Genesis i. 4.

June 24, 2010

And God saw the light that it was good; and he divided the light from the darkness.

4a. The goodness of creation; God’s love for it.

St. Thomas: “God loves all existing things.  For all existing things, insofar as they are, are good, since to exist is itself a particular good for any thing; and likewise whatever perfection that thing possesses.  Now the will of God is the cause of all things, and thus it is necessary that insofar as something has existence, or any good, thus far is it willed by God.  Therefore to each thing that exists God wills some good.  Whence, since to love is nothing other than to will good to something, it is clear that God loves all things that exist.  Not, however, in the same way as we do.  For since our will is not the cause of the goodness of things, but is moved by it as by its object, our love, by which we will good to something, is not the cause of its goodness; rather, on the contrary, the thing’s goodness, either real or imagined, causes our love, by which we will both that the good that it has be preserved, and that which it does not have be added to it; and for this end we work.  But the pouring in of God’s love is the cause of goodness in things” (ST. Ia q. xx. a. ii.).

St. Augustine: “There are two ways in which God loves his creature: that it be, and that it remain.  Therefore in order that there be something that may remain: The Spirit of God moved over the waters; that it might remain: God saw that it was good.  And what is said of light, is said of all” (De Genesi ad litteram, I. viii. 14.).

4b. The separation of light from darkness, expounded of the Fall of the Angels.

RC: “But although they were all adorned with heavenly gifts, many nevertheless defected from God, their Father and Creator and fell from those highest seats; enclosed in the darkest prison of the earth, they suffer the eternal punishments of their pride …” (I., ii., 17).

St. Augustine: “It does not seem to me to be an opinion discordant with the works of God, if the Angels are understood to have been created when that first light was made, and a separation to have occurred between the clean and unclean Angels, where it is said: And God divided the light from the darkness; and God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. Truly, He was able to divide that light, which is the holy society of Angels shining intelligibly in the radiance of truth, from the darkness opposed to it, that is, the most foul minds of the bad angels, turned away from the light of justice; for to Him the future, not only of nature, but even of the will’s evil was not able to be hidden or uncertain” (De civitate Dei, xi., 19).

Temporally, however, the fall of the angels seems to have occurred before the creation of corporeal light (v. 3), because the fall occurred immediately after angelic creation, according to the opinion St. Thomas holds as most probable:

St. Thomas: “Immediately after the first instant of his creation the Devil sinned.  And it is necessary to say this, if we hold that in the first instant of his creation he rushed forth in an act of free will, and was created in a state of grace, as we said above.  For because the Angels through obtain beatitude through one meritorious act, as was said above; if the Devil, created in grace, earned merit in the first instant, immediately afterwards he would instantly have received beatitude, unless the impediment of his sinning had intervened” (ST. Ia q. lxiii. a. vi.).

4c. The sin of the Devil and his Angels.

St. Thomas: “To sin is nothing other than for an act to decline from the rectitude it ought to have.  But the whole will of any creature has no rectitude in its act, except following that which is regulated by the divine will, to which its last end pertains.  Therefore sin is able to exist in any will of a creature” (ibid., a. i.).

“Now it does not belong to spiritual nature to be moved to the goods that are proper to a body, but to those things that are able to be found in spiritual things.  But in spiritual goods it is not possible for there to be sin while anyone is moved to them, unless through this, that in such a movement the rules of a superior are not kept.  And this is the sin of pride: not to be subordinate to a superior in that which one ought.  Whence the first sin of the Angels cannot be anything other than pride.  The sin of pride was followed in the sinning Angel by the evil of envy, by which he grieved over the good of man; and also over the divine excellence, according to which God makes use of man, against the Devil’s will, for the divine glory”[1] (ibid., a. ii.).

“The Angel, without any doubt, sinned by desiring to be as God.  One is able to desire to be like to God, as far as to become like to that in which he was not born; as if one were to desire to create heaven and earth, which is proper to God; in which desire there would be sin.  And in this way the Devil desired to be as God.  He desired to have final beatitude through his own power, which is proper to God” (ibid., a. iii).

