When Hell Has a Hashtag

#CharlieCharlieChallenge is a popular hashtag on Twitter today. According to the BBC Trending blog, it refers to

a game which involves balancing pencils over the words "yes" and "no" on a piece of paper. Players ask questions which are supposedly answered by Charlie - a mysterious demon who spookily moves the pencils, if you believe in that sort of thing.

The BBC says, "if you believe in that sort of thing" because it does sound pretty goofy: A mysterious Mexican demon moving pencils around at the behest of eleven-year-old Mackynzie, who wants to know if Conor likes her or not. Who would believe nonsense like that? If Hell has its own hashtags, how scary could it be?

Listen up, folks. It doesn't matter who made up this game, how, or why. Only a fool would play it, and you should make sure your kids know this. I've said it before: Satan isn't fussy.

He doesn't care if you are kidding or not when you call him by name ...  An invitation is an invitation, and Satan doesn't stand on manners. You may not see Exorcist-style special effects when the Father of Lies creeps into your life. You may not realize anything has happened to you at all, as the rift between you and God slowly gets deeper and wider.

I was chatting with my husband about how these things are forbidden even if we don't really believe they will work, and he pointed out that the devil may actually prefer it when people sell their souls lightly. "That's what the devil wants, even more than satanists," he said:  "Dummies selling their souls as a joke." And then, just to annoy me, he quoted awful old William S. Bourroughs:

Now some of you may encounter the devil’s bargain if you get that far. Any old soul is worth saving at least to a priest, but not every soul is worth buying. 

But Satan would probably enjoy exchanging it for nothing.

In a story from The Mirror UK, a student from Saints John Neumann and Mario Goretti Catholic High School in Philadelphia shared a letter from his priest, Father Stephen McCarthy . The school has not confirmed that Fr. McCarthy wrote the letter, but what it says is sound enough:

"I want to remind you all there is no such thing as 'innocently playing with demons' . . . 

"The problem with opening yourself up to demonic activity is that it opens a window of possibilities which is not easily closed."

According to the Catechism:

2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future.48 Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.

According to The Mirror, the letter said to have been written by the priest makes this very sensible point:

[A]nyone looking to enjoy communing with "spiritual entities" should consider taking part in a Catholic mass.

There you go. Mystery and drama still abound in the Catholic Church. There is not need to look elsewhere.