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Christ’s Victory over Evil/the Spirit of evil

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on God the Father
General Audience, Wednesday 20 August 1986 - also in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish  

"1. Our catecheses about/on God, Creator of things "invisible", have led us to illuminate and invigorate our faith in regard to the truth about the evil one or satan, certainly not willed by God, (who is) supreme love and holiness, whose wise and strong Providence knows how to lead our existence to victory over the prince of darkness. The faith of the Church in fact teaches us that the power of satan is not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful in as much as pure spirit, but still always a creature, with the limits of (the) creature, subordinated to the will and dominion of God. If satan works in the world through his hatred against God and his kingdom, this is permitted by divine Providence which directs the history of man and the world with power and goodness ("fortiter et suaviter"). If the action of satan certainly caused causes much damage - of a spiritual nature and indirectly of a physical nature as well - to individuals and to society, he cannot however annul the definitive finality to which man and all creation tend, the Good. He cannot obstruct the building up/construction of the kingdom of God, in which there will be, at the end, the full carrying out/execution/implementation of the justice and love of the Father towards the creatures eternally "predestined" in the Son-Word, Jesus Christ. We can even say with St Paul that the work of the evil one concurs for the good (cf Rom 8, 28) and serves to build up the glory of the "elect" (cf 2 Tim 2, 10).

2. Thus the whole history of humanity can be considered in function of (the) total salvation, in which is inscribed the victory of Christ over the "prince of this world" (Jn 12, 31; 14, 30; 16, 11).

"You shall bow down before the Lord your God alone, you shall adore him alone/CTS: You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone" (Lk 4, 8), Christ says imperatively to satan. In a dramatic moment of his ministry, to those who blatantly accused him of driving/casting out demons because he was allied to Beelzebul, head/chief of the demons, Jesus responds with these words (that are) both severe and comforting: "Every discordant kingdom falls into ruin, and no discordant city or family can stand. Now, if satan drives out satan, he is discordant with himself. How then can his kingdom stand?... And if I drive/cast out demons by virtue of the Spirit of God, it is certain the kingdom of God has come among you" (Mt 12, 25-26.28). "When a strong man, well armed, guards his palace, all his goods are secure. But if someone stronger than him comes and overpowers him, the stronger man takes away the weapons he relied in and distributes his spoils" (Lk 11, 21-22). The words spoken by Christ apropos/about the tempter find their historical fulfillment in the cross and resurrection of the Redeemer. As we read in the Letter to the Hebrews, Christ became participant in humanity all the way to the cross "so that by his death he could take away all the power of the devil, who had power over death .. and thus to free all those who ... had been held in slavery" (Heb 2, 14-15). This is the great certainty of the Christian faith: "the prince of this world has already been judged" (Jn 16, 11); "the Son of God has appeared so as to destroy the works of the devil" (1 Jn 3, 8), as St John attests to us. Thus the crucified and risen Christ has revealed himself as that "stronger one" who has overpowered "the strong man", the devil, and dethroned him.

The Church participates in Christ's victory over the devil: Christ, in fact, has given his disciples the power to cast out demons (cf Mt 10, 1 and parallels; Mk 16, 17). The Church exercises such/this victorious power through faith in Christ and prayer (cf Mk 9, 29; Mt 17, 19 ff), which in specific cases can take the form of exorcism.

3. In this historical phase of the victory of Christ is inscribed the announcement and (the) beginning of the final victory, the parousia, the second and definitive coming of Christ at the conclusion of history, towards which the life of the Christian is projected. Even if it is true that earthly history continues to unfold under the influence of "that spirit which -
as St Paul says - now works in rebellious men" (Eph 2, 2), believers know that they are called to struggle for the definitive triumph of (the) Good: "our battle in fact is not against creatures made of blood and flesh, but against Principalities and Powers, against the dominators/rulers of this world of darkness, against the spirits of evil that dwell in celestial regions" (Eph 6, 12).

4. The struggle, as the term/end approaches/draws near, becomes in a certain sense ever more violent, as is highlighted especially by the Apocalypse, the last book of the New Testament (cf Rv 12, 7-9). But precisely this book accentuates the certainty that is given to us by all of divine revelation: that is, that the struggle will conclude with the definitive victory of the good. In this victory, contained in anticipation in the paschal mystery of Christ, there will be the definitive fulfillment of the first announcement of/in the Book of Genesis, which with significant term/meaning/word is called the protoevangelium, when God admonishs the serpent: "I will put enmity between you and the woman" (Gen 3, 15). In this definitive phase God, (in/by) completing the mystery of his paternal Providence,  "will (set) free from the power of darkness" those whom he has eternally "predestined in Christ" and will "transfer them into the kingdom of his beloved Son" (cf Col 1, 13-14). Then the Son will subjugate/subdue/subject
to the Father also the entire universe, so that "God may be all in all" (cf 1 Cor 15, 28).

5. Here are concluded the catecheses on God Creator of "things visible and invisible", united in our setting with the truth on/about divine Providence. It appears evident to the eyes of the believer that the mystery of the beginning of the world and of history is indissolubly connected to the mystery of the term/end, in which the finality of all that has been created reaches its fulfillment. The Credo/Creed, which in this way organically unites so many truths, is truly the harmonious cathedral of the faith.

