Most of us take it for granted that Satan hates us. But why does he hate us? That question recently came up in my Our Sunday Visitor column. It is a very different kind of writing than I do here, in that it requires me to provide very brief answers. But I’m sure you sometimes appreciate brevity on the blog! Thus consider a brief post today on a mysterious question:

Q: In the sermon the other day, the priest said Satan hates us. It occurred to me to ask, why does Satan hate me, what did I ever do to him? – John Smoot, Bayonne NJ.

A: To be sure, there are very deep mysteries involved in the motives for Satan’s hatred. We struggle to understand our own human psyches, let alone trying to understand the psyche of a fallen angelic person.

However, an important clue to Satan’s hatred is contained in the third temptation he makes to Jesus in the desert. Showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world he says, “All these I will give you, if you will but fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:10).

Here we see the curtain pulled back, and we glimpse for a moment the kind of inner torment that dominates Satan. He seems desperate to be adored. He cannot bear that he is a creature and that there is another, other than himself (God), who is ever to be adored.

Thus in his colossal pride Satan hates, first of all, God. And by extension, he hates everyone and everything that manifests the glory of God. Even more, he hates those who seek to adore God rather than him. In his venomous pride, Satan seeks to destroy the Church, which declares the glory of God and reminds us that God alone is to be adored. Surely he hates and seeks to destroy those who even try to adore God, and who do not accord him, Satan, the worship and pride of place for which he ravenously hungers.

Hence, as the text from the temptation in the desert suggests, Satan is tormented by pride, and his torment is filled with deep hatred for all who worship God and all who draw others to the worship of the one, true God.

For blog readers I might also suggest several sources on demonology that I have found helpful:

An Interview with an Exorcist by Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea
The Devil you Don’t Know By Fr. Louis Cameli
The Deceiver – Our Daily Struggle with Satan by Fr. Livio Fanzaga

This video is criticized by some for being a bit too light-hearted, but it does a very good job of showing the subtleties of Satan’s work.

26 Responses

  1. patty says:

    very good perspective…perhaps Msgr. you will write another homily which is more involved. I so look forward to reading your Holy Spirit inspired blogs. I am sure that He wants us to have more on this subject. :)

  2. R in Indiana says:

    You would not believe the issues that I had reading this post this morning! My mobile kept flipping off Internet and it would not shrink to fit the screen, but I persevered. Thank you Monsignor, please keep reminding us that there is evil in the world that must be resisted.

  3. X Contra says:

    Gracias, Msgr. Pope!

    Here is another question to set alongside the first “why?” question: Why is it so important to the enemy satan that as many babies as possible are killed by abortion?

    We used to walk around the block in which an abortion mill was located, no picketing signs, just praying the five sorrowful mysteries, one at each corner. I frequently thought about that clinic as a real stronghold of the enemy — why is abortion so important to him?

    • C Beltz says:

      It’s a numbers game. I can’t recall if it’s in a Gospel or one of Paul’s letters, but the basic message that there is a certain number of souls God has in mind (and only He knows that number) before He sends His Son to us for the final judgement – Satan doesn’t want that to happen, so he uses abortion to thin out the numbers both physically and spiritually (sin of murder).

      I think the devil actually has the audacity to beleive that who ever gathers the most souls wins. Pride makes you stupid.

    • Michael Petek says:

      Michael Voris has this one right. Satan isn’t much fazed by dead babies. He declares mission accomplished when he turns a mother or a doctor into a murderer.

  4. Dennis Neylon says:

    As I read this, I thought of the continuing battle between Mr. Crab and the slug on Sponge Bob (I have grandchildren). The slug is constantly trying to get the Crabby Patty formula so he can be the success (?) that Mr. Crab is. Likewise, Satan wants to be loved and in power like God, but can not be, because God is God and Satan never will be. Likewise the slub can never be Mr. Crab, because he will always be a slug and can’t be a crab. Something tells me that if Sponge Bob has captured this battle, other programs probably have to (although probably not as well; Sponge Bob is delightfully subversive).

