Skip to content

Fr. Dwight Longenecker on The Absurdity of Evil

By Fr Dwight Longenecker
4/8/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

This is the frightful absurdity of evil. This absurdity and rage is the demonic poison of hatred and pride, and the only antidote, I have come to accept-the only antidote for which I plead- is the Divine Mercy.

The devil is a liar, and because he lies all the time dealing with him is like walking on quicksand or dancing in a minefield. When dealing with evil in the personality we are constantly confronted with false images, false diagnoses, confusing signals, distractions, distortions and disturbing evidence.

Fr Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary church in Greenville, South Carolina

Fr Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary church in Greenville, South Carolina

Highlights

By Fr Dwight Longenecker
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
4/8/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Fr Dwight Longenecker, exorcism, devil, evil, Divine mercy, grace, conversion, spirituality,


GREENVILLE, S.C. (Catholic Online) - An exorcist told me one of the most disturbing and maddening things about exorcism is that one can rarely diagnose the problem completely. "You see," he said, "the devil is a liar and the father of lies. Once you have identified the demon you don't know if you really have or not. The demon lurks within. He will lie, lie, lie. He will pretend to respond to your commands, but then trick you. He is malicious beyond your imaginings."

I have thought much about this over the years since I heard this and realize how true it is. The devil is a liar, and because he lies all the time dealing with him is like walking on quicksand or dancing in a minefield. When dealing with evil in the personality we are constantly confronted with false images, false diagnoses, confusing signals, distractions, distortions and disturbing evidence.

Is the person really possessed or is it mental illness? It there a medical and chemical disturbance, or is it a personality disorder or  is the problem psychological? Is the person disturbed emotionally or are there deep relational problems? Is there abuse, addiction or psychiatric illness? It could be all these things or a mixture of them. All these things could be woven together like an intractable knot, and added to the disturbance could be demonic influences, sinful addictions or even full blown demonic possession.

Then the problems is compounded because the demon, if there really is a demon there, will hide and deceive. He will whine and be the coward one moment and be defiant and blasphemous the next. He'll use every ruse and diabolical subterfuge-hiding behind all manner of illnesses and madness.

The intricacy of unraveling the problem is time consuming and constantly frustrating because woven in and through all of it is the absurdity of evil. Evil causes suffering for which there is no rational answer. Because the devil is the father of lies there is not truth. None. Nowhere. Therefore the suffering he causes is irrational and absurd. This is why the suffering hurts so much-because there is no answer. The Lord of Lies is the Lord of Flies he is the master of chaos for chaos masters him. He is locked in a swamp of darkness and burning sinking sands.

C.S.Lewis captures this relentless absurdity in his space fiction Perelandra in which the hero, Ransom embarks on a life and death struggle with a demon infested human named Weston. At one point Weston keeps Ransom awake simply by taunting him by calling his name over and over again like a child-bully. Weston never sleeps, but prowls about torturing small animals for pleasure. He argues with Ransom endlessly-using reason when he wants to, and then simply laughing or uttering absurdities when Ransom wins the argument.

This puerile, absurd and horrifying aspect of evil is what makes so much of  the current state of argument in our own society seem so pointless. How often has one entered into debate with an atheist or agnostic only to realize that they are seemingly incapable of reasoning. They seem intelligent on the one hand, but then spout the most outrageous and ridiculous statements that do not even pretend to be rational or informed. This absurdity is the spirit of the demon. It is evil personified for evil is absurd, and evil is full of rage.

This afternoon, pondering on these matters I had a picture in my mind of Satan, restless Satan, pacing up and down, pacing up and down, his mind always feverishly at work, thinking what he might have said, thinking what he might have done to avoid Christ's triumph, thinking what he will do, scheming and planning and working his mind over and over again, never at rest, never at rest. Chasing his pointed tail in endless, pointless and absurd debate within his proud mind.

Then I thought of the times I have done the same-when my pride has been wounded, when I've lost an argument, when I've been hurt in some way. My mind goes over and over what I should have said and how I should have behaved and what I might have done. It is the devil in me too in a way-always restless and always raging in pride.

This is the final absurdity of evil-that it is fueled with an inchoate and incoherent rage. It bathes in rage. Rage seethes like volcanic lava through the evil. You can always recognize the devil at work when you see rage, for rage, like evil itself is irrational. It is pure emotion that is the opposite and the enemy of love. It is foul where love is lovely. It is irrational where love is reasonable. It is beastly where love is beautiful. It is a lie where love is the truth of heaven.

This is the frightful absurdity of evil. This absurdity and rage is the demonic poison of hatred and pride, and the only antidote, I have come to accept-the only antidote for which I plead- is the Divine Mercy.

-----

Fr Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary church in Greenville, South Carolina.Visit his blog, listen to his radio show, subscribe to his weekly newsletter and be in touch at dwightlongenecker.com Join Fr Longenecker during Lent for a Blobble Study. That is a Bible study on a blog. On his blog, Standing on My Head he will lead readers through a study of Mark's gospel. There will be a reading from the gospel each day with a short reflection. Then the combox is open for comment and discussion. His latest book is The Romance of Religion --Fighting for Goodness, Truth and Beauty

---


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'


Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for OCTOBER 2017
Workers and the Unemployed.
That all workers may receive respect and protection of their rights, and that the unemployed may receive the opportunity to contribute to the common good.


Comments


More U.S.

The FBI may investigate Planned Parenthood Watch

Image of It is hoped the FBI will investigate the criminal activities of Planned Parenthood.

An FBI request for un-redacted Planned Parenthood documents from the U.S. Senate could signal an investigation into whether the abortion ... continue reading


After Maria: Catholics helping to rebuild Puerto Rico Watch

Image of Caritas and other Christian charities are still working to rebuild Puerto Rico.

Seven weeks after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, the majority of the island is still without power, and many residents are ... continue reading


Honoring our Veterans on Their Day by Living the Same Principles Watch

Image of

They gave their lives for a country who believed that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain ... continue reading


Fr. Randy Sly on Veterans Day: Live the Values Which Inspired Their Sacrifice Watch

Image of

Today marks the observance of Veterans Day in the United States of America. I am a Vietnam Veteran and this day means a lot to me. As a ... continue reading


A thank you prayer for our Catholic veterans, steadfast defenders of freedom and faith Watch

Image of May God bless all our veterans, by whose sacrifices we remain free.

It is a historical fact that Catholic armies have saved the world many times over. Whether turning back the tides of hostile Islamic ... continue reading


Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Catholic Online MasterClass
Learn from experts

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Catholic Media Missionaries
The New Evangelization

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.