Angelic office

St. Thomas Aquinas, taught from S. Augustine - that sin is nothing, and those who commit it are nothing. I am not well read in metaphysics, I agree with the term privation or cavity, but I do not see how that follows into a demon having being. If you could provide a syllogism or more for your argument that might be helpful.

I’m not familiar with Augustine or TA teaching that those who commit sin are nothing, but I feel I have sufficient grasp of TA’s metaphysics to conclude TA did not mean metaphysically nothing, but would have meant it in a more poetic sense to describe a dead spirit, if he ever said it at all.

Non-being is the absence of existence. To say the demons have no being is to state that they do not exist. Demons do exist, and so have being.

To quote Saint Thomas Aquinas:

Article 4. Whether any demons are naturally wicked?

I answer that, Everything which exists, so far as it exists and has a particular nature, tends naturally towards some good; since it comes from a good principle; because the effect always reverts to its principle. Now a particular good may happen to have some evil connected with it; thus fire has this evil connected with it that it consumes other things: but with the universal good no evil can be connected. If, then, there be anything whose nature is inclined towards some particular good, it can tend naturally to some evil; not as evil, but accidentally, as connected with some good. But if anything of its nature be inclined to good in general, then of its own nature it cannot be inclined to evil. Now it is manifest that every intellectual nature is inclined towards good in general, which it can apprehend and which is the object of the will. Hence, since the demons are intellectual substances, they can in no wise have a natural inclination towards any evil whatsoever; consequently they cannot be naturally evil.

Reply to Objection 1. Augustine rebukes Porphyry for saying that the demons are naturally deceitful; himself maintaining that they are not naturally so, but of their own will. Now the reason why Porphyry held that they are naturally deceitful was that, as he contended, demons are animals with a sensitive nature. Now the sensitive nature is inclined towards some particular good, with which evil may be connected. In this way, then, it can have a natural inclination to evil; yet only accidentally, inasmuch as evil is connected with good.

Even the demons have goodmess insofar as they have being. That is not to say they are morally good, only that being in itself is good. It’s in their will that demons are evil.

To continue from St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa on the discussion as to whether demons have being, and speaking of evil as a privation in something that has being:

Article 5. Whether the essence of goodness consists in mode, species and order?

Reply to Objection 3. Every being is due to some form. Hence, according to every being of a thing is its mode, species, order. Thus, a man has a mode, species and order as he is white, virtuous, learned and so on; according to everything predicated of him. But evil deprives a thing of some sort of being, as blindness deprives us of that being which is sight; yet it does not destroy every mode, species and order, but only such as follow upon the being of sight.

Reply to Objection 4. Augustine says (De Nat. Boni. xxiii), “Every mode, as mode, is good” (and the same can be said of species and order). “But an evil mode, species and order are so called as being less than they ought to be, or as not belonging to that which they ought to belong. Therefore they are called evil, because they are out of place and incongruous.”

Demons have goodness insofar as they have existence, but they are evil because they are less than they ought to be. What they will is out of place and incongruous with their natures.

Edit: I think further inquiry into this deserves its own topic. I don’t mean to derail this one, only to reply to something which I think could mislead others, and I think I’ve said my piece on that.

Context is everything. You appear, by the conversation, to have little understanding of Catholic teaching. Hence my question.

seriously, how do you expect any human to understand the material and functional nature of Angels. If you knew the basics, you woud know this.
think about this. Do you realise The Holy Spirit is the Living God?

If I told you I saw an Angel, and described it, would you believe it? How could you determine my credibility in the substance of Angels? I am not yet in Heaven :pray::dove::innocent:

I am pretty sure CAF has rules on coloured text

This was my mind when I wrote the post, and you were right in correcting. I though somehow non-being and existence can have a form in a demonic state. By the way, the quote is “sin is nothing and men become nothing when they sin.” (Commentary on the Letter to the Romans, 698, Rom 8:28-32) I have to rethink the implications of being and the fall of the angels.

