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Why did God put the demons to the test?

November 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Demonology, Fr. Fortea, Spiritual Warfare

Dear Fr. Fortea, why did God allow the angels to be put to the test?

Luc Viatour / www.Lucnix.be

Luc Viatour / www.Lucnix.be

The real question is, why did God not grant all the angels the Beatific Vision from the first moment of their creation? Why did He take the chance that some of them would rebel against Him and become demons? God could have created angelic spirits and immediately given them the grace of the Beatific Vision. This was perfectly possible for His omnipotence, and it would have been perfectly just to do so. But there were some powerful reasons for testing the angels before granting them the Beatific Vision.

First, God had to give to each rational being a degree of happiness. Everyone in heaven sees God, but no one can enjoy Him to an infinite degree; this is impossible for a finite being. Each finite creature enjoys to the fullest degree possible without wanting more. A common analogy used to understand this metaphysical concept is that of a glass: God fills each glass (i.e., soul) to the rim but each glass is a specific size based on its degree of glory.

God, in His wisdom, decided that each angel would determine its degree of glory for eternity by its response to a divine test. Each angel determined its degree of happiness by the degree of generosity, love, constancy, and other virtues it displayed in the test. A spirit can grow in its faith and in its generosity toward God before it sees Him. But once admitted to the Beatific Vision, no further growth is possible—there can no longer be growth in faith where there is vision. Above all, the period of testing offered the angels the opportunity to grow in the theological virtues, and some angels would grow more in the virtue of perseverance, others in humility, others in petition, etc.

Offering a being the possibility of faith also supposes the risk that in this same being evil may flourish instead of faith. God, by giving free will to the angels and human beings, knew that freedom, once bestowed, could be used for good or evil. Of course, God could have created the cosmos in any way he liked, without any restrictions or limits. But a saint is not created; one becomes a saint through the action of grace. The gift of freedom allows for a Hitler as well as a Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa). Once the gift of freedom has been given, consequences—good or evil—flow from every act of the will. In the material cosmos there is no spiritual good; the good of the cosmos is purely physical. Spiritual (or moral) good is qualitatively superior but necessarily requires a free choice. Thus, the appearance of moral evil in no way upset God’s plan. The possibility of evil was already part of the divine plan before the creation of thinking beings.

Finally, the most important and powerful reason for God’s granting angels the gift of freedom was for them to love. God loves His creation, and He desires to be loved in return. But love requires receptivity—it must be received freely (CCC 1828). The same God who can create the cosmos with only an act of His will cannot create that love that is born and proven in the suffering of the faith. The love of God is not created; it must be freely given by a created being.

To learn more about spiritual warfare and demonology, Catholic Spiritual Direction recommends Fr. Fortea’s excellent book, Interview With An Exorcist – An Insider’s Look at the Devil, Demonic Possession, and the Path to Deliverance.

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About Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea

Trained by Vatican exorcist Gabriele Amorth, Father José Antonio Fortea is not only an exorcist, but also a writer, calligrapher and parish priest. He once thought he would lead what he has termed ordinary life as an attorney in Madrid, much as his father did before him, but sensed instead a vocation to the priesthood in his adolescent years. A theology graduate of Navarre University in Spain, Father Fortea wrote a thesis there on exorcism. He has been a practicing exorcist for several decades.

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  • Tybourne

    I think an overly intense interest in demons and their activity can be spiritually unhealthy. Two examples: 1) when St Benedict revised the Rule of the Master to make it his own Rule, he changed some passages from ‘if you sin, say that the Devil made you do it’ to ‘if you sin, say that it was your fault.’ 2) Epistle of St Peter: ‘Be calm but vigilant because your Enemy, the Devil, is prowling round like a roaring lion.’ I note that the Letter says, ‘be vigilant’ rather than ‘be inquisitive’. Perhaps the most important thing, is to be calm rather than imputing demonic activity to everything difficult in life.

    • Vanessa Crum

      I agree with you.  Better that they should come here, than to read books on Demonology! Having turned away from the occult practice of my former life, access to truthful information is a Godsend.  I can put those lies into perspective and form my conscience and discernment. If only those who work for The Enemy are willing to talk about demons, where are the curious going to go to get their information?

      That these articles are a good thing. For one thing, understanding what they are and an outline of how the Enemy works, is a net good. It leads to better discernment of a situation. I do not think that Fr. Fortea is encouraging the idea that demons are at fault when we sin, or are responsible for every adversity.  It is an easy enough trap to fall into, but I think he is writing as an antidote to such ideas. Such dangerous ideas are perpetuated by ignorance, fear of the devil, and the roots of despair. Also, there is the seductive attraction to power that can tempt one to a fascination.  Any and all information is a tool.  It is a choice to use it for good, and the best one can do is place it into a form that is clear, concise, and has the greatest degree of probability to lead one’s heart to good. This passes that test quite nicely, in my estimation.