In a progressive and organic way we have been able to admire in amazement/stupefied the great mystery of the intelligence and love of God, in his creative action, towards the cosmos, towards man, towards the world of pure spirits. We have considered the trinitarian matrix of such/this action, the wise finalisation to the life of man, true "image of God", in turn called to rediscover fully his (own) dignity in the contemplation of the glory of God. We have received light on one of the greatest problems that perturb/disturb man and pervade his search for truth: the problem of suffering and of evil. At the root there is not a mistaken or bad/wicked decision by God, but his choice, and in a certain way his risk, of creating us free so as to have us (as) friends. Evil was also born of freedom. But God does not give up, and with his transcendent wisdom, predestining us to be his children in Christ, he directs everything with strength and gentleness/sweetness, so that the good may not be overcome by evil.

We must now let ourselves be guided by divine revelation in the exploration of  other mysteries of our salvation. Meanwhile we have welcomed/accepted a truth which must be at the heart of every Christian: that/how there exist/are pure spirits, creatures of God, initially all good, and then through a choice of sin, irreducibly separated into angels of light and angels of darkness. And while the existence of the wicked angels asks/requires of us the sense of vigilance so as not to yield to their enticements, we are certain that the victorious power of Christ the Redeemer surrounds our lives so that we are ourselves victors. In this we are validly/powerfully helped by the good angels, messengers of God's love, to whom, taught by the tradition of the Church, we address our prayer: "Angel of God, who are my guardian, illuminate/enlighten, guard, hold and govern me, who have been entrusted to you by celestial piety. Amen.""


"Chers Frères et Soeurs, Je voudrais saluer maintenant tous les pèlerins et visiteurs de langue française. Parmi eux je salue très cordialement un groupe d’étudiants venus d’Abidjan où j’ai eu la joie de consacrer la cathédrale il y a un an. J’adresse aussi mes voeux fervents aux jeunes du Groupement d’Activités Catholiques Internationales: qu’ils soient des bâtisseurs généreux de l’édifice ecclésial! Que les Apôtres Pierre et Paul les fortifient dans leur foi et les remplissent d’assurance et de joie pour aller de l’avant!

Je suis heureux d’accueillir le pèlerinage de prêtres et de laïcs du diocèse de Bruges: ils répondent à ma visite de l’an dernier en Belgique, à Ypres en particulier. Qu’ils sachent que le souvenir de leur pays est très vivant pour moi dans la mémoire du cœur. Je les encourage dans toutes leurs taches et leur témoignage évangélique. Je demande à Dieu de vous bénir tous et de vous combler de ses dons.

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern! Mit dieser kurzen Betrachtung grüße ich herzlich alle heutigen Audienzteilnehmer deutscher Sprache, die genannten Gruppen und auch die ungenannten Einzelpilger. Ich empfehle euch in eurem Kampf gegen das Böse in euch und um euch dem besonderen Schutz jener guten Geister, der Engel, die Gott eigens zu unseren Weggefährten bestimmt hat. Mögen sie euch auch wieder wohlbehalten in eure Heimat zurückbegleiten!

Einen besonderen Willkommensgruß richte ich an die Gruppe der Schwestern, die in La Storta an einem religiösen Erneuerungskurs teilnehmen und erbitte ihnen in ihren geistlichen Übungen Gottes Licht und Beitsand.

Schließlich grüße ich noch mit Freude die Jugendlichen aus Vietnam, die in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland eine neue Heimat gefunden haben. Ich versichere euch und euer ganzes Volk meiner besonderen Nahe und meines Gebetes. Von Herzen erteile ich euch und allen anwesenden Pilgern deutscher Sprache meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Amados hermanos y hermanas, Reciban mi más cordial saludo de bienvenida todos los peregrinos de lengua española. En particular, saludo a los representantes de los 1.500 Propagandistas de la Obra de Ejercicios de Navarra, a quienes aliento a una generosa entrega apostólica y misionera, inspirados en la espiritualidad ignaciana.

Igualmente, deseo saludar a los componentes del Orfeón Universitario “Simón Bolívar” de Caracas. A todas las personas, familias y grupos procedentes de los diversos Países de América Latina y de España imparto con afecto la Bendición Apostólica.

Quero dirigir a todos os irmãos e irmãs de língua portuguesa uma cordial saudação, com votos de bem, graça e paz. E dou as boas-vindas, em particular, ao simpático grupo de Jovens do Corpo Nacional de Escutas de Portugal, da paróquia de São Mamede, em Lisboa: “Alerta, para servir”, caros amigos, como Cristo serviu, enquadrando os vossos projectos de vida na sua mensagem e seguindo sempre as “pistas” do amor e da fraternidade, na edificação de um mundo novo, pela novidade de Jesus Cristo! Com a minha Benção Apostólica.

