Expanding upon what I covered in the previous essays THE ANGELS, THE FALL OF SATAN, THE HEAVENLY HIERARCHY: THE NINE CHOIRS OF ANGELS, and THE SEVEN ARCHANGELS, I will now explain why these Angels remained loyal to God. I have taught about the Angels in great depth before and you can currently download my two part lecture series THE ANGELS ACCORDING TO THE TEACHING OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH on My Audio Work page of my blog THE MODERN AUGUSTINE.
Some time at the beginning of time, the angel Lucifer became prideful and envious and fell into sin. This sin led to him rebelling against God and a third of the Angelic Host following him into sin and rebellion (Revelation 12:9-4). It is speculated that God had revealed the Plan of the Incarnation to them during or shortly after the Creation, in which God would become man in the person of Jesus Christ. (I have an entire essay devoted to the subject of the Incarnation called DEFENDING THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST if you need to learn more about this.) According to this theory, Lucifer and the angels who sided with him did not want to be subservient to man, who was created below the Angels, much less to a God-man. This may have contributed to their pride and envy that manifested into sin.
However, St. Michael and the remaining two-thirds of the Angels remained loyal to God and submitted to the Divine Plan. Michael then led the other Angels against Lucifer and his forces and cast them out of Heaven:
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world--he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (REVELATION 12:7-9)
The Angels who remained loyal to God after Lucifer’s Rebellion, did so for five predominant reasons and these are reasons that we need to be loyal to God as well.
1. GOD IS GOD AND THERE IS NO OTHER HIGHER BEING WHO DESERVES VENERATION AND LOYALTY.
There is only one God; there are Three Persons who form the Trinity, but They are one God. As God, the essence of Being itself, God is entitled to loyalty.
2. GOD IS THEIR CREATOR AND THEY ARE GRATEFUL FOR THEIR EXISTENCE.
When were the angels created? Some Christian theologians, including Catholic ones have made the mistake of arguing that there were created before the Creation and that angelic time existed before all other time. This is false because Time is a single thing consisting of past, present, and future and there is only one single moment of Creation, not multiple ones. Angels thus had to have been created along with the rest of Creation. This is verified by Paragraph 332 of the Catechism when it states that, “Angels have been present since creation…” St. Augustine stated in THE LITERAL MEANING OF GENESIS 1.3:
Both spiritual and corporeal creatures were created at the beginning of time.
But when exactly were the Angels created? They were created on the First Day of Creation and were the first of all of God’s creations. We know this because God created the Earth on the First Day and God tells Job in Job 38:4-7:
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements--surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Note that often in the Bible, such as in Revelation 12:3-4, angels are referred to as stars.)
Pre-Christian Jewish texts such as the Book of Jubilees also make this argument; according to the BOOK OF JUBILEES 2:2 (Translation by R.H. Charles):
For on the first day He created the heavens which are above and the earth and the waters and all the spirits which serve before him -the angels…
In commenting on Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”), St. Thomas Aquinas stated in the SUMMA THEOLOGIAE Part 1, Question 46, Article 3:
I answer that, […] For four things are stated to be created together--viz. the empyrean heaven [Heaven], corporeal matter, by which is meant the earth, time, and the angelic nature.
Also, Part 1, Question 66, Article 4 he repeats this point:
I answer that, […] It is commonly said that the first things created were these four--the angelic nature, the empyrean heaven, formless corporeal matter, and time.
It is worth briefly noting that many of the Church Fathers such as St. Augustine in THE LITERAL MEANING OF GENESIS made the argument that the Creation account found in Genesis should not be interpreted as being six literal days but as a “single day” or as being a long process of time. This is based upon Genesis 2:4 referring to the Day of Creation in singular form, whereas Genesis 1 and 2:1-3 refer to Creation taking place in Six Days in the plural form. Augustine argued that the Six Days of Creation refer to how God reveled His Plan for Creation to the Angels.
