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The Kingdom of Evil

St. Bruno, Abbot

Translated by M.F. Toale, D.D.

(PL 165, cols. 794 and 183.)


Luke xi. 14.  The Blessed Evangelist Matthew tells us, that this man was not alone dumb but blind also.  And blind is every man who follows not after that Light Which says: I am the Light of the world; he that followeth Me walketh not in darkness, but shall have the Light of life (Jn. viii. 12).  And he is indeed dumb who confesses not his sins, and who knows not how to open his mouth to the praise of God.

And he hath a demon within him who persists in any grave sin.  And because of this the Apostle admonishes us, where he says: Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body (Rom. vi. 12).  For as long as sin remains in a man, for so long is he bound and captive and possessed by the devil.  Such a man, blind and dumb, if he be offered to the Lord, if he be converted to penance, the Lord shall straightaway heal him; so that the evil spirit being driven out of him he may speak and see.

But let him not, as before, speak idle and vain things, but what is holy and of the Spirit, as becometh a Christian.  Nor let him look upon vain things with the eyes of his body; but with the eyes of his soul let him contemplate the Light of life and truth.

But some of them said: He casteth out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils.  Of these the Evangelist Matthew says: But the Pharisees hearing it, said: this man casteth not out devils but by Beelzebub the prince of devils.  For the more the Pharisees appear to be better and wiser than the rest, so much the more often arc they goaded by an ever greater jealousy against the Lord.  But who, O Pharisees, has taught you this? For only because you are the disciples of Beelzebub could you say such things in his praise.  You see Jesus raising the dead, giving light to the blind, cleansing the lepers, and curing every kind of infirmity and disease, and you say that He casts out devils by the power of Beelzebub? When did Beelzebub, the Lord of the Flies, ever do such things?

And others tempting, asked of him a sign from heaven.  Another Evangelist relates what answer the Lord gave to these men; saying to them: An evil and adulterous generation seeketh a sign: and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.  For as Jonas was in the whale’s belly three days and three nights: so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights (Mt. xii. 39).  Let this sign suffice for you; nor will any other sign be given to you, either from heaven or from the earth.  Great and wondrous is this sign: that He Who holds all things in His Hands allowed himself to be in the power of men for three days and three nights.  For what does it mean to be in the heart of the earth if not to be subject to the passions, to the power, to the evil will, of sinners? Because of this the Lord also answered Pilate: Thou shouldst not have any power against me, unless it were given thee from above (Jn. x. 11).  And as heaven means the Just, so likewise earth signifies sinners.

But he seeing their thoughts, said to them: Every kingdom divided against shall be brought to desolation, and house upon house shall fall.  And if Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because you say, that through Beelzebub I cast out devils.  With a very clear illustration He confutes those who said that He was casting out devils by Beelzebub.  For if it is as they say, then Beelzebub has wholly lost his power, his leadership, and his kingdom.  For if the spirits of evil were waging war against each other, they would have had little or no power against man.

Rather what is worse than this holds; for there are scarcely to be found any number of men imbued with such unity of purpose in doing good, as the devils possess in doing evil.  For though they are endless, innumerable, yet in this they are one, that they seek to do nothing but what is evil.  If then they had not this concord in wickedness, and desired to be converted to penance, and could do so, then indeed would the kingdom of Beelzebub be brought to desolation; for this is what we see take places in other kingdoms.  It is not therefore as these others say; and Satan does not cast out Satan; rather do all in his kingdom give aid to each other in all that they do.

For this same reason was it said by the Lord, through the mouth of Job, concerning the devil: His body is like molten shields, shut close up with scales pressing upon one another.  One is joined to another and they hold one another fast, and shall not be separated (Job. xli. 6, 8).  By these words He makes clear that the spirits of evil have, between them, such harmony of purpose that in no way can they be separated one from another.  For by the body of the devil is understood the whole array of the malignant spirits.  And because of their strength these same malign spirits are spoken of as molten shields, and they are described as scales pressing upon one another, and as, holding one another fast, and as being joined to one another, because of this surpassing unity and concord which they possess in every kind of malice and desire of evil-doing.  Would indeed if it could be that this so great unity and harmony might be broken, and the kingdom of evil be destroyed!

Now if I cast out devils by Beelzebub; by whom do your children cast them out? If, He says, you have such thoughts against Me, what then do you say of My Disciples? I know that you who say such abominable things of the Master will not think well of His Disciples.  For earlier He had declared: If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household? (Mt. x. 25).  The Apostles are spoken of as sons of the Pharisees, since they also, and all who were accustomed to believe in the resurrection, which the Pharisees preached, were wont to look upon the Pharisees as fathers and teachers.  For which reason they also may be considered as belonging to that sect: for this sect was better than the others; though it too was in many respects not worthy.  And likewise in the Acts of the Apostles Paul is recorded as crying out: I am a Pharisee: the son of Pharisees; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question (Acts xxiv. 6).  This therefore is why the Disciples of Christ are spoken of as sons of the Pharisees.  And so Our Lord says: Therefore they shall be your judges.  For they shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

But if I by the Finger of God cast out devils; doubtless the kingdom of God is come upon you.  What this means another Evangelist tells us, saying: If I by the Spirit of God cast out devils (Mt. xii. 28): which is indeed true, and may not be doubted: therefore is the kingdom of God come upon you.  For where the Spirit of God is, there also is the Kingdom of God.  The Holy Ghost is called the Finger of God, because of the multiple division of graces.  For in no part of the body do we find such division as in the fingers.  And this is as if He had said: I indeed cast out devils in the Spirit and Power of God; since they are subject to me, since they are powerless to withstand me, since I hold them tied, and keep them bound.

