'Something Wicked This Way Comes'

There are times when, even as a writer, I have no words.

I was left speechless by Amanda Marcotte's May 4 blog post at Slate titled, "Satanists Claim Abortion Waiting Periods Violate Their Religious Beliefs."

Now, that statement on its own should come as no surprise to anyone, really. The murder of children in service to the demonic is at least as old as the worship of the Carthaginians, described so well by G.K. Chesterton in The Everlasting Man:

... I have hinted at something of the psychology that lies behind a certain type of religion. There was a tendency in those hungry for practical results ... to call upon spirits of terror and compulsion ... . There is always a sort of dim idea that these darker powers will really do things, with no nonsense about it.

In the interior psychology of the Punic peoples this strange sort of pessimistic practicality had grown to great proportions. In the New Town, which the Romans called Carthage, as in the parent cities of Phoenicia, the god who got things done bore the name of Moloch, who was perhaps identical with the other deity whom we know as Baal, the Lord.

The Romans did not at first quite know what to call him or what to make of him; they had to go back to the grossest myth of Greek or Roman origins and compare him to Saturn devouring his children. But the worshippers of Moloch were not gross or primitive. They were members of a mature and polished civilization, abounding in refinements and luxuries; they were probably far more civilized than the Romans. And Moloch was not a myth; or at any rate his meal was not a myth.

These highly civilized people really met together to invoke the blessing of heaven on their empire by throwing hundreds of their infants into a large furnace. We can only realize the combination by imagining a number of Manchester merchants with chimney-pot hats and mutton-chop whiskers, going to church every Sunday at eleven o'clock to see a baby roasted alive ...

Yes, people have embraced infanticide or its close cousin, abortion, described by St. Faustina as "the most grievous crime of all," as a tool to get what they want for generations untold. Abortion isn't a modern invention at all. But we don't often think of it as child sacrifice, do we? On some level, that's exactly what it is. In order to obtain that college degree, that high-paying job, that comfortable lifestyle, we make sacrifices. We give something up. In the case of abortion, that which is sacrificed is a child.

We almost never put it that way, however. We almost never call abortion a "sacrifice" in the religious sense. But some people do, and their ritual, religious sacrifices of the unborn continue even today.

And that connection between abortion and the devil has made itself manifest in unexpected ways in recent years. During the lengthy and vehement debates in the Texas State Capitol building during the summer of 2013 about minimum standards for abortion clinics, pro-choice protesters responded to demonstrating pro-lifers with a chant of their own: "Hail, Satan."

So the title of Marcotte's piece comes as no surprise. No - what's odd is the tone she takes throughout. She treats the Satanists as pranksters, as people manipulating the law by claiming to serve the devil and demanding their religious beliefs be treated just like any other. Surely, she seems to imply, no serious people can actually believe in the devil, let alone choose to worship him. No - assuredly, these are rather daring comedians, practical jokers, who don't really believe in anyone or anything. They're merely out to make a point.

And she likes the point they're making. She likes that they're supporting a woman's right to free access to abortion on demand. So she celebrates them, saying, "[A]s a public act of trolling, this stunt gets an A-plus. ... Being denied medical care is actual religious oppression. Letting someone access her own medical care is not."

Once upon a time, the association of abortion and Satanism would have been derided as conservative Christian paranoia, an abhorrent attempt to scapegoat women making an impossible decision. But now, here we are, face to face with - what, exactly? A pro-choice woman embracing the connection? Laughing approvingly at people making the connection, without any sense that Satanism isn't something with which she'd really want abortion rights connected?

Recently, Satanism has been emerging gradually from the shadows, taking on a public presence in ways that are increasingly bizarre for their ordinariness. There was the attempt to hold a public black mass at Harvard in 2014. The organization behind the attempted black mass at Harvard have a PR department that issues press releases and takes media inquiries. Nothing to see here-just another cultural expression from a previously oppressed minority religious group, being invited to present itself at Harvard! Oh, and they intended to use a consecrated Host during their ceremonies. Nothing to see here! Another public black mass was offered in Oklahoma City a few months later at the local civic center.

Satanism has been rearing its head in more traditional, less public, ways, as well.

Reports come in around the world of tabernacles stolen from churches or desecrations occurring in Catholic Churches by vandals and thieves. In 2012, for instance, the Most Rev. Salvatore Di Cristina, archbishop of Monreale in Italy, ordered the Eucharist removed from all tabernacles within the archdiocese as a result of repeated thefts and acts of desecration. The diocese of Bellay-Ars in France in 2015 ordered the Eucharist to be removed from the tabernacles within its borders and hidden in a more secure location, due to thefts and desecration occurring at ten churches within its boundaries.

Due to a severe rise in the demand for exorcisms, the Vatican has been offering a special class at the Gregorian University in Rome since 2005 to train exorcists. One famous graduate of the program is Fr. Gary Thomas, whose experience was the basis of journalist Matt Baglio's book The Rite, which in turn led to a movie of the same name. Part of the rise in the demand stems from the dramatic increase in the presence and activity of satanic cults, according to sources interviewed by Baglio.

In short, to quote Shakespeare's Macbeth, "By the pricking of my thumbs,/ Something wicked this way comes."

So what are we to do?

Our present Holy Father has shown us the way forward in his consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, of Vatican City to St. Michael and St. Joseph, and his example of Marian devotion and forthright spiritual teaching at daily Mass. The papal bull Misericordiae Vultus calls the whole world to repent and seek the Lord's justice and mercy, especially those involved in criminal or corrupt organizations. That certainly sounds like it should include Satanists and those engaged in profiting off of abortion! We are to proclaim the Lord's mercy in the upcoming extraordinary Jubilee Year, especially to those people like Satanists and abortionists, who may believe that there is no mercy for them. But there is! God's mercy endures forever (see Ps 136). As Jesus said to St. Faustina, "The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to my Mercy" (Diary, 723).

The Mother of Mercy Messengers' Divine Mercy for America Action Plan is extraordinarily well-suited to answering the rising tide of darkness confronting our country and the world. The program of Marian consecration and personal formation offered by the Hearts Afire: Parish-based Programs also offers us a way to place ourselves firmly under the mantle of the Blessed Mother, immerse ourselves in the graces available through Divine Mercy and the Sacred Heart, and set out to help bring the world into communion with God through the works of mercy, done while living a life immersed in prayer and the sacraments.

We have been given everything we need to respond to the darkness of the present age. Let us listen to St. John Paul II, the Great Mercy Pope: Let us be not afraid, and put out into the deep.

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