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Living in a Time of the Diabolical

To say that we are currently living in a time of the Diabolical is not an understatement.  I don’t just mean the obvious manifestations of the denizens of Hell in politics, pop culture, and sadly, even the Church … I’m talking about the essential meaning of the word “diabolical.”

The word “diaballein” is a composite.  “Ballein” means “to throw.”  The prefix “dia” means “through, across, between, or apart.”  So, the meaning of the word “diaballein” is to throw through something, or to divide it.

In one of Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s most famous talks, “The Demonic Today,” he gives a definition of the word “diabolic.”  Abp. Sheen said:

Dr. Rollo May analyzes the meaning of the word diabolic. It comes from diaballein, tearing apart, rupture, disunity, a splitting.”

So, when we speak of the diabolic, we’re talking about the separation of something that was once unified.  In the Garden of Eden, where man was in a state of grace, the serpent tempted Eve into sinning, who in turn tempted Adam, and the result was a separation.  Suddenly, Adam and Eve were torn away from their state of grace.  How do we know?  Because they suddenly saw that they were naked, and they attempted to cover themselves with leaves.  Not only did they lose their state of grace, but death then entered the world, whereby souls become separated from the body.

And since that time, the world has succumbed to a seemingly endless cycle of divisions.  Sometimes there are fewer divisions, and we enjoy a period of relative peace, and sometimes there are more divisions, and the world becomes drenched in bloody wars.

But the divisions we are experiencing today are happening so rapidly and in the least expected places, that it dizzies the mind.  Ever since a small wooden idol was ceremoniously honored in the Vatican, we have witnessed divisions throughout the world no one could have anticipated.

First, we were torn from our communities and churches as the world locked down for a biological agent that came out of a Chinese lab.  From there, we were separated between those who willingly wore masks, and those who balked at wearing masks.  And then, society started to burn as we became divided along racial lines.  After that, the divisions came in the form of those who took a needle in the arm to those who refuse to receive an experimental jab whose long-term effects remain unknown.  And most recently, with the advent of Traditionis Custodes, the Church is completely split along Traditional and Modern lines.

The diabolical nature of what we are enduring is undeniable, but what is happening is moving so quickly now that I can’t help but think of what Abp. Sheen used to say, “Things accelerate toward their end.”

As I look around and witness the rapidity at which things are moving, it really seems to me that the devil is working faster because he knows how short his time truly is. People keep telling me that we’re going to be smothered by the civil and spiritual leaders lording it over us now, and that we’re going to be in it for a long time because everything has been stacked against us.  But I don’t see it that way.  In all honesty, I think the enemy is nearing the end of his rule, but he is exhausting all his energies now to try to convince us all that we are without any hope of rescue and that we should just accept our lot and suffer.

Back in the 1990s, there was an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Cpt. Picard was kidnapped by an alien race.  The captain of the alien ship tortured Picard, trying to get him to reveal Federation secrets, and one of the forms of torture – as he tried to break down his mental fortitude – was to ask how many lights there were shining before him.  There were four.  However, this alien captain was working to convince him that there were five lights, inflicting immense pain on him whenever he gave the correct answer of four.

At the end of the episode, the alien captain receives word that the Federation has discovered that he has their captain and is enroute to intercept them.  Unable to outrun the Federation starship, the alien captain increases the torture and begins asking questions in rapid succession.  As time is running out, and the USS Enterprise is almost there, the alien captain lies to Picard, telling him that he just received word of a battle and the Enterprise is burning in space.  The alien claims that Picard will be believed killed in the battle, and therefore will remain under his custody for a very long time.

At this point, Picard, almost broken by the mental anguish of the apparent loss of hope, is offered a choice.  On the one hand, he is offered the promise of continuing to live in the misery found under this cruel captain’s sadistic captivity.  And on the other hand, he is offered a life of luxury and the freedom to pursue whatever delight he desired.  All he must do is tell the alien captain that he sees five lights, when there are really only four.  In other words, the price of escaping torture and living in comfort was to embrace the lie.

The devil is working in such a manner now, I believe.  He knows how close Our Lady’s heel is to his head.  He knows how many souls are so close to escaping his clasp.  So, he is trying to convince us that all hope is lost, and that we must either suffer and die, or embrace his lie – no matter how small – and live in comfort.

And while the devil’s work is to divide, we can all find unity under the Mantle of Our Lady.  The fury of the demon is intended to strike fear in our hearts and lead us to despair … but rescue is on the way.  Our Lady promised that Her Immaculate Heart would triumph, and it will.

Next week Sept. 29, is the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel.  It is also the first day of our novena to Our Lady of Victory, culminating on October 7.  This will be the 450th anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto and the miraculous victory obtained through the Rosary. 

Please join us in praying this novena, asking Our Lady to give us the strength to endure the deceptions of the world and the devil, and to see the Triumph of Her Immaculate Heart quickly.

You can find the text of the novena, at the link, here.

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As always, please pray for the Church, for our bishops, priests, deacons, and for Lepanto's mission as we continue to unearth the truth and "restore all things to Christ." (Col. 1:20)

Christus Vincit!

Michael Hichborn
Lepanto Insititute