But when a strong man armed keepeth his court, these things are in peace which he possesseth.  But if a stronger than he come upon him, and overcome him etc.  For the devil was strong; but I am stronger.  I have entered his court; I have come into this world which he has held as though it were his own house; and the time draws near for the prince of this world to be cast forth.  I have bound him; I have broken his armour; and the unhappy people he held captive I have delivered from his bondage.  He is not therefore with Me; nor does he gather with Me; neither does he cast out devils together with Me; nor does he heal men, as I do; nor does he gather in the flocks, nor lead them to the living pastures, which I am doing.  What then does he do? Do you wish to hear? He scatters, he harries, he kills, he drags down to death and eternal damnation whomsoever he can.  For this is the meaning of those words: He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.

When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man etc.  The Lord spoke to us this similitude that He might show us that the evil and adulterous generation of the Jews, because of their hard and unrepentant hearts, would be condemned, not alone by the Ninivites, but also and rightly by the other Gentiles.  Since this impious generation knew not that it should repent, but daily became more wicked, its last state was worse than its first.  And this they themselves likewise implied when they said of Our Saviour: His blood be upon us and upon our children (Mt. xxvii. 35).  So shall it be unto this most wicked generation as it was to this man who was possessed by an unclean spirit: 

For when the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through places without water, seeking rest; and not finding . . .  For the unclean spirit enters easily into a man, and easily goes out from him.  For as often as a man, either in thought or in action, does something that is wicked, the devil is present with him.  But should he begin to repent from his heart, the devil will leave him.  And going out he walks through dry and waterless places, tempting those that are free of the sap of malice and of lust, and in whom he finds no rest; since he seeks what is corrupt and moist.  And for this was it written of him: He sleepeth under the shadow, in the covert of the reed, and in moist places (Job xl. 16); in which reference the genitals are signified.  Then he saith: I will return into my house whence I came out.  Because he could find no foothold in the good he turns back to the wicked.  For the devil may tempt the good, but he cannot find rest in them; for he is shaken violently, and upset, and driven out, now by their prayers, now by their tears of repentance, and now by their almsgiving and similar good works.

And when he is come, he findeth it empty (Matt. xii. 43).  Empty, since he finds there no charity, nor true faith, nor humility, nor patience, nor justice, nor mercy, nor any of the other things with which the souls of the saints are furnished.  How does he find it? Swept and garnished: he finds it as he desires to find it.  He finds it swept clean by evil brushes, and garnished with evil furnishings; evil brushes that sweep out the virtues, and leave the vices; evil brushes that scatter dust upon the floor, and do not sweep it out.  It is lust, fornication, pleasure, pride, avarice, discord, and all uncleanness, which are the furnishings of the devil.  With these adornments he finds it garnished.

Then he goeth and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and entering in they dwell there.  It is not enough for him that he possesses the house alone; he seeks companions: the place is spacious: it needs many dwellers there.  But who are these seven spirits? Why also are they seven? Why are they more wicked than himself? Because seven are the gifts of the Holy Ghost, by means of which every soul is converted to faith in Christ, and defended against the contrary evils.  Therefore the unclean spirit takes unto him those seven wickeder, contrary, spirits, with which he defends the house against the virtues.

Namely, opposing the spirit of stupidity to the spirit of wisdom; the spirit of revolt and unreason to the spirit of understanding; the spirit of rashness to the spirit of counsel; the spirit of inconstancy and fear to the spirit of fortitude; the spirit of ignorance to the spirit of knowledge; the spirit of impiety to the spirit of piety; the spirit of contempt and hate to the spirit of the fear of the Lord.

Unhappy the soul where these seven evil spirits dwell, and wherein they rule.  For these are, in a certain way, worse than the one who brought them there; since it is they who in this life corrupt souls; while he, after this life, torments them.  He opens the door; they, once entered, lay waste and destroy everything within.  He tempts; they kill.  He can tempt and vex a man; but without these others he cannot kill the soul.  And so they are worse than he is; for they injure more grievously than he can.  He, tempting and persuading, is truly wicked; they by doing and destroying are yet more wicked.  To the one the Apostle delivered a man, for the destruction of the flesh; but of these others he says: Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body (I Cor. v. 5; Rom. vi. 12).  It is no wonder then that the last state of this man is worse than the first; since lie is first oppressed by the one, and then following this by the seven other demons.

And as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck.   This is as if He said: Blessed indeed is My Mother, and blessed the womb that bore Me.  But not for this is She blessed: because She is My Mother.  Neither is the womb blessed because it bore Me.  But both are blessed because She heard the word of God, and hearing it, believed; and believing, She safeguarded it.  For had she not done this, She would neither be blessed, nor My Mother.

Turning then to the Lord Our God, the Father Almighty, let us as best we can give thanks with all our hearts; beseeching Him that in His Goodness He will graciously hear our prayers, and by His Power drive evil from our thoughts and actions, increase our faith, guide our minds, grant us His holy inspirations, and bring us to everlasting joy, through His Son Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.