Oklahoma City’s Black Mass — 42 vs 1600

 

In a previous post I wrote about how a group of satanists were going to hold a “black mass” in Oklahoma City.  The day came and went and the black mass drew a crowd of 1,600 people!  Oh wait, that was the number of potesters and people coming to pray and bear witness to the Christian faith.  Only 42 people (0f the 88 tickets sold) actually attended the black mass.  To put that in perspective, 42 people probably fills the first two or three rows of a large church.  Not too many at all.

From NewsOK:

About 1,600 Roman Catholics gathered Sunday afternoon to bear witness to their Christian faith in the face of “dark forces targeting Oklahoma City, the site of a satanic “black mass” to be held Sunday night.

About 1,200 people crowded into the sanctuary, gym and a cafeteria area at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church for a holy hour prayer service called by Archbishop Paul S. Coakley.

Another estimated 400 people gathered outside the church at 1901 NW 18 to listen to the service blaring through speakers set up outdoors. In his homily, Coakley thanked the faithful for joining together on the eve of the satanic event.

“Your presence here today is a powerful witness of your faith in the midst of a challenging time for our community,” Coakley said.

Coakley, spiritual leader for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, then shared the reason for the afternoon gathering — a war being waged against the devil.

“Our city has been targeted by dark forces,” he told the crowd.

Coakley said as Christians “we know that Christ conquered Satan.  The war has been won, Christ has conquered though skirmishes will continue until Christ comes to reign forever.”

I would like to think that many of the people who bought a ticket to the black mass but didn’t attend had their hearts swayed by the Holy Spirit invoked by those praying for these misguided souls.  Perhaps some of the no-shows realized that they were playing with fire if they attended, even if they were only curious.  Attending a black mass because you’re curious is like shooting yourself in the chest because you’re curious what a gunshot wound feels like.  There are just some things you don’t need to personally experience to know that they aren’t good for you.  I really feel like the Holy Spirit was able to reach a few souls and awakened them to the harm participating in a black mass would do to them.

I think this event is an interesting example of why God allows bad things to happen in our world.  One of the popular answers to this vexing question is that God knows that it will bring about the greater good.  Look at this case.  1,600 people assembled and prayed together on a Sunday afternoon because of this great evil taking place.  These people (along with who knows how many more in spirit) took time out of their day to witness their faith when they otherwise might have been going about their lives running errands or watching football.  That’s 38x as many people strengthening their faith as those putting their soul at risk.  A definite win for the greater good!

“That’s it, we’re firing our agent!”

Now while 42 people attending the black mass is small, it’s still 42 souls at risk.  Jesus and Mary are saddened by every soul that deliberately turns away from God.  We need to pray for those souls that they open their hearts to the Holy Spirit and our Mother Mary to the healing embrace of God’s grace.  I remember the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery of the rosary, Jesus’ Crucifixion, where he prayed to God to forgive the people who crucified him saying, “they know not what they do.”  I think knowing not what they do pretty accurately describes all those who attended the black mass.  These are the people in most need of our prayers.  When you take out your rosary today, pray not only these 42 wayward souls but for everyone who doesn’t really know the seriousness and eternal consequences of their actions.

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What is a Black Mass?

Unfortunately, the media has been reporting so much bad news lately that many Catholics may have missed this one among the headlines about Ferguson or ISIS.  A group of satanists were going to hold a black mass using a stolen Eucharist in Oklahoma City.  The bishop successfully sued them for theft and the satanists returned the blessed host.  They will still hold their black mass as is their Constitutional right but without the Eucharist.  For those who don’t know, a black mass is one that follows the same routine as a Catholic Mass, but in honor of Satan.  In other words, they make a mockery of Catholic Church to please the devil.

Believe it or not, this was the only depiction of a black mass that didn’t involve nudity.

When I heard about the black mass using a stolen host I wasn’t too shocked or appalled.  After all, the holy Eucharist often falls into the hands of people undeserving to receive it.  At Mass every Sunday, I see nearly everyone in the church receiving communion.  But how many of them are really deserving to receive it by having no mortal sins on their souls and having fasted appropriately beforehand?  I’m not making judgements on anyone, but the numbers just don’t add up.  I once heard a priest remark, “Isn’t it interesting how short the lines to confession are on Saturday and how long the lines for communion are on Sunday?  Either we live among a huge number of saints or some people are receiving the Eucharist who should not.”  So in that light, if so many people within the Catholic Church aren’t showing the Eucharist the respect it deserves, why should I be upset about a group of satanists getting their hands on it?  

But then what did appal me was the fact that I wasn’t too appalled by the satanists’ theft and intention to use it in their black mass.  My lack of shock and sadness reminded me of just how weak my faith is at times.  After all, the Eucharist is the true presence of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  A consecrated host is no different than Jesus being present in bodily form.  It is one of the cornerstones of the Catholic faith and is one of the main differences between Catholics and protestants.  And yet my apathy towards this instance in Oklahoma City does reveal the gaps in my faith.

The good news is that we can work towards bridging that faith gap.  I start where I always start — the rosary.  Particularly, in this case, I focus on the Fifth Luminous Mystery, The Instantiation of the Eucharist.  I meditate on how faith isn’t something that just happens instantaneously, but something that requires work and an open heart.  Think about the apostles at the Last Supper.  They witnessed the first Eucharist from Jesus himself and yet their faith was shaken in the proceeding days of Jesus’ crucifixion.  They betrayed him, abandoned him, and denied that they knew him.  Bridging that faith gap was something they all needed to work on just like we do today.  And all of the apostles, with the exception of Judas, earned their way into sainthood.  That should give all of us hope that no matter how weak or shaken our faith may be, all of us have an opportunity to improve it through prayer, the sacraments, fasting, good works, and God’s grace.

3rd quarter of 16th century
3rd quarter of 16th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another rosary mystery that comes to mind when I think about the black mass and the stolen Eucharist is the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery, Jesus’ Crucifixion.  The Romans put Jesus to death in the most horrific way possible and yet that couldn’t break Jesus’ resolve.  Nor could they suppress his message that was spread throughout the world by his followers fueled by the Holy Spirit.  Like the Eucharist, the cross became a cornerstone of the Christian faith and there is nothing the world can do that will stop God’s truth from being heard.  There is nothing that will break the spirit of God’s Church.  And so I see these satanists in a similar light as the Romans.  There is nothing they can do in a black mass, even if they had the stolen Eucharist, that will have any effect on God and His Church.  The world has tried numerous times to crush Christianity going all the way back to Jesus’ crucifixion.  Satanists and their black masses just continue that fruitless tradition.  Should we feel saddened by their actions and pray for their conversion?  You bet.  Should we feel scared that their actions weaken God or His Church?  Not in the least.

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