THE SONS OF GOD AND THE SONS OF PERDITION
Pascal P. Parente
Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 4 (no Chapter 5) Chapter 6

(Chapter 3 of the book The Angels, by Pascal P. Parente.)

 

Grace of God and Probation

The Angels, the first creatures of the universe, were created to God's own image and similitude. "The Angel," writes Saint Thomas, "is the most excellent of all creatures because among all creatures he bears the greatest resemblance to his Creator. The glossa on Ezechiel, 28, <Thou wast the seal of resemblance>, says: The more subtle their nature (the Angelic nature) the better is the image of God found expressed in them."[1] The Lord bestowed on them marvelous gifts of nature and grace: wisdom, power, beauty, holiness. With the supernatural gift of sanctifying grace, He infused in them all the virtues of faith, hope, and charity and the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Thus their natural life of created spirits was divinely perfected. The Angels became sharers and participants of the Divine Life and were given the opportunity to merit the reward of eternal bliss in the face-to-face vision of God in heaven. Thus the morning stars of creation became the first adoptive sons of God.

Saint Thomas believes that the Angels were given all these supernatural virtues and gifts of grace (which are absolutely necessary to every intelligent creature who would attain Beatific Vision) in exact proportion to their individual natural aptitude and perfection.[2] Since the natural perfection of one Angel differs specifically from that of any other, it would follow that the degrees of grace among the Angels differ even more than among our Saints, according to St. Thomas.

That the Angels were actually elevated to the supernatural order and endowed with sanctifying grace is a truth firmly and unanimously defended by Catholic Theologians. This truth is based on Divine Revelation where the Angels are often called "saints,"[3] "sons of God,"[4] "Angels of light"[5] in opposition to Satan. They are portrayed as enjoying Beatific Vision: "Their Angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven."[6] To this vision they could be admitted only because they had been previously sanctified and had persevered in grace.

The sanctity of the Angels, no less than that of man, is not a quality of nature, nor anything demanded by nature, but a supernatural gift of God, freely bestowed out of that same divine love which had freely given them all the gifts of nature and nature itself. "The Powers of heaven (the Angels) are not holy by nature, but they possess the measure of their sanctification from the Holy Spirit, according to the rank by which one excels another."[7] According to Saint Augustine, the gift of grace was bestowed upon the Angels together with the gift of nature, so that their creation and their sanctification were simultaneous: "God created the Angels with a chaste love whereby they adhered to Him, granting to them His grace while creating their nature."[8]

The exact time of the sanctification of the Angels is not a matter of faith. But Saint Augustine's opinion on this has become the prevailing one, especially since the time Saint Thomas defended it against some medieval theologians who maintained that the Angels remained for some time in the pure state of nature and were elevated to the supernatural order some time later. Saint Augustine's opinion has been adopted by the Roman Catechism.

Just like man, the Angels had to undergo a period of probation during which they were free to choose between good and evil. They were not yet confirmed in grace and they did not enjoy the Beatific Vision during this time. This was a period of existence like that of our first parents before their fall, insofar as they were wayfarers, living in faith and hope of those supernal truths and promises that God had revealed to them. During this time the Angels had the great opportunity to merit heaven and eternal life with God, but in the meantime they were exposed to the danger of committing sin and thereby losing God and heaven for all eternity. The Fathers and the theologians are unanimous in admitting a period of probation for the Angels. Gennadius, who disagreed with them, asserted that the Angels were created in a state of grace and glory. His opinion would suppose that sin is possible for those who enjoy Beatific Vision. The freedom of choosing what is evil or wrong does no longer exist in the state of glory.

It is matter of faith that during their period of probation some of the Angels sinned and were condemned to hell. The fact that they did sin proves that there was a time in their existence when sin was possible. Since they could not sin <in statu termini> (the state of final consummation which excludes the possibility of further merit or demerit) they must have sinned <in statu viae> (the state of wayfaring or probation). This state is necessarily a state of faith and not of vision, of merit not of reward. Hence the existence of such a state of probation for the Angels is a firm theological conclusion.

How long did this probation last? Divine Revelation offers no answer to this question. The various opinions expressed on the subject by some theologians are pure speculations. They speak of one single instant, or the time required for the first act of love elicited by the Angels;[9] or of two or three instants, or <morulae,>[10] the first instant marking the act of creation and sanctification, the second referring to their perseverance or fall, the third to their reception into the glory of heaven or their damnation. Since we do not even know how long the period of probation of our first parents was, we should not presume to define the duration of the test imposed by the Lord on His Angels.

