I don’t know when Jesus is going to return in glory. I don’t even think that Satan knows when Jesus is going to return in glory. But the angelic intellect (even a fallen one) is probably better at recognizing the signs that will precede Christ’s second coming (cf. St. Matthew ch. 24.) Is Satan going to distract hearts in the same way for Jesus’ first coming as Jesus’ second coming?
Well, let’s consider what the enemy of human nature did to religion in the first century to divert minds from the coming of the Messiah. In short, Satan twisted the one true religion of the world (Judaism at the time) into a legalistic frenzy. The Pharisees desired the law more than love, and so Jesus says to them: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”—St. Matthew 23:23. Fear of the law made the complex people miss the Son of God. Only simple (not simplistic) hearts recognized Him.
As much as I hate the words “conservative” and “liberal” in terms of Our Catholic Faith, for sake of brevity, we can say that Satan prepared the world for Christ’s first coming by putting her into a state of extreme conservative legalism. Wouldn’t then it be the perfect trick of Satan to prepare the world for Christ’s second coming by putting her into a state of liberal legalism?
What would Satan’s liberal legalism look like? Excessive loopholes on moral theology would mean that nothing could possibly be a mortal sin. It could only be a grave sin because of a constant parsing down with so-called merciful terms like “reduced culpability.” Satan’s liberal legalism would destroy the simple faith of children. Simple people’s faith would be clouded by complex and clouded theological terms surrounding endless excuses on “conscience” under the guise of mercy. Mercy, for Satan, would imply that God arbitrarily turns His head from a rigorious, legalistic imputation of sin, making God the enemy. (This is so different from what the Desert Fathers taught, namely, the medical view of a transformed life at the foot of the healing cross of Jesus Christ!)
Satan’s liberal legalism would twist the Gospel into a bare-minimum of human-centered legalistic loopholes that leaves nothing but social justice at the end of the day. Priests who preached the full truths of the Gospel would be told by others they have to remember that St. Thomas Aquinas said that “conscience is infallible” and “Does anyone really have the ability to commit a sin with full consent of the will?” We can never know. Alas, we can never know…
This would be the perfect way for Satan to distract the world for the second coming of Christ. My proposal is not a return to conservative legalism. Furthermore, I’m not saying we’re at the end of the world. My proposal is a simple return to the Gospel at its heart: Repent and Believe as little children, with unfeigned trust in Jesus Christ and the One Church that He has established. Stop playing games. Start adoring the Blessed Trinity with a pure heart. Trust the full and traditional Magisterium of the Catholic Church without games.
—Fr. David Nix, www.padreperegrino.org