ATELY, the quote of Pope Bl. Paul VI, “The smoke of Satan has entered the Church” keep popping into my head as the dispute over the Vatican-Communist China relationship continues to develop. The details of the “agreement” has never been fully revealed by the officials. However, based on what we know, I think the faith and salvation of many Chinese people, not just the ones in Mainland China, but also those who are living in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, are at risk. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the Church to make the right decision and that God’s will be done.
In the meantime, I have been reflecting on “the smoke of Satan” that appears in different aspects of life, including within our liturgical life. What I am about to write might seemed very radical, but I think it is worth contemplating on personally. I am not trying to condemn anyone, but to simply reflect on the way (attitude) of our participation in the liturgy.
Bl. Paul VI was referring to the state of the Church and the confusion after the Council when he spoke of “the smoke of Satan” in 1972. Similarly, I found “the smoke” in some of the post-Vatican II liturgical practices. These practices are not necessarily products of the Council, but rather practices that people invented after the Council. For example, there are people who advocate and insist that there is no need to kneel for our Lord, whether it’s during the consecration, when we receive the precious Body and Blood of Christ, or when we pass in front of the tabernacle. Isn’t that what Satan and the fallen angels did: refuse to bow down in front of our God? Do you think that the versus populum orientation might more likely to create temptations for the priests to turn the Mass into a “self-centered show”?
Obviously, “the smoke” can also appear in other forms of temptations like the collecting of vestments or vessels for personal glory; or when we sing and play music at Mass for our own glory or pleasure. By the way, I totally agree with what Fr. Rutler said in the recent interview regarding to rock music, and I think it should never be brought into the liturgy. Basically, whenever we are not praying and are being self-centered during the Mass, “the smoke of Satan” enters the liturgy. So, let us be aware of this “smoke”, especially when we are serving in the liturgy. Let God be the center, and let Him be glorified.
Tu es Petrus by Robert Pearsall
You are Peter,
And upon this Rock I will build My Church:
and the gates of hell shall not overcome it.
And I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
HE SUCCESSORS OF ST. PETER have reminded over and over again about the importance of prayers in spiritual battles. Pope St. John Paul II said in his Regina Caeli address on April 24, 1994:
“May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle that the Letter to the Ephesians speaks of: ‘Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might’ (Ephesians 6:10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle, recalling before our eyes the image of St Michael the Archangel (cf. Revelation 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had this picture in mind when, at the end of the last century (19th cent.), he brought in, throughout the Church, a special prayer to St Michael: ‘Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil…’ Although this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.”
On this Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, let us continue to pray for the Supreme Pontiff and the unity of the Church. Let us especially remember the faithful in China, especially those who are under persecution and are feeling abandoned.
Happy Feast Day!