1 Thessalonians 5:21
Test everything; hold fast what is good.

One consequence of believing in Catholic Faith is that it becomes impossible to ever speak of any real thing as purely evil.  Even the devil has his good points for Catholics because, as a creature, he still possesses existence, intelligence, power, and will and these things are in themselves intrinsically good since they were made by God.  True, the devil has perverted them all by his fallen will, and is the most evil creature in the cosmos, but even his evil cannot totally eradicate good or he would cease to exist.  This means that good and evil are not opposites.  Evil is dependent on good while good does not need evil at all.  Turning our view toward more mundane visions than the uttermost pit of Hell, we find that most people, even the ones we don’t much like, have gifts, qualities, ideas, etc., which we ignore only at the risk of turning a blind eye to something good God might want us to see. That is why Paul gives the command in today’s verse.  Everything, especially the stuff and people we are tempted to ignore and reject, has something good hidden there and we are test it to find out what it is.  Discernment is a key virtue of Christian maturity.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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  • lkeebler

    Maybe I misunderstand what you are saying… but you say to be discerning and then you seem to confuse “good” and “evil”. The devil is not in the same boat of “people”. People have the opportunity to repent and turn to God while still here, the devil does not. He has been condemned already and his judgment is already set. We, on the other hand, “choose” to be or not to be the children of the devil. But the devil “was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him…”

    I think we can safely speak of the devil as “purely evil”.

    John 8:44
    You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.