The Prince of Darkness: Satan Hides Himself
Unlike man, Satan does not love the stage. He does not avoid it for the sake of humility, because his great pride would never allow him to operate on that basis. He does it for usefulness, because hiding himself is useful to his purpose, that of enticing souls in order to capture them. Have you ever seen hunters showing themselves openly in front of their game? If they were to do this, their hunting bags would remain empty. They set themselves in hidden places and patiently wait for the unaware prey to draw closer. When they are certain that their prey cannot escape, they come out from hiding and deal their blow.
Satan is a hunter of souls and hides himself from professional cleverness. The ideal environment in which he can move around as much as he likes is that in which his existence is ignored or even denied. Do not think that he is offended if you neglect him. To the contrary, as Baudelaire accurately observed, Satan tries to convince the world that he does not exist. It does not bother him if he is underestimated. Being considered a “poor devil” does not put him in a bad mood. The essential thing for him is that the prey will fall into his traps, and then he does with them what he wants.
The evil one finds himself particularly at ease in today’s world. In a cultural climate which excludes the supernatural, he acts without being noticed. In a context of life in which God and His moral law are denied, Satan moves like a fish in water. Souls without light and deprived of the weapons of the holy battle are doomed. Seducing them with material goods and then chaining them up with sin is the simplest of enterprises for him. Who would not take by storm an army which has disposed of its weapons and has become lazy in idleness, in the deceptive conviction that the enemy is far away or does not even exist? The world has never been in danger as it is today, because the enemy of man is able to act undisturbed, where and how he wants, with no one to give a warning about his presence.
Scripture calls Satan the “ancient serpent” (Rev. 12:9). We do not know with certainty why the book of Genesis chose this image to represent the tempter. His discreet and silent tactic is nevertheless well represented by the movements of a serpent, which hides and camouflages itself, slipping into the smallest cracks. He does not need large passageways to penetrate the fortress of your heart. He does not care for assaults which are announced by the sound of a trumpet. He studies you in silence, without your being aware. His acute eye also sees the smallest holes to pass through. He waits for you to sleep, and then he slowly creeps in. When you are finally aware of his presence, it is already too late to escape from his venomous bite.
The reign of the evil one is presented by the Word of God as the reign of darkness. Satan loves darkness because he is able to hide himself in it. His ability consists in turning off the true lights which God has turned on in the world—the light of truth, the light of conscience, and the light of sanctity. As long as such lights are turned on and their flames burn brightly and vigorously, it is easier, even for foolish men, to notice Satan’s traps. But if Satan succeeds in turning the true lights off, one after the other, and the power of darkness encompasses all things, woe to souls, because the dark one will be able to attack them as much as he wishes, without their being able to defend themselves.
The followers of the evil one are like him. They are ambiguous and hide themselves under false looks. They love to act in a hidden way, without your being aware. They hide well their thoughts, their feelings, and their works. Slowly they creep into your life without being noticed. You remain perplexed and wonder more often who they are. Remember, dear friend, that people who belong to God are always limpid and clear in their thoughts, in their words, and in their works. They act in truth and in light, while the sons of the evil one move about in darkness, faint light, and ambiguity. When you least expect it, you feel the sharp pain of their venomous bite.
This article is adapted from a chapter in The Deceiver by Fr. Livio Fanzaga which is available from Sophia Institute Press.
Art for this post: Cover and featured image used with permission.