Msgr. What Are Three Characteristics of Diabolical Influence?

How Are They Manifest In Our Modern World?

Archdiocese of Washington The Light Is – Msgr. Charles Pope

Edited for length.

They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voie, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him.. (Luke 8: 26-30)

Msgr. Charles Pope

You will then recall how Jesus drove the demon(s) out and into the herd of swine.

Bishop Fulton Sheen states that the following 3 characteristics are sure fire ways to determine diabolical activity.

  1. Love of Nudity – For the text says: For a long time this man had not worn clothes.
  2. Violence – For the text says: though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains. Mark 5:4 more vividly adds: For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him.
  3. Division (Split Personality and divided from others) – for the text says, many demons had gone into him. Mark’s version has the demoniac reply My name is Legion, for we are many. (Mk 5:9). Further all the texts say the demoniac lived apart from others, in solitary places.

So here are three characteristics of the diabolic.

It does not take much analysis to see how these three characteristics of the diabolic are alive and flourishing in the modern world, at least the Western branch of it. Let’s consider them

1. Love of Nudity – This is clearly manifest at several levels. First there is the widespread tendency of immodest dress. We have discussed modesty here before and ought to note that modesty comes from the word “mode” referring to the middle or to moderation. Hence, while we want to avoid oppressively puritanical notions about dress that impose heavy burdens (especially on women) and regard the body as somewhat evil, we must also critique many modern forms of dress at the other extreme. These “fashions” reveal more than is reasonable and generally have, as their intent to draw attention to aspects of the body that are private and reserved for sexual union in marriage. Too many in our culture see little problem parading about in various stages of undress, wearing clothing that are more intended to disclose and call attention to, than to conceal the private areas of the body. This love of disclosure and titillation is surely an aspect of the Evil One’s love of nudity, and he has surely spread his obsession to many in the modern West.

Pornography, though nothing new in this fallen world, has surely reached epidemic proportions via the Internet. Any psychotherapist, counselor or priest will tell you that addiction to pornography is a huge problem among people today. Pornographic sites on the Internet outpace all others tenfold. Multimillion Americans are viewing enormous amounts of pornography and the “industry” is growing exponentially. What was once hidden away in adult bookstores is now one click away on the Internet. And the thought that browsing habits are easily discoverable matters little to the addicts of this latest form of slavery. Many are on a steep slope downward into ever more deviant forms of porn. Many end up at illegal sites before they even know what has happened to them, and the FBI is knoocking on their door. Satan’s love of nudity has possessed many!

The overall sexualization of culture also ties in to Satan’s love of nudity. We sexualize women to sell products. We even sexualize children. Our sitcoms chatter endlessly about sex in a very teenage and immature sort of way. We are, collectively, goofy and immature about sex, and our culture giggles like horny teenagers obsessed with something we don’t really understand. Yes, Satan loves nudity, and everything that goes with it.

2. Violence – We have discussed here before how we, collectively, have turned violence into a form of entertainment. Our adventure movies and video games turn violent retribution into gleeful entertainment and death into a “solution.” Recent Popes have warned us of the culture of death, where death is increasingly proposed as the “solution” to problems. In our culture violence begins in the womb, as the innocent are attacked and it is called “choice” and “rights.” The violence and embrace of death continues to ripple through culture through contraception, violent gang activity, easy recourse to war and capital punishment. The past Century was perhaps the bloodiest ever known on this planet and untold people in the hundreds of millions died in two world wars, hundreds of regional wars and conflicts, horrific starvation campaigns in the Ukraine, in China and elsewhere, genocides in Central Europe, in Africa and Southeast Asia. Paul Johnson, in his book Modern Times estimates that over 100,000,000 died in war and violent ways in the just the first 50 years of the 20th Century. And with every death, Satan did his “snoopy dance.” Satan love violence. He loves to set fires, and watch us blame each other as we burn.

3. Division – Satan loves to divide. Archbishop Sheen says that the word “diabolical” comes from two Greek words dia+ballein, meaning “to tear apart.” My own study of Greek, poor that it is, does not yield this result.  Rather dia means “through” or “between” and ballein means “to throw or to cast.” Nevertheless, the Good Archbishop was a learned man and I ask you Greek Scholars to set me straight and defend Bishop Sheen.