Considering the great difference existing between the Angelic nature and the human, and between their respective mode of operation, it would seem <a priori> that the Angels would require a much shorter period of probation than man. Man is relatively very slow in his physical development and in his mental operations. The Angel is in full possession of his natural gifts from the very beginning, and his mental process is instantaneous and perfect. Divine grace perfects nature according to the proper mode of that nature, hence the Angelic nature would seem to have required a much shorter time than man's nature both for its perfecting and for its testing. However, these considerations do not take into account the hidden reasons of Divine Providence which could have demanded a much longer period of probation for the Angels, because the period of probation is also a period of merit. The fact that the first act of love of God elicited by the good Angels merited heaven for them, does not seem a sufficient reason to prove that they were immediately admitted to the glory of heaven. They could have merited more glory by being given the opportunity for more such meritorious acts: "He that is just, let him be justified still; and he that is holy, let him be sanctified still."[11] Man who is in the state of grace is not taken immediately into heaven after eliciting his first act of love of God but he is left ordinarily a long time here on earth in his state of probation in order that he may acquire more merit. Something analogous must have been the case with the probation of the Angels.

One thing distinguishes man's probation from that of the Angels. The first act of love of God elicited by an Angel is a final choice; he will love God forever. We may say that thereby he is practically confirmed in grace, for he who will never deflect from the love of God will never lose His grace. On the other hand the Angel who sins will sin forever. He is lost: "Because of his exalted perfection an Angel who sins falls far; because of the perfection of the angelic will the Angel who falls, falls but once."[12] Their first choice of good or evil is an immutable, an eternal choice. After this choice Angels are divided not simply into saints and sinners, as it is usually the case with men (who after their fall are given an opportunity for conversion, redemption, and salvation), but into good Angels and Devils.

Another outstanding difference between the period of probation of the Angels and that of man is this, that all the Angels were individually and personally subjected to their probation, because they were all there at the time; whereas only the first parents, the first father and mother, were personally present when all mankind was subjected to a test. With the fall of Adam all mankind fell, because all mankind was virtually present in him and actually represented by him through a divine decree. Hence, because Adam sinned we all sinned. Only a number of the Angels fell, because only a number of them disobeyed and sinned; the others, the great majority of them, undismayed by the bad example given by some of their brethren, remained loyal to God, clinging to Him with pure and ardent love. The good Angels never knew sin, but all men (except Jesus our Lord and His Immaculate Mother) because of original sin are servants of sin, children of wrath and in need of redemption. This sinlessness of the good Angels, more than their exalted nature, renders them so wonderful and so lovable to us, and so dear to God.

 

The Heavenly Hierarchies and the Choirs of Angels

As has already been explained, the Angels are pure spirits, incorporeal and in every sense immaterial substances. There is no question of generation and multiplication with them, consequently no angelic families and clans. Each Angel stands apart as a complete and direct creation of God. Each Angel, according to Saint Thomas, is specifically different from any other in the entire spirit world, so that he possesses more or less perfection than the one next to him, by a degree higher or lower than that which here below separates man from a brute animal, an animal from a plant. This is because each Angel is a pure form. Now, every differentiation in form implies differentiation in species. Human beings, no matter what their race, belong all to one and the same species. They differ only individually by some material or moral quality that does not alter substantially their specific nature of a rational creature composed of body and soul.

The Lord of heaven Who has grouped the children of men according to races, tribes, families, and nations must have assigned some order to the more numerous and more diversiform world of the Angels. The various names, in the plural number, given to the Angels in the Bible seem to imply that there are various orders and ranks among them. What is said here of the Choirs and Hierarchies of the Angels is not an article of faith, yet it should be regarded as a certain truth.

As a matter of fact the Scripture mentions nine different orders of Angels. In various passages in the Old and New Testament mention is made of Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominations, Principalities, Powers, Virtues, Archangels, and Angels.[13] The mere fact that the Scripture carefully distinguishes between these various names of Angelic orders is sufficient reason to believe that they actually represent different ranks in the spirit world, with a difference of perfection and of office between the various orders of Angels. There seems to be no basis whatever to the opinion that these nine different denominations are synonymous terms. It never happens that while the Scripture is talking, for example, of Seraphim it would next refer to them as Thrones, Dominations, etc. The only exception is to be made with the term Angel, which is used both as a specific term for the lowest Choir, and as generic term for all the Choirs, as when the Psalmist says: "Praise ye him, all his angels; praise ye him, all his hosts."[14] "All his angels" here means all the choirs of Angels, whatever their name and their rank.

