the good angels who didn’t fall, they rejoiced in God in his wisdom and provenance of goodness.
Right. Made the lowly high, exalted the lowly. They’re willing to accept God’s loving exaltation as those who really don’t deserve it.
In our way of understanding the order of things.
Father, I want to-
The perfect formulation.
I wanted to ask you, I think I remember reading many years ago, maybe it was in Leo Torres or Tracy or Frank Sheet. I can’t recall, with respect to that Franciscan tradition, that it may even have been, some theologians speculate, it may even have been that the angels were shown not just our Lord, that he would take on a human nature, but they saw him in the debilitated state of his passion.
Of course, right. Saint Thomas teaches the highest mystery is eternity, but the one that’s most difficult for created intellect to understand is the passion.
And this was just too much for them to do.
So by that demonic logic, hatred of one’s own child, or the destruction of children is perfectly logical because they’re rooted in an idea the lesser should remain lesser and the greater should have greater.
Right? And then we add to this, the second point I made, the first thing about the enemy, the devil. The second point is that, given the fall of the angels, the fathers teach that the number of the human beings who will reach eternal life is meant to supply for the number of angels who fell. And so they have a particularly strong envy?
Yeah. And, and why we see, and this has been said on this show now several times, and I’m very grateful to father Hugh for this insight, but this is why in particular we see the demonic so active in things related to human procreation.
Yeah. Yeah. So
Procreation is … the devil hates it because it does the thing that he most envies replaces him.
Right. Human procreation.
Takes his place in heaven.
Every new human being is a possible spiritual being that will take the place of a fallen angel.
And they don’t like that and they probably, they probably even can estimate what the level is going to be, but human beings are very flexible. See angels, they have a sanctity proportionate to their nature. Whereas we have a sanctity which, given our bodily nature, can grow continually throughout the course of our life. It’s not limited because we take our information from the outside. It’s a theological point.
And so consequently they don’t really know where anyone is going to fit in. And so that’s why, for example, in the life of Saint Margaret Mary, the devil was all bent out of shape because, you know, St Francis of Assisi had taken his place by the sacred heart of Jesus. You know, and it’s like, this poor wretched creature is taking my place?
Before God. I think people will get comfort from the thought that the devil’s attack on us is not just attack of someone who is overpowering and powerful, but of someone who’s weak through envy and that we have the means of grace, we have our lady, we have the savior, the blessed sacrament, the means of grace that are far more powerful than all of that.
It’s master stroke or master strokes, I think in this century, which I do or say the past hundred years, which I believe are more, can be set apart from other ages in human history. One, just the cultivation, as Cardinal Newman observed about 150 years ago. Just the cultivation of unbelief. So we really don’t believe in anything. And then how that finds expression, especially in the invention and widespread use of the contraceptive pill. Because even, we sometimes say, oh, well he’s behaving like a pagan or something like that, you know, would that we behaved like the Pagans or the pre-Christians, who believed in something. You know, pagans, at least we think ancient Romans, ancient Greeks are pagans, right?
They want their lines to continue, right?
And because we don’t believe, we don’t even want our lines to continue. And so we’re just in this sort of orgy of self consumption and gratification. And that’s what sets our age apart. And I’d say for certain more evil than any other age.
So a post Christian is in more spiritual danger than just a good old natural pagan. Is that what you think?
Well, in general, yes. In the concrete, who knows? Only God knows that, but yeah, in general, yes, because the basic instincts of human nature are more sound than what we have now.
So, well, I mean, my goodness, you are what you say you are today or in the next hour or, and it might change. And a gentleman, a man insists that he’s a woman. He’s a rapist. He insists he’s a woman. So he is sent to a women’s prison where he rapes more women.
Yeah. Yeah. But this twisting of human nature is the delight of the demons.
Right. Right. I would say it’s what I call the second fall because the first fall is with our first parents. They fell from grace.
But then, that was easy for the devil because the fall from grace is all at once and they possess the whole inheritance and they lost it.
But then for him to undermine, then they’re immediately given the promise of a savior and he was aware of that. He’s not stupid. So then he works on a more difficult, a laborious fall, which is the fall of nature whereby it has to be piece by piece ,bit by bit culture, you know, making sure that people lose any human sensibility about procreation, about the human existence, about the basic principles. So that people will be impervious, or incapable of receiving the message of salvation, so they’ll just continue living in this horrible way. And I think that’s where the triumph is going to come. Like sisters. We’ll see if Adam has said that the last battle will be over marriage and the family. That goes back to Adam and Eve.
In fact it’s underway.
Right. It’s underway and it’s very clear and the church is right in the midst of it with all the confusion in clarity of teaching and all of that, that we see.
