Today my beloved parish priest who is fairly orthodox excepting occasional slips into Liberalism. As someone who hasn't given anything remotely resembling the dedication and service he has given to our Church, I want to clarify that I'm not attacking him or his ministry, just the idea he deseminated from the pulpit.
The reading for today was Matthew 4, the Temptation of Christ by Satan. He called this episode folklore that probably resulted from Jesus hallucinating in the desert conditions but that it might have been an inward spiritual experience.
I think this line of argument is dangerous as Satan is a key player in the story of Humanity. Lest we forget, I'll just repeat some of his big moments in the annals of time:
-Primary rebel to God's reign
-author of Sin/innovater of finite good (evil) over infinite good
-chief tempter of humanity which led to our entire fall as a race
-destroyer of Job's life
-ruiner of souls
-tempter of Christ
-accuser of the saints (all Christians)
-prince of this world/this present darkness
C.S. Lewis reminds us that there is an immense danger in acting as if he and his angels (demons) aren't real. And "The Usual Suspects" (good film) reminds us that "the best lie the devil ever told was that he didn't exist".
If we fail to understand the spiritual battle around us, we will be at a loss. Christ died to destroy the works of the devil, and ransom our souls. If that whole story was folklore, someone could've saved Jesus alot of pain and told him to grow up and read Voltaire.
As Catholics we used to have a prayer at the end of our Mass, a prayer that reminded us of all these 'medieval' (*read: biblical) things we believed. I pray that Papa Benny will bring it back.
"Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Even if the prayer isn't re-instated liturgically, I'm glad when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, that Pope Benedict XVI has reminded us of the reality of the Devil and evil in the Ratzinger Report, and pointed out that Vatican II frequently mentions the Evil one.
On a lighter note, the new movie Richard Gere and Ethan Hawke movie preview features the St. Michael's prayer prominently, so as the Boondock Saints taught a generation the Signum Crucis, hopefully this will teach others the St. Michael Prayer