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Fallen Angels and the War for Our Souls

October 19, AD2016

CS-StMichael-Pixabay

Every week in Mass we pray the Nicene Creed and say the words, “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.” This is a profession of our belief that God has created all things from nothing, both the material things we experience in our daily lives and the immense spiritual world beyond our senses. God has revealed through Scripture the existence of these invisible creatures we call “angels,” and the Church has always honored those spiritual beings who remained faithful to God, celebrating the Feast of the Archangels (September 29) and the Feast of the Guardian Angels (October 2). These recent feast days invited me to reflect on the transcendent reality of these angelic beings.

God Tested the Angels

Several years ago, I remember listening to Catholic radio when a young boy called in to ask if God still loved Satan. To this interesting question, he was told the answer is “yes” because God is love. As God never stops loving us regardless of our sins, God never stops loving any of His creatures. The radio conversation ended but one can extend this question and ask: So what happened? Satan made a choice.

Prior to the creation of man, God created the vast population of the spiritual beings we call “angels.” All of the angels were created good and each was given an intellect and a free will. Though the details are unknown, Scripture and Tradition reveal God then tested each of them. Those who chose to remain faithful to God, referred to as the good angels, were rewarded with the Beatific Vision, and they eternally give glory to God. Then, there were those who rebelled, referred to as the fallen angels, and the result of their choice was eternal separation from God (2 Peter 2:4; Luke 10:18; 1 John 3:8). In Revelation 12:3-9, we learn Satan (the great dragon), who is the leader of this revolt, is thrown out of heaven, and he is accompanied by one-third of the stars in the sky.

The Church Fathers, recognizing the stars as symbolic representations of the angels, interpreted this as a revelation that one-third of the angels rebelled against God. Since that time, in God’s mysterious providence He has permitted not only the good angels to assist us but also allows the diabolical activity of Satan and these demons to influence the world (Catechism of the Catholic Church 391-395).

The Unredeemable Angels

Pondering how Satan and the demons rejected God, some may ask why the angels cannot have a second chance like humanity did. Because of their angelic nature, the decision made was an eternal and unredeemable act.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us this is not due to a defect in divine mercy but is because of the “irrevocable character of their choice” (393).

To understand this better, we can contrast the existence in the spiritual realm to our own. As human beings, we are composites of body and soul, subject to continuous change within time. In this earthly life, we can change our minds (and often do), we can be converted and thus redeemed if God so chooses. This mode of being is unlike God, who exists outside of time and thus does not (and cannot) change His mind.

Angels, on the other hand, although pure spirit do not experience eternity as God does since they are creatures, but they also do not experience constant change at every moment because they lack a material component. This “in-between state” is referred to by theologians as aveternity. In this existence there is change, but it is not continuous, and those beings experiencing this form of time have a very stable existence. They can grow in certain respects, such as growing in knowledge and love, but they cannot change in any substantial way. Once a decision has been made, they cannot change their minds or wills in any contradictory way – decisions made are eternal and unforgivable. It is in this state that good angels and demons exist, as well as humans who are living in the next life.

The Fallen Angels and Their Abilities

Sometimes the first image of the devil that comes to our mind is from childhood cartoons – a little red creature with horns and wings sitting on our left shoulder always speaking contrary to the small white angel positioned on our right shoulder. This benign portrayal is far from reality. The demons are so horrendous that if we ever saw them as they truly are, they would be the most ugly, repulsive creatures we could ever conceive.

Scripture reveals the demons are wicked, envious, deceitful, rebellious and proud (Isaiah 14:12-14; Wisdom 2:23-24; John 8:44). They hate God and all He loves. They are very intelligent and powerful, yet they are created beings so they are not all-knowing or omnipotent like God. The angels cannot read our minds and can only know our actual thoughts insofar as we reveal these to them. However, St. Thomas Aquinas speculates that, because of the high intellect of the angels and the fact that they have been observing us throughout our lives, the angels know us incredibly well, even to the point of accurately predicting what we will think and do in the next moment (Summa Theologiae I, 57, 3-4).

From the perspective of the fallen angels, this also includes being able to learn our vulnerabilities and weaknesses and then using this knowledge to lead us into temptation if we let our guard down. Until the end of time, they will be among us trying to lead us astray and deceive us hoping that we lose trust in God (and we see the beginnings of this terrible danger with Adam and Eve).

Often when considering the demonic abilities, their power of possession is the most frightening. Though possessions are very real and often very dramatic experiences, they are only one of the rare ways the fallen angels try to influence our lives. Additionally, these occurrences can only happen if the human person has in some way allowed the demons to enter into their being – there is no forced entry. Rather than be distracted by this uncommon event, we should be far more concerned with protecting ourselves from the many subtle ways the demons try to influence us each day in the ordinary moments of our lives.

