During my parish work last summer in France, one of my responsibilities was participating in a weekly prayer group for young adults who had fallen away from the Church. The last meeting of the summer, one of the guys made a surprising revelation to us all: before his conversion, he had been a full-fledged Satanist.
This reflection is the true story of that conversation and what I learned from it.
Satanism & the Eucharist
One of the most chilling moments in The Passion was during the Lord’s scourging, when Satan appears cradling a baby who slowly turns to reveal a hideous face. Here Satan is mocking Jesus and Mary by presenting himself as a twisted sort of “anti” Madonna and Child, as if to proclaim that he and his offspring have won, and not the woman and her offspring as foretold in Genesis 3:15. This is how the Evil One loves to work—Satan loves to mock God by imitating the holy and twisting it in a sick way. This past summer I was struck with this truth in a totally new way.
Nicolas had been a part of the prayer group all year long, but this was the first time that he had talked about his life before his conversion. He told us about how he became involved in Satanism while in his late teens. It enslaved him, bringing despair and utter loneliness to his life, to the point where he was tormented with thoughts of suicide. He felt trapped and helpless in its grasp. It was only through the constant prayers of his mother that he was finally freed from this slavery a couple of years ago, and he began to give his life back to Christ.
I had never met anyone like Nicolas, openly admitting a past involvement in Satanism. After the initial shock, I bombarded him with three questions, one after another. First, how did they ‘worship’ Satan? I had always heard that it was not anything like worshipping an image of Satan or singing hymns, but by having a so-called “Black Mass.” In other words, their entire service is a mockery of the Catholic Mass. Was this true, I asked him? Not a Protestant preaching service, not a Buddhist temple ritual, but an explicit mockery of our Mass? “Yes,” Nicolas told us, “that is true.”
I had also heard, I continued, that Satanists steal consecrated communion bread from their local Catholic churches which they desecrate at these black services. For example, I have heard of Catholic parishes where this is such a problem that the pastor is forced to post special attendants during Holy Communion who watch to make sure that no one receives the Eucharist and walks away without consuming the host. The Satanists take these consecrated hosts to their services—these wafers of “bread” that Catholics believe have been miraculously transformed by the Holy Spirit into the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ—and desecrate them with spit, bodily waste, and other such unimaginable blasphemies. Before your conversion, I asked Nicolas, did you and your fellow Satanists steal consecrated hosts for this purpose? “Yes,” Nicolas answered, “we did.”
The poor guy probably felt like he was being interrogated by the CIA by this point, but knowing that I might never have this opportunity again, I asked Nicolas one final question. I told him that I had also heard that those who were very deep in Satanism could actually tell whether a communion host had been consecrated or not. For example, they will not steal communion bread from Protestant communion meals, nor will they steal unblessed communion bread for desecration at these “Black Masses.” It would not work because some of the Satanists would immediately recognize that it was just ordinary bread. They would be able to tell that Jesus Christ was not sacramentally present there.
I asked Nicolas whether this also was true. He again replied that it is, and he told us that he could do this himself before his conversion from Satanism. A chill went down my spine. If someone were to put ten identical communion hosts in front of him, nine unconsecrated and one consecrated, he would have been able to point directly and immediately to the host that had been consecrated. I asked him in amazement, “But how were you able to know?!?” He looked at me and the words he spoke are forever burned in my memory: “Because of the hate,” he said. “Because of the burning hate I would feel toward that host, apart from all the others.”
His words hit me like a baseball bat. Some of the saints also had this mystical knowledge of the Lord’s Eucharistic presence, but this knowledge flowed from their deep union with Christ. Nicolas, on the other hand, knew Christ’s presence because his worship of Satan had worked the opposite mystical connection to the Eucharist—he knew Jesus was there not because of his love for Jesus, but because of his deep hate. It makes my skin crawl just to think about such hatred.
This is how Satan operates. He loves to mock whatever is holy and sacred, to imitate the truth and twist it in a perverse way. The Mass is the most sacred prayer on earth, the most awesome way for us Christians to offer worship to our Lord, so Satan has his followers worship him through a mockery of that prayer. Instead of lifting the Eucharist high with adoration and loving reverence, the Eucharist is thrown to the ground with loathing and derision. Rather than knowing Christ’s true presence in the sacrament through their love, they perversely recognize Christ’s presence through their hatred.
Let’s not pretend otherwise—it is scary to hear a story like Nicolas’. It is terrifying to realize that such evil exists in this world. But more than frighten us, his testimony should give us hope, comfort, and strength. Satan does exist and he is powerful, but Jesus Christ is infinitely more powerful. Even the most wicked sinner can be brought back to the love of the Lord, through Christ’s grace and through the prayers of believers (like Nicolas’ mother!) If Satan so despises the Mass, then we should be moved to even greater devotion, preparation, and participation in Mass. If Satan so despises the Lord’s true presence in the Eucharist, then our hearts should burn with even greater love and thirst for worthily receiving Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”
A great explanation of the Eucharist : “Christ in the Eucharist”
A fascinating talk given by Dr. Scott Hahn : “The Sacrament of Sacraments”
The Eucharist Miracle of Lanciano : http://www.cmns.mnegri.it/miracolo/shortdesc.htmlEucharist