According to Fr. Pascal P. Parente in THE ANGELS: THE CATHOLIC TEACHING ON THE ANGELS (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1994):
It is an article of faith, firmly established in Scripture and Tradition, and clearly expressed in Christian Doctrine from the beginning, that this spirit world, our Angels, began with time and was created by God. This traditional belief of both the Old and the New Testament was given a more formal and solemn expression In the fourth Lateran Council in 1215: (God) "by his almighty power created together in the beginning of time both creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, namely the Angelic and the earthly, and afterwards the human, as it were an intermediate creature, composed of body and spirit." From this definition we learn that the Angelic spirits were created when time began and not from eternity. Like all other creatures they were produced by the almighty power of God, out of nothing (pages 9-10).
Note that in citing the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, Fr. Parente is making it clear that this is official Church teaching.
3. GOD IS THEIR FATHER AND THUS THEY LOVE HIM AS DEVOTED CHILDREN.
In Jewish tradition, angels are referred to as the Bene Elohim, the sons of God. We see this clearly in the afore-quoted passage of Job 38:7. This adds a deeper level to our relationship to them for through Baptism we also become the sons of God (Romans 8; Catechism, Paragraphs 1213, 1270) and thus the angels are more than just guardians and higher beings than us, they are our brothers and they love us in some a deep way that can only be explained by the family bond that we have with them.
4. ANGELS ARE WARRIORS AND KNIGHTS WHOSE SOLE PURPOSE TO SERVE THEIR KING.
We tend to look at angels as being merely ethereal beings and a lot of our art reflects them as feminine beings or as chubby babies with wings. The artistic reasoning is that femininity is representative of their spiritual beauty and their portrayal as babies is representative of their pure spiritual innocence.
But these things do not compare with the greater reality: the Angels are the greatest warriors in all of Creation!
I love epic myth such as that of the found in the heroes of Greek, Roman, and Norse mythologies and also that of our modern mythology found in the superheroes of comic books, such as Superman. I also love epic heroism found in real history, such as that of King Leonidas, his 300 Spartans, and their 7,000 Greek allies who fought and died at the Battle of Thermopylae in 580 BC and the Jews who held off the Roman forces at Masada during the 1st Century A.D. But these heroes, both real and fiction, are nothing compared to the angels, who far surpass the greatest human hero and bravery, valor, and virtue.
The Angels are warriors and they should be remembered and honored as such, especially St. Michael. I have not found any Christian source to articulate this point well but I have found other sources, such as the writings of the samurai of Japan. As Yamamoto Tsunetomo wrote in HAGAKURE written during the early 18th Century (Translated by William Scott Wilson, Tokyo, Japan: Kodansha International, 1979):
Being a retainer [or Angel] is nothing more than being supportive of one’s lord, entrusting matters of good and evil to him, and renouncing self interest. If there are but two or three men of this type, the fief [or the Church] will be secure. (page 20)
For a warrior [or Angel], there is nothing other than thinking of his master. If one creates this resolution within himself, he will always be mindful of the master’s person and will not depart from him even for a moment. (page 23)
5. LASTLY, AS A RESULT OF THE PREVIOUS FOUR REASONS, THE ANGELS HAVE COMPLETE FAITH IN GOD.
Yes, the angels do have faith in God for to have faith is to not know everything that there is to know and to rely and trust in God about these things and the angels do not know everything that there is to know. Some modern Catholic teachers have made the mistake of teaching otherwise, but this in contrary to what the Church has taught through Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and in the writings of our leading theologians such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas (St. Augustine – THE CITY OF GOD 12.15; St. Thomas Aquinas – SUMMA THEOLOGIAE Part 1, Question 52, Article 3; Question 57, Article 3; Question 61, Article 2.).
I covered the reasoning behind this in my previous essay THE HEAVENLY HIERARCHY: THE NINE CHOIRS OF ANGELS.
WHY THE LOYAL ANGELS NOW CANNOT SIN
“Can the Fallen Angels repent?” This is an understandable question that many questions ask and I used this concept years ago when I was working my frictional account about the Fall of Lucifer. God is merciful and for humans the only unforgivable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:22-32, Mark 3:22-30), which is often interpreted as referring to the rejection of the calling of the Holy Spirit in drawing you to repentance for your sins before you die; once a man dies in the state of Mortal Sin, he has rejected this call of the Holy Spirit and cannot be forgiven after death. This is different than having to still pay for the consequences of your sins in Purgatory after your death even though you have repented, but that subject has to be explored in depth at a later time.
