July 19, 2016

Venerable Fulton Sheen on the Devil: "As Theologians Dropped the Demonic, Psychiatrists Picked It Up"

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen discusses the Devil's incessant attempts to turn our heats away from God. May we never forget that Satan, the father of lies, is a cruel deceiver of men whose only desire is our destruction. Below is a partial transcript of Venerable Sheen's remarks.



Starting at 4:43:

I thought perhaps you might be interested in hearing about the Devil from a sound philosophical and theological point of view. I'm going to describe to you the Devil, first from the psychiatric point of view, and secondly from the biblical. First the psychiatric.

It is interesting that as we drop things in the Church the world begins to pick them up and distorts them. Now we, for example, the nuns drop the long habits, the girls put on maxi coats. We stop saying the beads, hippies put the beads around their neck. And, as theologians dropped the demonic, the psychiatrists picked it up.

[Dr.] Rollo May of Rockefeller Institute has several chapters in his work on psychiatry on the diabolic. What is the diabolic from the purely psychiatric point of view? Dr. Rollo May analyzes the word diabolic, it comes from the Greek words dia and balime. Dia-balime is to tear apart, rend asunder. Anything, therefore, that breaks pattern, that destroys unity, that corrupts gestalt, produces discord, that is the diabolical. Now, there has been a great increase of the diabolic. Notice for example the discord in the Church, the discord in religious communities, the discord among the laity regards the Church, discord in the clergy. All these are manifestations of a spirit of the diabolic that surrounds us.

Now this psychiatrist [Dr. May] analyzes the way in which the diabolic works. And he mentions three: First love of nudity. Secondly, violence, aggressiveness. Thirdly, split personalities, no inner peace, disjointed minds.

[ … ]

Our Blessed Lord one time went into the land of the Gerasenes… and he found in this land a young man possessed of the Devil (Mark 5:1-20). The Gospel mentions three characteristics of this young man. First he was nude. Secondly, he was violent and aggressive. They could not even keep him in chains. And thirdly, his mind was split, schizophrenic. Our Lord said to him, "What is your name?" He said, "My name is Legion." 

Now a legion in his time meant six thousand soldiers in the Roman army. See already he is a person and yet he is legion, six thousand others. My name is legion for we are many. See the personality is no longer unified, I, Legion, we many. Now this psychiatrist does not ever correlate his three manifestations of the diabolic with this young man in the Gospel. I am doing that because I could not help but notice the similarity between the two. So from just a superficial point of view, the diabolic disrupts, and whenever you have a great manifestation of the Spirit you always get the Devil working. When for example, Moses in the Old Testament worked miracles against Pharaoh, Pharaoh's agents simulated a few miracles. When the Holy Spirit came upon the early Church at Pentecost, there was the persecution of Stephen. We had a Vatican Council, the blessing of the Spirit upon the Church. And we have immediately the manifestation of the evil spirit.

So I just leave you with this characteristic note of the diabolic from the psychiatric point of view. The breakup of unity, the breakup of families, the breakup of corporations, the breakup of religious communities, the breakup the oneness of Christ.

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