4. We have now to see how the Church explains its assertion that the modern spirit- manifestations are exclusively due to the intervention of demons. *
“In their intervention in the things of the outer world, the demons are no less careful to dissimulate their presence, in order to avoid rousing the suspicion of those to whom they address themselves. Always cunning and perfidious, they draw men and women into their snares before binding them in the chains of oppression and servitude. Here, they awaken curiosity by puerile phenomena and feats of little moment; there, they strike with astonishment and subjugate the mind by the attraction of the marvelous. If the supernatural quality of their action betrays itself, if the nature of their power is unmasked, they calm alarm and appease apprehension, solicit confidence and invite familiarity. ,They will, on occasion, pass themselves off as divinities and good genii; and sometimes, they borrow the names and even the traits of those of the dead who have retained a place in the memory of the living. With the aid of these frauds, worthy of the serpent of old, they speak, and are listened to; they dogmatize and are believed; they mingle a few truths with their falsehoods and cause every form of error to be accepted by their victims. This is the aim of the pretended revelations from beyond the grave; it is to obtain this result that wood, stone, forests and fountains, the sanctuary of idols, the legs of tables, the hands of children, deliver oracles; it is for this that the pythoness prophesies in her delirium, and that the ignorant, in his mysterious sleep, is suddenly transformed into a doctor of science. To deceive and to pervert – such is, in all places and at all epochs, the sole aim of these strange manifestations.
“Since it is impossible that the surprising results of these observances or actions, which are, for the most part, eccentric and absurd, should be due either to any intrinsic virtue of their own or to the order established by God, they can only be produced with the help of occult powers. Such are, especially, the extraordinary phenomena obtained, at the present day, through the processes, seemingly inoffensive, of mesmerism and the intelligent organ of talking tables. By means of these operations of modern magic, we now witness the reproduction, among ourselves, of the evocations, oracles, consultations, cures, and other prodigies that formerly gave renown to the temples of idols and the dens of Sybils. As in ancient times, human beings impose their commands on wood, and the wood obeys them; they question it, and it replies to their queries in every tongue and on every subject; they find themselves in the presence of invisible beings who usurp the names of the dead, and whose pretended revelations bear the stamp of contradiction and falsehood; vaporous forms without consistency suddenly appear and show themselves to be endowed with superhuman force.
“What are the secret agents of these phenomena and the real actors in the inexplicable scenes? The angels would not play a part so unworthy, nor lend themselves to the caprices of a vain curiosity. The souls of the dead, whom God has forbidden us to consult, are in the realm of sojourn assigned to them by His justice, and cannot, without God’s permission, subjugate themselves to the commands of the living. The mysterious beings who thus respond to the call of the heretical and the impious as readily as to that of the faithful, and of the criminal as of the innocent, are neither envoys of God nor the apostles of truth and of salvation, but are the tools of error and of Hell. Despite the pains they take to hide their real nature under the most venerable names, they betray themselves by the hollowness of their doctrines, no less than by the baseness of their doings and the incoherence of their utterances. They strive to efface from the sum of religious belief, the dogmas of original sin, of the resurrection of the body, of eternal punishment, and of the Divinity of the Sacred Scriptures, in order to deprive the law of its sanction, and to open the gates to the influx of every vice. If it were possible for their suggestions to obtain the upper hand, they would form a convenient religion, just the thing for socialism and for all those who feel the notion of duty and conscience to be troublesome. The incredulity of our age has prepared the way for this new creed. May all Christian peoples, by a sincere return to the Catholic faith, escape the danger of this new and formidable invasion!”
* The quotations of the present chapter are taken from the same Pastoral from which we have taken those of the preceding chapters.