Exorcists agree that the greatest threat from the devil is the evil we do not see. When evil is obvious, most will run from it. When hidden with nice sounding names like “pro-choice” or “mercy killing,” evil can delude people into doing the devil’s bidding.
The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club is trying to play it both ways by hosting a black mass but claiming it’s really just a bit of history and good-natured mocking. The black mass will be held on the Harvard campus May 12, Monday (TONIGHT), from 7-9 PM. The event will feature a performance by The Satanic Temple, religious organization whose mission is “to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people.” A black mass is an obvious evil but then the idea of promoting benevolence and empathy sounds good. But even though Mick Jagger had Sympathy for the Devil, we do best to keep our loyalties with Jesus Christ.
The Father of All Lies
Make no mistake, Satan is the father of all lies. A black mass is a sacrilegious ceremony that parodies the Catholic Mass. It invokes Satan and demons, is often in Latin, and is centered around mocking God and desecrating a consecrated host usually stolen from a Catholic Church.
This satanic ritual shows that the devil knows the value of the Eucharist and recognizes the one true Church. It is noteworthy that black masses do not parody other denominations. Just as in the New Testament when demons are about to be cast out, they know who Jesus is: “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” (Matthew 8:29). So too, the devil recognizes Jesus’s true presence in the Eucharist, which is why part of the black mass includes desecrating it.
In the smooth-tongued style of evil trying to delude, The Harvard Extension Club told CNA (Catholic News Agency) “Satanists have a ritual that they perform for their own affirmative reasons,” and added that these reasons “currently have absolutely nothing to do with Catholicism beyond the symbols themselves.” In a ploy to turn the truth upside down, the spokesperson for the club called the Catholic Church paranoid, intolerant, and ignorant to think satanic rituals are meant to degrade the Catholic Church. The club is describing the upcoming ceremony as an educational event that is part of a larger series exploring various cultural practices.
According to Campus Reform, a site for college news, Lucien Greaves, a spokesperson for The Satanic Temple said, “The black mass has become more ambiguous and convoluted as it incorporates more theories and more religious rituals over time. On the other hand, some of the elements present in the 19th century rituals are simply no longer there.” Greaves said that although his group doesn’t believe in the supernatural, the “host” they will use is not a consecrated one. “Consecrated or not, it means nothing to us,” he told Campus Reform. Greaves said they are generally more concerned with engaging in socio-political dialogue.
The Archdiocese of Boston warned that it violates Catholic teachings and could open the door to dark forces. They want Harvard to stop the event and issued this statement:
“The Catholic community in the Archdiocese of Boston expresses its deep sadness and strong opposition to the plan to stage a “black mass” on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge. For the good of the Catholic faithful and all people, the Church provides clear teaching concerning satanic worship.
This activity separates people from God and the human community, it is contrary to charity and goodness, and it places participants dangerously close to destructive works of evil.”
Tonight’s black mass is a free event but those who attend out of curiosity will likely pay dearly in other ways. It is very possible that they will not be able to free themselves from evil when they walk out the door.
Over the years, I’ve interviewed four different exorcists on possession and deliverance. One of the things exorcists are emphatic about is to stay far away from the occult. They all concur that possessions are rare, but people open themselves up to the demonic when they dabble in the occult. A black mass is the pinnacle of occult.
Msgr. Esseff of Scranton, PA, age 86, has been an exorcist in this country for over 50 years. “Possession is very rare,” Msgr. Esseff said in a previous interview. “I’ve only seen two cases. But the devil does oppress and obsess, where a person feels a force that comes against them.” He stated that people should also be aware of the consequences of their choices particularly with respect to exposure to the occult.
“Through the occult, people open a door and enter into a relationship with a fallen angel, “ Msgr. Esseff warned. He said that such a relationship is not always easy to get away from. However, prayer and staying close to the sacraments while keeping away from the occult offers protection.”
Msgr. Esseff stressed that it’s important for people not to focus too much attention on the sensational. “The ordinary activity of Satan is temptation,” he said. “That is his M.O. [modus operandi]. In the last two petitions of the Our Father, Jesus teaches us to pray, ‘lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” It refers to Satan himself and his activity.”
When evil is sensationalized Msgr. Esseff said we often miss the battle between good and evil that takes place in our own lives on a daily basis. The remedy that the Church offers, according to him, are the sacraments, blessings, devotions, prayers, and holy water. He said people need not fear evil because, “The Creator is greater than the creature; we must not forget that there is no contest. God always wins.” But neither should we put ourselves into situations where we invite evil in.
Art: Satan Before the Lord, Corrado Giaquinto, circa 1750, PD-US; Beschreibung Quelle, own work ChiemseeMan, 01/2006, PD-Worldwide; both Wikimedia Commons.