Paul VI on Satan
A fragment of the speech given by pope Paul VI at the general audience on 15 November 1972:
That fall of Adam gave the Devil a certain dominion over man, from which only Christ’s Redemption can free us. It is a history that is still going on: let us recall the exorcisms at Baptism, and the frequent references in Sacred Scripture and in the liturgy to the aggressive and oppressive “power of darkness” (Luc. 22, 53; Col. 1, 13).
This matter of the Devil and of the influence he can exert on individuals as well as on communities, entire societies or events, is a very important chapter of Catholic doctrine which should be studied again, although it is given little attention today. Some think a sufficient compensation can be found in psychoanalytic and psychiatric studies or in spiritualistic experiences, which are unfortunately so widespread in some countries today. People are afraid of falling back into old Manichean theories, or into frightening deviations of fancy and superstition. Nowadays they prefer to appear strong and unprejudiced to pose as positivists, while at the same time lending faith to many unfounded magical or popular superstitions or, worse still, exposing their souls – their baptized souls, visited so often by the Eucharistic Presence and inhabited by the Holy Spirit! – to licentious sensual experiences and to harmful drugs, as well as to the ideological seductions of fashionable errors. These are cracks through which the Evil One can easily penetrate and change the human mind.
We can presume that his sinister action is at work where the denial of God becomes radical, subtle and absurd; where lies become powerful and hypocritical in the face of evident truth; where love is smothered by cold, cruel selfishness; where Christ’s name is attacked with conscious, rebellious hatred (1 Cor. 16, 22; 12, 3), where the spirit of the Gospel is watered down and rejected where despair is affirmed as the last word; and so forth.
We could say: everything that defends us from sin strengthens us by that very fact against the invisible enemy. Grace is the decisive defense. Innocence takes on the aspect of strength. Everyone recalls how often the apostolic method of teaching used the armor of a soldier as a symbol for the virtues that can make a Christian invulnerable (Rom. 13, 1 2 ; Eph. 6, 11, 14, 17; 1 Thess. 5; 8). The Christian must be a militant; he must be vigilant and strong (1 Petr. 5, 8); and he must at times make use of special ascetical practices to escape from certain diabolical attacks.