Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Angelic Choices

Behind the fall of humanity, was the fallen angel called "Satan" or "the devil" who provoked Adam and Eve into disobedience (see 2 Pet 2:4). The Catholic Church teaches that "the devil and other demons were created by God naturally good, but they became evil by their own doing" (Fourth Lateran Council, 1). Unlike the fall of man and woman, which God in His infinite wisdom and mercy sent His only Son under the Name of Jesus to redeem, the fall of the angels is eternal and unforgivable. Why is that?

The sin of the fallen angels is unforgivable not because "God is mean" or that God has some arbitrary (or any) limit to His mercy, but because of the angels' perpetual stubbornness -- they will never seek repentance. Angels are beings created not in time, but created outside of it where past, present, and future exist all at once. At the instant of their creation, they know God perfectly and can freely decide their disposition towards Him. The fallen angels, therefore, are those who have perfectly willed themselves to be in opposition against God. Since their choice is not subject to the changes of time, their disposition is immutable: they have always hated God, they continue hating God, and will always hate God.

The fallen angles have no excuse for rejecting God since, having unhindered spiritual minds, they were totally aware what furthest consequences their rejection would bring. Adam and Eve, on the other hand, having human minds, only understood some consequences behind their fall (i.e., sin, suffering, and death). As human experience verifies, sin is mostly chosen out of ignorance. People do not typically choose evil for the sake of evil; people usually choose something that masquerades under the disguise of good, only later to realize the error made.

So God rebuked mankind for its "original sin" by weakening the soul's spiritual facilities over the body, and thereby manifesting the reality that there are no benefits from being apart from the Creator (see Jn 15:5). We are not pure spirits but composite beings in which willpower is expressed through the body, but due to the effects of original sin, willpower was weakened. Whether we are accepting, rejecting, loving, or hating, our willpower can only be imperfectly, though substantially, effective.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to realize that the human body is bound to the created reality of time. While a person inhabits this world, one’s disposition is subject to change in cooperation with God's grace. Wherefore, when death occurs, the person's soul is released from the confines of the body that inhabit time and space; his or her disposition is then perfected and eternally fixed like the angel's to either enjoy or suffer the same fates.