Can thinking about the devil be bad?

I am a devout Catholic but I also struggle with OCD. I sometimes have intrusive thoughts (e.g. violent or sexual) that someone without OCD could ignore. Because I have OCD, however, I cannot. Anyway, sometimes, out of the blue, a thought about summoning the devil or a demon will pop up. I am not having these thoughts of my free will, but I can’t ignore them and am worried that something bad will actually happen. Am I actually in danger or is it unfounded anxiety? If you could answer and explain, that would be great!

Dear friend,

Thoughts that pop up are INVOLUNTARY. There is no sin in having them. OCD is fed by irrational fear. It is not surprising that you have begun to obsess on thoughts about the devil. When you have such a thought, express your love for the Lord. But don’t worry if you don’t do this. Not doing this is not a sin. Remember that God created and redeemed you not to fear Him, but to love Him.

I am fully aware that simply telling you this is not going to make such thoughts go away. OCD is all about feelings. You will feel that you must do something about such thoughts in order to avoid hell. This is all OCD stuff. Begin to recognize it. You are NOT your feelings! Feel free to write again.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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