The fact is that Lucifer (now Satan, the Devil) and his angels (demons, devils) cannot repent for their sins. Their choice is now forever due to their nature and due to the nature of their sin and there is no form of repentance available to them; it is not that God will not allow them to repent but it is that their wills will not allow them to. When they decided to give into sin, they let their sins consume them so much that even if an option were made available for them to repent, they would never chose to do so. (St. John of Damascus - DE FIDE ORTHODOXA 2.4; St. Anselm of Canterbury – ON THE FALL OF THE DEVIL, Chapters 6 and 25; St. Thomas Aquinas – THE SUMMA THEOLOGIAE, Part 1, Question 63, Article 6). 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."
Thus, as the Catechism implies, the sin of the fallen angels is akin to the unforgivable sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
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. Therefore, even though there are five main reasons why these Angels remained loyal to God during Lucifer’s Rebellion, this is the reason why they now cannot sin. They had given their ultimate fiat to God just as the Virgin Mary had in Luke 1:38 and echoed the words of Christ many years before He uttered them, “Not my will but Your Will be done” (Luke 22:42 and elsewhere).
It is also speculated by theologians that up until this point in time, none of the Angels knew or understood that God is a Trinity. After the angels proved their loyalty to Him, God then revealed this mystery to them, which in turn forever cemented their loyalty to Him; the angels have been meditating upon this mystery ever since. If this is true, then it seems probable that because the Trinity was not revealed to them, the Angels may not have understood the context of what was revealed to them about the Incarnation of Jesus that was to come. All that Lucifer and the other rebel angels saw was that man, an inferior being to the angels, was to one day be elevated above them. While Michael and the two thirds of the angels who remained loyal to God rejoiced that this would happen and gave glory to God, even though they did not understand it, Lucifer felt challenged that he would have to serve this inferior species. What he did not realize is that what he was about to do was what was going to pave the way for the necessity of the incarnation to come to pass.
WHAT WE NOW NEED TO LEARN FROM THIS
Let us now examine why we need to emulate these five reasons of loyalty.
1. GOD IS GOD AND THERE IS NO OTHER HIGHER BEING WHO DESERVES VENERATION AND LOYALTY.
We are not God, we are not gods, we can never become gods, and we are always dependent upon God for our existence. God is Existence itself without any cause or potentiality in His existence (for He is always pure actuality), whereas we have a cause for our existence and the potential to change. Since He is God, by right of what He is, He is entitled to obedience.
2. GOD IS OUR CREATOR AND WE OUGHT TO BE GRATEFUL FOR OUR EXISTENCE.
Related to the previous point, God created us and He could have chosen not to create us. As the Creator of all things, He knows how all things in the physical and spiritual universe operate for He is the Lawgiver of the Natural Laws, the Moral Laws, and the Divine Laws. Since He is the Lawgiver and our Creator, who are we to determine that some of the laws should not be obeyed? We thus cannot escape nor neglect the Divine and Moral Laws just as we cannot escape or neglect the Natural Laws, such as the Laws of Gravity. We are thus not only dependent upon God for our own existence but also for the existence of all things around us in which we exist, such as Time, Space, and Matter. We are sub-creators in that we can create new things out of existing Matter within Time and Space, but we cannot create Matter out of nothing as God did and nor can we create Space or Time out of nothing. Therefore, we need to be grateful and obedient to God who has this power to create us.
