The Sacred and the Sacrilegious: the Real Presence and a Black Mass
I was very disheartened to learn that a Satanic group has managed to get their hands on a consecrated host and planned to desecrate it during a black mass service in Oklahoma this September. Supposedly the latest news is that the Satanists have returned the Host and the Archbishop has dropped his suit:
The lawsuit was ultimately resolved this week without having to go to court, as Daniels agreed on Thursday to return the wafers in exchange for the lawsuit being dropped. But the incident is still noteworthy, as it is but the latest in a growing number of “tests” to America’s understanding of religious liberty, and questions linger about what action, if any, police would have taken had the suit been put before a judge (J. Jenkins August 24, 2014: How Satanists are Testing the Limits of Religious Freedom in Oklahoma, Think Progress).
Of course, the Black Mass is still moving forward, and who really knows if they actually returned the consecrated Host. Perhaps equally infuriating is how breathless some in the secular left have become over recent rather brazen activities of the Satanists: see here, here, and here. They see the Satanists as joining the cause of protecting the separation between Church and State.
One thing to note is that when Satanists really want to offend and commit blasphemy, the target is almost always the Catholic Church. Now there may be historical reasons that they target the Catholic Mass to blaspheme, but to those who believe that they are influenced by demonic forces, it should, perhaps ironically, stand as a witness to the sacredness of the Holy Mass.
Those who believe that Catholics are, themselves, guilty of a grave sacrilege by the sacrifice of the Mass must wonder why Satanists are drawn to make a sacrilege out of a sacrilege. One answer is that Satanists are merely interested in mocking and ridiculing that which others take to be sacred. So the issue is not whether the Mass is objectively sacred, but whether it is taken to be sacred by a significant number of people. If so, I think this would strongly count against the position that Satanists are influenced by the demonic in these matters. For, why would the demonic waste its time trying to get people to make a sacrilege out of a sacrilege?
I mentioned to my friend, Joel, that the devil would have no interest in mocking a Catholic Mass if it truly were a sacrilege, since he would be pleased by the fine job we are doing ourselves. There is no point in making a blasphemy of a blasphemy, since the devil might as well direct his Satanists to follow the Catholic faith as an effective and idolatrous way to imperil their souls. Joel made the interesting connection to Christ’s claim that a house divided cannot stand:
Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 2But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you (Mt 12:22-28 ESV).
If Satan directs people to mock that which are a sacrilege to God, then he seems to be divided against himself. So here, we find something of an argument for the Real Presence of the Eucharist, and the sacredness of the Catholic Mass. Here is my reasoning:
- If the Real Presence of the Eucharist is a false doctrine, then the Catholic Mass is a form of idolatry, sacrilege, and blaspheme (premise).
- The Catholic Mass is a form of idolatry, sacrilege, and blasphemy, and Satanists are directed by Satan to mock and blaspheme the Mass, only if Satan is divided against himself (premise).
- If Satan is divided against himself, his kingdom will not stand (premise).
- Satan’s kingdom will stand (premise).1
- Satan is not divided against himself (from 3 and 4).
- It is not both the case that the Catholic Mass is a form of idolatry, sacrilege, and blasphemy, and Satanists are directed by Satan to mock and blaspheme the Mass (from 2 and 5).
Now, given that I think that there are demonic forces in this world, I think it is reasonable that those who invoke the very name of Satan, Satanists, are influenced by him with regard to their Black Mass in its form and ritual. I think this is so, even if they explicitly claim to be atheist or reject the supernatural. One may still be influenced by the demonic even if one claims not to believe in it. So:
- Satanists are directed by Satan to mock and blaspheme the Mass (premise).
- It is not the case that the Catholic Mass is a form of idolatry, sacrilege, and blasphemy (from 6 and 7).
- The Real Presence of the Eucharist is a true doctrine (from 1 and 8).
I pray that this group repents and finds more productive ways to fight for religious freedom and tolerance in this country. I hope they find their way back to God.
[Update 9/7/2014]: Eye of the Tiber, a satirical site, makes an insightful point that relates to my reflection. We just don’t see Satanists mocking denominations that take the Eucharistic meal to be a symbolic ordinance.
1Satan is said to have dominion over the Earth for the time being. His kingdom, though evil, is clearly not divided against itself, if Christ’s enthymeme has any merit.