But, even still, it is clear that the devil wants to divide us, within our very own psyche and among each other. Surely he rejoices at every division he causes. He “casts things between us” (dia+ballein)! Diabolical indeed. And thus, we see our families divided, the Church divided, our culture and Country divided. We are now divided at almost every level: racial, religious, political, economic. We divide over age, race, region, blue and red states, liturgy, music, language, and endless minutia.

Our families are broken, our marriages are broken. Divorce is rampant and  commitments of any sort are rejected and deemed impossible. The Church is broken and divided into factions, so too the State, all the way down to the level of school boards. Though once we agreed on essentials, now even appeals to shared truth are called intolerant.

And within too, we struggle with many divisive drives and forms of figurative and literal schizophrenia. We are drawn to what is good, true and beautiful and yet what is base, false and evil also summons us. We know what is good, but desire what is evil, we seek love, but indulge hate and revenge. We admire innocence but often revel in destroying it or at least replacing it with cynicism.

And Satan dances his “snoopy dance.”

Three characteristics of the diabolic: love of nudity, violence, and division. What do you think? Is the prince of this world working his agenda? Even more important: are we conniving? The first step in over-coming the enemy’s agenda is to know his moves, to name them and then rebuke them in the Name of Jesus.

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11 comments to Msgr. What Are Three Characteristics of Diabolical Influence?

  • Thank you for your article on this subject. It is much needed. I can attest to the power of Jesus Christ who saved me at gun point when I was carjacked on October 5, 1995. I have it documented with a police report of every detail of what happened to me that night. The power of tongues and the name of Jesus is very powerful. I believe so few Catholics truly understand the power of Jesus name. God bless.

  • just wondering

    And is the person who calls to mind the sin of others under the influence of satan and the cause of division, or is it the sinner? For instance, often the victim who speaks up against evil is said to be the cause turmoil and division, but is it not the people propagating the evil who are really under satan’s hold and truely the cause of division?

  • william xucla

    Under the subject of “violence”, we can also include abortion. Put all of this together, and one cannot help but agree with Cardinal Schornborn:”we are living in a new Dark Ages.”

  • william xucla

    You forgot to include abortion, under “violence”.

  • rickkephart

    I have seen so many good efforts of people be destroyed just because the people involved in it simply could not good along, for whatever silly reason. That has to be diabolical. It’s certainly always a much more effective and devastating way for the Devil to put an end to something good than by attacking it by some outside force, whenever he can manage it.

    There was one mistake in the article. The word “modesty” does not come from the word “mode”. It comes directly from the Latin word “modestus” which means “keeping within bounds”. That word does come from the word “modus” (which is the word that “mode” comes from) which means a standard of measurement. The word “mode” has nothing at all to do with “middle”.

  • Eugene

    A good reference on how to pray deliverance prayer and a model of how to look at it as inspired by the Holy Spirit to Neal and Janet Lazano is in the
    DVD Companion Guide to the
    8 Session Conference on the subject of deliverance called
    “Unbound – Freedom in Christ”.
    See the web site:
    I have used this method of prayer for myself and others many times and have found it most effective. I used multiple times every day. It comes with the DVD for about $50.00. Session 4 actually goes through a demonstration with group of saying deliverance prayer and if you participate you will probably be deliviered right then and there of some demons that are tormenting you. Refer to pages 51-54 of the Companion Guide for the deliverance prayer examples in a section entitled “Ministry to Others: Partnering with the Holy Spirit”. The Unbound Model basically describe 5 steps that through reiterative use through your wounds that you have received in your life can close the doors to evil that you have opened and cast out the demons that have access to you and are tormenting you.
    The 5 Keys to the Kingdom of God in the unbound Model are:
    1. Repentance and Faith – This key is basically moving the person from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God by having the person confess to God that Jesus Christ is their Redeemer, Savior and Lord of their lives.
    2. Forgiveness – This step allows the person to recive supernatural grace, i.e. healing power from God not only physically but emotionally and spiritually.
    3. Renunciation – This step involves renouncing your sinful behavior, standing up for God and against the devil and declaring that you no longer want to fellowship with the devil and you instead have chose to fellowship with God and that renounce the devil and his works, the world and its pomps and the flesh and its temptations.
    4. Authority – This is the step where we use the authority won for us by Jesus Christ through His work on the cross where He won for us spiritual authority over the devil and allows all belivers in Jesus Christ to cast out demons in “The Name of Jesus”. We must exercise the Christian authority that Jesus won for us on the cross to administer the victory He won for us and by doing so to spread the breadth and width of the Kingdom of God to all end of the earth so that eventually the Holy Spirit will reign and live in all created things and the Kingdom of God will have thoroughly vanguished the enemy and all his works.
    5. Blessing and Filling with the Holy Spirit – After casting out demons we must “ask God the Father in the name of Jesus to bless us and fill us with the Holy Spirit”. This is so that the spiritual space occupied by the demon is now filled with the Holy Spirit and the access door is closed. We can then also ask God the Father in the name of Jesus to send warrior angels to protect from further attack. As Catholics we should use the Sacrament of Reconcilation to confess our sins to God the Father and He will forgive us our sins not because we deserve to be forgiven but He forgives us because of what His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ did for us when He died for our sins on the Cross. We must always remember we must now stop our sinning ways and this will be easier when the demons are gone and not tormenting us with bad thoughts that continually talk back to our good thoughts. In some cases further inner healing and deliverance prayer may be necessary for people who have been wounded early in their childhood and may not be aware of some of the ramifications of the spiritual and emotional wounds thay have sustained as a result of these early childhood traumas that can even originate in the womb. Experienced prayer ministers may have to be sought to address problems that don’t clear up. Many times physical healing will result when demons are cast out because they afflict us in multiple ways. They are out to destroy God’s creature and everything He does. God does allow us to be tested and He gives us free will. Out task while on this earth is the recgonize what Jesus Christ did for us while He, the Word made flesh, walked with us and then died for us. We must realize that all flows from God the Father and even Jesus who is part of the Triune Godhead points to God the Father to whom He is the Mediator, i.e. we can only go to God the Father in the Name of Jesus and because of what Jesus did for us.
    Hallelujah God!
    See the web site:

