Thousands of Catholics across Oklahoma responded to a sparsely attended black mass in Oklahoma City with prayers, Eucharistic processions, and demonstrations, as the city’s archbishop emphasized God's love and mercy. “We are gathered as witnesses to hope at a time when darkness seems to be gaining ground both here and around the world,” Archbishop Paul Coakley said in a homily for a Holy Hour at Oklahoma City’s St. Francis of Assisi parish on the afternoon of Sept. 21 attended by more than 2,000. “We know that Christ is victorious! He has conquered Satan. He has destroyed the reign of sin and the power of death through his holy Cross and glorious Resurrection.” Archbishop Coakley said the black mass is a “blasphemous and sacrilegious ritual”, “a mockery of the Catholic Mass”, and that it requires “the corruption and desecration of the Eucharist” because “Satanists, and their master, know who is present.” “They acknowledge the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus, not to adore him, but only to mock and to scorn in hatred.” “We are not here, however, to protest,” he added. “Let us put aside, for the moment, our outrage. We are here to praise and to adore. We are here to give thanks for the gift of our faith and the priceless treasure of the Lord’s abiding presence with us in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood.” Archbishop Coakley said that Catholics gather before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament “to listen to his holy Word and open ourselves to the promptings of his Spirit so that we might become more faithful and authentic witnesses of his love and mercy in the midst of our broken and suffering human family.” He and many other Catholics took part in a Eucharistic procession following the Holy Hour. Just two miles away and a few hours later, thousands of Catholics and other citizens stood outside the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall to protest the black mass. Some held crucifixes, while others held statues of the Virgin Mary. Many held pre-printed signs saying “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church”; some protesters had taken buses from Kansas. “(It is) shocking to think that they worship the devil instead of God,” protester Estefani Martinez told the Oklahoma City television station News 9. In Tulsa, Bishop Edward Slattery led a Eucharistic procession, as well as exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at Holy Family Cathedral in reparation for blasphemy. “We’re doing this to strengthen the faith of our people, and to give them an opportunity to react in a very positive way to the announcement of the black mass,” Bishop Slattery told the Tulsa World. “This is a way of exercising their faith and an opportunity to pray together in a reaction to what is really a curse and blasphemous because we believe the Blessed Sacrament is God himself.” The bishop said that black mass organizers “embrace evil and anger and revenge” while Catholics preach “God loving humanity. Forgiveness, love, mercy and peace.” “We counteract hate by forgiveness, by love and by showing what is beautiful.” Michael Ortega, who attended the Tulsa event, told the Tulsa World he came “because of the love and support of my Church, and the love and devotion that I have for our Lord Jesus Christ.” The occult group Dakhma of Angra Mainyu had scheduled a black mass at the city-run music hall. A black mass is a sacrilegious ceremony that invokes Satan and mocks the Mass, involving the desecration of the Eucharist, generally by stealing a consecrated Host from a parish and using it in a profane, sexual ritual. Adam Daniels, who organized the event, had claimed to have in his possession a consecrated Host mailed to him by a friend. However, on Aug. 21 his attorney gave the reputed Host to a priest of the Oklahoma City archdiocese after a facing a lawsuit that charged the Host was stolen property. The lawyer whose California firm filed the lawsuit said that the return of the Host “gutted” the intended event and that the approach can limit similar publicized black masses in the future. The tickets for the black mass, which cost $15 each, had sold out. However, only about 40 people attended the black mass itself, though the theater in which it was held has capacity for about 100 persons. The event began at 7 p.m. with a three-member music band. Daniels came on stage dressed in a black and red robe to talk about the ritual. He said its purpose was to destroy fear of the Church by mocking the items it uses, News 9 reports. Some demonstrators outside the civic hall supported the black mass, saying it expressed freedom of religion.