Fulton Sheen on the Devil’s Non-existence

Fulton Sheen on the Devil’s Non-existence

In Life of Christ, while discussing the temptation in the desert, Sheen writes:

Very few people believe in the devil these days, which suits the devil very well. He is always helping to circulate the news of his own death. The essence of God is existence, and he defines himself as: “I am Who am.” The essence of the devil is the lie, and he defines himself as: “I am who am not.” Satan has very little trouble with those who do not believe in him; they are already on his side.

Even though the Bible, the Cathechism, and Pope Francis mention him frequently, I would guess a not-small proportion of Catholics follow the standard cultural non-belief in the devil. It wouldn’t seem to require much philosophical heavy lifting, though, to believe in the devil or at least in the “spirit of the antichrist.” Even if you didn’t believe in angels (regular or fallen), the fact of an all-good God who creates rational beings with free will suggests that some of these beings will turn from Him, some permanently so. Even eternal misery loves company, so it’s no surprise that those who have chosen to turn away from God would want others to follow, especially if that initial turn was motivated by pride.

The devil certainly is powerful and a deceiver, but there probably is a danger of believing he has more power than he actually has. Fr. Vincent Serpa, on a Catholic Answers Live show, told a caller not to worry about the devil; put all your thought on Christ. From the temptation in the desert (the scene about which Sheen is commenting), to the passion and resurrection, to the defeat of the dragon in Revelation, we see time and again that the devil is a loser. Our side wins. We just have to make sure we stay on our side. Thankfully, the Church provides sufficient means for us to do just that.

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  1. The Message of Our lady of La Salette
    “Our Lady’s Apocalypse”
    Delivered by Our Lady to
    The message was approved by the Catholic Church and was published in its entirety at Lecce. France, on November 15, 1979 with the imprimatur of Bishop Zola.
    Published by the Shepherdess of La Salette with Imprimatur by Mgr. Bishop of Lecce.
    “Well my children you will pass this on to all of my people.”
    Simple reproduction without commentary or controversy of the original edition of Lecce in 1879.
    APPARITION of the BLESSED VIRGIN on the Mountain of
    LA SALETTE the 19th of September, 1846
    “Rome will lose the Faith and become the seat of the Antichrist. ”

    “The demons of the air, together with the Antichrist, will work great wonders on the earth and in the air, and men will become ever more perverted. God will take care of His faithful servants and men of good will; the Gospel will be preached everywhere, all peoples and all nations will have knowledge of the Truth.
    “I address a pressing appeal to the earth: I call upon the true disciples of the God living and reigning in the heavens; I call upon the true imitators of Christ made man, the one true Savior of men; I call upon my children, my true devotees, those who have given themselves o me so that I may lead them to my Divine Son, those whom I bear as it were in my arms, those who have lived in my spirit; finally, I call upon the Apostles of the Latter Times, the faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who have lived in contempt of the world and of themselves, in poverty and humility, in contempt and silence, in prayer and mortification, in chastity and in union with God, in suffering, and unknown to the world. It is time for them to emerge and come enlighten the earth. Go, show yourselves to be my dear children; I am with you and in you, provided your faith is the light enlightening you in these evil times. May your zeal make your famished for the glory and honor of Jesus Christ. Do battle, children of light, you, the few who see thereby; fir the time of times, the end of ends, is at hand.
    “The Church will be eclipsed, the world will be in consternation. But there are Enoch and Elias, they will preach with the power of God, and men of good will will believe in God, and many souls will be comforted; they will make great progress by virtue of the Holy Ghost and will condemn the diabolical errors of the Antichrist.
    “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth. There will be bloody wars, and famines; plagues and contagious diseases; there will be frightful showers of animals; thunders which will demolish cities; earthquakes which will engulf countries; voices will be heard in the air; men will beat their heads against the walls; they will call on death, yet death will constitute their torment; blood will flow on all sides. Who could overcome, if God doesn’t shorten the time of trial? At the blood, tears and prayers of the righteous, God will relent; Enoch and Elias will be put to death; pagan Rome will disappear; the fire of Heaven will fall and consume three cities; the whole universe will be struck with terror, and many will allow themselves to be seduced because they didn’t adore the true Christ living in their midst. It is time; the sun is darkening; Faith alone will survive.
    “The time is at hand; the abyss is opening. Here is the king of the kings of darkness. Here is the beast with its subjects, calling itself the savior of the world. In pride he will rise skyward to go up to Heaven; he will be stifled by the breath of St. Michael the Archangel. He will fall and the earth -which for three days will be in constant change- will open its fiery bosom; he will be plunged forever with all his followers into hell’s eternal chasms. Then water and fire will purify the earth and consume all the works of men’s pride, and everything will be renewed; God will be served and glorified. “