I published an article last year about Dominique, the name I gave my muse, my creative force, my inner daemon (in the ancient Greek sense of the word). But this year, I encountered a destructive force. Encountered isn't the word--it's possessed. By Desdemona, a demon. A real one--not a daemon, that ancient lesser Greek entity at work in Plato's Symposium. No, a demon from within.
Before this year, honestly, I had trouble with the whole Satan/Devil thing. There's a dude opposing God? Since God is not a dude, not in any sense human minds can comprehend, how could there be an opposite dude? I prayed the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel with derision when our diocese started adding on to the end of Mass. Or I prayed it during the 2016 election with the images of certain politicians who shall remain unnamed as "all the evil spirits who roam about the world seeking the ruin of souls." And ruin, they have.
But this year, this blasted 2018 with its dramatic overtones of loss and abandonment (my husband and partner of 25 years left to live with a woman half my age; my first born turned 18 and left the nest for college; my 15-year old feels abandoned by his father and disappointed in his mother's nightly cries of loneliness) has now turned catastrophic with the further revelations of abuse in the Catholic Church, my church, my home and the focus of my life.
Archbishop Robert Barron of Word on Fire and all things Catholic media fame has also come to understand the actual "demonic" plague that infects our church. I don't always agree with Archbishop Barron, but I gotta hand it to him for being an intelligent and earnest man and a media genius. And the force that's plaguing the church is demonic. There simply is no other word for it. There are many ways to work towards healing the church--but, honestly, the demons must go. (I'm avoiding the E word because I still can't watch William Friedkin's 1973 horror film from beginning to end in one sitting).
Demons are a bit overly anthropomorphic for my taste, but they are Truth. Evil, defilements, (the gospel reading from this last week in Mark, chapter 7 focus on the defilements which come from within), and darkness possess the heart and feed the demons. Revenge and resentment breed an interior demonic force that can take over even the most progressive, feminist, ecumenical, compassionate woman of faith. I am ashamed because of the part I've played in my own revenge tragedy. And I am devastated by the men who have perpetuated crimes in my Church.
And I pray to St. Michael the Archangel now in a spirit of surrender--to God, to the Sacred Heart of Compassion in God's beloved child, and I join Mary as a mother, sorrowful and hopeful, that we can cleanse our own hearts and reach out in prayer and love to all of those whose hearts are broken and whose lives are devastated by demons, the ones born from within and those created by a culture of criminal silence.