When Catholicism gets weird

– Thursday of the Third Week of Lent –

Jesus was casting out a devil and it was dumb; but when the devil had gone out the dumb man spoke, and the people were amazed. But some of them said, ‘It is through Beelzebul, the prince of devils, that he casts out devils.’ Others asked him, as a test, for a sign from heaven; but, knowing what they were thinking, he said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is heading for ruin, and a household divided against itself collapses. [Luke 11:14 – 23]

Today’s gospel is loaded with some of the weirdest aspects of our tradition. References to devils, Beelzebul and casting out spirits do not sit comfortably with the modern mind. Nonetheless, we live in a spiritual world, and there is more going on around us than meets the eye.

C.S. Lewis addressed this aspect of the Christian tradition when he wrote, “there are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.”

In light of Lewis’ advice, we must be aware of the demonic but also aware that there is no cause for anxiety or fear. John reminds us that “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Moreover, the sacramental life has real power. We’re baptised into Christ’s death and resurrection, we’re empowered to share the gospel through the sacrament of confirmation, and we’re given strength for the journey in the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of the Christian life.


The moments in which we are most vulnerable and susceptible to the demonic are when we actively choose to act against the will of God. We are vulnerable because when we do this, we’re doing what the devil wants. Even if we’re not ‘inspired by the devil’, we’re doing his will whenever we sin. This is why the grace of reconciliation is so powerful. In it, we are reconciled to God and protected from the evil one. We are only vulnerable until we confess, then we are forgiven and set free.


by Dcn Peter Pellicaan

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