Angels and Demons

This weekend I bought a book by Peter Kreeft called Angels and Demons: What Do We Really Know About Them? I have been fascinated by the whole concept of angels for quite some time so this book was particularly attractive to me. I read the whole thing in one night. It’s set up in a Q & A format. The questions consist mostly of questions his students have asked in his lectures about angels.

I’m telling you, this book is fantastic!

Angels and Demons

What If?

I’m about to play the what-if game. If you feel that this game might breed doubt in your mind to the detriment of your faith, you should probably click away. I’ll give you a moment.

You’re still here. I assume, then, that you want to go on this journey with me.

We believe as Christians that God is not capable of lying. After all, Scripture tells us that Jesus is the truth (along with the way and the life).

But how can we ascertain whether this statement itself is true? Are we really able to know whether God cannot lie?

We can (maybe) determine whether God tells the truth about the things that we know. But what about the things we don’t know, or aren’t capable of knowing? Things about what happens after this life? The fine-tuned details of the moral code? The purpose, function, and contagious-ness of yawns?

Perhaps we can look at God’s faithfulness to us in small things, his truthfulness in our lives, his loving arms. Maybe we can use that to justify believing that he tells the truth and is faithful in all things.

A little child places this sort of trust into a parent who wipes away his tears. A father who kisses her boo-boos. They trust implicitly in their parents. And yet parents are not always truthful. Santa drives a sleigh with eight reindeer to the good girls and boys all over the world in a single night, the angels bowling is what makes thunder, babies come from the stork, and your fish went to the hospital in the toilet.

What exactly am I saying? I’m saying that we don’t actually know that God cannot lie. We don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t know that heaven exists for sure. If heaven does exist, we don’t actually know that it really is eternal. We don’t really know that God won’t change his mind at some point and send those in heaven to hell. We don’t know if God really is all powerful. We don’t know if God, specifically the being we call God, is the first mover. He could after all, be a creation of the uncaused cause.

I don’t think we realize just how tremendous is the amount of faith that we must put into Christianity. I posit that absolutely every teaching, no matter how reasonable, must still be absolutely taken on a faith so incredible it could actually move a mountain. Whether it’s a teaching on the Sacraments, on heaven, on morality, or the divinity of Christ, no amount of faith is a small leap. Our faith must carry us across an un-crossable chasm.

So the question is, do you have this faith? Do I have this faith?

Well My Morning Started Off Terrible

On my way to Confession this morning and I’m making a left turn. So I pull into the intersection (like I was taught) and waited for an opening in the oncoming traffic (like I was taught). The light turned red while I was in the intersection and so when the oncoming traffic stopped I turned (like I was taught and have just confirmed online, is my right and obligation to do) so that the cross traffic with green lights would not hit me. 

Well apparently one of the cars in the oncoming traffic wanted to turn right and my left turn out of the intersection impeded him. 

So after dropping off his kids he tracked my car down walked into the church and started screaming at me about how I ran a red light (false) and almost killed him and his kids (also false). He told me how bad he wanted to hurt me and that he was going to report me to the cops, etc, etc. And since he was about twice my size I wasn’t about to argue except explain why I thought I had been doing the right thing and apologize profusely (about 20-25 times). 

It did shake me up that he basically stalked me and had no qualms about causing a scene in a church over something that was blown way out of proportion. 

Ack. I knew this week would throw something at me like it’s older siblings did. 

Persecution Breeds Renewal

And renewal is salvation for the world.

We should rejoice at what is being done against Christians. When we give our lives into the violent hands of those who hate us, we become a sign of hope and faith, and the love and tenderness of Jesus Christ is shown to the world. We don’t have to conquer the world by force. We don’t have to force our opponents into silence through legal action and painting them as radical bigots. We don’t have to force our enemies to death by blowing them up, slamming airplanes into buildings, and shooting them over cartoons.

We stalwartly stand for truth, justice, and freedom in Christ, and allow them to show true hatred towards the God who made them. When the world sees that the world repents. We have seen this in the past and we will see this in the future. That is why the Catholic Church, a group of miserable sinners, fraught with so much strife and human scandal, still exists today: because there is a divine element, which attracts people to the truth, despite the sinners who surround her.

Pray for those persecuted everyday overseas, giving their lives. Pray for those in America who are persecuted and giving their lives. And pray for those who persecute them.

The night is always darkest before an incredible dawn!

 

Spirit

I don’t really know what’s going on, but I’m definitely going through a phase in my faith where I am more cognizant of the spiritual side of the created world. That’s not to say that I sense spirits or go into trances or have mystic experiences. In fact, I would say that my faith feels more dry and sandy than it has in awhile. But rather, I am aware that the world does not consist only of the things which I can see, that around me is not a dead, stale world of matter.

I believe in one God…maker…of all things visible and invisible.

A few weeks back I read parts of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa regarding angels. Now, these parts of the Summa deal with specifics that have neither been confirmed, nor denied dogmatically by the Church. St. Thomas concludes that as beings of pure intellect, angels (spirits) must far outnumber the things in the universe that are made of physical matter because spirits are more perfect, and that the greater the degree of perfection, the greater the “population” (for lack of a better term). And so when I think about that, and I think about the physical things around me, even just in my living room there are hundreds of things (books, tables, furniture, DVDs, a fish, old 33s, 45s, and 78s, a banjo, and hundreds of Magic: The Gathering cards), and so there must be at least thousands of angels to correspond to the things in my tiny living room. And when I think of the fact that my things are made of things made of things made of atoms made of subatomic particles, each of those levels of “thingyness” probably has a plethora of spirits that correspond.

And that is another thing laid out in Summa is the idea that superior rules the inferior. Aquinas paraphrases St. Gregory when he says that nothing in the visible world occurs without the agency of invisible creatures. In this way it is possible to believe that every object has an spirit that always accompanies it until its earthly existence ends. Keep in mind, this is just a theory. And so perhaps, one of the bits of truth that some of the pagan religions have is the concept of a very spiritually imbued natural world, such as “land spirits”, “animal spirits”, etc. Its not so much that a tree or a parcel of land, such as a swamp or a mountain has a living spirit or soul the way that a human person does, but that there is a spiritual being who protects or advocates or otherwise acts on that object. Does that make sense?

Whether this theory is true or accurate to any degree, I don’t claim to know. But one thing is clear: that this universe is full of spiritual creatures, and that God sends them to this little corner of the universe to help us come to know him better. We are not alone, we are not surrounded by a dead world, but a world full of intelligent life (both good and evil). And I think that that is awesome.

In The Name of Jesus

When I went to Mass in Custer on Sunday morning the priest gave an excellent homily. He reminded us that absolutely everything we do, we do in the name of the Lord. Whether it is good or bad. Whether we curse or bless, we do so in the name of the Lord, because we belong to the Lord, and his mark is on our soul through Baptism, and remains there forever.

This fact gives greater consequence to our actions. Both our sin and our righteous deeds are magnified because of who we belong to. And so, we must strive to recall in each moment that what we are about to do, or say, or not do, we do in the name of Jesus, as his hands and his feet.