Who is Like Unto God?
Who Is Like Unto God...
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The Mystical City of God
The Conceptionp. 84 – 92
“God said: Let there be light, and light was made.” He speaks here not only of material light, but also of the intellectual or angelic lights. He does not make express mention of them, but merely includes them in this word, on account of the proclivity of the Hebrews to attribute Divinity to new things, even of much greater inferiority than the angels. But the metaphor of light was very appropriate to signify the angelic nature and mystically, the light of their science and grace, with which they were endowed at their creation. God created the earth conjointly with the heavens, in order to call into existence hell in its centre; for, at the instant of its creation, there were left in the interior of that globe spacious and wide cavities, suitable for hell, purgatory and limbo. And in hell was created at the same time material fire and other requisites, which now serve for the punishment of the damned. The Lord was presently to divide the light from the darkness and to call the light day and the darkness night. And this did happen not only in regard to the natural night and day, but in regard to the good and bad angels; for to the good, He gave the eternal light of his vision and called it day, the eternal day; and to the bad, the night of sin, casting them into the eternal darkness of hell. Thus we were to be taught the intimate relation between the merciful liberality of the Creator and Vivifier and the justice of the most just Judge in punishment.
The angels were created in the empyrean heavens and in the state of grace by which they might be first to merit the reward of glory. For although they were in the midst of glory, the Divinity itself was not to be made manifest to them face to face and unveiled, until the should have merited such a favor by obeying the divine will. The holy angels, as well as the bad ones, remained only a very short time in the state of probation; for their creation and probation with its result were three distinct instances or moments, separated by short intermissions. In the first instant they were all created and endowed with graces and gifts, coming into existence as most beautiful and perfect creatures.
Then followed a short pause, during which the will of the Creator was propounded and intimated, and the law and command was given them, to acknowledge Him as their Maker and supreme Lord, and to fulfill the end for which they had been created. During this pause, instant or interval, Saint Michael and his angels fought the great battle with the dragon and his followers, which is described by the apostle Saint John in the twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse. The good angels, persevering in grace, merited eternal happiness and the disobedient ones, rebelling against God, merited the punishment, which they now suffer.
Although all this of the second instant could have happened in a very brief time on account of the subtle nature of the angels and the power of God, nevertheless I understood, that the kind consideration of the Most High permitted a certain delay. With the interposition of some intervals of time, He proposed to them the good and the bad, truth and falsehood, justice and injustice, divine grace and friendship as opposed to sin and enmity of God. They were enabled to see eternal reward and eternal punishment, the perdition of Lucifer and of those that would follow him. His Majesty showed them hell and its pains. They saw it all; for, by virtue of their superior and excellent nature, they understood the essence of other more qualified and limited creatures; so that, before falling from grace, they were clearly aware of the place of their chastisement. Although they did not know in the same manner the reward of glory, they had of it other knowledge and besides they had the manifest and express promise of the Lord. The Most High had therefore justified his cause and proceeded with the greatest equity and justice.
But as all this goodness and equity did not suffice to restrain Lucifer and his followers, they were chastised in their stubbornness and hurled into the depths of the hellish caverns, while the good angles where confirmed in eternal grace and glory. All this was consummated in the third instant, and thus it became truly manifest that no being outside of God himself is impeccable by nature, since the angel, who held such an exalted position and was adorned with so many great gifts of knowledge and grace, nevertheless sinned and was lost. What will become of human frailty, if the divine power does not defend it and if it forces God to forsake it?
It remains to investigate the motive, which urged Lucifer and his confederates to sin and what was the occasion of their disobedience and fall, for this is the point to which I wanted to come. In regard to this, it was made known to me that they could commit many sins as far as the guilt of sin (secundum reatum) is concerned, although they did not consummate them in acts. However, on account of those which they did actually commit and approving in others those sins, which they could not commit themselves. Following the bad inclinations which from that time on filled Lucifer, he fell into a most disorderly selflove, which arose from the consciousness of being endowed with greater gifts and greater beauty of nature and grace, than the other inferior angels. He tarried with inordinate pleasure in this consciousness; and thus self-satisfied he became lax and remiss in the gratitude, which was due to God as the sole cause of all that he had received, but also induced him to harbor envy and covetousness for other gifts and for excellences not his own. Then, because he could not attain them, he conceived a mortal hatred and indignation against God, who created him out of nothing, and against all his creatures.
Hence arose his disobedience, presumption, injustice, infidelity, blasphemy, and perhaps also a certain kind of idolatry, for he coveted for himself the adoration and reverence due to God. He blasphemed the divine magnificence and holiness, he failed in the trust and loyalty due to Him; he plotted to destroy all the creatures, and presumed to be able to do all this and much more by his own power. Thus his pride ascends continually (Ps. 73, 23) and perseveres, though his arrogance is greater than his strength, for in this he cannot increase (Is. 16, 6) and in sin, one abyss calls the other (Ps. 14, 8). The first angel who sinned was Lucifer, as is described in the fourteenth chapter of Isaias. He induced others to follow him and therefore he is called the prince of the demons; not on account of his natural gifts, for these would not secure to him that title, but on account of his guilt. Those that sinned were not all of one order or hierarchy, but among all hierarchies that were many who sinned.