Some writers believe that this enumeration of nine Choirs of Angels is incomplete, because of the following words of Saint Paul: "Above all principality, and power, and virtue, and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come."[15] They say that "every name that is named" would seem to imply an indefinite number of Angelic Orders. While this is true, those same words could be equally well explained by the fact that in this passage Saint Paul had mentioned only four out of nine Choirs, hence those words could also imply that the enumeration just given is incomplete.

There is a great disagreement and uncertainty in Patristic tradition on this point. Except for Saint Ambrose and Dionysius, (Saint Gregory the Great and Saint John Damascene both depend upon Dionysius in this matter), the theory of the nine Choirs and the Angelic Hierarchies is unknown to the Greek and Latin Fathers. They hardly ever agree in either the number and the names of the Angelic Orders.[16] A diligent analysis of the Scripture, however, gives us the nine orders and names of Angels: "We say that there are nine orders of Angels, because we know from Scripture to be so," says Saint Gregory.[17]

In the days of Saint Gregory the theory of the nine Choirs of Angels was well established because of the accepted authority of Pseudo Dionysius the Areopagite. However, as far back as the days of Saint Ignatius Martyr, who died 107 A.D., explicit mention is made of hierarchies and of ranks of Angels: "I am in chains and able to grasp heavenly things, the ranks of the angels, the hierarchy of principalities, things visible and invisible."[18] Saint Ambrose enumerates the nine Choirs of Angels in ascending order from Angels to Seraphim, without any hesitation.[19] Saint Augustine, on the contrary, candidly admits his ignorance regarding any difference between the Angelic orders. Commenting on Colossians, chapter 1:16, <whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers>, he writes: "What difference is there between these four terms . . . let those tell who can, I for myself must confess that I do not know."[20] Several of the Fathers believe that the enumeration of the Angelic orders found in the Scripture is incomplete. Commenting on Psalm 135, Saint Hilary writes that the Apostle Paul either purposely concealed or he ignored the exact number of Angelic Choirs. Saint Jerome seizes on the same idea. After referring to one of the enumerations given by Saint Paul, he adds the following: "And the other terms of ministry which neither we ourselves nor Paul himself, I believe, was able to name while still in his mortal body."[21] Saint Jerome enumerates only seven Choirs of Angels, but he insists on a real difference between them: "Why do we read that in the kingdom of heaven there are Archangels, Angels, Thrones, Dominions, Powers, Cherubim and Seraphim, and every name which is named not only in this present world, but also that which is to come? A difference of name is meaningless where there is not a difference of rank. An Archangel is of course an Archangel to other inferior Angels, and Powers and Dominions have other spheres over which they exercise authority."[22] The wavering and unsettled opinion about the Choirs of Angels, before the days of Dionysius, appears very manifest in the <Apostolic Constitutions,> which, at one time (in the Mass Clementina, VIII, 12), mentions ten Angelic Choirs, including <Aeons> and <Hosts> but omitting Dominions; at another time it lists eleven Choirs, adding Dominions to the previous enumeration.

Saint John Damascene seems to attribute the final decision on the matter of Choirs and Hierarchies to his predecessor Dionysius: "As the most holy and venerable man and excellent theologian Denis the Areopagite says, the entire theology, that is Sacred Scripture, has listed nine celestial substances which our master theologian has divided in three orders (hierarchies)."[23] It is evident that the merit of Dionysius is limited to the division of the nine Choirs into three Hierarchies. The Choirs themselves and their names are found in Sacred Scripture, and they had been grouped together long before the time of Dionysius by, for example, Saint Ambrose. With the translation of his works into Latin his theory of the nine Choirs and the three Hierarchies became the commonly accepted opinion also in the West. Beginning with the most perfect Hierarchy and the highest Choirs of Angels, the Angelic world is thus divided according to Dionysius:

 

I. THE SUPREME HIERARCHY

Seraphim Cherubim Thrones

II. MIDDLE HIERARCHY

Dominations Virtues Powers

III. LOWER HIERARCHY

Principalities Archangels Angels

 

These nine orders of Angels are commonly called Choirs. Because the word choir means a band of singers, it is liable to create a wrong notion about the number and the duties of the Angels. Singing the praises of the Most High is indeed one of the most pleasant and desired occupation of all celestial spirits, but certainly not the only duty and occupation. Their vast number of countless millions and myriads in each Choir would be better expressed by other terms, like Order, Rank, Hosts, etc. Yet, the accepted name should be retained because of its antiquity.