Spiritual Warfare

Jesus came to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8), to defeat Satan by His death on the cross and then to establish His kingdom. Though victorious, until Christ comes again on the Last Day, Satan and the demons will continue to influence this world, actively trying to lure us away from God to expand their rebellion. These temptations from the powers of darkness, as well as from the world and our fallen human nature, encompass the ongoing battle we face daily. This spiritual warfare has always been a part of human history, and it is to our detriment if we minimize this reality. St. Paul warns of this in Ephesians 6:11-12:

Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

The powerful force of evil wielded by these demonic creatures may at first seem daunting but God has provided us with many weapons against them. We can defend ourselves by deepening our faith and relationship with Christ, by having a regular prayer life, by seeking truth and by striving for holiness. Being in a state of grace and frequent reception of the Sacraments are powerful safeguards against temptations. Satan and the demons also recoil from anything holy, including the sign of the cross, holy water, the name of Jesus, crucifixes, prayer and any other signs of overt faith, so we need to use these as our weapons regularly.

Finally, one of the greatest weapons we have been given is the assistance of the good angels, especially our guardian angels. We should develop a relationship with these mighty allies and never hesitate to call upon them for guidance and protection in times of need.

This ongoing battle is not merely “good versus evil,” but it is a fight for our souls and, because of this, God has revealed the reality of these demons to warn us. They are real and they impact our lives, yet, God gives us effective armor. We must utilize His resources and take care to never let our guard down.

A recent overview of angels by Nada Mazzei can be found at (http://www.catholicstand.com/angels-gods-servants-and-messengers/

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Allison Tobola Low is a lifelong Catholic, passionate for sharing Christ and the Catholic faith with others. She works full time as a physician in Tyler, Texas, and also received a Master's degree in Theology from the Augustine Institute in Denver, CO. Allison finds time to teach and share the Catholic faith every opportunity she can find, including being a catechist for Adult Faith Formation and RCIA at her local parish. Allison enjoys giving talks in parishes on a variety of faith-related topics and is also a regional leader for St. Paul Street Evangelization. Her website is www.pillarandfoundation.com where you can find short simple Catholic videos she creates (that are especially for children/young adults).

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  • Mart1963

    Fallen angels and demons are not the same type of spiritual beings. Demons were the children of the fallen angels and human women and is why they like to possess a body because they use to have their own.

  • Lucio46

    As of now I am doing a novena to SAINT MICHAEL for nine consecutive days and so you should to

    • disqus_yqeotfOrSf

      God Bless you too!

  • Mainer

    Allison, 1.you state God does not(cannot) change His Mind. How can God be Omnipotent if He cannot change His Mind. It can be assumed God does not make mistakes/erroneous decisions but decisions with which He is in total acceptance and Divine conformity and is ,consequently, satisfied with His decision(s) not wanting to change His mind. Before THE FLOOD mankind became very rebellious and wicked in sin and God regretted His decision to create man. God permits chastisement on earth but repentance of collective and individual sin (ie abortion) can persuade God to change His mind and ameliorate necessary chastisement(a moral awakening and correction) or cancel it entirely with sufficient repentance. Chastisement on earth is conditional depending on mankind’s response to God and avoiding sinful behavior. 2. God is Love but the fallen angels have only hate for God and mankind whom God created to replace the fallen angels. Where does hatred emanate from since God Who is Love is the Divine creator of all things. It is said that hatred is love turned inward?? Is there a theological explanation for hatred from the fallen angels.

    • Allison Tobola Low

      Thank you for your comments.
      To address your first question related to God’s immutability (that He does not change):
      Scripture discusses this = James 1:17; Hebrews 1:12; Psalm 101:28; Malachi 3:6
      Thomas Aquinas discusses this: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1009.htm
      Another source with brief definition: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=34109

      Hope that helps.
      Question #2 reply to follow…

    • Allison Tobola Low

      See my reply to your first question which is below.
      As to your second question:
      First, God did not create man to replace the angels. Men and angels are two distinct types of persons (human persons and angelic persons) whom God created, each with an intellect and a free will. Angels are pure spirit. Humans are composed of both matter and spirit.

      As to the existence of hate (and could include evil as well), God does not hate and hate is not a positive act from God. An analogy that may help is using light and darkness. Light is something positive in that it emanates from the sun or electricity, etc (it is created). Darkness is the absence of light – it is not created. Similarly, love emanates from God. A rejection of God and His love results in hate/evil because of the absence of love. Because the fallen angels have completely rejected God, they exist in “darkness” – literally in the sense of being in the dark, shadowy realm of hell but spiritually as well because they lack any love.