    • VinceC says:

      Actually, Mr. Crab’s antagonist is not a slug– he’s a plankton: Sheldon Plankton by name. :)

      • Robertlifelongcatholic says:

        Sounds like someone is pretty deep into Sponge Bob Square Pants and in denial. I have grandchildren too but I couldn’t tell you anything about Sponge Bob other than it is a cartoon about what looks like a square, talking yellow sink sponge that wears shorts with suspenders and lives in the ocean with a cast of talking sea creatures. Next you will be claiming talking vegetables teach Christian morals to kids.

  5. BHG says:

    I am reminded that the basis of all sin is the refusal to accept that we are creatures, a refusal to accept creation as it is. And the great struggle is always, always to remember that.

  6. Rob says:

    Dennis, I think it’s time you took a long nap and stop watching SpongeBob. The only thing scaring me here is you lol

  7. Jean D says:

    The answer might be a little bit more complex. Some theologians teach that unlike humans who gradually come to knowledge, angels are created knowing everything needed for the particular order they belong to. According to these theologians, after creating them, God informed the angels that it was possible for them to see Him. Only two conditions were needed: humility and love.

    The same theologians go on to teach that the humility part for the angels consisted in serving that creature (man in the generic sense) that God was going to create out of mud.

    Some of these theologians go as far as saying that God may have foretold of that woman creature (Mary) who was to become Queen of Heaven. “Non serviam” was the response of Lucifer (a member of one of the higher order of angels). To understand his position, one has to picture the most accomplished of scientists who -after years of study and research- is tasked to care for worms. This analogy still misses by many order of magnitude.

    After his fall, Lucifer is out to prove God wrong. (cf. Job) Using every artifice of his super intelligence, he toys with us, enticing us to worship him (through power, prestige and material wealth) instead of the Creator. Every single time, he trips one of us (specially a member of the clergy), he says to God: “I told you so!”

    • Of course it is a little more complex. That is why I reference the mystery of it. But as for the opinions of “some Theologians” we must also be careful and issue the “speculative theology” alert.

      • Mark S. says:

        Well stated, with God the last shall be first and the first shall be last, the exalted is humbled and the humbled exalted. Think about this, Lucifer, beautiful and very powerful thought himself worthy alone to be God’s most trusted and cherished creature. But what is this !?! God is doing what? Making mud his high servants practically co-heirs to his throne, beloved priests of the most High God. Satan never got it, never truly understood the nature of God. God knowing all things chose instead to glorify mud and dust, and bound satan to that very dust after he deceived Adam and Eve. The woman satan targeted because of her weakness has been exalted through Mary by God’s grace, and now angels serve her. God in effect chose to place his treasure in earthen vessels instead of Lucifer. That is why he hates us.

        • yan says:

          I agree with that. Adding to that idea is what might appear to be the horror [to Lucifer] of the incarnation. Not only does God glorify this woman Mary, He Himself joins Himself to mud, forever. Who knows how much of the plan of God was clear to Lucifer at that moment, in the beginning, when he rejected God’s plan for His creation.

          Recently some people were discussing the question whether Satan knew that Jesus, when He first came as a man, was also the Son of God. Some were of the opinion that he didn’t know. I have been of the opinion that Satan knew Jesus was the Son of God. For those of us that hold the latter opinion, the question arises as to what Satan thought he was doing in inspiring the Jews and Romans to kill God in the flesh? Was it that pure hatred must always kill? Was it that he knew he was doomed, but he couldn’t help himself? I had this thought: Satan knew he couldn’t kill God certainly; but he knew he could kill a man. Furthermore, it seemed clear to him that it was part of Jesus’ plan to be killed, so he could at least kill the Lord. Perhaps then, what he didn’t know or didn’t understand was that Jesus loved humanity so much, that He would once again unite His soul to this dead human body and return to life forever as a man, and ascend into heaven as a man, and as a man bring salvation to man. This makes sense to me, because it makes sense to me that the devil cannot understand true love.