What is meant by Angelic Hierarchy? According to Dionysius, in this case Hierarchy implies a holy order, a special knowledge, and a specific activity which, so far as possible, "participates in the Divine Likeness and is lifted up to the illuminations given it from God, and correspondingly towards the imitation of God.... The aim of the Hierarchy is the greatest possible assimilation to and union with God.... Also it molds and perfects its participants in the holy image of God like bright and spotless mirrors which receive the ray of the supreme Deity which is the source of light, and being mystically filled with the gift of light, it pours it forth again abundantly, in accordance with God's law, upon those below itself."[24]

Hierarchy, a sacred authority, generally speaking, implies some common sphere of activity and influence; Orders, among Angels, imply gradual rank of both natural perfection and supernatural grace and glory. This is the meaning of Saint Bernard's consideration: "The citizens of that country are spirits, mighty, glorious, blessed, separate personalities, of gradual rank, from the beginning standing in their own order, perfect of their kind."[25]

As we have noted before, all the names of the Angelic Orders, or Choirs, are found in Sacred Scripture; they are not an invention of Dionysius. The distribution of the nine Choirs into three distinct Hierarchies is a theory he derived ultimately from Neo- Platonic Philosophy prevalent in his time. According to Proclus: "The progressions of beings are completed through similitude. However, the terminations of the higher orders are united to the beginnings of second orders . . . and thus all things are in continuity with each other."[26] Dionysius develops these basic ideas both in his Celestial and Ecclesiastical Hierarchies. He confesses his inability to give us a clear picture of that wondrous organization of the Angelic world when he writes: "I hold that none but the Divine Creator, by whom they were ordained, is able to know fully the number and the nature of the celestial Beings and the regulation of their Hierarchies.... We could not have known the mystery of these supercelestial Intelligences and all the holiness of their perfection had it not been taught to us by God through His ministers who truly know their own natures. Therefore we will say nothing as from ourselves, but being instructed we will set forth, according to our ability, those angelic visions which the venerable theologians have beheld."[27]

According to Dionysius, a Hierarchy is a threefold order and a co-equal unity. The most exalted Hierarchy, that of the Orders of Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones, is the most fully Godlike, the most closely and immediately united to the first Light of the Godhead.[28]

The first and the second Hierarchy possess all the illumination and the power of the lower Hierarchy, that of the Principalities, the Archangels, and the Angels. This, according to Dionysius, is the reason why all the blessed spirits, including those of the highest Choirs, are rightly called Angels—the name of the lowest Choir—because they all possess, in addition to their own personal perfection, the illumination and the power of the common Angel, but the Angels themselves do not participate equally with those above them.

It is well known how the concept of the heavenly Hierarchy was accommodated, by the same author, to the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. Here, too, a member of the highest Order, a Bishop, has all the sacred power and sacred knowledge of any member of the lower Orders, the Priests, the Deacons, etc., but these do not share equally with him in that power. The Angelic Choirs, or Orders, exercise their power by means of illumination and purgation, enriching and perfecting the Angelic or human intelligences that are immediately below themselves according to their receptive capacity. By analogy, the same functions of purging, illuminating, and perfecting are attributed to the various Orders of the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy by Dionysius. This is indeed a very harmonious and beautiful conception of God's family in heaven and on earth, a family in which all are joined together in charity among themselves and all are united in God with divine love.

"The first Hierarchy of the celestial Intelligences is purified and enlightened, being ordained by the first perfecting Cause, uplifted directly to Himself, and filled, analogously, with the most holy purification of the boundless light of the supreme perfection, untouched by any inferiority, full of primal light and perfected by its union with the first-given understanding and knowledge."[29] According to this principle, the Choirs of the first Hierarchy receive, in proportion to their Order and personal perfection, illumination and purgation directly from God; the others indirectly, that is, through the members of the Choir and Hierarchy immediately above them, except, of course, for the supernatural light of grace and glory which is given to all directly from God.

