But they should know that they are “playing with fire,” Father Martin said:
These people have no clue what kind of forces they are dealing with. In my life as a Jesuit priest, and especially as a spiritual director, I have seen people struggling with real-life evil. In the Spiritual Exercises, his classic manual on prayer, St. Ignatius Loyola calls this force either the “evil spirit” or “the enemy of human nature.” Sophisticated readers may smile, but this is a real force, as real as the force that draws one to God. Moreover, there is a certain identifiable sameness about the way that the “enemy” works in people’s lives. I have seen this. And after all, Ignatius’s comments reflect not only his own experience in prayer, but also his experience in helping others to pray. He was even able to describe some of the ways that the evil spirit works, and this also jibes with my experience: like a spoiled child (wanting to get his way); like a “false lover” (wanting us not to reveal our selfish motivations and plans); and like an “army commander” (attacking us at our weakest point). Pope Francis has also spoken
frequently about the presence of evil in the world and of Satan. Again, some may laugh, but the pope is, again, speaking about something that is not only part of Christian belief, but quite well known among spiritual directors.
In other words, I’m not describing only about my belief, but my experience. Evil is real. How Satan fits into this, I’m not exactly sure, but I believe that a personified force is behind this. There is a certain “intelligence,” if you will, and a sameness, as St. Ignatius identified. As C.S. Lewis said about Satan, “I’m not particular about the horns and hooves, but yes I believe.” Me too.
So while the Satanic Temple may smile at their victory, and the mainstream media might chuckle at the “Gotcha” moment vis-à-vis other religious groups (If the Ten Commandments, then why not Satan?) my fear is directed in another place. I recall all those stories I read and heard about Satan, and I think: You have no idea what you’re dealing with.
Earlier on Saturday, 200-250 people attended Mass at St. Joseph Church in a protest against the Satanic event. The Archdiocese of Detroit declined to comment on the unveiling of Baphomet or the group behind it.