January 12, 2021 (Edward J. Barr) – A certain Catholic revealed the following story that just happened. It seemed the Devil had been spending most of 2020 in hell and hadn’t personally been visiting our world. He was dealing with the increasing number of non-believers who had been joining his ranks, so he left most of the mischief to his demons who continued to spread lies and fear through the earth. This past Sunday he received an urgent call from one of his minions who informed him that one of their prime targets wanted to meet with him. Confident that he had hell in as good a shape as possible, the Devil agreed to go meet the person.
The Devil was shocked when the location he was supposed to meet the recruit was a Catholic Church. “Oh well,” he thought. “I have followers everywhere these days, some don’t even know they are working with me.” He arrived at the church and marched quickly to the entrance. It seemed as if Mass was just about to start, though he noticed there weren’t many people inside the church. He cautiously opened the outside door and had just entered the vestibule when a man quickly approached him. “Good morning, are you new to the parish?” The Devil cringed in pain when he saw the crucifix around the priest’s neck. He recovered his composure and averted his eyes from the cross. “Yes, I have some work to do with someone and was supposed to meet them here,” he said. “Wonderful,” exclaimed the priest. “May I tell you how our parish is coping in these trying times. Come, let me show you.” Unsure as to what the priest was talking about, the Devil complied and took a few more steps into the church.
Passing the baptismal font, the Devil noticed it was empty. “No holy water!” he giggled gleefully. “Oh no,” said the priest. “We wouldn’t want to spread any germs.” “I agree,” said the Devil. “I agree 100 percent.” The Devil then noticed wooden dowels blocking every other pew. Seeing the Evil One staring, the priest interjected proudly. “Yes, we ensure that we don’t overload the Church.” Even with the blocked pews the Devil noticed there weren’t many people at Mass. “Where are the guards?” “What guards?” asked the priest. “To keep you complying with these restrictions.” “There are no guards, we are just following the government’s guidelines.” The Devil smiled. “Good, good. You should render unto Caesar.”
The priest guided the Devil further into the Church where he could – or rather, couldn’t – see the faces of the parishioners. Seeing the quizzical look on the Devil’s face the priest commented. “I know, it will be difficult to find the person you are looking for with their mask on.” “So, you mask the faces of the believers?” The priest smiled. “Of course, we believe in safety. Besides, people are so full of fear these days” “Wonderful,” said the Devil. “They should live in fear. But tell me, why are there so few people here?” The priest sighed. “Well, since there is no obligation to attend Sunday Mass.” “What!” exclaimed the Devil. “And there are no guards? Why, I remember, I mean, I heard that the Church never abandoned the Mass, no matter what happened in the world, war, plague, anything” His amazement quickly turned to satisfaction. His demons certainly had done good work in his absence from active ministry on earth.
“What does you bishop say about all this?” asked the Devil. The priest smiled. “Our bishops conference set the guidelines for our diocese. It was a hard decision for them to shut down Masses last year?” The Devil’s bloodshot eyes opened wide. “The bishops shut down Masses?” he asked. “Why yes,” said the priest. For several months.” “How did you get the sacraments to the people?” asked the Devil. “Sadly, we couldn’t.” The Devil smiled. No sacraments for months. Now he knew why so many people were joining his ranks. “Let me understand. You shut down Masses for several months, didn’t offer the sacraments, and now there still is no obligation for Catholics to attend Sunday Mass.” The priest perked up. “That’s correct. But we livestream Mass!” The Devil giggled again. Then he thought, “What does your pope say about this?” The priest smiled. “Oh, he agrees there is nothing more important than the physical safety of the people. He too was burdened when he cancelled public Easter Mass at the Vatican last year. Actually, a few people did attend. It was still very beautiful.” The Devil danced in the aisle. “Yes, physical safety is the most important thing.”
The quiet voices stopped. Mass was about to begin. The presiding priest and altar servers were moving into place. The Devil started to squirm uncomfortably as the cross bearer moved in his direction. The priest noticed his agitation and turned to him. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to take up so much of your time. You said you were searching for someone?” The Devil nodded smugly. “Yes, I thought I had some work to do, but now I see my work is done.” Then he departed.
Edward J Barr is a Catechist, an attorney, an intelligence officer, a Marine, and a university faculty member. He has a Master’s degree in theology from the Augustine Institute. Mr. Barr is a contributing writer for the Roma Locuta Est blog (www.RomaLocutaEst.com)