For a greater self-awareness, please expand upon my appearance of having a lack of understanding Catholic teaching, as I would like to understand how I’m perceived if it is to be beneficial to my functioning on the forums so that we can disregard all non ad rem discussion and get to crux of the issues regarding the inquiries. Remember, as with the appearance of man, appearances can be deceptive :slight_smile: Hopefully it wasn’t because within the first post was asked why Daniel utilized the phrase “the man” (which seems to have been answered to refer to the appearance rather than substance of man, which is funny because no such inversion has been allowed of ‘angel’ except with Malachi), or the quoting of Gregory’s exposition of the word angel as designation of an office and not of a nature, or Thomas’ explanation of the ability to administer sacraments via the angelic office if it be God’s will, though it is standard for man to be doing these things.

Please, for the third or fourth time, someone answer the questions regarding the materialization of demons and the nature of the bodies rather than posting about something else, and if you can’t answer by quoting authoritatively and know there to be no answer available, explicitly state that the Catholic Church for 2000 years, the Pillar and Foundation of Truth, has not answered these questions. Maybe I should post a new topic with these exact questions again so that no other unrelated posts can continue :wink: :stuck_out_tongue:

seriously, how do you expect any human to understand the material and functional nature of Angels. If you knew the basics, you woud know this. think about this. Do you realise The Holy Spirit is the Living God?

How can I expect any human to know these things? If the Catholic Church is the “Pillar and Foundation of truth” and is of divine origin with the Holy Spirit teaching you all things, for you to ask this question is in a keen sense to disregard this quotation from the Epistle to Timothy (1 Tim 3:15), and your own question of appearing not to know much about Catholicism seems to flip back upon you, but I wouldn’t point a finger in such a direction because it seems to be rude and quite limp.

And now I’ll break my own rules and say as an aside: FWIW, I agree with Wesrock in that it is rather an oxymoron to say “Person of Non-Being”. All Persons are of Being by definition.

At any rate, it feels as if these questions are intentionally being dodged with other non-related questions being asked back. This tends to lend an incredulity here rather than a steadfast knowledge or honest inquiry, and this seems to be unbecoming of members of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I apologize if I’m coming off as impractical or not having enough knowledge to be dealt with straight-forward regarding my questions.

Follow up to one of the main initial questions

I will omit any personal discourse and quote from the Summa Theologica, which may or may not satisfy one’s interest regarding the subject. Ciao.

Summa Theologica Part I, Question 53, Article 1, Reply to Objection 6:

As Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xv): “Many persons affirm that they have had the experience, or have heard from such as have experienced it, that the Satyrs and Fauns, whom the common folk call incubi, have often presented themselves before women, and have sought and procured intercourse with them. Hence it is folly to deny it. But God’s holy angels could not fall in such fashion before the deluge. Hence by the sons of God are to be understood the sons of Seth, who were good; while by the daughters of men the Scripture designates those who sprang from the race of Cain. Nor is it to be wondered at that giants should be born of them; for they were not all giants, albeit there were many more before than after the deluge.” Still if some are occasionally begotten from demons, it is not from the seed of such demons, nor from their assumed bodies, but from the seed of men taken for the purpose; ***as when the demon assumes first the form of a woman, and afterwards of a man; just as they take the seed of other things for other generating purposes, as Augustine says (De Trin. ii.), so that the person born is not the child of a demon, but of a man. ***

Quit using big words, we arent playing scrabble!

I am going to assume you have no knowledge of Catholic teachings or the Church, or really understanding of the bible.

IF YOU DID, you would know God is the only one to know the substance of Angels.

we cant answer questions about materialising Angels, whether fallen or not.

none of us on CAF is God!

nowhere anywhere does God say that as the Holy Spirit, He will teach you everything.

concentrate on earth.

You once again have responded without answering a question, which is quite naughty of you. The inquiry to which you seem to be referring was what I enumerated as #2: What is the nature of the appearing angels as men. This is strictly referring to their materialized form and not to the substance with which you seem to be erroneously implying, as it was discussed earlier that the substance is of pure spirit.