It is practically beyond our power of comprehension and comparison to balance one against the other, the highest in the Order of Seraphim with the lowest in the Choir of Angels, in the third Hierarchy. The highest in the Choir of Seraphim must have been the most brilliant, most perfect and glorious creature of the spirit world, a bearer of light and beauty, the ideal of creation. According to Sacred Scripture the apostasy of the fallen Angels must be attributed to one of the most exalted spirits. He sinned by pride and seduced the others by his example and his lies.[30]

 

The Fallen Angels

We have an eye-witness account of the fall of this supreme Angel in the words of Christ, the Son of God: "I saw Satan like lightning falling from heaven."[31] What happened to this towering glory of creation to fall so low from such an exalted position? The same Divine Savior reveals something of the cause of his fall: "He was a murderer from the beginning, and he stood not in truth; because truth is not in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof."[32] He is called a murderer, from the beginning, because he destroyed, by his example and seduction, the life of grace in his fellow Angels and, later, in our first parents; he is depicted as the great liar, because blinded by pride he attributed to himself those marvelous gifts that God had graciously and most generously showered on him. To him, therefore, the words of Isaias have been aptly applied, and Lucifer has become a synonym of Satan: "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, who didst rise in the morning? how art thou fallen to the earth? . . . And thou saidst in thy heart: I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God . . . I will ascend above the height of the clouds, I will be like the most High. But yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, into the depth of the pit."[33] These words of Isaias are a parable alluding directly to the King of Babylon but indirectly to Satan whose spirit and actions were reflected in that King's conduct. Another tyrannical ruler, the King of Tyre, gives Prophet Ezechiel the opportunity for another description of Satan before and after his fall: "Thus saith the Lord God: Thou wast the seal of resemblance, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou wast in the pleasures of the paradise of God. Every precious stone was thy covering: the sardius, the topaz, and the jasper, the chrysolite, and the onyx, and the beryl, the sapphire, and the carbuncle, and the emerald: gold the work of thy beauty, and thy pipes were prepared in the day that thou wast created. Thou a Cherub stretched out, and protecting, and I set thee in the holy mountain of God, thou hast walked in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day of thy creation, until iniquity was found in thee. . . thou hast sinned, and I cast thee out from the mountain of God, and destroyed thee, O covering Cherub, out of the midst of the stones of fire. And thy heart was lifted up with thy beauty: thou hast lost thy wisdom in thy beauty, I have cast thee to the ground."[34]

The name Lucifer, the comparison with the Cherubim, the exalted beauty and wisdom of this spirit before his fall, all these seem to be sufficient indications leading to the conclusion that Satan, most probably, was the supreme Angel in the Choir of Cherubim.

Both Fathers and Theologians quite generally hold that the sin of the fallen angels was pride. Pride is a false estimation of oneself; it is a lie, just as humility is truth. Pride is the root of disobedience, the instigator of seditions and rebellions. In that period of probation one of the supreme Angels recognized his exceeding power, beauty, and knowledge but failed to give thanks and glory to God. He became envious and intolerant of God's supreme dominion and thereby he constituted himself as the adversary of God: he became <Satan>. Like a sinister flash of lightning his evil mind was made manifest in the spirit world. Because of his exalted position many Angels followed him in his mad campaign of hate and rebellion. It was then that a cry and a challenge was heard in the heavens, and a leader was seen to rise from the lowest Hierarchy, from the Choir of the Archangels. His battle cry: "<Who is like God?>" was his mighty weapon and it became, later, his own name: <Michael>. "And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his Angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought and his Angels. And they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world; and he was cast down unto the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."[35]

Just as the Archangel Michael earned his name in the battle of heaven, so did Satan acquire his by the defying attitude he took against God. <Satan> in Hebrew means the "adversary," the "accuser." The Greek version of the Septuagint translates <Satan> with <Diabolos>, hence the Latin <Diabolus>, and all the derived vernacular names, including the English term "Devil." The Devil is therefore the equivalent of Satan, the leader of the fallen angels. The other fallen angels have no proper name but they are called either "evil spirits," "spirits of wickedness," "unclean spirits," or simply "devils," because of their association with Satan their leader who is known as "The Devil." Another name, applied to fallen angels, is common to both Sacred Scripture and pagan literature: the term "demon," from the Greek <Daimon>. The Greeks, like Socrates, distinguished between good and bad <daimones>. In the Bible the word demon has always the meaning of an evil being. The false gods of the Gentiles are called demons: "All the gods of the Gentiles are devils."[36] Beelzebub, one of the various names of Satan, is called "the prince of demons."[37]

