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It was ten degrees this morning when I drove through our sleepy little town of Lebanon, Ohio on my way to Mass. As the sun was beginning to peek over the eastern horizon, I encountered the usual light traffic of folks making their way to work. Ours is a quiet town, an historic town, with good folks.

As with most small towns we have many churches and as Catholics we are well represented.  I’d say the majority of the town’s citizens lean towards the conservative side of life and, in elections, generally favor the more conservative candidates and their views.  Thus, it was no real surprise that our City Council voted in May of 2021 to become the first city in the state of Ohio to be a sanctuary city for the unborn, a decision that nevertheless ruffled a few feathers.

In Scripture we hear, “Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Rom 5:20 NAB).  I truly believe St. Paul’s conviction, but it seems that it’s never the end of the story.  Evil has a way of rearing its ugly head in new and different ways, creating new opportunities for grace and goodness to abound.  

A particular opportunity will present itself this afternoon, at 4:00 p.m. EST.  The inaugural meeting of The Satanic Temple After-School Satan Club will be held in rented space at Lebanon’s 3rd/4th grade elementary school campus.  The flyer that was distributed encouraged children (with parental permission) to join and participate in “Science Projects! Puzzles & Games! Arts and Crafts Projects! Nature Activities!”  It went on to tell parents their child would learn about benevolence and empathy, critical thinking, problem-solving, creative expression and personal sovereignty.  

It all sounds good until you get to that “personal sovereignty” part.  To me that’s just another way of saying we don’t need God because we are our own gods.  As Christians, we know that the Mother of all Vices is Pride, and there’s no greater expression of pride than to reject God, thinking that we can take His place.

As you can imagine, there has been quite an uproar.  Parents have protested to the School Board only to be told that their hands are legally tied, that, since space is currently rented out to The Good News Club (a Christian club for children), they must accept the application from the Satanic Temple Club.  I understand, and agree with, the State’s point of view.  We are a country founded on respecting one’s religious preferences.  It’s what guarantees our own right to practice our faith.

The thing is, this is not a political battle.  It’s spiritual warfare, and once again, the forces of Goodness and Grace are being called upon to face off with the forces of evil.  We don’t do that by sending disciples with swords to cut off ears at an elementary school.  No, we do it with prayer and refusing to give the Devil his due.  

Today’s Gospel is from Mark 4:21-25, The Parable of the Lamp.  Jesus asks His disciples (and He’s asking you and me), “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand?”  Also, today, we read from Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.”  As Christians, we receive Him to light our path and we are called to light the pathway for others.  

There’s an old analogy relating God and evil to the science of physics.  Physics defines cold as the absence of heat, and darkness as the absence of light.  Our faith tells us that evil exists as the absence of God.  Put another way, the darkness of evil exists due to the absence of the light of God.  One might ask, “Why doesn’t God just shine the light on the evil ones?”  Well, he respects their free will.  But, he also expects us to do our part to bring His Light into the world. We ought to ask ourselves if we are doing that or are we being a barrier that blocks out the Light?

Our parish is conducting a prayer service at 4:00 p.m. this afternoon and will consist of praying the Rosary, calling upon our Blessed Mother to intervene, to turn hearts away from the evil that lurks in our midst, and let the Light shine.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that today is Thursday, the day on which we pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.  No, it’s the Divine Providence that we need.

If you are in Lebanon and would like to come to St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church today to pray at 4:00 p.m. EST, you will be welcomed.  You don’t have to be Catholic to pray a Rosary.  You can just show up to pray.  For those of you who are not local, please consider taking time to pray for us wherever you are at that time.  And, please feel free to share this post on FaceBook or forward it to your friends.  We need all the prayer warriors we can get.  Thank you!

Lord Jesus, Light of the world, open our hearts to be the light that shines on the path for all those who are searching for peace, beauty and goodness in the world today.  Let us not hide Your Light, but be Beacons of Light to others.  Amen.”

(Where Sin Increased, Grace Overflowed All The More was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

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