“If the motive for sin be considered, it is found more in the higher Angels than in the lower.  For the sin of the demons was pride, as was said above; the motive for which is excellence, which was greater in the higher Angels.  And therefore Gregory says that he who sinned was the highest of all.[2] And this seems more probable.  For the Angel’s sin did not proceed from any inclination, but from his free will alone; accordingly it seems that the reason for his sin which is taken from the motive to sin should be the more considered.  However, it is not from this to be decided against the other opinion, for it was also possible for there to have been some motive to sin in the chief of the lower angels” (ibid., a. vii.).

“[Obj.] It is said in Ezech. xxviii. 14, of the Angel supreme among those that sinned, Thou a cherub stretched out, and protecting, and I set thee in the holy mountain of God.  But the order of Cherubim is lower than the order of Seraphim, as Dionysus says.  Therefore the Angel who was supreme among those that sinned, was not supreme among all the angels … I reply … it is to be said that Cherubim is translated ‘fullness of wisdom’; Seraphim is translated ‘burning’ or ‘flaming.’  And thus it is clear that Cherubim are named for their wisdom, which is able to exist with mortal sin.  But Seraphim are named from the fire of charity, which is not able to exist with mortal sin.  Consequently the first sinning Angel is not named a Seraph, but a Cherub” (ibid., ad 1).

“The sin of the first Angel was for the others the cause of sinning, not indeed forcibly, but as if inducing them by a certain exhortation.  The proof of this appears from this, that all the demons are subjected to that highest one; as clearly appears through that which the Lord says, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.[3] For the order of divine justice holds that the one who consents to sin through the suggestion of another, is subjected to his power as punishment; according to this passage: For by whom a man is overcome, of the same also he is the slave[4] (ibid., a. viii).

“More Angels remained than sinned.  For sin is against natural inclination, and those things that happen against nature, occur as in smaller quantity; for nature achieves its effect either always, or in most cases” (ibid., a. ix.).

4d. The demons’ place of punishment.

St. Thomas: “Augustine says, III Gen. ad Litt., that ‘the dark, gloomy air is as a prison for the demons until the time of judgment’ … Up until this time, the good Angels are sent to us, and the Demons are in this dark air in order to tempt us, although some of them are even now in hell, to torture those whom they led into evil; just as some good Angels are with the holy souls in heaven.  But after the day of judgment all the evil, both men and Angels, shall be in hell; but the good in heaven” (ST. Ia q. lxiv. a. iv.).

4e. Visions of the fall of the Angels and of their place of punishment.

Bl. Anne Emmerich: “First these choirs [of spirits] moved, all as if in the love from the higher Sun.  Suddenly I saw one part from all the circles stand still in themselves, sunk in their own beauty.  They found their own pleasure, saw all beauty in themselves; they considered; they were concerned only with themselves.  First they were all in higher movement out of themselves; now one part stood still in themselves.  And in the same moment I saw this whole part of the shining choir plunge down and grow dark, and the others press forward against them and fill their spaces, which were now smaller; but I did not see whether they pursued the profligates from the figure of the picture.  Each stood still in itself and plunged down, and the ones who did not stand still pressed into their place, and all this happened together” (The Creation, 1).

“Since I saw this downfall as a child, I was frightened by day and by night because of their workings and I kept thinking, they must  cause great harm to the earth.  They are always around us: it is good that they have no bodies; otherwise they would darken the sun and one would always see them floating in front of him like shadows; that would be terrifying” (ibid.).


[1] Cf. St. Augustine, De Genesi ad litteram, XI. xiv: “For not a few say that his fall from the thrones on high was this: that he was envious of man, made to the image of God.  But envy follows pride; it does not precede it: for it is not envy that is the cause of pride, but pride that is the cause of envy.”

[2] ‘The first Angel who sinned, while he was set above all the hosts of Angels, surpassed their glory, and was more glorious in comparison with them,’ Hom. xxxiv in Ev.

[3] Matt. xxv. 41.

[4] II Petr. ii. 19.

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