Evil, in this world and in all of God's creation, begins with Satan and his associates. "The Devil and all the other demons, as created by God, were naturally good, but they did become evil by their own doing."[38] All the wickedness and the resulting suffering, misery, and death in this world can be traced back to Satan. He, the old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, "seduced Eve by his subtlety."[39] This was the beginning of man's fall, ruin, and death: "For God created man incorruptible, and to the image of his own likeness he made him, but by the envy of the devil, death came into the world."[40]

"From the psychological point of view," writes J. Pohle, "it is a reasonable assumption that the apostasy of the Angels was instigated by one of their own number, most likely by the one who ranked highest both in natural and supernatural endowment, and that consequently the kingdom of evil originated at the very summit of creation and thence spread over heaven and earth."[41]

The devil sinned with perfect knowledge and complete freedom, without any bad example or seduction, consequently his sin was inexcusable. With the exception of Salmeron and very few others, the theologians believe that, unlike man, Satan and the fallen angels were given no time for repentance. This opinion seems to be firmly based on the words of the Scripture that reveal the fall of the angels, like: "God spared not the angels that sinned, but delivered them, drawn down by infernal ropes to the lower hell, unto torments, to be reserved unto judgment."[42] In these words, like in the following ones taken from the Apocalypse, there seems to be no time left between sin and punishment, the punishment being eternal damnation and the torments of hell. "Michael and the Angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels; and they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven."[43]

It has been pointed out before that perhaps one third of all the inhabitants of the spirit world followed the example of Satan and were expelled from heaven with him: "His tail (the dragon's) drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth."[44]

There were defections, probably, from almost every Choir of the heavenly Hierarchies. Saint Paul mentions Principalities and Powers among the fallen angels, who try to seduce man with their deceits: "Put you on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against Principalities and Powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places."[45] As Saint Paul never gives a complete enumeration of all the Choirs of the good Angels at one time, we may surmise that he follows the same rule with the fallen angels. The mention of Principalities and Powers in this passage should not be taken as complete and exclusive, but only as more representative and as implying the great natural power and cunning of our adversaries. Even though deprived of all supernatural grace and superadded gifts, the fallen angels retain their natural power which, in itself, is far superior to the natural power of man. For this reason the Apostle demands that the faithful put on the "armor of God" and "the shield of faith" in order to be able to resist and to conquer. Yet, in view of the fact that in another list of fallen angels, the Apostle mentions again only these two Choirs: Principalities and Powers, we believe that the largest number of fallen angels must have come from them. Speaking of Christ's victory over sin and the Devil, Saint Paul says: "Despoiling the Principalities and Powers, he hath exposed them confidently in open show, triumphing over them in himself "[46]

With the fall of Satan and his angels, the good Angels closed their ranks: "Neither was their place (Satan's and associates') found any more in heaven." It was then, we believe, that the good Angels who had stood their test and devoted themselves irrevocably to God's service and love, were admitted to their eternal reward in the glory of heaven and began to enjoy the Beatific Vision without fear of ever losing it. The heaven in which the big battle took place between Michael and Satan was not the heaven of glory and Beatific Vision, but the heaven of the spirit world during the period of probation; for no sin is possible in the land of the Blessed nor war in the house of peace.

The good Angels became the court of the most High King of Heaven, God's army against all the legions of the rebel spirits, and God's messengers to men.

It was here on earth, after man's creation and fall, that the good Angels met their fallen comrades of old. On many occasions Satan's path crossed that of Michael the Archangel. One of these occasions has been revealed and recorded for us by the Apostle Saint Jude: "When Michael the Archangel, disputing with the Devil, contended about the body of Moses, he did not venture to accuse him insultingly; he was content to say, May the Lord rebuke thee."[47]

The war against God has been taken down to earth and directed against man. The Angels of heaven can sin no more and Satan would waste his time trying to seduce them now. But man, who even after his fall, has a chance for conversion and salvation, because of Christ's redemptive work for him, can be made to fall again and again until he rises no more and is lost. The Devil who was "a murderer from the beginning" has continued his murderous activity with the children of man. Ever since original sin he has exercised a reign of death—the <imperium mortis>—over mankind, so that in a spiritual sense he became "the prince of this world" by making man the slave of sin. Satan with the assistance of his demons extends this "reign of death" in three principal manners: by seductive temptations; by diabolical obsessions and possessions; by all sorts of black magic, spiritism, and the superstitions of idolatry.

