When I was a teenager in the early seventies, an older cousin introduced me to the Ouija Board. At first, I thought we were just playing a harmless game. Amidst giggles and whispers we would ask silly questions: Does the cute boy like me? Will I have lots of money? While we lightly placed our hands on the planchette, it would answer our questions by pointing to letters of the alphabet or sliding over “yes” or “no.” Initially, there was an air of mystery that appealed to me, but eventually I began to feel uneasy. I didn’t believe my cousin’s explanation that we were the ones subconsciously moving the planchette. Although I didn’t realize we were delving into the occult, my instincts told me to stay away from the Ouija Board.
Now there’s an easier, socially popular way of summoning evil spirits—and thanks to the internet, it continues to trend on social media. Charlie Charlie is gaining popularity especially among our youth and anyone else who is curious about the occult. Charlie Charlie is called the “poor man’s Ouija Board” because all you need to summon the Mexican demon are two pencils and a piece of paper. Young people devoted to social media take part in the Charlie Challenge, posting about their experiences—and the popularity of Charlie Charlie continues to spread.
Fr. John Hardon, SJ said that the devil “seduces through the mind.” And what better way to get into our minds than through all forms of media and books that greatly influence the culture.
The devil has often been depicted in classic literature. Dante’s Inferno and C. S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters are perhaps two of the best examples. During the last century and in our present day, Satan has become a more prominent, somewhat favourable figure in books, movies, and music.
In 1957, Harvey Comics launched HotStuff: The Little Devil comic books. This little red devil was almost cherubic in appearance. Unlike other devils, he was friendly and helpful. Then there is comedian Flip Wilson’s sassy character, Geraldine. Her famous line was: “The devil made me do it.”
Movies about the demonic range from the frightening (Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist) to the comedic (Adam Sandler’s Little Nicky is a regrettable example). In music, we have songs such as Sympathy for the Devil (Rolling Stones). Popular fiction has given us the Fallen novels.
Using the media, Satan has insinuated himself into popular culture and has both influenced and taken advantage of our fallen nature, decades of poor catechesis, and the errors of priests, bishops, and theologians. For the majority, he and his legion are no longer known as sowers of evil and he has managed to make us doubt that there are any souls in Hell—and that Hell even exists.
The devil is a liar. When I discussed the Charlie Challenge with my teenagers, my seventeen-year-old son innocently said that Charlie Charlie is just a game with nothing demonic about it. Secular media explains the movement of the pencils as an effect of gravity or the slightest breeze. That’s what Satan wants us to think and why we have to be aware of his deceptions.
Charlie Charlie is a wake-up call to live a life of increased alertness and sobriety. “Be sober and alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet 5:8). Fr. Hardon explains sobriety as using and enjoying the things God gives us with an attitude of moderation. It also calls us to endure sufferings and to sacrifice some things that we find naturally pleasing.
Remember that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (cf. Rom 5:20). Praying for humility which opens our souls to grace is our first line of defense against the devil who wants to devour our souls. Consecrate your family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Through these devotions, Our Lord and Blessed Mother promise us blessings, mercy, and refuge.
Make sure your family is strong in the Catholic Faith. Study Scripture, the writings of the saints, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and theologians who are loyal to the Magisterium. Be heroic in living out your Faith even in the face of adversity.
Pray for a spirit of interior peace. Fr. Hardon explains that Satan seeks out those who do not possess the peace of Christ and who live in fear of demons. He advises us to not be afraid of evil spirits and to take as our example the “courageous behaviour of Christ in His temptation by the devil.”
The St. Michael the Archangel Prayer, written by Pope Leo XIII, should be prayed daily by Catholics. Pope Leo XIII composed the prayer after being given a vision of evil spirits released from Hell in order to destroy the Catholic Church. He saw St. Michael the Archangel defeat the demons and cast them back into the pit of Hell.
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
by the Divine Power of God
cast into hell, Satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Painting: Michael by Guido Reni, 1636. Wikipedia.org In the public domain.