    • Marg

      I couldn’t agree with you more. I’d rather spend my time trying to do God’s will then worrying about the evil spirits that are lurking around.

    • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

      Tybourne, you are  spot on. To me, I have to be more alert to clobber my puny ego back to her place  every time she  tries to push herself forward, than spend my time thinking of the activities of Lucifer and his minions. After all, I was taught that Satan can never force me to sin if I am determined not to sin.  

      Tybourne, I get highly amused by the Evangelicals and Pentecostals – and the newly converted Charismatics in the Catholics – who attribute every suffering and illness to  demonic possession and spend their Prayer times doing “healing and deliverance”.

       To them – even my medically-proved back problem – which is the result of 46 years of working as a Private Secretary/P.A. to Chief Executives,sitting behind Typewriters and Computers and the final 10 years as an Administrative Executive Officer in the Catholic University of Eastern Africa –  is a demonic possession and I shall only be healed by the exorcism from these Charismatic Healers!!!!!  Talk of glorifying the power of the devil.

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  • http://profiles.google.com/wendell.clanton Wendell Clanton

    “God, in His wisdom, decided that each angel would determine its degree of glory for eternity by its response to a divine test. Each angel determined its degree of happiness by the degree of generosity, love, constancy, and other virtues it displayed in the test. A spirit can grow in its faith and in its generosity toward God before it sees Him.”

    So then… due to the nature of its response, did an angel then attain to its specific rank or choir? Did an angel become a seraph because its response was most faithful (most loving, most constant, etc.), or did seraphs, because they were seraphs and responded as faithful seraphs, remain seraphs and, consequently, the unfaithful ones became chief demons? E.g., Lucifer, highest of the seraphs fell and became Satan, ruler of Hell.

    I suppose one could say that, in the first instance, the ability of an angel to respond most fully would mean that it was, by nature, a seraph in the first place.

    ?

  • Marie Teresa

    Good article. Thank you. It reminds me that I have only this life to grow closer to God. In the next, my nearness to God will depend solely on what I do right now.

  • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

    To this old granny, this Sentence says it all – the purpose of Free Will granted to us and the Angels by God.  We are required to respond positively and love Him for Who He is with all our mind, with all our will and with all our strength.

    “….the most important and powerful reason for God’s granting angels the gift of freedom was for them to love. God loves His creation, and He desires to be loved in return. But love requires receptivity—it must be received freely”

    The love I have for my children (and grand-children) is unconditional but their love for me is a deliberate, decisive – emotionally and intellectually – each one of them makes – to freely reciprocate my Love for who I am to each one of them, in appreciation of, and gratitude for all the sacrifices I have made in my life to be a good Mother to them as God created me to be.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/O7ZAFYT3IHLJRP3OURCOJBBQJ4 Ayad

    GOD the father’s plan was clear to him before the creation, without the demons mankind will not sin and without sin there will be no redemption by our lord JESUS the CHRIST, the demons our putting us to the test not GOD, and he who endures to the end will be saved.

  • johndw52

    Father if every being, angels and man prayed for the conversion of the fallen angels, Satan included could they they be saved assuming they still have free will? I was once told by a priest that God still loves them.

    Love John

    • http://www.rcspiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Their fate is sealed.

  • tmwg2yah

    I am reading a book by a Catholic French mystic that lived in the first half of 20th century.  (fully approved by the Church and has many great reviews by the Clergy) The book is a constant conversation everyday for several years on the depth of love Jesus has for each soul.  At one point there was a paragraph about the creations of the angels.  Christ told this soul that the angels fell because they had not yet seen the Face of God (the Beatific Vision).  They existed in a realm much identical to heaven but without having yet reached the ultimate goal,  In this realm of Spiritual existance.  Lucifer revolted and led a third of the angels to fall,  Christ told her (the mystic) that had these angles seen the Face of God (the Beatific Vision), not one of them including Lucifer COULD have possibly fallen.  This answered the age old question for me as how could evil exist in Heaven.  I truly believe this writing even if it is private revelation.  It gives me great hope to know that when we witness the Beatific Vision all hints on uncleanliness with be burned away in His Love and we will never have to go through any more tests or as some of the Scurpulous fear, becoming like Lucifer once they have made it to heaven.

    • LizEst

      What is the name of this French mystic?

