In November of this year Marvel will be releasing another movie, this one about the “Sorcerer Supreme” Doctor Strange. Marvel created Doctor Strange in 1963 to be one of their comic book heroes.
Many, many, people (myself included) are HUGE fans of Marvel and the near infinite number of epic heroes they have produced: the Avengers, Daredevil, the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man…. Marvel‘s masterminded genius has succeeded in creating a whole fantastical universe that people have been happily losing themselves in for more than 65 years now. Catholics like myself have even been spiritually uplifted by the Christ-like virtue and self-sacrifice exhibited in many of Marvel’s heroes that remind us of the beautiful calling of the Scriptures: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” “learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.” “Defend the lowly and fatherless; render justice to the afflicted and needy. Rescue the lowly and poor; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” “serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” “The way we came to know love was that he (Jesus) laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?” “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.” “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” “Strengthen hands that are feeble, make firm knees that are weak, Say to the fearful of heart: Be strong, do not fear!” “we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” “We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good [both] for each other and for all. Rejoice always.”
“Heroes” like Doctor Strange however, cannot be counted as true heroes, and cannot be admired by faithful Catholics. It is commendable that people in Marvel recognize that there is a supernatural war going on beyond the merely human battle for peace and justice, however they err in the facts concerning the true nature of this war and its solution. In the gospel of St. Matthew Jesus makes clear what should already be obvious, that evil cannot be used to fight evil. All sorcery and witchcraft comes from the devil (the same devil we swore to fight in our baptismal promises), and the devil cannot be fought with his own invention. The one and only power that can or should be employed against the devil and his works is the almighty power of the Triune God which can be found in its fullness in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Because of this truth, and for the following three reasons, I will not be seeing the Doctor Strange movie this November.
- Loyalty to Jesus Christ. To those who do not believe in God or anything beyond the natural material world, Doctor Strange is simply a fairy tale with no moral consequence. As a Catholic I know better. Sorcery and witchcraft are very real, and very evil, things whose origin and power source are none other than the devil himself: the same devil who lives for no other purpose than to undermine the will of God and to lure souls into an eternity in hell without the goodness and beauty of their Creator, the same devil whose followers dishonor our Eucharistic Lord and offer abortions as a sacrifice to satan, and the same devil who will stop at nothing to see our souls damned and our lives destroyed. He may disguise himself as an “angel of light” but anything from the devil will ultimately lead to humanity’s downfall and destruction, not their prosperity. As a Catholic, I love my Lord more than anything and want nothing to do with that which brings Him such great pain. A fictional movie might seem like a rather minor thing to some people, but to me even small choices like these are a test of love and loyalty. No “superhero” wielding the power of the enemy of my Jesus will ever have my support. Period.
- Love of neighbor. Far too often, those who have pledged their allegiance to Jesus Christ compromise the standards they know they should hold to for the sake of convenience, popularity, or personal gain. In doing so, we not only hurt our Lord and ourselves, we also hurt those who have not yet chosen to follow Christ: who watch us (much more than we realize) to determine whether or not there is anything authentic about our Faith. The movies we watch, the books we read, the music we listen to, the companies we benefit with our business, the politicians we vote for, all can make a world of difference in how these hungry souls see Christ’s disciples and what they choose for themselves as a result. Therefore decisions that seem small and insignificant to us at the time we make them can be a matter of eternal life or eternal death to those who witness or are otherwise affected by those choices. No one will ever be able to emphasize enough how important it is for the world to see Christ’s disciples take a stand for what they believe in regardless of the consequences, to actually be the heroes they search for in fiction. With our great power as children of God, comes our great responsibility as witnesses for God. So, as epic as I’m sure the action will be in the Doctor Strange movie and as popular as it’s going to be even among those who see themselves as Christ’s followers, I’m going to make the statement the world needs to hear from us: I do not support the devil or his magic and I’m willing to sit out on a popular action movie to prove it. I strongly hope there will be enough people like me making this statement to make sure the world hears it and is blessed by it.
- My own spiritual health and protection. When I go to see an action movie, I go for the same reason as everyone else: to be entertained and impressed by the talent of the producers, but I also look to see if there is a deeper something I can take away from it on a spiritual level: an inspiring example of the heroic virtue I’m called to practice, a public glorification of God, a parallel or symbol of a heavenly truth, a sobering realization of how deeply our world needs Christ’s peace, or maybe the display of a scriptural principle. The truth is that what we take in through our minds also affects our spirit, either for better or worse, just like what we eat affects our physical health for better or worse. If I were to go see the Doctor Strange movie, not only would I probably be unable to find anything to draw me closer to God since it is about sorcery and black magic, but I could also possibly be opening myself to demonic disturbances. The devil is real and he waits for any moment of weakness he can get to start attacking the soul, especially if that moment comes with exposure to things of a demonic nature. The Lord of Mercy is always ready to help us even when we bring these things upon ourselves, but the one thing that beats putting out the fire we catch is not catching fire to begin with. We are called to be fearless, but prudent. At peace, but careful. It is always better for us if we stay on the path of Christ’s light and don’t mess with the things of darkness. For more info on spiritual warfare, see one of my older posts: Spiritual Warfare.
In light of my third point, I’ll close this post with two especially powerful spiritual warfare prayers:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.