AINT AUGUSTINE says that our Lord Jesus Christ heals us both by what is like us and by what is unlike us. Christ is man, and so through his humanity he heals man; but Christ is God, and by his divinity, too, he heals man. Indeed, he can heal with his human touch because his human touch is that of Almighty God.
In parody of this, the devil―the “ape of God”―seeks to harm man both by like means and by unlike means.
Although the devil is pure mind, operating far above the realm of images, he leads men into the mindless activities of modern entertainment―television, video games, movies, virtual reality, where dominates the unreality of flickering images. Although silent in his intellectual evil, he leads men into ever greater noise―the din of speakers and earbuds, the satanic rock music, drowning out thought, choking noble aspirations, pushing souls ever downward into the rhythm of the concupiscible passions, chasing away the silence in which God can begin to speak. Although bodiless, he leads men into a fixation with bodies and bodiliness, such that they cannot raise their minds to spiritual things.
Speaking of likenesses, on the other hand, the devil is swift in thought and fleet in motion, and he goads modern man to become ever more seeming swift, ever more fleeting. Demonic speed translates into our mad rushing round, our minds never at rest, our desires always on the prowl, seeking what we may devour. Demonic “mastery over nature” is reflected in our technological ambitions, which are still far inferior to what the least demon has always been able to do (when permitted by Divine Providence), and yet which are approaching more and more that infernal power of distorting and maiming reality that the demons exercise in their hatred of material creation and especially of man, its pinnacle and lord. For the devil is, as St. Ignatius of Loyola reminds us, “the enemy of human nature.”
The devil is, one might say, the limit case of a mentality focused on self-will, the cult of the ego, which is the very anti-spirituality that informs modern America and the modern West. The “pro-choice” mentality echoes the demons’ choice to reject the divine means to happiness: the demons want everyone to be trapped in the same egoism as they are. Sartre and Camus are merely translating into human language the constant experience of the damned. As St. John Damascene remarked, the demons carry hell with them wherever they go. And, to paraphrase Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, hell is pushing its way into this world, as modernity welcomes the demonic into its bosom.
In contrast, the pro-life mentality echoes and imitates the good angels who chose eternal life by the power of sanctifying grace, the divinely appointed means to a supernatural end. It sees in all life an image of the Life itself, the eternal life that is properly God’s and streams forth into the joy of countless saints in glory. Let us pray that we may be always guarded and guided by the holy angels, since, as the Apostle tells us, “we are not contending with 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).