A couple of years ago I wrote of an unusual experience I had at Mass wherein a person who was troubled by a demon had those demons manifest themselves at the consecration, causing the person to run out of the Church. More on that in a moment.
I thought of that long-ago incident in relation to the current events transpiring in Oklahoma City, where a satanic cult stole the Eucharist from a Catholic parish and announced plans to desecrate it at a satanic “mass” in September. Archbishop Paul Coakley filed a lawsuit, asking a judge to stop the desecration by requiring the group to return the stolen property. He indicated in the suit that the Host was to be desecrated in the vilest ways imaginable as an offering in sacrifice to Satan.
A spokesman from the satanic group, Adam Daniels, said, “The whole basis of the [satanic] ‘mass‘ is that we take the consecrated host and give it a ‘blessing‘ or offering to Satan. We’re censoring it, [I think he means using incense], doing all things that’s [sic] normally done to bless a sacrifice, which is obviously the host body of Christ. Then we’re taking that and we’re reconsecrating it, or the Devil does …” [The bracketed comment and the single quotation marks within the above quote are mine.]
In light of the threatened lawsuit, the group returned the consecrated host to the Church. Thanks be to God.
But did you notice the satanic spokesman’s attestation regarding the host: “which is obviously the host body of Christ”?
Grave and sad though this incident was (and it wasn’t the first), these Satanists obviously consider the Catholic Eucharist to be the Body of Christ. Unless I missed it, there have been no attempts by Satanists to steal and use a Methodist host, or an Episcopal one, or a Baptist one, or a Lutheran one, etc. It is a Catholic host they seek. Here then is an affirmation of the Scripture which says, Even the demons believe—and shudder (James 2:19).
Elsewhere, Scripture says of a demon that afflicted a man among the tombs, And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped him (Mark 5:6). And in Luke’s Gospel, And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them, and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ (Lk 4:41-42).
Indeed, as many who have assisted at exorcisms can attest, there is wonderful power in holy water, relics, the exorcist’s cross, the touch of a priest’s stole, and so forth in afflicting demons and urging them to leave. Yet so many Catholics and others discount these sacramentals (as well as the Sacraments), using them carelessly, infrequently, or not at all. Many people, even faithful Catholics, consider them of little significance. But demons do not. Shamefully, demons sometimes manifest more faith (out of fear) in these things than actual believers who ought to revere them out of loving faith. Even this Satanist in Oklahoma acknowledges that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist and he seeks a host for that reason, although obviously for nefarious and perverse purposes.
And that leads to a story of my own that I published a long while back. Here is an excerpt from that piece:
As you may know, the ancient Latin Mass is celebrated “ad orientem” (toward the Liturgical East). Priest and people all face in one direction. What this means practically for the celebrant is that the people are behind him. It was time for the consecration. At this time, the priest is directed to bow low with his forearms on the altar table and the host between his fingers.
As directed, the venerable words of Consecration were said in a low but distinct voice, Hoc est enim Corpus meum (For this is my Body). The bells rang as I genuflected.
But behind me there was a disturbance of some sort; a shaking or rustling sound came from the front pews behind me to my right. And then a moaning or grumbling. “What was that?” I wondered. It did not really sound human, more like the grumbling of a large animal such as a boar or a bear, along with a plaintive moan that also did not seem human. I elevated the host and again wondered, “What was that?” Then silence. As the celebrant in the ancient Latin Mass I could not easily turn to look. But still I thought, “What was that?”
It was time for the consecration of the chalice. Again I bowed low, pronouncing clearly and distinctly but in a low voice, Hic est enim calix sanguinis mei, novi et æterni testamenti; mysterium fidei; qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem pecatorum. Haec quotiescumque feceritis in mei memoriam facietis (for this is the cup of my Blood, of the new and eternal covenant; the mystery of faith; which will for the many be shed unto the remission of sins. Whensoever you do this, you do it in my memory.)
Then, I heard another sound, this time an undeniable moan and then a shriek as someone cried out, “Leave me alone, Jesus! Why do you torture me?” Suddenly there was a scuffling noise and someone ran out with the groaning sound of having been injured. The back doors swung open and then closed. Then silence.
Realization – I could not turn to look for I was raising the Chalice high over my head. But I knew in an instant that some poor demon-tormented soul had encountered Christ in the Eucharist and could not endure His real presence displayed for all to see. And the words of Scripture occurred to me: Even Demons believe and tremble (James 2:19).
Repentance – But just as James used those words to rebuke the weak faith of his flock, I too had to repent. Why was a demon-troubled man more aware of the true presence and more astonished by it than I was? He was moved in a negative sense and ran. Why was I not more moved in a positive but comparable way? What of the other believers in the pews? I don’t doubt that all of us believed intellectually in the true presence. But there is something very different and far more wonderful in being moved to the depth of your soul! It is so easy for us to be sleepy in the presence of the Divine, to be forgetful of the miraculous and awesome Presence available to us.
Let the record show that on that day, almost 15 years ago, it was made quite plain to me that I held in my hands the Lord of Glory, the King of Heaven and earth, the just Judge and Ruler of the kings of the earth. Is the Lord truly present in the Eucharist? You’d better believe it; even demons believe that!
Msgr. Charles Pope
is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian, a vibrant parish community in Washington, DC. A native of Chicago with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science, his interest in the priesthood stemmed from his experience as a church organist, cantor and choir director during college. He attended Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary and holds Masters degrees in Divinity and in Moral Theology. He was ordained in 1989 and named a Monsignor in 2005. He has conducted a weekly Bible Study in Congress and in the White House, for two and four years, respectively.