    • AR213

      “It gives me great hope to know that when we witness the Beatific Vision all hints on uncleanliness with be burned away in His Love…”
      It is my understanding that we will not be able to witness the Beatific Vision until all imperfections gave been burned away first.  We must be perfect to see God.  

      Once we have died, we will not go through any more tests, as you say.  Those souls in purgatory, though they may be suffering, are also consoled by the fact that they can no longer offend God through sin, and that they will see Him when their imperfections have been consumed by the fire of His love.  It is in purgatory that we are made ready for the Beatific Vision.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593897447 Alyssa Morey

    “God, in His wisdom, decided that each angel would determine its degree
    of glory for eternity by its response to a divine test. Each angel
    determined its degree of happiness by the degree of generosity, love,
    constancy, and other virtues it displayed in the test. A spirit can grow
    in its faith and in its generosity toward God before it sees Him.”Do we, as human persons, undergo the same test in this life to determine how full our “glass” is? The impression that I’ve gotten from previous encounters with this concept implies that our virtues are set from the beginning, but it’s likely that I haven’t heard enough to have

    • Becky313

      It’s not how full our glass will be, but what size of a glass we will be.  St Therese also speaks of this saying that we will all be full in heaven……regardless of how big or small a glass we are, we shall all be full, and therefore happy.

      Like the angels, the size of glass we will be for eternity is determined by the degree in which we love God, are generous, constant, etc.

      We can grow in this life, but not after.  The rest of your question hints at pre-determination, and that’s too big a topic to address in a combox. :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593897447 Alyssa Morey

         Thank you for your answer! As I said in my reply to the previous commenter, you both helped clarify how the determination of our glasses’ size is different from predestination, which was my confusion, as you were able to tell even though I accidentally posted before finishing my sentence. God Bless!

    • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

      Alyssa, as Becky says below, this sentence in your Response suggests something that has caused much heartache and misunderstanding in the Church:

      “The impression that I’ve gotten from previous encounters with this concept implies that our virtues are set from the beginning, but it’s likely that I haven’t heard enough to have”

      In the simple, and very understandable old Theology I was taught – and which  I hold true – is that, being the All-Knowing God, He knows what you and I will do with our lives and what “size of the glass and its fullness” shall our decisions and actions earn for each one of us. He has known this before the beginning of Creation, but His Divine Pre-Knowledge does not dictate our actions and decisions.  It follows, therefore, that our Divine All-Knowing and Infinite God, does not pre-destine what we shall be.  Our actions are solely born of our own well thought out, deliberate decisions and dictated by our Free Will. God has given us all –  as He gave to the Angels – this Free Will to chose to love Him, obey Him and serve Him or reject Him. God never, ever interferes with our Free Will. But even when we had rejected Him in the past, if we respond to His and the promptings of the Holy Spirit and decide to amend our lives, He will give us all the necessary Graces we need to attain full conversion.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593897447 Alyssa Morey

         Your answer does clarify the question I had about this teaching, thank you! It makes sense that we have full control over what we become (the size of our glass) and therefore the “volume” of virtue that we can possess when full to the brim. Now I see how this is different from predestination, which was my original confusion.

  • Jim McCrea

    There is one school of thought that there are not progressive grades of good and evil in angels – rather each angel loves or hates with the entire intensity of its being, in which there are not half or three quarter measure in an angel, so for them it was simply a matter of accepting or refusing God – a simple yet or no.

    There are grades of glory in the good angels and grades of corruption in the evil angels, but it is only based upon the nature they were created with and the particular choir in the hierarchy that they exist.

  • Rick7De

    ‘One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star.’ G.K. Chesterton. I, subject, cannot know myself since the subject cannot be the object of itself. The spiritual impact of (or interactions of the self with) angels and demons should be interpreted with solid knowledge of doctrine. This contributes of Father Fortea is enlightening.

  • Joetheo

    Dear Father Fortea,

    Why did God cast the demons out of heaven without any second chance to be redeemed?
    Jesus died so man could be redeemed.  Why didn’t God give these fallen angels the same opportunity?

  • jmabell

    I find this to be a very good article. Very insightfull. I have a question, and hoping for an answer. It is more of a curiosity I guess. Is our test harder than the test put before the angels?

  • LizEst

    I’m reading “The Rite – The Making of a Modern Exorcist” by Matt Baglio (Doubleday 2009, 2010).  It’s excellent in answering a lot of the questions posed here.  Father Fortea writes “[It] is one of the best books ever written on the topic of exorcism.  I have read very few books that give a description as appropriate, as precise, or as detailed.”  It even quotes Father Fortea in a few places.  It’s very readable and I highly recommend it.

    • http://www.rcspiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      I second that recommendation. Another on the topic is Resisting the Devil by Neal Lozano – very good.