      Another aspect of this to keep in mind is that God never stops loving, even the fallen angels. But being spiritually separated from God is agonizing for the fallen angels. Just think of being in a dark movie theater for hours and you walk outside into the sun – you are blinded and it is painful in a sense. Similarly, being in “darkness”, the demons have no love and to experience God’s love is unfathomable misery.
      Hope this helps.

    • disqus_yqeotfOrSf

      Malachi 2:16-17 “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel.”I hate it when one of you does such a cruel thing to his wife. Make sure that you do not break your promise to be faithful to your wife.” You have tired the Lord out with your talk. But you ask, “How have we tired Him?” By saying, “The Lord Almighty thinks all evil doers are good; in fact He likes them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God who is supposed to be just?”

    • Allison Tobola Low

      Thank you for your comment. I will respond to both this comment and your comments to Mainer below.

    • Mainer

      Thank You Allison for each of your replies. In THE DIARY OF SISTER FAUSTINA she reveals that GOD’s LOVE is generously give to souls at their last moment on earth but some still reject God’s Love and repentance and willingly choose hell. I have read that Jesus has called hell” the mystery of the reprobate”. And scripture says about loved ones that if they have been lost to eternal darkness they will be remembered no more by family and friends in Heaven. I can appreciate your analogy that darkness is not created but is the absence of light especially when using the internet to see the earth from space from satellite or space station images. Unseen eternity is a mystery but when it comes to life in Heaven God can truly say to all who are faithful from the highest to the least in reward “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet”. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered the heart of man what things God has prepared for those who love Him”. 1 Corinthians

    • disqus_yqeotfOrSf

      God hates sin because it separates us from His unconditional love until we repent and ask for HIS forgiveness and mercy for pardon from sin/sins..

    • Allison Tobola Low

      It is true Scripture refers to God “hating” in various passages. However, when we read Scripture we have to assess how Scripture is using language. At times, language used about God is anthropomorphic (giving God human attributes in order for us to better understand the message). As an example, scripture describes God sitting on the throne and having a strong arm. These are not absolute realities because God the Father is pure spirit but they are analogies to help our finite intellect. Similarly with “hate”. The eternal God is impassible, which means he does not experience pain or suffering, and this also includes negative emotions such as anger, sadness, sorrow, frustration, impatience, etc. (We even see in the book of Revelation how we are told that no one in heaven has any tears or sadness and all are completely filled with joy and happiness. Similarly with God who is in heaven, and those in heaven have a share in God’s infinite beatitude.)

      God is absolute love (1John 4:7-10). He loves all His creatures without exception (Wisdom 11:23-26). Romans 5:6-11 tells us Jesus died for us – the ungodly – out of love.

      God is said to “hate” to demonstrate for us that whatever is being referred to (such as “God hates sin”) is something contrary to God’s will. God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth (1 Tim 2:4), so in a figurative way one can say God “hates” anything contrary to this so that WE will best understand what scripture is trying to teach us about how to have a living faith, always striving for perfection so we can one day see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

      A great resource to discuss this in more depth is here: http://jimmyakin.com/show-032-transcript-does-god-hate-sinners-how-can-you-use-the-internet-to-serve-god-without-violating-canon-law

      Hope this helps.

    • disqus_yqeotfOrSf

      What is needed is discernment not assessment! Remember, JESUS had a both a human nature and a divine nature. JESUS related the divine word while he was on earth in the human nature to his disciples and the inspired word of the Holy Spirit after he arose from the dead and ascended into heaven. God’s WORD is the WAY-TRUTH-LIFE. Believing His Infinite Word is better than anology, because His WORD states God is the same yesterday,today, and forever. The absolute reality is that JESUS is LORD!!! JESUS’s cross portrays the pain and suffering He endured for humankind because of sins. It is true that God has unconditional Love for all humankind and wants all humankind to be with Him in heaven. Gospel of John 6:39-40 “And it is the will of Him (Father) who sent Me that I should not lose any of all those He has given Me, but that I should raise them all to life on the last day. For what my Father wants is that all who see and believe in Him should have eternal life. And I will raise them to life on the last day.” However, for those who rebel, sin, and don’t turn to Him; experience His fury and justice. A “living faith” is faith with action! “Faith without action is dead.” In closing, – Romans 12:1-2 “So then, my brothers, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service and pleasing to Him. This is the true worship that you should offer. Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the Will of God—what is good and is pleasing to Him and is perfect.” God Bless

    • Allison Tobola Low

      I agree with your comments. Jesus did suffer in His human nature without question. Also as you discuss, in order to enter heaven we must have a living faith. We must be a disciple of Christ not simply with an intellectual assent but with our entire being.
      My comments related to God and Scripture’s anthropomorphic description of God experiencing the emotion of “hate” are in no way contrary to your comment.

