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Articles Catholic Presentations

October: Monsters Edition

Source: Michael Hichborn, President, via Lepanto Institute.
Reprinted with permission.

While the Church and her faithful Catholics honor Our Lady and her most Holy Rosary throughout the month of October, the world prepares to celebrate a day dedicated to terrifying and demonic visages donned by children in the hopes of obtaining sweet treats.

Though we are all used to the ghoulish imagery and spooky programming on tv – and in many ways, we’ve been desensitized to it – the contrast of the seemingly innocuous holiday of Halloween against the backdrop of the Month of the Holy Rosary is striking.  We have an entire month devoted to the prayers and meditations of the Rosary, reminding us of the many victories won through its pious recitations as well as the fact that the Rosary is THE weapon against Hell.  And at the end of the month is a single day where the secular world celebrates monsters and fear.

As a kid, I was really big into the old black and white movie monsters.  Whether it was Dracula, the Wolfman, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or the Mummy, if it was a monster movie, I was going to watch it.  Now, as a father, I see these monsters as types for the various ways in which the devil and the world desire to gain possession of my children.  So, I think this is a good opportunity to talk about monsters in the world today.

There are three basic types of monsters that I want to focus on today that represent different kinds of threats to children and the faithful; the first type are what I will call “replicants.”  The second type we will call “changelings.”  And the third type we’ll refer to as “the unseen.”

The first category of monsters I referred to as “replicants” because of their ability to make other monsters.  These hideous villains are creatures like vampires, werewolves, and zombies.  Each one of these entities has the ability to make others like them, but it is only able to be done through a bite.  Think about the nature of a bite for a moment.  It is an intimate act of violence that mimics the nature of communion.

When we receive Holy Communion, the intimacy of the act is immediately known.  What can be more intimate than placing the entire person of Our Lord on our tongue as He is consumed as true food?  Furthermore, by receiving Our Lord worthily in Holy Communion, we become mini tabernacles, carrying Our Lord and His graces with us into the world.  Conversely, the violent act of biting a victim is intimate as well, but rather than the sweet intimacy of mental, emotional, spiritual and physical communion with God, the bite of one of these monsters is a violent, painful, and terrifying moment.

Now, even though each of these monsters make others like themselves through a bite, vampires, werewolves, and zombies each represents a different vice.  For instance, the vampire only shows up at night and works to seduce his victim into allowing the bite to take place.  The vampire represents the vice of lust and the loss of innocence, and it is through the completion of the act of lust that a new vampire is made.  This is easily observed in youthful indiscretions as well as cases of sexual abuse and homosexuality.  In the movies and myths, after a victim is bitten sometimes the character struggles to keep his or her “thirst” in check because an unquenchable appetite had been awakened in them that they cannot control.  For those who have illicitly given up their virginity, were sexually abused, or seduced into unnatural acts, we can understand such poor souls as having received a vampire’s bite, driving them to make others like themselves.

Zombies, at least according to the modern mythology of the thing, also make other zombies through a bite as well.  But this kind of bite is not through a seduction.  These mindless, rotting corpses roam the world looking for human flesh to consume, and those who receive a bite but are not killed by a zombie attack eventually succumb to the same condition.  Being both mindless and violent with a perpetual appetite for human flesh, the zombie is the ultimate representative of those who succumb to spiritual sloth.  Though dead, the zombie is restless, as the slothful likewise prowl about looking for some kind of purpose, leading only to the consumption of other people.  Such individuals refuse the spiritual food provided by Holy Mother Church and are left to consume those around them.  These are the alcoholics, the drug addicts, the workaholics, the video game addicts, the thrill-seekers, the gamblers, and all others who pursue a life of self-fulfillment at the expense of their souls.  As with the zombie movies, these walking dead tend to travel in groups like themselves, milling about the world without any kind of eternal purpose.  When a member of the living is found among them, they reach out with hundreds of hands, trying to pull them in among them to be consumed and made like themselves.  And like the vampire, it takes a zombie to make a zombie.

