15 March 2009
Gueranger on the Third Sunday of Lent: Satan Exists
Dom Gueranger is long deceased, and does not earn any royalties on my late penchant for posting from the exquisite Liturgical Year. Again, God sends signal graces to us so freely, that I should not be surprised that Gueranger's entry for the Third Sunday of Lent discusses the devil, his works, how to resist him, and the tendency of the foolish to doubt his existence. This entry perfectly fits with the reactions to the Burroughs prom theme post.
The entry covers fifteen or so pages, and would be far too long to post in its entirety, even if that were fair use. So, I will limit myself to just a few passages that resonate, and urge anyone who can lay their hands on this book to look up this entry in full. Dom Prosper writes:
"During Lent the Christian ought to repair the past and provide for the future; but he can neither understand how it was he fell, nor defend himself against a relapse, unless he have correct ideas as to the nature of the dangers which hitherto proved fatal, and which are again threatening him.
Assuredly we should be the blindest and most unhappy of men if, surrounded as we are by enemies who unceasingly seek to destroy us, and are so superior to us both in power and knowledge, we were seldom or never to think of the existence of these wicked spirits. And yet, such is really the case with innumerable Christians nowadays; for, truths are decayed from among the children of men. So common, indeed, is this heedlessness and forgetfulness of truth, which the holy Scriptures put before us in almost every page, that it is no rare thing to meet with persons who ridicule the idea of devils being permitted to be on this earth of ours!
One would scarcely have expected that this species of incredulity could have found its way into an age like this, when sacrilegious consultations of the devil have been, we might almost say, fashionable. Means which were used in the days of paganism have been resorted to for such consultations; and those who employed them seemed to forget, or ignore, that they were committing what God in the old Law punished with death, and what, for many centuries, was considered by all Christian nations as a capital crime.
Ever since the promulgation of the Gospel, the power of satan over the human body has been restricted by the virtue of the cross, at least in Christian countries; but this power resumes its sway as often as faith and the practice of Christian piety lose their influence. And here we have the origin of all those diabolical practices, which, under certain scientific names, are attempted first in secret, and then are countenanced by being assisted at by well-meaning Christians. Were it not that God and His Church intervene, such practices as these would subvert society.
In every part of the world, there are conversions being wrought; millions are being reconciled with God; divine mercy is lavish of pardon to all that seek it. But will all persevere?... Let us, then, be on our guard against a relapse; and in order that we may ensure our perseverance, without which it would have been to little purpose to have been for a few days in God's grace, let us watch, and pray; let us keep ourselves under arms; let us ever remember that our whole life is to be a warfare."