Right? We haven’t-
We’ve been as helpful as we could be, let’s put it that way.
We’ve been shaken by this.
Yeah we have, right.
Because of the coming of prelates to the predominant cultural forms and their fear of the dis-approbation of the media and the powerful. They could be strong if they wanted be, but they’ve gotten in the position of just being … they say it’s for pastoral reasons, you know, we have to take … and I understand that very well. People are very wounded and misinformed and confused, but we have to give clarity of teaching at some point for people to be set free.
Most households in the United States are not married couple households more than half. And I think that line was crossed maybe 10, 15 years ago.
Well, that, it strikes me that if you said to somebody, you know, the death’s head, what are they called? Storm troopers, Nazis. What were those people called? A Gestapo or-
The SS. That this is a demonic death cult. I think people could go, okay, I get that, that there’s a way in which you have made yourself in league with the devil if you participated in this murderous torturing death cult, but, you can’t just get to like that.
A death’s head Nazi doesn’t just pop up out of nowhere. There’s a process of of cultivation of that that-
Also that’s at a very crude level of sophistication. That’s a corny thing that’s made to appeal to young adolescents because they think it’s kind of cool. That’s what happens in our culture now. You see how they go after skinheads and Neo Nazis and everything because they’re appealing to the weakness of these people that still have some kind of natural human inclinations, but the point is the cool, calm political like Cuomo and our governor in Virginia, who, you know, they’re not in SS uniforms. There’s nothing, there’s no, there’s no faulderal associated with them. There’s no ritual, there is no liturgy, there’s nothing. They just are saying this is what we have to do, and then they all applaud themselves. That’s much worse than the SS.
And periodically, periodically the curtain gets drawn back and we see what’s actually going on. Like in the case of the Gosnell story in Philadelphia and see how gruesomely demonic.
But how does it like, is it a consequence of you-
But it doesn’t seem to be changing. It doesn’t seem to really be moving.
It seems impervious to-
No, no. In fact, our friend Patrick Madrid is on record saying in his mind it’s going to be divine intervention that’s going to turn this thing around.
Without a doubt.
I totally agree.
I, I have to say history teaches that what will turn it around is war. That what we’re headed for is gruesome and brutalizing war.
I don’t think it’s avoidable.
Yeah, I’m not sanguine about Supreme Court appointments.
No, no. There’s something much deeper. I mean, it’s better to have a good supreme court than not.
To have people that will do the best they can.
Yes, agreed. Agreed. But there is a kind of mania that leads people ultimately to just start killing each other in war.
But still, when I still remember morally speaking that you’re obliged to resist to the measure of what you’re capable. So as long as it’s still possible to appoint a decent judge, you need to do that or to vote for decent person. You need to do it. You’re not in the position where you can just simply judge that there’s no point anymore. You have to do the best you can.
No, and I don’t mean to give that impression. If I did-
No, you weren’t.
But I know that sort of the institutional pro-life movement right now is excited about the potential perhaps for Ruth Bader Ginsburg to a to pass from this world and no longer be able to serve it or post there and another opportunity for a Trump appointment and that thing will be good. But, but these appointments, when, as you observed Si, when the underlying culture be that we can say, begins maybe with the revolution in France or even before with a celebration of divorce, for example. When it is that long in the making.
And it’s not some. There are some things that are not going to be turned over. The recognition of abhorrent forms of so-called marriage. That’s not going to be turned around except from divine intervention.
Well, the image from scripture of the devil as a snake. I mean, you think about the snake as the creature that lies in wait for a long time and you know, it’s a creepy animal in a way.
Well, it’s creeping by definition.
So I guess my question is though, we think of … there have to be, I just want to get to the structure of how the demonic works and there’s a certain pattern of temptation and seduction that leads us to this. That’s what I want to get at, that we’ve been tempted and seduced as a culture, as individuals that happens to us. It has, you know, how many times have I had to go to confession in my life? Over and over and over again, the seduction of evil. So I wanted to throw that out to you that our society is, it’s not just like it suddenly we’re these demonic cackling creatures who celebrate the death of nine month old babies. We’ve been bit by bit seduced into this.
Well, you know, Pope Benedict in his trip to Africa, gave some beautiful discourses on Christianity in Africa and in the third world, you know.
He said that in these countries, Christianity returns to its ancient form, how it was viewed in the beginning as a means of liberation from evil. Because there in these African tribal religions, they have not so much a theology as a kind of, you know, contrast between demons and good spirits and constantly trying to ward off evil ones and avoid being enslaved by them.
And so Pope Benedict said, well, in these countries, you’re liberated from the powers of evil by Christianity. And I think Philip Jenkins the great a writer on these questions.
Who from the University of Pennsylvania.
I think he’s at Baylor now.