Pozdrawiam serdecznie wszystkich pielgrzymów wspólnoty akademickiej jezuitów z Krakowa; z parafii Trójcy Przenajświęstszej ze Starachowic; ze Skarżyska-Kamiennej; z parafii Wniebowzięcia SIatki Boskiej w Kraśniku; z parafii Wniebowzięcia Matki Bożej z Rzeszowa, ojcowie bernardyni; animatorów oazowych z Torunia, duszpasterstwo ojców redemptorystów; z dekanatu skoraszewskiego w diecezji opolskiej; z dekanatu Bystrzyca Kłodzka, archidiecezja wrocławska; z parafii św. Karola Boromeusza we Wrocławiu; z parafii św. Jana Chrzciciela z Leśnej, archidiecezja wrocławska; młodzież akademicką z parafii św. Kazimierza i Maksymiliana Kolbe ze Szczecina; pielgrzymke. mlodziezowa Wieczernika, ksieza pallotyni; pielgrzymke mlodziezowego zespolu wokalno-muzycznego z Sopotu, z parafii Gwiazda Morza; pielgrżymkę Klubu Inteligencji Katolickiej z Przemyśla; zespół pieśni i tańca “Kortowo” z Olsztyna; zespół regionalny “Dolina Dunajca” z Nowego Sącza; prócz tego uczestników grup turystycznych, studentów z Rzeszowa, PKS z Warszawy, PTTK z Warszawy, Logos Tour z Kielc, turystów indywidualnych z campingu “Capitol”, Polaków z campingu “Capaldio”, Orbis (nauczyciele), Turysta i Alma Tour z Lublina. Wszystkich serdecznie witam i pozdrawiam. 

Desidero ora rivolgere il mio saluto alle suore capitolari dell’Istituto Suore dell’Immacolata di Genova, riunite presso la Casa Generalizia di Roma per il loro capitolo elettivo, per la revisione dello statuto secondo le disposizioni del nuovo Codice di Diritto Canonico e per approfondire la conoscenza del carisma dell’Istituto. Mi compiaccio con voi e benedico il vostro impegno, con la raccomandazione di ravvivare sempre in voi la fiamma della carità che ha caratterizzato la vita del vostro fondatore. 

Saluto poi le suore Ancelle del Sacro Cuore, anch’esse presenti in Roma per il Capitolo Generale. Ad esse va il mio augurio per un confortante esito della loro riunione, insieme con l’invito a diffondere in tutti i campi dell’apostolato la devozione al Cuore di Cristo. 

Il mio pensiero va, infine, al numeroso gruppo delle suore Canossiane, Figlie della Carità, convenute un po’ da tutto il mondo, dalle loro case di Missione dell’Asia, dell’Africa e dell’America, per partecipare ad un seminario di formazione permanente. Mi compiaccio con voi, ed a tutte imparto la mia Benedizione Apostolica. 

Un saluto cordiale ed affettuoso ai giovani presenti a questa Udienza. Desidero rivolgervi oggi un invito a cercare di sviluppare sempre in voi stessi un’autentica coscienza di pace. Abbiate la sincera consapevolezza che la pace è un bene prezioso e grande e che occorre un forte e costante impegno per realizzarla, seguendo con onestà e verità le vie che la costruiscono e la confermano nella società. Sappiate, perciò, trasfondere il vostro impegno per la pace nel tessuto sociale ed umano che vi riguarda, senza lasciarvi scoraggiare se lo trovate talvolta refrattario agli autentici valori della pace. Faccio voti che l’impegno per la pace sia sempre in voi sollecito, ricco di speranza, ma anche coraggioso e generoso. 

Desidero salutare, altresì, i cari malati e li invito a conservare anche nei momenti della prova, fortezza d’animo e fiducia. Ricordate le parole dell’Apostolo Paolo: “Dio non permetterà che siamo tribolati oltre le nostre possibilità”. Abbiate, pertanto, fiducia nella provvida azione di grazia del Signore, che vi è vicino, vi assiste, vigila sulle vostre vicende, vi sta accanto per sostenere, con il dolore della sua Croce, la sofferenza di ogni uomo. Siate forti nello spirito, consapevoli come siete che tanti doni di grazia dipendono dalla vostra capacità di rendervi, presso Dio, interpreti, nella preghiera e nella sofferenza, delle necessità dei fratelli. Vi conforti e vi sostenga la mia Benedizione. 

Saluto anche le giovani coppie di sposi novelli, ai quali rivolgo il mio più fervido augurio per un felice avvenire delle loro famiglie, iniziate con la benedizione di Dio nel Sacramento del matrimonio.

Sia la carità di Cristo la regola fondamentale della vita in famiglia, lo spunto costante del vostro amore più autentico. La vostra carità si ispiri, nella fede, al modello di Gesù Cristo. Essa sia aperta, premurosa e generosa in tutte le situazioni difficili, che rendono l’uomo bisognoso di attenzione, di affetto e di delicata premura. Sia la carità cristiana la virtù che voi insegnerete ai figli con attenta e peculiare pedagogia, facendo loro comprendere che essa è il vertice di ogni altra virtù. Fate in modo che la famiglia sia una scuola costante, valida, efficace della virtù soprannaturale dell’amore.

Su tutti voi la mia cordiale Benedizione."