Friday, February 06, 2009
The Arrogance of Evil
I've been pondering this thought quite a bit of late.
We look around us, and it seems the world is falling apart. And it is. Our very country is frayed at the seams, our neighbors are suffering everywhere we look, and our government has sold us out even before the ink has a chance to touch the paper.
Those who speak for Christ in calm, quiet tones are shouted down by multitudes. People are defending outright infanticide and claim foul in the most irrational terms when someone dares to point out that an infant born alive, then killed, is, in fact, a victim of infanticide. Never mind the fact that the baby was born as a result of a chemical abortion and born alive in spite of the intent to kill the dear child in the womb. (Moloch doesn't really like to make these distinctions; it's bad PR for him.)
Desecration of the Body and Blood of our Lord abounds from all corners, and those who stand up to defend our faith are accused of being "superstitious" and, oddly, "evil," or "narrow-minded" among other obtuse things.
It would be easy to become discouraged, but to do so would be to dishonor God.
Things really aren't any worse now than they were 2,000 years ago when Christians were a regular part of the lion's diet or supplemented Nero's greyhounds.
The manifestation of evil has changed with the times, but the reality has not, and the arrogance is the same.
This morning, after Confession, I was in the chapel and took some time to look over a booklet I received this week from a religious community I'm discerning. Upon opening the cover, I found a poem by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and here is the line that brought me to my knees in gratitude:
"Do not let the consciousness of your sins hold you back,
for where they abound, grace always abounds more."
So true. Sin is everywhere. Our own, the sins of others, and we give into that darkness if we despair and become discouraged in the face of evil. We know we sin, and we know, then, we contribute to the whole around us. We give participation in evil.
And yet, we need to take courage and be comforted, because, where there is sin, there is grace...even MORE grace!
We look around our evil world, and we should take extra care to look for grace. For while evil in its arrogance is loud and offends all the senses, Grace comes quietly, a subtle, gentle infiltration, giving calm, loving directions in the face of fury.
The Martyrs understood this effect of Grace; it is what gave them courage in the face of evil.
I think back to my dabblings in the occult, and most specifically, the night of the Tarot reading that nearly had real-life consequences.
I remember facing my interlocutor, and recognizing, without a doubt, who he really was. I remember his arrogance, and in his arrogance, he didn't realize he'd lost me entirely. Grace abounded, and surrounded me, creating a buffer from the enemy's temptations.
That night, I learned several things about true, pure evil, and those are things that I've seen repeated in many ways since then. They play out differently, but follow the same pattern, and it's the same pattern we witness in Genesis.
For you see, evil does not grow; its growth is stunted. Evil cannot move on from the Fall; it is forever attached to that moment of Original Sin; Evil is like a living "Caddyshack from the Dark Side".
The Beautiful Enticements of Evil
Consider Genesis; the serpent must have been quite beautiful and pleasing to the eye. We know, indeed from scripture, that Lucifer was amazing to behold. It would make sense, then, that in the Garden of Eden, before there was sin, the beauty of creation was even more beautiful, and a serpent, having never caused harm before, would be pleasing to Eve's eye. His voice must have been quite soothing, and quite natural, in order for her to enter into conversation with this particular manifestation of evil.
Pure evil is usually quite pleasing to the eye and to the other senses. That's what opens the door. The one through which Eve entered, and then Adam. It gave the serpent the chance to offer Eve the forbidden fruit.
In Genesis, the Fall seems to happen very quickly. In our lives today, it might take a little longer for the final scene to occur. There is so much that takes place to build up to that final offering, but it's always there, in one form or another; deception can be simple or complicated, depending on the desired outcome and what is necessary to stymie the victim.
In my case, it was a friend who brought me into the Tarot readings, he was my personal serpent; what a lucky girl I was! Another warped Eve.
His enticements were attractive, but superficial. He tried to cast doubt on things I knew to be true because they had been revealed, and even though I had fallen away from the Church, I still believed them. But he was interesting, and I wanted to know more. Enticement.
In the end, he quite literally used the imagery from Genesis; he offered me the proverbial apple in the form of the last Tarot card. He couldn't turn it over; only I could. I had to choose to take that step.
Just as Eve's final step was to bite the apple, he said, I had to turn over the card to reveal everything. It's not enough to just hold the forbidden fruit, for then it can still be dashed to the ground and refused. Evil has to be SWALLOWED, it has to be taken INTERNALLY before it is "effective". In other words, it has to be consummated. Spiritual adultery.
Everything else is just a series of little things that lead up to the Big One. (Sounds a lot like venial sins that lead to mortal sin, doesn't it?)
I knew then that Free Will was an escape from the trap into which I'd so willingly walked. I looked Satan in the eye and understood that in his arrogance, he could not see that I was not hungry for what he was trying to offer. And yet, he, too, was bound by Free Will; he could not overcome this fail-safe provided by God, this fail-safe that empowers our dignity as human beings.
It was this gift, this wonderful part of my God-given humanity, this Grace that allowed me to see the Ace I held so deeply that it could never be wrenched from my hand: Free Will. God's grenade.
And in exercising this one weapon I had left, there in Satan's lair, I was freed; he was rendered powerless. Grace abounding shrivels Satan and turns him to dust.
The same pattern is something we see today. We see evil everywhere, and many speak for Evil Incarnate, some more so than others.
But they are just noise. When their voices arise, we must become more quiet in the cacophony. Not that we stop our defense, rather, that we imitate God more perfectly, that we become more conformed to Christ.
We maybe cannot fight the masses that arise like sharks with the scent of the blood of the innocents in their nostrils; but we can let Christ shine through us to those in our presence, and allow HIM to change their hearts.
We can have courage in the face of Evil, because Evil doesn't even have the ability to mature beyond original sin. Evil cannot comprehend that Christ has paid the debt and that nothing can overcome the power of the Precious Blood of Our Lord.
Today, in our country, in our world, we are being wooed by the beauty of evil. We look upon the face of evil, and many have been taken in by the shallow words and the shining countenance.
We are all like Adam and Eve in the Garden, as the story plays out yet again, this time before our very eyes. Yet we HAVE grown, we HAVE become more mature, through the Grace of Jesus Christ and His Sacrifice on our behalf. His very real Love reveals the epitome of hate that speaks pretty words of destruction, beautiful words that make the darkness seem like light.
Arrogance is Glorified Stupidity
Mark my words now...it won't be long before an "apple" is extended to one and all, and we're told that if we take a "bite", all will be well.
I don't know the form this will take, and it may take many forms, all at once.
I have seen Evil personified, and this pattern will NEVER change because it can't. It knows nothing else, even with all its mad intelligence, it can't break the cycle it began, because it cannot be redeemed.
Have no fear; the arrogance of evil is also its downfall, for it underestimates those it seeks to destroy. Read Genesis. Study the signs. Consider the patterns you've witnessed in your own life. And come back...is my experience unique, or have you see it, too? Have you seen the pattern, and have you eaten of the offered fruit? Or did God's Grace help you to turn it down?
Evil is arrogant, and arrogance is only glorified stupidity. It has no common sense, and it knows no law but the one of Free Will, and that one, it cannot violate for it is bound by this as well.
In summary, here is the lesson we need to learn: as we witness the evil around us, we need to be watchful, but still take heart. Grace abounds in these times, and it's Grace that is important, for THAT is what reveals God's plan, and His hand, His defense, and the shelter He provides for us in every single moment. Arrogance will destroy itself. Humility is what wins battles, for humility sees Truth and responds.
As Padre Pio admonished, "Pray. Hope. Don't worry."