Whatever Happened to Sin and the Devil?


351px-Tsarskie_vrata_pskovOur kids need to know—sin is real; the devil is real; and we need to stay on guard, especially now. Without this awareness our children will see the glistening darkness ahead and fall into the tar pit of self deception that will hold them tight.

St. Basil the Great described sin this way: It is “the misuse of powers given us by God for doing good, [for]a use contrary to God’s commandments.”  The two greatest commandments, which summarize the 10 of the Old Testament, are to love God above all else and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

But the devil has been using people for at least a century now to twist every word of truth—like love, commandments, good—into something ugly or unholy. Love now means lust/desire/self pleasure. Commandments are “repressive control measures.” And what has always been perceived as “good” –especially the marriage of a man and a woman and family—are now “bad” or at least unnecessary.

Judith Stacey, a sociologist, says “good riddance” to the traditional family and says society is better off getting rid of this “social construct.” She’s not alone. Numerous academics and activists are widely promoting the end of family as we know it.

The erosion of family as the basic unit of society, began with the introduction of contraception and expanded with “no-fault” divorce and is going under with the push to re-define what marriage means. In the modern world the State is now the arbitrator of what is best for children…how can that possibly be “good”?

But back to St. Basil because he’s an inspiration. He was born in 330 AD into a family of ten children–several in his family were confirmed as saints in the centuries since that time! The easily-identified saintliness within one family speaks a great deal for his mother and father who offered a firm foundation of goodness and virtue. Basil spoke out against evil wherever he saw it and was a very convincing speaker. He showed great compassion for the needy and helped end prostitution in his area by excommunicating those involved in that practice. He promoted spiritual discipline and founded monasteries.

Although St. Basil lived long ago, his life story tells us that family is important and that wrong thinking has been around forever. It takes vigilance and self-discipline to counter error. It takes adherence to the sacraments to find peace. It takes courage to live in a fallen world.

That’s why in 1890 Pope Leo XIII wrote and recommended for daily use the Prayer of St. Michael. Sin and the devil are thriving, as he saw in a terrifying vision. But St. Basil and St. Michael are our friends.

To be able to speak knowledgeably on the current marriage controversy see the new book What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense by Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson and Robert George.

Copyright 2013 Judith Costello


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  1. Thanks Judith for your wise words. It seems to this deacon that when I preach words of sin and the devil, that most everyone wants to write their own definition of what sin is…. and the devil was some construct of mostly the Old Testament. We need to keep the reality before us. Blessings. dt

    • Thanks Deacon,
      What can we do to wake people up? The devil has created a cotton candy fog around Europe and the US so that people live on a “sugar high of nothingness” and our countries wallow in shallowness until the day when we will be destroyed. But there is always hope. Pray, write, pray.

      • Behold the Lamb Catholic Resource Ministry on

        Many thanks for the spot-on article, Judith…We hear in homilies and Religious Education classes that Jesus is a loving and forgiving God and how He is our BFF, etc (all is true). But rarely- if ever- do we hear anything in our faith about the last of The Four Last Things (Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell).


        If we believe the Holy Scriptures and our very own Faith Doctrine, Hell is a very real existence – and being baptized Catholic doesn’t get us a “get of hell free card.” We have much work to do in this regard.

        It reminds me of a tremendous quote attributed to one of our Church Fathers- St Augustine of Hippo (354-430)- who once wrote, “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”

        We need to get back to preaching the WHOLE GOSPEL, rather than just the parts that make us feel good or sound inviting. If we return to that, I have no doubt that God’s blessings will rain down abundantly upon our churches, families and communities. He said it would happen (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)!

        May our Lord richly bless you and yours as you serve in His Vineyard… stay in touch!


        Catholicmom.com is a very resourceful website and we have you listed at the top of the links For Our Women:

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