3. GOD IS OUR FATHER AND WE OUGHT TO LOVE HIM AS DEVOTED CHILDREN.
How much do you love your parents? Who among you who are parents do not love your children? Due to the Death and Resurrection of Christ, we become born again as Children of God through faith and the Sacrament of Baptism. (Refer to my essay THE CATHOLIC TEACHING ON BAPTISM.) God the Father becomes our true Father who loves us unconditionally. Sin may separate us from God, but nothing can separate us from His Love (Romans 8:35). At this point, God is not just God and not just our Creator, He is a loving Father who knows what is best for His Children. All good parents want their children to succeed and live healthy lives and will discipline them in what is right and what is wrong so that this will happen. How much more then does God do the same for His Children when He is the perfect Parent? As our Father, God knows what is best for us and His Rules and His Laws are not a fence for us to limit our minds to, rather they are guardrails put into place so that we do not go over the cliff and die. Therefore, since God is our Father and he does know what is best for us, we ought to be obedient to Him as His Children as well as because He is God and our Creator.
4. WE NEED TO BE AS KNIGHTS WHOSE SOLE PURPOSE TO SERVE THEIR KING.
However, even though God the Father is our Father, we must remember that Christ is the King and the Church is His Kingdom. Although St. John the Apostle was the Disciple whom Jesus loved, he nevertheless fell before the feet of Jesus and worshipped Him when Jesus appeared to him in a vision many decades after Christ ascended into Heaven (Revelation 1:17). If one of the Twelve Apostles who knew Jesus more intimately than we do because he was with Him for about three years showed this much reverence to Christ as King, how much more reverent should we who did that have the same privileges that John had? This means being obedient to Him and being obedient to the Magisterium of His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. This means partaking of the Sacraments often. This means going to Mass every Sunday, other Holy Days of Obligation, and as often as we can. And this also means that we need to all learn the Faith and grow in it so that we can walk in our baptismal calling to proclaim the Gospel to all peoples of the Earth.
Moreover, this also means defending the Faith. The Sacrament of Baptism may make us into the Children of God, but the Sacrament of Confirmation makes us Soldiers of Christ the King. (Refer to my essay THE HOLY SPIRIT, PENTECOST, AND THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION.) This means defending the Church from our natural enemies with love and combating the evils in our culture, but it also means that we have to follow St. Michael’s lead and fight the spiritual war against Satan and his demons. We are at war! Like it or not, you have to pick a side. If you pick to serve Christ as your King, then you choose well. However, if you choose to serve Satan either by free will, by being entrapped by sin, or by inaction, you damn your soul to Hell forever. Follow Michael’s lead and serve the King!
5. WE NEED TO HAVE COMPLETE FAITH IN GOD.
The Angels are still learning about God’s Plan and so are we. We only have basic ideas of what the Plan is compared to its full reality so we need to have faith in God. Faith is more than just believing that God exists for even the demons believe that and fear and tremble (James 2:19). Rather, faith is belief and trusting in God as God, Creator, Father, and King. Moreover, your faith has to grow through works, for faith without works is dead (James 2:17,26). Works on not ways to merit salvation on your own, for the only merits come from Grace through Christ. Instead, works are your faith in action and is the water of the spirit that hydrates and gives life to it. Another way of looking at works is by looking at them as the action of obedience: if you really love Christ, you will not only believe in Him but you will obey His Commandments (John 14:15,23). This thus brings everything full circle again to the fact that God is our God, Our Creator, Our Father, and Our King and we are required to be obedient to Him, especially when we claim to be Christians. Once more, the example of St. Michael and the Angels can inspire us to do this.
This now concludes an expansion of the first two essays that I have written about the subject of the Angels. What began as a simple response to someone who took the time to read my work and ask a question about the subject has led to three additional essays being written about this series. There is still so much to explore in greater detail and I have much more to say about this subject. In fact, I have been working on a fictional book and on a nonfiction historical-theological book about the Angels for many years and I still have to unlock one great mystery for me to be satisfied with my research so that I can finally finish working on these books. For now, though, I have provided you with a lot of material in the five essays in this series thus far. Meditate and pray about what I have written thus far and use it as a means to research this subject in greater depth on you own.
I am the Executive Director of a lay apostolate called the KNIGHTS OF THE MAGISTERIUM. Please take the time to check out the website where you can find links to my other essays and our work for the Catholic Church. http://www.knightsotm.org/