Since 2000, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has expressed his opinion on a variety of faith topics. These texts were initially published in the "Ask the Religion Experts" column which appears every Saturday in The Ottawa Citizen. As of June 2005, Msgr. Patrick Powers, Vicar General, will be taking on the responsibility of the weekly articles.

Is the devil real?

He is real. In the Book of Genesis (3: 1-5), we read that it was the seductive voice of the devil that was behind the fall of our first parents. Scripture and the Churchs Tradition see him as a fallen angel known as the "devil" or "Satan" (cf John 8:44; Wisdom 2:24). From as far back as the Fourth Lateran Council, the Church has taught that Satan was at first a good angel, created naturally by God, but he became evil by his own doing. In his fall, he freely, radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. That rebellion is reflected in the devils promise to Adam and Eve that they would be "like God" if they disobeyed.

Our Catechism (no. 395), reminds that the devil is one of Gods creatures, who is active in the world, acting out of hatred for God and his kingdom. Satans determination is most dramatically emphasized in his temptations of Jesus while he was in the desert, as we read in Lukes Gospel (4:13). Satan tempts him three times, seeking to compromise his filial attitude towards God. The evangelists see in this mysterious event an indication that Jesus is the "new Adam", having refused to give in to temptation while the first Adam had.

In all of this, Jesus shows that he vanquished the devils temptations for us. As a result of the temptations of Jesus, the devils actions have prompted us to solemnly follow the tradition of Lent. It is our one penitential season, in which we strive to unite ourselves to Christ, eradicating, inasmuch as possible, the influence of the devil in our lives. Divine providence may permit diabolic activity, but we also know that in everything, God works for good with those who love him - and always has the last word!