In just a few weeks, on Sept. 21, a “black mass” is scheduled to be conducted in Oklahoma City.
The “celebrant” is Adam Daniels, a supposed “Satanic priest,” who has booked the Oklahoma Civic Center for the event. My good friend Archbishop Paul Coakley, the Catholic archbishop of Oklahoma City, has asked Christians everywhere to pray with and for the people of Oklahoma City in response to this event.
This is the second time in recent months that a black mass has become an issue in the United States. In May, a student club at Harvard University planned to stage such an event. After backlash from students and from the community, the event was moved from the Harvard campus, and it was eventually held at a Chinese restaurant off campus.
At last report, 13 tickets have been sold to the Oklahoma City black mass. It seems no one is interested in attending. In fact, the organizers appear to be a tired group of Satanic “leaders” without a following, hell-bent on mocking Jesus Christ, even if they must do it alone.
Our Lord was mocked throughout his ministry. Wherever he went, he encountered those who laughed at his claim to be the Son of God, who teased him or tried to bully him. Satan himself mocked Christ in the desert, and, at his crucifixion, he was mocked by his executioners and by a few tormented souls.
But Christ is the Victor, and mockery did not prevent the Resurrection, the Ascension or the descent of the Holy Spirit.
Mockery did not deter St. Paul from evangelizing the known world or St. Peter from traveling to Rome to be martyred for Christ.
Mockery did not stop the Benedictines who Christianized Europe, the missionaries who traveled to the New World, to Asia and to Africa or the missionaries who still, today, bring the joy of the Gospel to the corners of the globe.
Mockery does not deter men and women who raise families for Jesus Christ, men and women who are consecrated to Christ or the world’s priests, who tirelessly consecrate the Eucharist, forgive sins and preach the Gospel.
Mockery does not stop Jesus Christ, the Eternal Victor. To those who know Christ and abide in him, the taunts and temptations of Satan are defeated, and victory is assured.
The danger of the black mass is for its celebrants — those who mock a love they do not understand and celebrate a hatred they cannot possibly comprehend. By desecrating a consecrated Host, they blaspheme a God who is infinite in mercy but exacting in justice. And the participants in the black mass invite deep forces of hatred and chaos into their lives. They willingly bind themselves to the powers of destruction. They assure that, without some change, they will be used by hatred, consumed by evil and die in desperation.
Bound to Satan
The participants in the black mass bind themselves to Satan because they are seeking something: excitement, perhaps, or power or revenge. They are probably deeply wounded, deeply confused individuals.
The followers of Satan seek some certainty, some meaning in their lives, and, sadly, in the grips of Satan, they will not find it.
They’ll find meaning, as any of us will, in the antidote to hatred — they’ll find meaning in love. The participants in the black mass, whether they know it or not, seek love and joy — they seek the happiness for which they were made.
They will only find that happiness in Jesus Christ.
The participants in the black mass are not the enemies of Christ; they are his beloved. He suffered and died for them, too. Tragically, they are in the grips of the enemy. They need the salvation of Jesus Christ before it is too late.
There is no hope for the redemption of Satan. His choice is eternal; his destruction is certain. Christ has conquered him victoriously. But there is hope for those whom he has tempted — for those who have heard his cunning temptation and fallen into his clutches. For them, it is not too late.
Our task is to pray and sacrifice: to offer our sufferings for those suffering in the torment of Satan and for those suffering the poverty of confusion and loneliness and desperation; to pray that they might encounter the meaning they seek in the victory of Jesus Christ.
The black mass should remind us of the dangers Satan poses to the children of God. But it should also remind us of our obligation to evangelize.
Every lost soul, every man and women on the “existential peripheries,” caught in the grips of loneliness, is an easy target for Satan. Every child seeking love, every man seeking pleasure, every woman seeking security is being pursued enthusiastically by the Prince of Darkness. In the love of God, we ought to proclaim Christ with far more enthusiasm.
Each of us should pray that the organizers of the black mass will be freed from the grips of Satan. And then we should proclaim Christ — in our words and in the witness of our charity — to the beloved and lost children of God.
Bishop James Conley is the shepherd of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska.