July 19, 2018 (Edward J. Barr – Guest Contributor) – Horrific shrieks exploded from the far back corner of the packed room. Shrill, piercing utterances were interspersed with guttural emanations in the local language, or perhaps a language of another realm. The shouts began when the priest’s prayer of deliverance sought to banish a particular sin of the demons who were manifest in the young girls. “Banish from this room all spells, witchcraft, black magic, maleficence, maledictions, and the evil eye; diabolic infestations, oppressions, possessions; all that is evil and sinful, jealously, perfidy, envy; physical, psychological, moral, spiritual, diabolical aliments…”
Welcome to a healing retreat with Father Zlatco Sudac, a Catholic priest from the Croatian diocese of Krk. Father Sudac is known mostly due to the Stigmata he bears in the form of a cross on his forehead, and for possessing many gifts of the Holy Spirit. Yet his message is a simple one; that love has to be the foundation of everything that we do, and that we should be open to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He pulls no punches in delivering this message, which is firmly grounded in scripture and Apostolic tradition. This means he speaks of Satan and evil, subjects that the modern world has forgotten or outright rejected.
The elimination of Satan and his demons from polite conversation began centuries ago. The skepticism that resulted in the Protestant Reformation set the stage for the Enlightenment, with the resulting philosophy focusing exclusively on the material world. While the Protestant reformers eliminated the reality of the material component of man, the enlightenment philosophers eliminated the spiritual component of man. The result was the beginning of the skepticism of the reality of evil. The enlightenment philosophers refuted the reality of evil since it could not be confirmed by scientific experiment, while Protestants questioned the reality of evil as explained by the Catholic church. When you ignore either component of man, who is both a spiritual and bodily creature, you open up yourselves to Satan and his lies.
Today there are some self-identifying Christian churches that deny the reality of Satan and even hell. Yet, just as sola scriptura (scripture alone) itself, this is an un-biblical position to hold. There are at least 23 verses specifically referring to Satan in the Bible. In responding to the Jews who did not believe in Him, Jesus said, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:4
The lies of the Devil are persuasive in our culture today. The world is in the stage of moving from a modernist worldview that believes only in that which can be proven scientifically, to a post-modernist worldview that questions reality itself. While the modernist worldview eliminates the spiritual reality of man, the postmodernist worldview eliminates both the spiritual and material reality of man. Even those that claim to believe in God have been influenced by both of these movements. This religious philosophy has been termed moralistic therapeutic Deism, which basically says there is a God, you can give him a call whenever you need him, but he won’t bug you otherwise, that he wants you to be nice, and everyone goes to heaven.
Which brings us back to Father Sudac. While many in the church, to include bishops and cardinals, have “made peace” with moral relativism and embraced the narcissistic individualism of the day, Father Sudac holds fast to the timeless realities taught by Christ and His church. The Catechism of the Catholic church, in speaking about the devil, says that “Scripture and the Church’s Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called “Satan” or the “devil.” The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: “The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing. (CCC 391)
Satan and demons exist! It is understandable that most people in our culture cannot easily accept this fact. They have been fooled by the twin demons of modernism and postmodernism that the spiritual world does not exist. Father Sudac provides a potent antidote to this falsity. In his discussions and homilies, he preaches the necessity of staying close to the cross of Christ. Satan and the demons are created creatures, and by faithful adherence to His church we as members of the mystical body of Christ can be confident in our spiritual safety. Despite the seriousness of his ministry, Father Sudac is a man overflowing with joy. He exudes a love and warmth as powerful as his prayer of deliverance.
We all prayed for the deliverance of our sisters in the back of the room every day of the retreat. The power of the Holy Spirit poured out upon the congregation and at times you could actually feel His presence. At the beginning of the weekend many may have been praying for their personal protection, yet at the end we were all united in praying for the deliverance from evil of our fellow members of the body of Christ.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Rom. 8:38-39
Edward J Barr is a Catechist, an attorney, a Marine, an intelligence officer, and a university faculty member. He is a guest contributor to Roma Locuta Est.