It is proper, that I also explain what was made known to me concerning the kind of honor and excellence, which Lucifer aspired to and envied. As in the works of God there is measure, number and weight (Wis. 11, 21), his Providence decided to show to the angels, immediately after their creation and before they could incline to diverse ends, the purpose for which He had created them with such an exalted and perfect nature. Of all this I obtained the following information: At first they received a more explicit intelligence of the being of God, one in substance, trine in person, and that they were commanded to adore and reverence Him as their Creator and highest Lord, infinite in his essence and attributes. All subjected themselves to this command and obeyed it; but with a certain difference; they good angels obeyed through love and on account of the justice of it, offering their love and good will, freely admitting and believing what was above their intelligence, and obeying with joy. Lucifer, on the other hand, submitted himself, because the opposite seemed to him impossible.He did not do it with perfect charity, for he, as it were, was divided in his will between himself and the infallible truth of the Lord.
In consequence it happened that the precept appeared to him in a measure difficult and violent, and his fulfilling of it was wanting in love and in the desire to do justice. Thus he exposed himself beforehand to the danger of not persevering. Although grace did not leave him on account of this remissness and slowness in the accomplishment of these first acts, nevertheless his bad disposition began with them; for there remained with him a certain weakness and laxity of virtue and spirit, and the perfection of his nature did not shine forth as it should. It appears to me that the effect of this remissness in Lucifer, is similar to that which is caused in the soul by a deliberate venial sin. I do not say that he sinned mortally, nor even venially at that time, since he fulfilled the precept of God; but this fulfillment was remiss and imperfect, springing more from a sense of overwhelming compulsion, than from a loving willingness to obey. Thus he put himself in danger of falling.
In the second place, the angels were informed that God was to create a human nature and reasoning creatures lower than themselves, in order that they too should love, fear and reverence God, as their Author and eternal Good. They were informed that these were to stand in high favor, and that the second Person of the blessed Trinity was to become incarnate and assume their nature, raising it to the hypostatic union and to divine Personality ; that therefore they were to acknowledge Him as their Head, not only as God, but as God and man, adoring Him and reverencing Him as God-man. Moreover, these same angels were to be his inferiors in dignity and grace and were to be his servants. God gave them an intelligence of the propriety and equity, of the justice and reasonableness of such a position. For the acceptation of the merits foreseen of this Mangod was exhibited to them as the source of the grace which they now possessed and of the glory which they were to obtain. They understood also that they themselves had been, and all the rest of the creatures should be created for his glory, and that He was to be their Head. All those that were capable of knowing and enjoying God, were to be the people of the Son of God, to know and reverence Him as their Chief. These commands were at once given to the angels.
To this command all the obedient and holy angel*, submitted themselves and they gave their full assent and acknowledgment with an humble and loving subjection of the will. But Lucifer, full of envy and pride, resisted and induced his followers to resist likewise, as they in reality did, preferring to follow him and disobey the divine command. This wicked prince persuaded them, that he would be their chief and that he would set up a government independent and separate from Christ. So great was the blindness which envy and pride could cause in an angel, and so pernicious was the infection that the contagion of sin spread among innumerable other angels.
Then happened that great battle in heaven, which St. John describes (Apoc. 12). For the obedient and holy angels, filled with an ardent desire of hastening the glory of the Most High and the honor of the incarnate Word, asked permission and, as it were, the consent of God, to resist and contradict the dragon, and the permission was granted.
But also another mystery was concealed in all this: When it was revealed to the angels that they would have to obey the incarnate Word, another, a third precept was given them, namely, that they were to admit as a superior conjointly with Him, a Woman, in whose womb the Onlybegotten of the Father was to assume flesh and that this Woman was to be the Queen and Mistress of all the creatures. The good angels by obeying this command of the Lord, with still increasing and more alert humility, freely subjected themselves, praising the power and the mysteries of the Most High. Lucifer, however, and his confederates, rose to a higher pitch of pride and boastful insolence. In disorderly fury he aspired to be himself the head of all the human race and of the angelic orders, and if there was to be a hypostatic union, he demanded that it be consummated in him.
The decree constituting him inferior to the Mother of the Incarnate Word, our Mistress, he opposed with horrible blasphemies. Turning against the Author of these great wonders in unbridled indignation and calling upon the other angels, he exhorted them saying: “Unjust are these commands and injury is done to my greatness; this human nature which Thou, Lord, lookest upon with so much love and which thou favorest so highly, I will persecute and destroy. To this end I will direct all my power and all my aspirations. And this Woman, Mother of the Word, I will hurl from the position in which Thou hast proposed to place Her, and at my hands, the plan, which Thou settest up, shall come to naught.”
This proud boast so aroused the indignation of the Lord that in order to humble it, He spoke to Lucifer: “This Woman, whom thou refusest to honor, shall crush thy head and by Her shalt thou be vanquished and annihilated (Gen. 3, 15). And if, through thy pride, death enters into the world (Wis. 2, 24), life and and salvation of mortals shall enter through the humility of this Woman. Those that are of the nature and likeness of that Man and Woman, shall enjoy the gifts and the crowns, which thou and thy followers have lost.” To all this the dragon, filled with indignation against whatever he understood of the divine will and decrees, answered only with pride and by threatening destruction to the whole human race. The good angels saw the just indignation of the Most High against Lucifer and his apostates and they combated them with the arms of the understanding, reason and truth.
Good stuff, eh?