Patti Armstrong is an award-winning author and was the managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’ bestselling Amazing Grace series. Her latest books are: Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families and Dear God, You Can’t Be Serious. She has a B.A. in social work and an M.A. in public administration and worked in both those fields before staying home to work as a freelance writer. Patti and her husband live in North Dakota, where they are still raising the tail end of their 10 children.
God is the ultimate power, so the devil need not be feared, but he should be always be avoided for our own spiritual well-being. Hearing people say, “It’s no big deal,” is music to the devil’s ears. He likes to work undercover to ensnare people in his traps.
Here are 10 things considered harmless by many that are ways that the devil has slipped into the culture.
1. Horoscopes. They are in newspapers and magazines. I bet you even know your zodiac sign. Horoscopes claim power to know the future that is not from God. Catholic Answers explains that the pagan world was once dominated by belief in astrology. It is still a pagan practice that goes against the First Commandment.
2. Mediums. On the TV reality series, Long Island Medium,Theresa Caputo claims to speak with the dead. She also fills stadiums across the country with shows where people pay from $50 to $150 a ticket.
Psychics, fortune tellers, mediums and the like, are either shysters or drawing their power from the devil. The Old Testament in Deut. 18:10-11 and Isaiah 19:3 condemns conjuring up the dead. That is not the same as not praying to saints asking for their intercessory prayers. Mediums claim to conjure up spirits and manipulate the spiritual realm.
3. Paranormal Tourism. Visiting haunted houses has become popular. There are an estimated 1,200 haunted houses generating around $500 million annually in the U.S. where would-be ghost hunters use paranormal equipment that taunt spirits to get a response.
In a previous article two exorcists explained that real haunted houses were either souls in purgatory in need of prayer or evil spirits. If there are souls in need of prayers, they should be respected and if there are evil spirits, they should not be visited
4. Wishing for someone to burn in hell. We’ve all heard someone cry out that they hope for someone to burn in hell. It could be a murderer, child molester, or someone who has done some other grave evil. Perhaps it seems understandable are even like a good desire. Reflect on it for a moment, however. The devil wants as many souls as possible to spend eternity in hell. Despite how horrible that person is, we should never desire anyone’s damnation since it aligns us with the devil and pits us against God’s will.
5. “Knock on wood” and other superstitions. You may say it in jest. Or not. I’ve been around faithful Catholics who knock on wood or fear saying something will “jinx” them or they throw a coin into a wishing pond and actually make a wish. Rabbit’s feet, good luck charms, and any sort of superstition may seem harmless, but they seek to use powers not of God. Instead of knocking on wood or making a wish, say a prayer instead.
6. Fortune tellers, palm readers, Tarot card readers and the like. They set up shop all over including at state fairs and street markets but steer clear. They seek to manipulate the known world by tapping into a power that is not God. And don’t be fooled by someone who wears a cross or hangs up a Christian symbol and claims they are Christian so it’s all good.
7. Consumer products that offer powers. Crystals and essential oils—perfectly good and natural materials—are sometimes used and sold by companies claiming they have supernatural powers. For real power, talk to the Creator of the Universe and receive supernatural graces through the sacraments.
8. Unforgiveness. Jesus told us multiple times to forgive others. It doesn’t mean we have to be friends. Praying for someone and letting go of hatred and anger with the help of God, helps to heal the wound. To intentionally hold on to unforgiveness gives a toe-hold to the devil to influence you against God’s will.
9. Pornography. Even between married couples, everything about pornography is from the evil one, yet, it has a hold on our culture. The article Breaking Free From Porn's Enslavement, explains that pornography enslaves people and destroys relationships—just as the devil wants.
10. Following Apparitions Condemned by the Church. How to Tell True Apparitions from False explained that the devil uses false apparitions to lure people against the Church. “’The Church investigates claims of private revelations cautiously,’ according to Father Poulain, ‘because the devil can use them to ensnare otherwise serious Catholics. The devil can by a ruse, feign to encourage them for a time for the sake of landing his victim in exaggeration and oddities,’ he said. ‘Provided that the end is evil, the road leading up to it matters little to him.’”
This list is not exhaustive but simply points out ways the devil slips into even Catholic circles as harmless. Yearning for the supernatural is inborn but entering through the wrong door leads to spiritual harm. The Church and the light of Jesus Christ shine a light onto the darkness to reveal it for what it is—snares of the devil.