In addition to
great intelligence, angels were also created with free will, and were
given one opportunity to choose between the Good and the apparent good.
Why the "apparent good?" Because there are two ways to sin: a) to sin
out of ignorance or error in doing something inherently wrong
(culpability for sins of this type is mitigated by the ignorance that
allowed it), and b) to sin by free will in choosing to do something
that is good in itself, but in an inordinate, unmeasured, unregulated
way that doesn't allow for due consideration of what is involved. The
great intellect of the angels precluded their choosing an inherent evil
-- but it didn't preclude their choosing their own good (which is good
in itself) -- but in a manner insubordinate to what God wills.
So, at some time after their creation and before the creation of man,
the angels had a choice between
the Good and the apparent good. One of the angels -- a most beautiful,
illustrious angel who had the rank of Cherub and whose state was that
of "Lucifer," or "Light-Bearer" -- chose the latter. He wanted to be as
God but without subordinating himself to God (see Isaias 14:11-15
below). Some theologians and Fathers maintain that the coming
Mystery of the Incarnation was revealed to the angels, and that Lucifer
and company rebelled at the thought of having to pay homage to One Who
would take on a human nature, a nature lesser than their own. In any
case, whether the sin of Lucifer is best described as pride (St. Thomas
Aquinas) or spiritual lust (Bl. Don Scotus), Lucifer chose wrongly and
fell, and other angels
fell with him. The Epistle of Jude describes what happened:
Jude 1:6 6
And the angels who kept not their principality, but forsook
habitation, he hath reserved under darkness in everlasting chains, unto
the judgment of the great day.
St. John, in his Apocalypse, tells the same story in a way
that also foretells the Last Judgment:
And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his
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 unto the
earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
The words of the
Prophet Isaias, though directly referencing the King of Babylon, have
been understood by the Fathers to describe typologically
the fall of the Lucifer:
Thy pride is brought down to hell, thy carcass is fallen down: under
thee shall the moth be strewed, and worms shall be thy covering. How
art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, who didst rise in the morning?
how art thou fallen to the earth, that didst wound the nations? And
thou saidst in thy heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my
throne above the stars of God, I will sit in the mountain of the
covenant, in the sides of the north. 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.
Yes, there was a
great moment of choice for the angels, all of whom were created good. It's
always to be remembered that God is never
the Author of evil. He may passively
allow evil, but never creates it or positively wills it. Anyway, so
some angels remained with
God and are the beings we typically refer to as "angels"; the rest
became the fallen angels we usually refer to as "demons" or "devils,"
and whose leader is
Lucifer, or Satan -- the
Devil. These demons are sentenced to Hell for eternity, but
are allowed powers on earth until the Final Judgment, when they will be
finally cast into Hell, never to return.
Satan and his minions have been with us since the beginning of human
history. Satab was there, in the guise of a serpent, in the Garden of
Eden, tempting Adam and Eve to rebel against God, and he has been with
since, a liar and murderer, doing all in his power to get us to reject
God and follow his demons into Hell. Just as Christ is Life, the Evil
One is death -- the death of the body, which only became a part of
natural world after the Fall, and the death of the soul in that souls
who follow him will be forever cut off from our God Who is Life.
He even tempted Lord
Christ Himself. From the Gospel of St. Matthew 4: 1-11 (and also
related in Mark 1:12-13 and Luke 4:1-13):
Then Jesus was
led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil.
And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was
hungry. And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of
God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and
said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every
word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.
Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the
pinnacle of the temple, And said to him: If thou be the Son of
God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his
angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up,
lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said to
him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and shewed him
all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, And said to
him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore
me. Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan: for it is written,
The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve.
Then the devil left him; and behold angels came and ministered to him. 1
Just as he
tempted Christ, he tempts us. When tempting Christ, he appealed first
to weakness of the flesh. Then he appealed to weakness that comes from
the desire to be respected by the world. Finally, he appealed to
spiritual pride. And it's in those
same ways the Evil One tempts us. Eating that one piece of
pie too many. Taking the larger piece of pie when there are two pieces
someone else wants a slice. Looking at a person of the sex you're
attracted to and turning him or her, mentally, into an object of lust.
Inordinate anger at being cut off in traffic or when watching as
takes the parking space you want. Doing nothing when you're called to
act. Wishing another will fail because you want what he has and are
enraged at his success. Not admitting you're wrong when you know you
are. These acts are all examples of the Seven "Deadly" or "Capital"
Sins: Pride, Greed, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth. We refrain
from falling into those sins by our striving for their contrary
virtues: Humility, Liberality, Chastity, Meekness, Temperance,
Brotherly Love, and Diligence. And we attain those virtues by practice,
by making habits of them --
first by willing ourselves to
do so and then using discipline
and acting on our will, doing the right things at each instance
those occasions of sin come
and confessing when we fail. We're helped in all
this by receiving the Sacraments, praying, doing what God tells us
(most especially loving Him and loving our neighbors), forgiving
"occasions of sin" (those situations which make it too easy for us to
fall into sin), praying to the Saints (especially St. Michael) and our
Guardian Angel to pray for and protect us, and making use of
sacramentals. I will write more about all of these on the "Spiritual
Warfare" page in this section.
Satan is pure hatred. He is contempt for all that is Good, True, and
Beautiful. The utter loathing
he has for God, for you, for me, has no
bounds. Think of the most beautiful thing you can imagine -- a lovely,
innocent newborn baby, perhaps, full of potential, trusting, soft,
vulnerable. And now imagine the most horrific, unspeakable things
happening to that
child. Rape, violence, torture. That is the spirit of Satan. He
"wanders throughout the world, seeking the ruin of souls," as the
prayer to St. Michael goes. He wants our souls. He wants your soul. And
he does all he can to get it. And aside from normal, everyday
temptations, there are other ways in which
the devils torment us...
1 St. Thomas Aquinas, in his "Summa
Theologica," points out something interesting about the ways in which
the Evil One tempted Christ. He compares them to the way he tempted
Adam. He writes,
For at first he
enticed his [Adam's] mind to consent to the eating of the forbidden
saying: "Why hath God commanded you that you should not
eat of every tree of paradise?"
Secondly he tempted him to vainglory
by saying: "Your eyes shall be opened."
Thirdly, he led the temptation
to the extreme height of pride, saying: "You shall be as gods, knowing
good and evil."
This same order did he observe in tempting Christ. For
at first he tempted Him to that which men desire, however spiritual
they may be--namely, the support of the corporeal nature by food.
Secondly, he advanced to that matter in which spiritual men are
sometimes found wanting, inasmuch as they do certain things for show,
which pertains to vainglory.
Thirdly, he led the temptation on to that
in which no spiritual men, but only carnal men, have a part--namely, to
desire worldly riches and fame, to the extent of holding God in
contempt. And so in the first two temptations he said: "If Thou be the
Son of God"; but not in the third, which is inapplicable to spiritual
men, who are sons of God by adoption, whereas it does apply to the two
Move on to:
Oppression, and Possession