An Autumnal Fascination with Satan
’Tis the season for cardigans and jack-o-lanterns, orange leaves and autumnal foods. As we enjoy cool weather and pumpkin spice lattes, we are reminded why fall is objectively the best season of the year. But this season also has a spookier side that begins to appear as we approach the cultural feast day of Halloween. While leaves are falling, imitation webbing is going up. As we put on sweaters, we put out skeletons. Ghosts are appearing and spiders are crawling.
While many celebrations at this time of year are innocent in themselves, Halloween is a time when a more sinister obsession comes to the fore: the devil. Modern man is fascinated with Satan and his demons, so much so that, whether he believes in the devil’s existence or not, he will consider wearing a demon costume to a party or watching a horror movie about demonic possession. As Catholics, we rightly respond to this obsession with an emphasis on spiritual warfare and the importance of sacramentals and the Prayer to Saint Michael. The devil is real and not to be messed with.
But what if the real horror of the season is that this obsession with Satan is only a distraction? What if other enemies of evil are lurking in the shadows or even—unbeknownst to us—already have us in their clutches?
As it turns out, the devil is only one of the foes we face as Christians. In the shadows of society and the corners of our hearts you’ll find the other two: the world and the flesh.
The world draws us in by tempting us to accept its own values as the meaning of our lives—that we are meant merely to make a lot of money, find fulfillment in human love, and follow the passing fads of our day. “Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God?” asks Saint James. “Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (Jas 4:4).
The flesh allures us into using our bodies and passions as the sources of our happiness. When we are obsessed with food, drink, and sex or are driven by our passions and desires, we have been overcome and conquered by our own flesh. Saint Paul exhorts us to put this enemy to death: “Now those who belong to Christ have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal 5:24).
In this cozy and creepy season, our spiritual battles are not against Satan alone. While society is fixated on the devil, the real horror is that it seems not to notice that it is already in the clutches of two other foes. Satan is only one-third of our battle. We must contend with the world and the flesh, as well.
Photo by Johannes Plenio
Originally posted on Dominicana Journal