Is he at Baylor now? But he was.
Yeah, he was at the University of Pennsylvania.
He was in my day when I was reading him. He points it out that Christianity will more and more in the coming century be a South of the Equator religion in which the people there in Africa and Latin America, whether they’re Catholics or Charismatics or whatever they are, view Christianity as a form of liberation from evil. Whereas in the North it’s viewed as a moralistic motivation for making the world a better place.
And which is it, Father, in it’s real true nature? What is it?
Liberation from evil is why the Lord came down.
To free us from evil and death. Okay. So-
Father makes an excellent point. And especially in the post conciliar age, we have this understanding of the church as kind of a great institution of social work. It makes life here on earth better.
To unite the human race.
And in so far as the church can do things like that to alleviate poverty for example, and build hospitals and educate people, praise God. And that’s very good. But it’s not it’s principle function. It is not the principle function of the church. Si, I never will forget a conversation that I had with my father in 1991. It was before Jackie and I got married. I’d come back from the Persian Gulf and I was on my last assignment keeping the red Chinese out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Thank you for doing it.
And I was talking to my dad on the phone.
Not the Alamo, just Wisconsin?
Not the Alamo?
Well, I think I was pretty successful. Do you see any red Chinese in Wisconsin? Right now? Of course not. Yeah.
Well, maybe in the courts. Restaurants.
So in any case, oh, they’re not communists. The ones who run the restaurants were all …
They’re all running away.
Yeah, they all fled the commies. Yeah. So in any case, I was talking to my dad on the phone. I remember I was talking to my dad on the phone and having a scotch at the time and my dad said something to me. He said, whatever your mother and I did, which I would say in praise of my parents was fairly significant. They have a son who’s a priest. All three of their boys still practice the faith and their grandchildren do. But he said, whatever your mother and I did, this is before Jackie and I were married, you’re going to have to do more.
So it was a recognition that the age in which I would be rearing children, that Jackie and I would be rearing children, was an obviously more evil one. Than the age in which he was growing. And I believe that in reaction to this, and Father you obviously could speak to this better than I can, but I think Catholics in the post conciliar age, and I don’t mean to sound as if I’m blaming these things on the council. I’m not, but it is kind of a line.
Yeah, I’m certainly not doing that. But in this post conciliar age, I think that we have gotten away from the sorts of pious practices that keep evil at bay and whether it’s wearing a scapulars for example, or miraculous medals or a holy water or putting salt, blessed salts in our houses or this practice that we do here, that Father Hugh does with writing the names of the kings above all of the thresholds right, on the epiphany and all of these.
And we’ve gotten away with these and I think some people have dismissed these as sort of superstitious practices. They’re not superstitious. They are and sacramentals are not superstitious. They’re not good luck charms. We make that distinction, but these are things that do act in the supernatural world.
They fund these graces function in the supernatural world, and the Catholics, I exhort them. Start wearing scapulars. Have a holy water font in your house. Folks, if you’re listening to this and you don’t have a holy water font, go get one even if it’s a cheesy Italian holy card one with the Guardian Angel on it or whatever it is, right? Get a holy water font in your house. Fill up your thing with holy water. Get your candles blessed. We have candle mass coming up.
Tomorrow, yes we do.
It’s tomorrow, right? Get your candles blessed. Use Blessed candles at meals.
All these things keep Demons at bay.
I think we’re going to leave it right there. Or did you?
Just one thing, one thing that would-
Father could probably add to that.
That the enthronement of the sacred heart and-
Yes, thank you. Yes.
Which is extremely powerful. Okay, so look that up and enthronement of the sacred art. Google it. You’ll find all the information you need.
Dedicate your family to the immaculate heart.
Catholics, be Catholic, fully Catholic. Not minimally Catholic, but fully Catholic.
I heard Scott Hahn say this, but I’ve heard other people say it. I don’t know where were the first person who said it. It’s true. If only Catholics would start living again fully the teaching of marriage.
Yeah, the world would be transformed.
Of course it would. Absolutely it would.
Throw your pills out.
Alright. Well thank you for listening to Catholic Answers Focus. If you’d like to show … what we would appreciate it actually, if you would share with friends what we do here. You can send them to Catholic answers live.com and they can sign up for radio club and be informed every time one of these Catholic Answers Focus episodes is posted next time we will move away from the demonic and into the realm of hope.
What are the signs of hope in the world? And the church? Father Hugh Barbara, thank you very much.
Got Lots of those signs of hope.
Oh good. I’m glad to hear it. Chris only has four.
Wait. I have five, I have a new one.
Oh, you have a new one?
Do I have to wait for the next segment?
You have to wait, yes. Tune in.
See you next time on Catholic Answers Focus.