  8. Patt says:

    In the past I have read that Satan hates us because he considers us inferior to himself, and secondly he is infuriated that we have the opportunity to claim a place in Heaven and the Beatific vision–which he threw away due to his pride.Additionally, I was under the impression he did not consider the suffering, the change in his appearance (to horrible) and the place he would be thrown into -Hell. A painful eye opener.
    That alone is enough to make you mad at everyone else…

  9. Peter Wolczuk says:

    From 7 May 12:02 PM BY Msgr. Charles Pope. SPECULATIVE THEOLOGY ALERT. I like to think that, with proper warning, one has the opportunity to consider without seeing this as conclusive, thanks be to God and his messangers
    One of the speculations which I’ve heard, and taken to, is the “older sibling jealousy” metaphor. The first born is special, especially by being the one and only, until the second, third, etcetera comes along.
    A (usually) effective way of dealing with this is to have the first born help to mentor the younger in ways suited to his/her phase of development, thereby offering a feeling of fulfillment.
    As an aside I have observed some sad example of the oldest being resentful of (and do-ing poorly at) being given parental responsabilities. Sometimes this may occur if the oldest only “feels” like that too much is being asked of them.
    So, the older sibling jealousy of a being who belonged to a group which had all of God’s love may be resentful of another, newer, group being introduced and become reluctant to share the love which his group had previously received.
    I recall two co-workers who were getting divorced some years ago and, one of the parents put the question to their children of – who do you love now that we’re no longer a team? Me or the other one.
    The “other one” asked us for input and I replied that, a child has enough love for both parents whether they are apart or together. This seemed to cheer my friend considerably. Dodging gender identification of which was which for what I believe to be a worthwhile reason.
    God, whose love is infinite, will never leave any of His creations short changed but, some may be unable to accept this.
    Perhaps this probably, complex, matter may include many (or all of) that which is mentioned throughout.
    As to R in Indiana’s concern; sometimes when I write what I feel to be profound my fingers have trouble picking the right keys, scheduled tasks come in bunches and other problems occur. I take this as a very encouraging sign since enemy fire concentrates to where the threat seems greatest. I use the sign of the cross and prayer. Usually feel like I didn’t use enough prayer.

  10. Catharine says:

    Father, several saints of the Catholic Church have written of having passed through, or simply seen, hell (the Fatima children; Sainti Faustina, Sister Josefa Menendez, etc.) Many of them say that one of the most horrible things about hell is that once a soul gets there, he/she is no longer capable of love any more. They can only hate, and that with a viciousness and level of malevolence which is simply beyond the ken of a normal human being on this earth. Satan is a spirit of much larger capacities than any human being; also, he is confirmed in his final damnation (no possibility of him ever repenting or getting out of hell). By contrast, each human on earth is potentially either salvageable (or salvation-able), or else potentially liable to final damnation. So, it makes perfect sense that Satan bears extreme hatred to every human being, even extending to the child in the womb!
    After I reverted to the Catholic faith some 22 years ago, my husband and I were both subjected to some level of Satanic manifestation (the evil spirit was not at all happy with our having returned to the sacramental life). I can say, after having experienced that level of hatred and rage (not to mention the poltergeist activity and the rest of that business), there is simply no way I would even trifle with mortal sin. If we wind up in hell, then we fall under the total dominion and control of that evil spirit, with no recourse, with no break, for all eternity.
    Not only do I take the problem of Satan, hell, and mortal sin very seriously, but I must say in all intellectual honesty, that having undergone what we went through together in the 1990′s was one of the greatest graces of my entire life, in a sort of paradoxical way. One simply cannot claim to have “doubts” after having experienced that towering, overpowering, larger-than-life evil, hatred, malevolence–one can only take it very seriously indeed, and then one can begin to make some very real, serious progress in the spiritual life.
    I have noticed that adults who have never experienced this sort of thing, tend to be stuck at the level of doubts as to the existence of God, the devil, hell, etc. They are, to a man/woman, also stuck at a fairly childlike level of spiritual development. It seems paradoxical, but it makes perfect sense to those who have lived through it, up close and personal.