Werewolves are the last in this category of “replicants,” but they crossover into the realm of the next category (changelings) as well.  The werewolf represents rage, power, and brutality.  In the movies, they only come out once in a full moon, but the inner wolf is always just simmering beneath the surface.  Such rageful beasts are seen among those who are physically or emotionally abusive.  They may be calm and appear to be normal to most people, but at a moment’s notice, they can become enraged beasts, looking to destroy whomever or whatever is the source of their fury.  The saying that it takes an abuser to make an abuser is best exemplified in the bite of the werewolf.

But the werewolf is not only a “replicant” like the vampire or the zombie.  The werewolf is a changeling.  Much like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, one never really knows who it is they are dealing with.  The changeling is a creature that provides a normal, outward appearance that gives no indication of the monster within.  In the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll believed that he could use chemistry to make himself into a perfectly virtuous man.  But the potion he took divided his personality into one who was very good and one who was very wicked.  What Jekyll hadn’t considered was that it is was his hubris – his pride that contaminated the formula and gave birth to the evil Mr. Hyde.  As with the werewolf, there is no telling when the beast may emerge, but the vicious lack of self-control is the sign of the self-indulgent.  The reason for this is simply that one who does not practice mortification or a chastisement of the body will find themselves as the living embodiment of Our Lord’s expression, “no one can serve two masters.  He will either serve the one and hate the other, or he will sustain the one and despise the other.”  Among the changelings we find a tormented soul who ultimately seeks his own end, resulting in his own demise.

And finally, the last category of monster we are considering is “the unseen.”  The unseen is the Invisible Man, a ghost, or the demonic forces of a haunted house.  Such creatures seek only to mentally torment or terrorize their victims, driving them into madness and self-destruction.  In the world around us, we could see this reflected in a myriad of ways, not the least of which is the living embodiment of the lie.  Nearly every haunted house story begins the same way: the victims start to notice things happening around them that they can’t explain, but they chalk it up to a faulty memory or a misperception of reality.  An open cupboard, a moved chair, a misplaced mug, or a television set left on force the victim to wonder how and when such a thing happened.  Not having any real-world explanation, they initially shrug it off and think that perhaps they had done something inadvertently and simply forgotten about it.  Or, perhaps it was the result of the wind.  But as the events continue to happen, the protagonist starts to think they are going mad or that something is wrong with them.  We see this sort of activity being conducted by those monsters among us who are liars.  They change the story of reality around us, ghosting the truth.  The victim of the lie initially believes that perhaps they got something wrong and their perception of something being off with their observations is at fault, so they explain away what they thought they had seen or heard.  But as the lies become bolder, they wonder if there is something wrong with them as opposed to the liar.  And when reality settles in, and they see the lie for what it is, confronting the truth becomes painful and even terrifying.

In every good monster story, the creature is a beast so powerful that it cannot be defeated by usual means.  The zombie requires a blow to or striking off of the head.  The vampire is defeated by sunlight or a stake through the heart.  Werewolves can be killed with a silver bullet.  Whatever the means by which these creatures are ultimately defeated, the fact remains that all monsters and the vices they embody are defeated with a single weapon, which is the Holy Rosary.  Our Lady has made 15 promises regarding the recitation of the Rosary, which show just how powerful the Rosary is in the face of the monsters we profiled:

  1. Those who faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary shall receive signal graces.
  2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
  3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell. It will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
  4. The recitation of the Rosary will cause virtue and good works to flourish. It will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God. It will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
  5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.
  6. Those who recite my Rosary devoutly, applying themselves to the consideration of its sacred mysteries, shall never be conquered by misfortune. In His justice, God will not chastise them; nor shall they perish by an unprovided death, i.e., be unprepared for heaven. Sinners shall convert. The just shall persevere in grace and become worthy of eternal life.
  7. Those who have a true devotion to the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
  8. Those who faithfully recite the Rosary shall have, during their life and at their death, the light of God and the plenitude of His graces. At the moment of death, they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
  9. I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
  10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.
  11. By the recitation of the Rosary you shall obtain all that you ask of me.
  12. Those who propagate the holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
  13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of their death.
  14. All who recite the Rosary are my beloved children and the brothers and sisters of my only Son, Jesus Christ.
  15. Devotion for my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

As the Month of the Rosary comes to an end, do all that you can to increase your devotion to our Lady through devout meditation and recitation of this powerful prayer.

Header Image: Samuele Giglio via unsplash.com