Overcoming the Devil’s Temptations – Fr. Edward Meeks

This week marks the third week of lent. The Lenten season is a time when we often hear about temptations and evil spirits. In the first week of Lent, Fr. Edward Meeks of Christ the King Church in Towson, Maryland, uploaded a video about demonic spiritual attacks. He was once in the news for his opposition to the coronavirus vaccine mandates. According to LifeSite News, Fr. Meeks described abortion, transgender mutilation, pornography, and library drag queens as “demonic insanity.”

A Blanket of Demonic Insanity– Fr. Edward Meeks

Reading the headline, I wondered if Fr. Meeks was speaking strongly in condemnation of recent world events. But upon viewing the video, I found that such was not the case.  When I listened to him from the beginning, I noticed that the main part of the sermon was about resisting the devil’s temptation. The impression I got from that sermon was very different from the impression I got from just reading the LifeSite News headline. In the final part of the sermon, Fr. Meeks gives us an explanation that is easy to understand, to help us discern the spiritual attacks of the devil.

What is the Devil’s Temptation? Lessons from Adam and Eve and Jesus

First, in the first half of his sermon, Fr. Meeks mentions that the devil tempted Adam, Eve, and Jesus Christ in a similar manner. He then discusses how we can learn “negative lessons” and “positive lessons” from Adam, Eve, and Jesus when they were tempted. Here are some of the points made by Fr. Meeks.

The Creation of Eve (Hours of Catherine of Cleves, ca. 1440).

1. Eating. – The Temptation to Forbidden Fruit and Bread

In Eden, the devil, disguised as a serpent, encouraged Eve to eat a certain fruit.

God had clearly told Adam and Eve that if they ate the forbidden fruit, they would die. But Eve was convinced by the serpent’s words that eating the fruit would not kill her, and she fell into the devil’s trap.

After 40 days of fasting, the hungry Jesus was urged to try turning stones into bread. Jesus said to the devil, “Man shall not live by bread alone,” and did not fall into the devil’s trap.

2. You will be like God.

The serpent told Eve, “If you eat this fruit, you will be like God.” In fact, Adam and Eve had been made in the image and likeness of God, who has eternal life, and they did not need to be made “like God.”

The devil told Jesus, “Jump down from the pinnacle of the temple. Then you can prove that you are God.” The devil then tempted him, saying, “I will give you all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, if you worship me.”

Jesus said to the devil, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” Again, though tempted, he did not fall into the devil’s trap.

Father Meeks’s sermon teaches us that Scripture, the Word of God, is essential for us to overcome the temptations of the devil.

Exorcists issue commands to demons, and cast them out, but they do not (or should not) converse with them. This is because talking with the devil (who knows all the secrets of human weakness and unspeakable evil) gives the devil an opportunity to take advantage of the one talking to him. When the devil, in the form of a serpent, tempted Eve, she answered him in her own words; Jesus replied to the devil’s temptations with the words of Scripture.

Satanic Temptations and Attacks in the World

In the latter part of the sermon, Fr. Meeks did, indeed, say something that was in the LifeSite News headline.

First, Fr. Meeks states that the devil almost always “overplays his hand.” Then, Fr. Meeks noted, “There are signs that the devil is doing so in our world today.” And here is where the statement found in the headline comes from.

The following is an excerpt from his sermon:

“Anytime I see millions of otherwise rational people doing irrational things, I look for the demonic element in what’s going on. A blanket of demonic insanity has fallen upon the earth, and you and I are witnessing it before our very eyes.”

 (From the English expression “a blanket of fog,” it would seem to mean that the madness of evil descends like a mist upon the earth and covers it.)

Fr. Meeks says that such demonic insanity is manifested in:

  1. The assault against the unborn,
  2. The assault against those who defend the unborn,
  3. Surgical mutilation of children in the name of gender ideology,
  4. Drag queens reading to children in public libraries,
  5. Pornographic books in public school libraries,
  6. Prime-time TV shows celebrating Satanism,

And so on.

In contrast to the United States, in Japan, almost nothing happens in society that reflects either a Christian worldview or an anti-Christian worldview. Unfortunately, however, it is clear that some of the same works of demonic insanity mentioned by Fr. Meeks are already taking place in Japan. One cannot help but be concerned about the negative effects that such demonic insanity will have on a country like Japan, where most people willingly embrace many aspects of Western culture, while remaining entirely ignorant of the difference between Christian Western culture and anti-Christian Western culture.

To Avoid the Devil’s Trap

To avoid such temptations of the devil, the Bible says, in Proverbs 4:14-15, “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.” It is a very simple answer. Often, however, I find it difficult to follow even this simple Biblical teaching. I feel social pressure to conform, and I fall into the temptation to pretend that I agree with those around me. At such times, it is very important to have a priest who tells us clearly that sin is sin, and gives us the courage to choose the right path.

A priest’s job is to warn us of spiritual dangers, for the salvation of our souls. However, some of the truths that priests try to convey, such as the existence of invisible demons, sound (to many) like old superstitions, and are often ignored. In his Introduction to Christianity,(P.39-40) Benedict XVI, referring to a story by Kierkegaard, compared the priests and theologians who are continually ignored in this way to a clown trying to warn people of a dangerous fire.

In his book An Exorcist Explains the Demonic, Vatican exorcist Fr. Gabriel Amorth describes the process of discerning whether an unexplained physical or mental illness is an attack of the devil. Speaking of medical doctors, he says (p. 85), “in fact, many of them cannot even imagine the existence of evil spirits.

I think it is difficult for most people to realize in their hearts that there is something invisible, even if they understand it in their heads. In my case, for example: every Sunday, I attend Mass at a church. In his sermon, the priest sometimes talks about the horror of mortal sin. And yet, even though I believe what the Church teaches, I often find myself not concentrating on the priest’s sermon. Sometimes we don’t feel the real horror of the sins that will send us to hell. I need to listen more carefully to what the priest is saying.

In my daily life, no matter what I am doing, I need to remember to pray. Prayer is the turning of our hearts toward God, so that we can make better choices when we are tempted by the devil. I would like to ask for God’s grace to overcome the devil’s attacks. I sincerely pray that God’s will be done in me and in the world.