Monday, December 21, 2009

Praying for the Devil?

A friend recently asked me if it was appropriate to pray for the devil. When I first read it (in the text message) I thought that there would be an easy answer that would fit in 160 characters, but as I pondered my response I realized I couldn't provide a sure answer of yes or no with a brief reason why. I spent some time thinking on the topic (although honestly not too much because I received the question in the middle of a serious college basketball watching session) and still don't have an answer that I am sure about. My thoughts on the topic are as follows:
[please note that my thoughts on this topic are exactly that; thoughts and nothing else. I speak with no authority and very little scholarship on the matter. This is just me thinking through the topic.]

At first is seems like a charitable thing to do. After all, most Christians would say that it is reasonable to pray for those who have done or are doing something wrong. However, to pray means to ask, and if one were to pray for the Devil that implies that one would be asking something of God, some favor to do with the Devil. (For example, I might ask God to help person A with some struggle, to change something about their life. The devil in this context is person A). If I were to pray for Satan, what favor would I ask of God toward him? That he be forgiven? That he turn from his evil ways?

To be able to answer the question, it is important to address the possibility of the devil's repentance or forgiveness. Can he repent? Would he?

Repentance implies a change over time which I'm not sure applies to Satan. Because he is a spirit(non-tangible) being like God and the rest of his angels, there is no passage of time. (this is different from time passing forever. In this sense there is no time to pass. Everything is one existing instant) If he were repentant he would be eternally repentant which means we wouldn't ever have experienced this mess of sin. Following this, the question of will he repent doesn't even makes sense, so praying for something that can never be seems foolish. There is however more to consider.

Would he repent if it were possible? One thing to establish first is whether God would forgive him. Yes. God in His infinite mercy would forgive Satan, but I feel that Satan in his infinite stubbornness and rebellion would never repent. (His rebellion is infinite because someone with such perfect union with God as Satan would have had as a condition of being one of God's angels would have had perfect knowledge of the situation and therefore could not be said to have acted unwisely out of ignorance. Since he had no ignorance in the consideration of his decision then he can have no less than complete and infinite commitment to his desire to be better than God.)

We, as mortal, time constrained beings pray for things because we have hope that things might be different. In this situation however, because there is no "future" to be different, there can be no hope in a different future.

In conclusion, although it seems harsh and unforgiving to not pray for Satan since Christianity insists that we do such charitable things, I feel that this is a special case in which it is not warranted.

This is by no means a proof against praying for Satan. I might be wrong.

Also, I think that if someone felt the other way and chose to do so, even if it turned out that I am correct, God would consider their charity a merit and not hold it against them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


So there I was, walking through HES building on my way to meet someone for lunch at WestSide. The person behind me when I was coming up the stairs was asking their friend about a certain TV show and when it would be on. Upon hearing the time and realizing that it conflicted with something already on their schedule the replied with, "Well crap, fml..."

Now I understand that fml has a certain social meaning that is less dramatic than the word indicate, but it got me thinking. Some people, in fact most people, when they complain about things use hyperbole to make them sound worse than they really are to make conversation more interesting. This I am fine with. It's fun (and often funny) and we all do it, but most of us also speak this way with a grain of salt in our attitude. We know, and expect others to know, that we are in fact exaggerating and we don't actually think that having to miss the newest episode of our favorite show because of a project is the end of the world.

Notice however the distinction between all of us exaggerate and most of us speak with a grain of salt. What I mean is that there are some people who really feel that missing the newest episode is the end of the world. Their greatest concerns really are limited to trite social matters and simple opinions.

I understand that there have always been these people and there will always be this people, but I feel that there is beginning to be an increase in the percentage of the population consisting of these people. It's like there's an increasingly large generation of children that just became adults on accident. Somehow our society thinks this is okay.

What's scary is that these people are allowed/expected to make big decisions sometimes, decisions that affect the rest of their life and the lives of others.

Perhaps it's because of the way I grew up or the friends that I keep, but I think we, as good people and responsible citizens, ought to have a greater (on average) concern for the important things in the world around us. The things that actually matter, that really make a difference.

Basically this is a long-winded way to say that I think people ought to intentionally be concerned about things that are actually important and that I fear (and fear for) those who have no mental aspirations higher than what's on TV.

So don't be one of those people. Care about something, many things, outside of your own personal entertainment and comfort, beyond yourself. please


Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Late Tuesday night I was studying in the library at St. Johns here in Stillwater. Beth comes in telling me she has something to show me. She takes me to the chapel and shows me that someone has placed a black, glossy note card in the hand of the crucifix at the front of the church above the Tabernacle.

