Archbishop Paul S. Coakley
On Sunday, Sept. 21, a local satanic sect apparently will be allowed to conduct a public act of blasphemy in the form of a so-called black mass at the Civic Center in Oklahoma City. In spite of an overwhelming outcry of alarm from around the world, our city leaders will allow this outrage to take place in a publicly supported facility. They will not accede to the reasonable requests of local citizens to stop this outright mockery of the Catholic Mass nor the reasonable concerns of so many that this satanic ritual invokes powers of evil and invites them into our community.
Even though our city leaders apparently do not take this threat seriously, I do. As a Catholic priest and bishop I have witnessed in my ministry the battle between forces of good and evil in both ordinary and extraordinary ways. It is not merely a struggle rooted in human weakness and ignorance, though these are certainly the source of much suffering and mayhem in our lives and in our world. Demonic activity and the chaotic forces of evil are very real. The madness of war accompanied by increasingly brutal acts of terror, the violence in our schools and communities are all evidence that something is terribly wrong.
The crucial battleground for the forces of good and evil is the human heart. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus Christ came to conquer the power of sin and to cast out demons. This was an essential part of his mission and ministry. It continues in his Church. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has gained the victory. He has destroyed the power of Satan, the Prince of Darkness and Father of Lies. The war has been won, though skirmishes will continue until Christ comes again in glory. As people of faith we dare not lose hope. Victory is assured.
This ordeal in our community has been ongoing for nearly three months, since we first became aware of the scheduled black mass. In spite of our apparent inability to prevent this sacrilegious event from taking place, I am grateful for a number of blessings that have accrued through this trial. I am grateful for the significant legal victory that allowed us to regain possession of the consecrated Host that would have been desecrated during the black mass. I am deeply grateful for the strong response to our appeal for prayer throughout the Christian community. People across Oklahoma, throughout our great country and around the world have responded with prayer and fasting. We have been given an opportunity to express our faith in the Lord and our profound gratitude for his gift of the Eucharist through acts of devotion. Many of our Catholic people have been appealing to St. Michael the Archangel for heavenly protection against the powers of evil in our world.
On Sunday, Sept. 21, we will gather for a public act of worship at St. Francis of Assisi Church. I invite all Catholics as well as other Christians and people of good will to join us for a Eucharistic Holy Hour, an outdoor Eucharistic procession and Benediction beginning at 3 p.m. We will prayerfully bear witness to our faith as an expression of our solidarity and in reparation for acts of blasphemy.
I am aware that other groups are planning to show their opposition to the blasphemous event that evening at the Civic Center. I urgently ask everyone to avoid confrontations with those who might oppose them. Our witness ought to be reverent, respectful and peaceful. I urge those who might plan to attend the black mass in order to pray or to protest not to do so! Please do not enter the venue. It would be presumptuous and dangerous to expose oneself to others to these evil influences.
Finally, let us demonstrate our faith in the power of the Lord’s grace by praying for the conversion of those who are perpetrating this sacrilege and are bound by the Evil One. “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” (Mt 5:44,45)