The following is the text of the homily given by Fr. John Lankeit, rector of Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral at the July 25 holy hour to oppose the ‘black mass’ planned for Oklahoma City.
Satan is not one to go down easily in a fight. When we take the battle to him, we can be sure he’s going to go down swinging, taking as many victims with him as he can. At 4:48 p.m. this afternoon and again at 5:51 p.m., as I was thinking and praying about these words, a very loud alarm went off on my phone. It was a weather alert: A dust storm warning until…yep, you guessed it…7 p.m. tonight! I thought, “Wow, can you believe it? Something to discourage those who are on the fence about coming tonight!”
But please don’t think that even this weather alert is a mere coincidence. Anyone involved in exorcism or deliverance ministry will tell you that, when on their way to do battle with Satan—to pray for and over someone pestered by demonic influences—any number of things can happen to impede the trip—from a car breaking down, to locking your keys in the house, to a swarm of bees showing up around your car. I didn’t even make these examples up…they’ve really happened!
Satan — and those he uses to carry out his plans — is counting on Christians to cower, to give in to fear…to hunker down rather than stand up. He’ll try every trick in the book, playing on our sense of fairness, appealing to political correctness, manipulating our desire for human respect, kicking up a dust storm, to keep us from standing firmly in the truth — the truth that evil must be opposed vigorously. If we’ve learned anything from 20th century history — from the murderous dictatorships that arose during the century just concluded — it is that the agents of evil are terrified of us recognizing our power in Christ. Evil is terrified that we will respond. We must not be afraid! We must not feel helpless! We must not believe the Father of Lies when he tells us we’re outgunned and outmatched just because a few influential people and institutions wield worldly power! Why? Because as St. Paul said to the Ephesians:
“…we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12)
Yes, our spiritual foes are more cunning and more powerful than the human beings, and the institutions they employ to carry out their mission. But we must never…ever…forget, who we have on our side in the spiritual battle…the One True God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
We must not get discouraged when our faith is attacked. In fact, the greater our faith, the more we will see such attacks—like the “black mass” in Oklahoma—as an “invitation” from the Lord to stand up and confidently let the Light of Christ shine. In a great spiritual book entitled, Into Your Hands, Father, the author writes:
“God makes use of evil in such a superb way and with such skill that the result is better than if there had never been evil.”
(Into Your Hands Father, p. 15)
Tonight gives us occasion to call things what they are. To be crystal clear who we are and what we’re about. Tonight gives us the opportunity to say we will not tolerate this kind of evil, we will no longer take attacks on our faith sitting down. Nor will we employ the weapons of the Evil One. We will not resort to the tactics of those who oppose us. We will follow St. Paul’s plan for suiting up for spiritual warfare:
“Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…” (Eph 6:13-18)
We are making supplication for everyone…praying that the Lord will penetrate the hardened hearts of the godless secularists in government who look the other way when Christianity is attacked. Praying for the conversion of those who are immersed in Satanism. Praying for the vulnerable souls who are looking for God, but who are being led to believe that darkness and evil are the things that will satisfy their souls. God said through the Prophet Isaiah:
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil… “ (Isa 5:20)
There is nothing good…nothing beneficial…nothing beautiful about devil worship.
As Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City put it:
“Acts of public sacrilege undermine the foundations of civil society and have no redeeming social value. They undermine respect for social, cultural and religious institutions. They mock and tear down and provide no comparable social goods.” http://archokc.org/office-of-the-archbishop/home/3529-deliver-us-from-evil-amen
Speaking of Archbishop Coakley, we will have a letter out in the courtyard to Archbishop Coakley after the Holy Hour. I ask all of you to sign it in order to express to him our solidarity with him and his flock.
Satan is a creature — a fallen angel — and therefore, not divine. “Worship” or “homage” paid to him is not “religion”. It’s the opposite — we might say it’s “sacreligion”, but not religion, and therefore, it deserves no protection from the state, from God, or anyone else. It must never be considered a right to be protected because our civic duty — the exercise of our rights — has as its purpose, to contribute to the common good. Satan is evil, the very opposite of good, and therefore there can be no logical justification for a government building being used for something that is damaging to the public good. We have no duty to, nor should we tolerate something designed for the “common evil.”
But we did not come here tonight to debate politics or policy or even to plot our strategy for petitioning the Oklahoma City government!
We came here to worship the One True God. We gather in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ…the Son of God…the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. We put our confidence in Jesus, because he is the surest and swiftest way to defeat Satan.
We are not contending against the “flesh and blood”, but rather, contending with the “Flesh and Blood” of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Satan uses darkness to attack and confuse. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
“…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Cor 4:4-6)
So how do we counter this darkness? With the Light of Christ, which lives in our souls since the day of our Baptism. Jesus speaks directly to us when he says:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 5:14-16)
Our Father is in Heaven…and He’s calling us to an eternal family reunion. We have stood up to be counted in the spiritual battle tonight. We have unleashed a Holy Fire that has inflicted a heavier blow on the Devil that we even realize. But that’s not even the best news! In the Gospel proclaimed tonight, we heard the exchange between Jesus and the soldiers whom He sent out for the first head-to-head battle with the Devil:
“The seventy-two [disciples] returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’” (Lk 10:18-20)
Our names are written in Heaven. And the love of God has been written into our hearts! We are the light of the world. The world needs to see this light. The lost souls in this world need to see this light.
Tonight…thanks to your presence, and the Lord’s Real Presence, the Light of Christ is shining brightly. Satan tried to stop us with a dust storm. But, tonight, it is we who have unleashed a storm of cosmic proportions — the power of our Eucharistic Lord — and it is the Devil who must take cover! And we will continue to stand fast in Jesus Christ for our good, for the good of our nation…for the good of our world…every time he rears his ugly head.