I get a chair and broom handle and remove the card. The card simply says "QUESTIONS? visit:" As you may have guessed, it is a site for a christian group with aggressive theology. The site has lots of fancy graphics that indicate repeatedly that anyone baptized in any way other than the formula they believe in (or not at all) is going to burn in hell.

The location of the crucifix in the church would make it impossible for someone to put the card where they did without some help. In the chapel, there is no mobile piece of furniture large enough to stand on to reach the height of Jesus' hand where He is on the cross. Their only means then of placing the card would have been to stand on the Tabernacle which is at the foot of the crucifix.

The Tabernacle is where, in a Catholic Church, the consecrated Body of Christ is kept secure. This place is very sacred, similar (although not identical) to the Holy of Holies where, for the Jews, God was present in the Temple at Jerusalem. It would follow then, that to use a Tabernacle as a ladder, for any reason, (I feel) is a terribly disrespectful thing.

Do not suppose that this is written because I disagree with the specific theology promoted by this group. Arguing their theology is not my intention. It is their method that bothers me. They were so zealous in spreading their message that they neglected to consider what they were doing. They came in the middle of the night when no one was around, when no one would ask them questions or see their deeds. I might not agree with the all teachings of Countryside Baptist Church, but I don't go into their sanctuary in the middle of the night and leave fliers. I talk to people face to face and take responsibility for what I believe.

Now, I've already spoken to the original distributor of these fliers in Stillwater, and he assured me that he does not condone the kinds of things to which I am referring. However, I shared with him that I felt like he was still partly responsible since it was the extreme message presented by the website that motivated someone to do this, that he had not chosen wisely in his church's chosen method of evangelization. 20,000 fliers given out to a campus with barely as many people with no way of directing their use is irresponsible. I am reminded of times in the New Testament when Paul has to write to various churches to reprimand them for the ways they are spreading Jesus' name. (It is not my intention to compare myself to Paul.)

Evangelization is something I like to do, and so I have a certain respect for those passionate enough to engage in it, however I must insist that there be a level of accountability and respect shown to different beliefs. If we have any hope of ever being unified in Christ, there can be no place for those that pursue their ends in a disrespectful manner.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I thought I would start blogging regularly after that "penance" one, but I realized I can't do so responsibly. I think I was really only doing it to draw attention to myself and not because I genuinely wanted to help people with the things I had to say. Therefore, until I find some humility I won't write anymore on here. (I know my thousands of loyal readers will be disappointed...)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In the Beginning

...I didn't know what I was doing.

Blogging is new to me, so please forgive me if I mess up. (constructive criticism is encouraged)

The title of this blog is "The Intentional Catholic" because it is something I am trying to be(as opposed to accidental). My faith is important to me and I tend to see the world throught the window of Catholicism. (maybe a stained glass window depicting some biblical scene...) The following entries will be an exploration of my thoughts experienced through this window.

Not all posts will be directly about Catholicism(although many likely will), but it will be a common background from which I will likely compare and contrast things that catch my attention(whether for good or bad).

Thoughts on Penance

There is a song by a Christian musician named KJ-52 called "I'm Guilty". In the course of the song he pleads guilty to the murder of the Son of God, reminding the listener of one of the foundational beliefs of Christianity, that it is our sins that necessitated Jesus dying on the cross. In the outro of the song there is a voice-over intended to be a judge closing the case. The track concludes as follows :

Judge: KJ-52 verses the Son of God in murder one.
The court has found you guilty as charged.
However, after further review of the case,
The prosecution has dropped the charges.
You're free to go.

The implication is that since Jesus died for our sins, the price has been paid and it is not necessary that KJ-52 be punished for the things that he has done. I would agree.

If this song were concluded from a Catholic viewpoint it might end like this:

Judge: KJ-52 verses the Son of God in murder one.
The court has found you guilty as charged.
However, after further review of the case,
The prosecution has dropped the charges.
You're free to go.

Accused(now forgiven): I appreciate your mercy in dropping the charges against me Lord, but in the interst of reminding myself of the harm and suffering that my sin has caused I would like to volunteer for community service. I know that my sins have been forgiven already, but if it would be possible I would like to partake in your suffering. Even though mine could never come close to yours, I'm supposed to seek to imitate you in all things, and we'll, since you suffered
voluntarily I'd like to volunteer also.

End Story

Like any analogy this one is not perfect and does not attempt to cover all the intricacies of penance, but it does illustrate the mindset associated with it's practice.

This kind of understanding is also necessary when considering the place that our actions have in relation to our faith. Note that it is not the action of doing penance that has to do with forgiveness of our sins and therefore salvation. The forgiveness happens beforehand, but the penance brings us closer to Christ by imitating Him. And through that closeness, because the closer we are to God to further away sin will be driven; we are aided in sinning less. It is not our actions that save us yet our actions are still important in our salvation.