The reality of diabolical activity in this world is so plainly and so strongly emphasized in the Scriptures of both Testaments that it would be superfluous for us to prove it. The diabolical perversity and cruelty, manifested by so many people in this present generation, living in the most enlightened period of human history, cannot be explained without the presence, in our midst, of an evil genius who delights in man's suffering and despair. This unseen evil genius is Satan. But why hate man? The obvious answer is that Satan hates God and anyone made to His image; much more so since God Himself assumed a human nature. Some theologians believe that one of the reasons of Satan's rebellion and disobedience was the fact that God revealed to the Angels the great things He had in store for man, elevation to the supernatural order, the Incarnation of the Son of God and the Hypostatic Union, the Virgin Mother of God, Mary. God commanded all the Angels to adore the Incarnate Word, as Saint Paul writes: "When He bringeth in the first begotten into the world, He saith: And let all the Angels of God adore him."[48] Envy and pride were, it seems, the cause of Satan's rebellion and fall. Man reminds him always of his fall and his misery, hence his hatred and the relentless campaign against man with the intention of making him an associate of his own misery and despair. This campaign will last to the end of the world. At the final Judgment, Satan, his demons, and all lost souls will hear the eternal condemnation already announced by Christ: "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels."[49] No repentance, therefore, and no salvation for the Devil, the adversary and the enemy of God, as, once, Origen and, lately, G. Papini[50] dared to affirm.

Many other problems are connected with the fallen angels, but they belong to a different treatise, to Demonology. Our task, at present, is limited to the good Angels and their activity in this world.

 

ENDNOTES

1 <Opusc.> 60, I.

2 <Summa Theo>. I, Q. 52, art. 6.

3 Dan. 8:13.

4 Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7.

5 II Cor. 11:14.

6 Matt. 18:10.

7 St. Basil, <De Spiritu Sancto>, XVI, 38.

8 <De Civitate Dei>, XII, 9.

9 <Summa Theo.>, I, Q. 62, art. 5.

10 Franciscus Suarez, S.J., <De Angelis>, VI, 3, 5.

11 Apoc. 22:11.

12 Walter Farrell, O.P., <Satan—The Devil Himself>, p. 14.

13 Isa. 6:2; Gen. 3:24; Col. 1:6; Eph. 1.21; Rom. 8:38.

14 Ps. 148:2.

15 Eph. 1:21.

16 F. Prat, S.J., <The Theology of St. Paul>, Vol. II, p. 415 f.

17 <Hom. 34 in Evang>.

18 <Epistle to the Trallians>, 5.

19 <Apologia Proph. David>, 5.

20 <Enchiridion>, 58.

21 <Contra Jovinianum,> II, 28.

22 Ibid.

23 <De Fide Ortho.>, 2, 3.

24 The Celestial Hierarchies, 3.

25 <De Consideratione>, V, 4.

26 <The Philosophy of Plato>, VI, 2.

27 <Op. cit.>, VI.

28 Ibid.

29 Ibid.

30 <Summa Theo.>, I, Q. 63, art. 7.

31 Luke 10:18.

32 John 8:44.

33 Isa. 14:12 ff. Other names for Satan in Hebrew tradition are: Belial (II Cor. 6:15), Beelzebub (Luke 11:15), Asmodeus (Tob. 3:8), and Sammael (Ascension of Isaias, II) .

34 Ezech. 28:12ff.

35 Apoc. 12:7ff

36 Ps. 95:5.

37 Luke 11:15.

38 IV Lateran Council, c. "Firmiter." D. 428.

39 II Cor. 11:3.

40 Wisd. 2:23f.

41 <God the Author of Nature and the Supernatural,> p. 342.

42 II Pet. 2:4.

43 Apoc. 12:7f.

44 Ibid. 4.

45 Eph. 6:11. In the book of Henoch, VI, 7, 8, the number of the fallen angels is put at two hundred only.

46 Col. 2:15.

47 Jude 1:9.

48 Hebr. 1:6.

49 Matt. 25:41.

50 <Il Diavolo>, 1953.


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