Sunday, February 20, 2011

Demons: The Other Angels

I wrote about angels earlier today. (February 20, 2011) Basically, they're spiritual creatures with intelligence and free will: people; but not human.

Since they've got free will, angels could decide to obey God - or not. I've discussed free will before. (November 20, 2010, June 24, 2010) More to the point, the Catechism of the Catholic Church discusses the idea. (Catechism, 1730, for starters)

We call the angels who decided to reject God fallen angels, demons, or devils. The #1 fallen angel is often called Satan.

Satan: Real, and Just a Creature

I think a person can make at least two major mistakes, when thinking about Satan. One is to assume that this fallen angel isn't real. The other is to assume that Satan is real, and a sort of counterpart to God.

Then there's what we see in the movies: from The House of the Devil (1896), to The Devil's Revenge (2010). Most of them are, under the blood and thunder, silly. Some, like Heaven Can Wait (1943), show us a friendly gentleman-devil. At least Ghost Rider (2007) portrayed demons as not entirely reliable people. And that's almost another topic.

Satan: He's No God

Definition time:
"DEVIL/DEMON: A fallen angel, who sinned against God by refusing to accept his reign. Satan or the devil, the Evil One, and the other demons were at first good angels, created naturally good, who became evil by their own doing (391, 1707; cf. 2851)."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, Glossary)
Disclaimer time: I've got the full teaching authority of "some guy with a blog." I do not speak for the Catholic Church. Which is why I use all these excerpts and links to what the Catholic Church does have to say.

Back to the fallen angels.

Satan and company were created by God, like us. Treating Satan as if he's like God makes about as much sense as saying that a movie star is God. Which is yet another topic.

The Catechism has a few things to say about Satan, including this backgrounder:
"Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy.266 Scripture and the Church's Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called 'Satan' or the 'devil.'267 The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: 'The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing.'268

"Scripture speaks of a sin of these angels.269 This 'fall' consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection of that rebellion in the tempter's words to our first parents: 'You will be like God.'270 The devil 'has sinned from the beginning'; he is 'a liar and the father of lies.'271

"It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels' sin unforgivable. 'There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death.'272"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 391-393)
That last paragraph is important - partly, I think, because it's hard to imagine a "loving" God throwing someone into Hell. It's more a matter of God not dragging anybody, kicking and screaming, into Heaven - and I've written about that before, too. (November 20, 2010)

Like I said, I think it's a mistake to assume that Satan doesn't exist. Or that Satan is like God. Bad, powerful, yes: All-powerful? Definitely not.
"Scripture witnesses to the disastrous influence of the one Jesus calls 'a murderer from the beginning,' who would even try to divert Jesus from the mission received from his Father.273 'The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.'274 In its consequences the gravest of these works was the mendacious seduction that led man to disobey God.

"The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries—of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature—to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but 'we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.'275"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 394-395)
Two things to remember: Satan can't win. God can't lose.

Actually, my Lord won - quite a while ago - and that's something else I've written about before. (January 13, 2011)

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.