  11. Patricia says:

    Funny video, though i remember being a bit shocked when the obvious was revealed to me that the devil actually does know the Bible, and well., He was quoting it to Our Lord in the dessert. He believes in God too, but exists in hatred, ( his choice) . W hat a example for us, bad example that is,to believe in GOd but have no love for Him or our fellow man. To use and twist the Bible out of context.. I like in the video, how the devil must leave when the conversation turns to Jesus. So true, Jesus is our weapon, in His word , the CHurch and the Holy Eucharist.

  12. mary travis says:

    Why Satan hates us: easy.
    Satan refused to accept Jesus as the Son of God, refused to give Him homage, obedience and worship.
    We give Jesus homage , obedience and worship.
    Ergo…Satan hates us.
    And we must be diverted from our homage, obedience and worship of the Triune God.
    We must be destroyed in whatever way possible.
    In attacking us Satan is attacking Christ.

  13. bobster says:

    ephesians 3 gives us some clue here… which speaks of the ‘unsearchable riches of Christ’ (the incarnation of God); and that ‘the manifold wisdom of God may be made known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places (satan and his minions) THROUGH THE CHURCH.

    He hates that God is using the lesser (us) to teach the greater (angels)

  14. Theophilus2 says:

    If I had money for books I would rather read of the Saints. Thanks to you for your teaching here and always. I wonder, the pattern accuser followed being pride and hate… are these but the means by which he attempts to lure us to extremes of presumption and despair? Is the evil one anything more than a coward himself? It is enough for me to know of him that he “trembles” and “flees”. Our hope in the risen Christ lifts us above all these to grow in love, being nourished in the Sacraments and taught by Mother Church so we should not fear. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” (1 Jn 4; 18-19).

  15. one anonymous says:

    He hates us because God Loves us, because we are created by God in God’s Image, because God calls us and Loves us as His children. So we cry “Abba! Father!”

  16. Banna says:

    May I add to this interesting topic, “why Satan hates us?” referring to Revelation 12:17 whereby the dragon casted onto the earth by Michael and his angels, vowed to make war with the rest of the woman’s offspring who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

  17. David M Paggi says:

    Father:

    Just to limit myself to the video, I thought it was great – it shows Satan as vain, sardonic, manipulative – and weak. He simply cannot tolerate the Name, but finds great opportunities in division – the only math he really knows.

    A really good teaching priest told our Bible study class that God loves Satan; if He didn’t Satan would cease to exist. In fact, he put it this way: “If God stopped loving you for a nanosecond, you would not simply stop where you were. You would be ‘uncreated,’ meaning that you would not simply disappear physically, but all memory that you ever existed in anyone’s mind would be obliterated.”

    So, to turn Decartes on his head & restate St Thomas rather crudely after Acton: “If I am at all, God is absolutely, because I depend on Him absolutely, regardless of what I may think about it.” Since God is by definition perfection in every way (more so that we can ever conceive), then He has no need of us except that He deigns to give us not only existence but purpose. Only pure, disinterested love could motivate such magnanimity.

    Of course if Satan remains in existence because God loves him, it follows not only are we similarly dependent on His love, but our continued existence demonstrates He loves us no less, and this reflection can help us begin to appreciate just how pure and deep that love is. Father would say this means we should identify ourselves with the Anawim: those who recognize their complete and utter dependence on God.

    Tolkein gives is a masterful depiction of what evil is, indirectly through Gollum, Saruman, and ultimately Sauron in the Lord of the Rings, but even more explicitly through Morgoth in the Silmarillion, about whom he observes that he creates nothing but can only distort and debase what the One (Iluvatar) has created. Even these, no matter how much evil they do at the bidding of Morgoth, must ultimately serve the purpose of Iluvatar, who shows this to Manwe (Lord of the Air) and Ulmo (Lord of the Sea), who without Morgoth’s heats, would not in friendship have been able to come together in the creation of clouds.

    Of course to read Tolkein is to read Kreeft, and vice-versa. That’s not really original, I am merely paraphrasing Yogi Berra!

    Thank you so much for your priestly ministry.

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