The Ape of God

It is a truism of the Catholic tradition that Satan, being only a fallen angel, cannot create. All he can do is mock and parody the works of God. So, for instance, where God offers us the communion of saints and the beautiful exchange of charity within the body of Christ, Satan cheats with the séance with the chirping and muttering of mediums and the lying counsel of demons. Where God performs mighty miraculous works, Satan offers the lies of magicians (see, for instance, the story of Moses and the Egyptian sorcerers in Exodus). Where God gives us the gift of prayer, which is really the gift of relationship, the world offers the substitute of wishes, where we pitch our hopes into a void on the guess that something or other might happen.

The pattern holds true across the board. So, for instance, we see all the sacraments being parodied in our culture in various ways.

Imagine a priest at the Easter vigil screaming at a catechumen to confess his sins to the Church while strapping him to a board and holding him underwater until he starts to inhale water and drown. Some torture apologists, for instance, give us exactly this blasphemous parody of baptism when they tell us that victims, unable to bear their torments, were grateful to their torturers and felt freed from guilt since they were no longer morally responsible for what they said. Forced drowning taketh away sin, and sinners are broken and made new by the loving ministrations of the torturer.

Priests who were responsible for the scandal of child abuse likewise offered a blasphemous parody of both holy orders and confirmation by using their office (wherein their hands were consecrated) to “lay hands on” the most vulnerable members of the body of Christ and, instead of confirming their victims in holiness, confirming themselves in filth and evil.

In fetal harvesting and embryonic stem-cell research, we perform a blasphemous parody of the Eucharist. The body of an unborn baby is cannibalized so that corporations like Senomyx, which use fetal cells to test their artificial flavorings, can feed the hungry maw of consumer culture. Instead of Christ’s self-giving sacrifice of his body and blood, we enact the worship of Moloch for such noble purposes as tastier Nestle products and longer life for selfish people.

In the same way, companies like Neocutis give us a startling perversion of the sacrament of anointing. Instead of the healing oil of the sacrament rubbed on the skin, they manufacture a skin cream which uses fetal cells obtained from “a one-time medical termination” of a pregnancy. At the cost of only one murdered baby, they invite users to turn from the power of Christ’s healing grace readying us for heaven and embrace instead the depraved vision of a race of Dorian Grays maintaining a ghastly mortal immortality by battening like vampires on its young.

In the same way, the devil offers us parodies of reconciliation in the form of reality shows where people’s sins are ruthlessly exposed for the delectation of a mob who offer, not forgiveness, but the jeers of thugs.

And finally, in the sacrament of marriage, we see parodies ranging from mere fornication to serial adultery to the push for same-sex “marriage.”

The “ape of God” does these things for one reason: He is a liar and the father of lies. All these parodies twist a piece of the good (the promise of happiness, pleasure, life, safety, etc.) in order to destroy us, the creatures God loves most in the whole universe. Satan always baits the hook of hell with the worm of the good. 

That’s why we have a magisterium: to help us know when Catholic teaching is being parodied and to teach us to follow the reality who is Christ, not the cheap mockery of the father of lies.

Mark Shea blogs at