Sunday, 19 February 2012

Angels and Demons

A bit of a rambling post from yours truly this week but all on the same theme:

Firstly, my Catholic witness in my place of employment has to be subtle and subversive. So I was overjoyed when some pupils, before performing in the school play, decided to pray to their guardian angels, and later tell me that it worked. I've also been encouraging prayers to St Anthony for a lost (very expensive) make-up bag, but either the girl has not taken on board my suggestion or St Anthony thinks she'd be better off without it and its contents.

A friend of mine that I see for tea about once a month told me a disturbing story from her parish about a formidable and strangely influential woman in her parish. Apparently, this woman thinks the Prayer to St Michael is theologically incorrect and that we ought to be praying for Satan and his fallen angels. I really have to ask if this woman is serving the Church. She'd get an earful from me if she started spouting that nonsense in front of me. I do wonder if Satan is strangely touched by her misguided concern for him or if he is just laughing at the damage she could do to the Church with her beliefs?

In my wanderings to Catholic churches far from here and far from orthodoxy, I heard a sermon that has left me very puzzled and for which I cannot find a suitable response. The sermon was about the devil and St Michael. The priest said that as only God is omnipotent, and the angels are not, this means that the devil can only be bothering one person at a time as he can only be in one place at any one time. Likewise with St Michael. Take this sermon's theme to its logical conclusion and it is the same with the saints; don't bother asking a popular saint for their intercession unless you are prepared to join a very long queue. Oh it is all stuff and nonsense, heaven exists outside of space and time, the supernatural is just that; supernatural. The saints and angels can do what they want for any soul that requests. Omnipotence is something else; it is more than the supernatural with the dial turned up to 11.

Lastly, I have been debating with another friend why there were so many demons around the place when Our Lord was walking this earth. We have several possible suggestions:
  • The Holy Land was just the baddest, evilest of places 2000 years ago. (We're not convinced by this argument)
  • The demons were necessary to give witness to Christ to show his dominion over everything.
  • The very bad is always attracted to and seeks out the supremely good.
  • There are just as many demons around today, but we are cr*p at recognising them and few have (or realise they have) the authority to deal with them.
  • They weren't really demons but psychological disturbances, the Gospel stories are just stories about healing. (this is the rubbish some of us were brought up to believe and ought to be consigned to the Archives of Oblivion)
What do you think?


Ttony said...

We used to get in trouble at school for speculating about the fallen angels as the Brothers (correctly) thought that we were showing off, but were also concerned about or getting fascinated by them (the fallen angels, that is). I wish we'd had the wit to ask an interesting question like this.

Your middle three look right to me, but I don't know how far fallen angels have free will any more that counts.

Mark said...

I think point 4 ("There are just as many demons around today...") is correct.

The desert fathers saw demons everywhere. Patristic Christianity was largely about fighting the world, the, flesh and the devil (together with his cohorts of demons).

As Peter Brown - one of the best historians of the period - says somewhere, the fathers believed that Christ had decisively defeated Satan through his incarnation, death and resurrection, but that the vanquished armies were still wandering around the earth plundering and pillaging and seeking to make things as messy as possible for the victors.

Hence the need for armies of monks to go out into the desert and do battle with them.

There's a famous interview (from the 1990s) with, I think, a Coptic Orthodox monk who says that he used to be a policeman, but that he became a monk so that he could arrest demons instead of criminals.

Rita said...

Thank you for your comments, gentlemen,

I'm reminded of a monastery not too far from here where an aged monk spends most of his day seated at the window with an imaginary blunderbus shooting at the demons that are hollering around the grounds.

Mike Cliffson said...

There are more,or they're the more active, the more we get unbaptized and drive God away from public life
We little realize just HOW protected we are by baptism.
Knowing they're about is maybe necessary- dwelling on it is very, highly, dangerous.
Don't get hangups about imperfect faith having holy pictures cruxifixes, bibles, holy water stoops, the works and saying round the clock rosaries.
The reasons for the above ought to be positive, adoration etc, but, while we're at it, I don't think they like it.
If the West survives another generation as is , you won't need to ask the question- itll be all too obvious.
Which I pray may God forbid!

Rita said...

Wise words, Mike.

Part-time Pilgrim said...


Middle one I think. Look at the Church. I think the Devil sees offence as the best form of defence.

Is it a Catholic school you teach in and if so why do you have to be subtle? Surely the witness of teachers one of the school's most precious assets. (Of course if it is not Catholic I understand entirely)

Part-time Pilgrim said...

...and how can the prayer to St Michael possibly be theologically incorrect?

(I bet this women has next to no theological training)

Rita said...


The only problem with the "middle one" is that since the Resurrection, it isn't quite true. If it were true then demons would be sniffing around the Blessed Sacrament, which clearly they don't. Christ's power over death and sin is absolute since the Resurrection, because He conquered death. As the Devil can't get near Christ, then he tries to worm his way into our "affections", and alas, we are not supremely good.

As for the woman how doesn't like the prayer to St Michael, I'd guess her theological training began and ended with some daffy ex-nun on a dodgy retreat.