      The Triune God has attributes that are applied to God as an infinite, eternal Divnity and included in these attributes of God’s DIVINE nature are immutability (that God does not change) and impassibility (that God does not experience pain or suffering). These attributes describe God the Father, God the Holy Spirit and God the Son because of their Divine nature.
      Thank you for your reply!

    • disqus_yqeotfOrSf

      A Prayer of Praise for you in closing-Jude 1:24-25, God Bless & Keep you in your asking,seeking,and knocking.

    • disqus_yqeotfOrSf

      Theological explanation I can not offer. However, it is my understanding that Lucifer was thrown out of heaven because of PRIDE and wanted to be higher than God. One third of the heavenly angels who followed Lucifer were also thrown out of heaven. Also, Lucifer/satan was and still is jealous that God loves His children on earth so much that God sent His only Son for the redemption of mankind from sin. Hope this helps in understanding the wickedness from the fallen spiritual hosts (demons) that oppress mankind. Please read the prayer Jesus taught (Our Father) and Gospel of John 17:15, God Bless and Keep you

  • disqus_yqeotfOrSf

    JESUS came to save sinners and hates sins we commit by reason/choice due to the influence caused by the devil and spiritual hosts of wickedness (demons) of the Evil One.! JESUS prayed to His FATHER for His Disciples in the Gospel of John17:15 “I do not ask YOU to take them out of the world, but I do ask YOU to keep them safe from the Evil One.” God provides ministering angels that will assist us in contending with the wiles of the devil and spiritual hosts of wickedness (demons) in heavenly places. Praying the “Our Father” Prayer and asking God to deliver us from the wiles/oppressions of the Evil One and his hosts. Remember, the Holy Spirit is our “HELPER!” In closing, P.S. legend of the “Testament of Solomon” identifies powerful/good spiritual angels to help deliver and combat the oppression of spiritual hosts of wickedness that hamper us with sufferings as we abode in the world. God Bless & Keep us!!!

    • disqus_yqeotfOrSf

      Romans 14:23 “And anything that is not based on faith is sin.”

  • Keith

    Extremely rare, but it does happen that a person can suffer demonic possession through no fault of their own; indeed some Saints have experiences temporary bouts, as victim souls, e.g. St. Gemma Galgani. There are others. That being said, that is not the normal course of things. For almost everyone, including almost all Saints, demonic possession happens via occult involvement in some way (ouji boards, witchcraft, etc), a life of unrepentant mortal sin, and indulging continuously and willingly in pornography and illicit drugs.

  • james

    First of all God (Jesus) did not reveal this treatise on angels : the church doctor who thunk up Limbo did.
    Would you trust a theologian who separated babies from their mothers so he could square the mechanics
    of Baptism ?
    “…though the details are unknown …”
    Try diagnosing a medical condition if you are ignorant of human anatomy but take for granted these post
    iron age speculations on the nature of heavenly events.
    ” However St Aquinas speculates …”
    So, the father of the Inquisition who was totally oblivious to Jesus’ admonishment of Peter who struck off
    the high priest’ s servant’s ear would speculate that Jesus want someone broken on the rack and burned at the stake ?!! Would you trust a theologian so lacking in love ? That these highly intelligent beings are
    allowed to trick into damnation us relatively dimwit mortals ? That God allows a supernatural powerful
    bully to beat up children of God ? Unlike your medical degree this theology you invested in hasn’t a
    modicum of intellectual discipline to it and that is why I find it so puzzling.

    • Allison Tobola Low

      I appreciate the comments and am sorry you have such a low view of Aquinas. Related to your comments pertaining to the angels, long before Aquinas there were writings among the early Church Fathers about the angels – Pope Gregory the Great is the most well-known who wrote on this topic.
      As to your objection to the idea the demons can deceive us, simply look to Adam and Eve where we clearly see a clear example of Satan and his deceptions. Jesus even tells us Satan is the father of all liars. Look at the book of Job where we see God permits Satan to influence the lives of humans in an attempt to cause us to turn away from God.
      Even though Scripture is lacking in all of the details and specifics, God has given us the gift of reason to use along with Revelation to ponder various subjects related to both the natural and supernatural worlds.

    • james

      Thank you for the reply.

    • disqus_yqeotfOrSf

      Gift of Faith in action works in both worlds!!!

    • disqus_yqeotfOrSf

      How can you compare/weigh intellectual discipline to faith and obedience to God?

    • james

      for me it’s easy.

    • disqus_yqeotfOrSf

      Bible scripture states…”If you have the faith the size of a mustard you can move a mountain.” I don’t believe you modicum of intellectual intelligence could compare/weigh in parity of God’s wisdom and WORD.?!.