This is a continuation of a series. Read the first post here.
This second essay was originally written for my Knights of the Magisterium Mental Health Ministry and is a very brief and concise explanation of the Catholic teachings of the Angels. This essay has since been expanded into a much longer series.
God as a perfect and good Being did not create evil. As Goodness personified, it would be impossible for Him to create anything that is evil. And yet evil exists. But if God did not create evil, how does it exist? Is evil an eternal concept like good is?
So what then is evil? As Saint Thomas Aquinas tells us in THE SUMMA THEOLOGIAE, Part 1, Question 49, evil does not really exist in the manner that we think it does; what we refer to evil is actually a contrast or absence of good. However, Aquinas argues that evil is not the merely absence of good, for an absence of something might not be evil in itself, but that what we refer to evil is what once was good or had good has been deprived of that goodness (i.e. what blindness is to sight). Thus, if this assertion is true, because evil is the privation/deprivement of good; good can exist without evil, but evil cannot “exist” without good.
In other words, evil is indeed the absence of good, but only in that good had to once be present for there to be an absence, hence why evil is the privation of good is because it is an absence by means of a loss. Therefore, good and evil are not two dualistic principles like we traditionally tend to associate and evil is not an eternal force or concept for it has a beginning when there is a privation of something good. And in order for something to be eternal, it cannot have a beginning or an end. God on the other hand is eternal and because He is the embodiment Good, by consequence goodness is also eternal for it has no beginning or end and it is not reliant on the existence of evil for its own existence as evil is on good for its own existence.
But how did evil come about? Through the free will of angels and human beings. Angels and humans were created with the gift to choose to serve God. With that choice also comes the option of not wanting to serve God.
Evil came into “being” because of the choice of one angel who chose to sin against God by not wanting to be obedient to His Authority as Lord and Creator. That angel, a high ranking cherub angel, was named Lucifer. And once he chose to rebel against God, he took about a third of the angels with him in rebellion (Revelation 12:4). Lucifer thus became the Devil and Satan, which means accuser and adversary of God, and he and his fallen angels became devils/demons. But Saint Michael the Archangel, along with Saint Gabriel, Saint Raphael, Uriel, Raguel, Zerachiel, and Remiel, led the rest of the loyal angels to God against Satan and cast Satan and his demons out of Heaven and into Hell. (Revelation 12:7-9, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6).
But why did Lucifer sin against God and dare to say “Non serviam!” (“I will not serve!”)? Because of pride (Isaiah 14:12-14, Ezekiel 28:17, Proverbs 16:18) and envy (Wisdom 2:24 – But through the devil's envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his party experience it). Lucifer was prideful of his high status, power, wisdom, and beauty, but what he had was not enough for he wanted to be adored and worship like God. Therefore, he did not want to be second to God in honor and so he chose to not serve his Master. Somehow, this rebellious idea of not serving God then appealed to the other angels who sided with Satan.
According to Canon 1 of the VI Lateran Council in 1215, the fallen angels were good. Does any goodness still exist within these demons and can they repent since God is merciful to sinful humans who repent of their evil? According to the teaching of the Catholic Church, no. There is not good left within Satan and his angels and they are completely consumed by evil. As a result of this and because they chose to sin against God with their full intellect and will. As Paragraph 393 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
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."
In the same manner, it is thus argued that it is also the irrevocable character of the choice that the other angels who remained loyal to God made and thus they cannot give into sin because their wills are now so attuned to God’s Will. Thus, according to this doctrine of the Catholic Church, it is now impossible for a second rebellion of angels to ever take place.
Satan’s war still continued on after his banishment from Heaven. Knowing that a second assault on Heaven would be futile, Satan chose to attack God indirectly through His most beloved of creations, man. If Satan could damn man with him to Hell for eternity, he could still win his war against God. For a time, it seemed like he succeeded and most human beings will now join Satan in his eternal torment after they die. Through our un-repented sin, we damn ourselves to Satan’s company FOREVER.
For this reason God became incarnated as a man, Jesus Christ, to defeat the power and dominion of Satan. And all who believe in Him, follow His Commandments, repent of their sins, and fight against Satan will not be damned to Hell but will be with God in Heaven forever. For this reason Jesus was born and for this reason He suffered and died on the Cross and rose again from the dead.
However, even as believers we can fall into sin and choose to reject God. For this reason Saint Peter warns us in 1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world.” And Saint James tells us in James 4:7-8, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind.” If we do not and we die in the state of un-repentant sin, Jesus will tell even us, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.' (Matthew 7:21-23).
Revelation 12:3-4, 7-9
2 Peter 2:1-4,9-12