  • LisaG

    The problem is that people who are drenched in inappropriate dress, pornography, violent games and movies, abortions and contraception, broken marriages, live ins, disobedience to church doctrine don’t even realize they are sinning. There is no sense of sin or even a recognition of hell.

  • It really doesn’t take much analysis to see how these characteristics have imprisoned our culture. Very disturbing to see what once was inappropriate dress for young women now part of Sunday attire…

  • Out in the Country

    I am challenged by the notion that being divided is evil. Is just being divided from society “evil” in itself? Or, is there more to it?

    For example, what about anchorites? Or hermits? Or, in general anyone who separates themselves from society to dedicate themselves to God?

    Even more generally, what about people that are introverts? Introverts enjoy solitude, whereas their opposites enjoy companionship.

    Or, is this one of those categories where if you abuse it (too much, too little) then you are guilty of evil?

  • Marshall Hopper

    The most direct indicator of Satanic works is DIVISION. The FIRST symptom of the devil’s influence is PRIDE, which sets us APART from others, including God, allowing us to “DO TO” others for our own gain, instead of “DOING FOR” others. Once we’ve gone along with his “suggestion” to us that WE can be the “creator” of our own future, it is only a “follow-through” that separates us from each other, from God, from truth and conscience, from the consequences of our bad choices, from common sense, from natural law. With these influences “out of our way”, we are then free to use our powers of reason to justify our sinful desires rather than control them. After that, it’s every man/woman for himself/herself. What next?

  • Sharon

    too much info for the “normal” person to understand or those of us with “ADD” who skim. It would be better to simply state that we have become a lax society where practically anything we want can be ordered up online. ( even mass ) I stayed away from the church for 42 years, mainly because what exactly did it offer me? Nothing. Just last Ash wednesday I attended mass – just walked in. I had an ulterior motive – I wanted my St. Benedict medal blessed, but for some reason, I kept going back. I received many messages from the Holy spirit and a couple of attacks from what I assume to be “satan” – I am not an expert on these things. Real attacks, strangulation, scratches, even my cat was attacked and a very expensive vet visit to the cat ER had to be done.

    But – heres the good part – as a person who has experienced what some call “paranormal” activities, attacks, spirits – whatever – all of my life – I took the word of the good Father Bob Bailey ;ast Fall ( 2010 ) and began daily prayers for protection. I did not believe Jesus would ever protect ME! I was wrong. I have firsthand experience of the power of Jesus, and I have recorded it as well. I also have firsthand experience that the Blessed Mother CAN repel attacks from the devil.

    I can state with some authority that one can never rid ones self of evil – its always there, waiting to take advantage of the lax.

    domestic duty calls…

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