If man can’t answer this, why is it that Saint Thomas Aquinas attempts to answer the question? In the Summa Theologica, Reply to Objection #3, Answer 2 of the 51st Question of Part 1, he states the following:

**Although air as long as it is in a state of rarefaction has neither shape nor color, yet when condensed it can both be shaped and colored as appears in the clouds. Even so the angels assume bodies of air, condensing it by the Divine power in so far as is needful for forming the assumed body. **

If this man is deemed a Saint in the Catholic Church, it may be wiser for you to not say what you’ve said regarding his discourse.

concentrate on earth.

To follow Jesus’ command to “First seek the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33) would be more proper than to follow your command to concentrate on earth.

And , if anyone claims they can ‘authoritively’ tell you answers to your questions about the material and substance of Angels…

They are lying.

Are you actually thinking about my response? Only God knows those answers.

and Thomas Aquinas did not have an understanding of the atmosphere. Air is what, What are you breathing in? moving through?

Air has shape ,colour, taste, smell, chemical bonds, contaminants…

we have the advantage of modern scientific equipment, and more understanding of what air is, then that saint had. if he were around today, he would not write that. that premise of his is wrong.

and yes, seek the kingdom of God here. concentrate on seeing God in what you can see. As Pope Francis says

and quit being so uncharitable to me, you are patronising. be happy someone continues responding

By what authority does the Church have the ability to proclaim the nature of the Infinite regarding the triune-personhood of God, yet not have the authority to proclaim the nature of angels? As you say, if anyone were to do so they would be lying. Why isn’t it the case that they’re lying when speaking not of a creature’s nature, but of the Infinite’s nature?

if you read the Bible, you will find God himself proclaimed the nature of the Trinity. And guess what! Its still a mystery we dont fully understand.
Do we know Gods nature? nope. And some of it will slways be a mystery, even when we reach Heaven.

As to the nature of Angels, as God says, they are spirit . And thats about the extent ofcour human and creature knowledge.

we know there are 3 Archangels. we know God sends Angels with messages
we know we each have a Guardian Angel
We know they can sing!
we know Angels are much smarter then us.
we know there are fallen angels

you really need to get a little Catholic education. What you are posting is not in line with our faith. did you realise Pope Francis said seek God in what you see.

This now is a waste of my time (something about I must be careful), although coming across the Summa’s quotation regarding the expression of materialization of demons and the condensation of air matter was interestingly a result of the participation within this thread, and so I’d like to thank everyone who spent the time expressing their thoughts here. I will now abandon it and count this as a re-iterated learning experience, but first I will leave with one quick observation foregoing the original post’s inquiry:

If one can say that they know a little about God’s nature because of the written word of man as inspired authoritatively by God, then go on to suggest one should ask God for the seeking of answers regarding the Kingdom of Heaven, and rightly so, yet then go on to say that if anyone should give an authoritative answer to these types of questions then they must be lying, there seems to be a dishonest linkage here, yet the skepticism is quite understandable this day and age.


worldwideweary, I hope that you are still peeking in to see this response. I will attempt to address your questions, though you may be disappointed because the Church has not spoken authoritatively on every matter (and will not because some details have not definitively been revealed to us in this life).

Yes, in the abstract the title of aggelos or “messenger” can be applied to a human or a spiritual being. And we see in Scripture, as in the tale of the deacon Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in the Acts of the Apostles, that God has been known to transport human beings to and fro by supernatural means to act as His messengers. However; the Church (following the strains of Judaism that birthed her) has concluded from most of the descriptions of divine messengers in Scripture that there exists an order of spiritual beings separate from humankind who serve God directly. In common speech today “angel” refers to one of these beings and not just any carrier of messages.

That Gabriel is one of these spirits and not literally a man is shown by the fact that he appeared to different people (Daniel and Mary, at least) centuries apart. Also, in his narrative to Daniel he mentions fighting “the prince of the Persian kingdom” alongside Michael, “the great prince who protects [Israel].” In context these “princes” do not appear to be human royalty but spiritual personifications or guardians of the nations mentioned. (Michael comes up again later in Scripture as a being that has fought with Satan himself.)

It is clear from the Scriptural accounts that angels (meaning the spirits just discussed) can take material form. We do not know exactly how such bodies are formed or of what they are composed, though as you have seen in Aquinas theologians have proposed various explanations in line with the knowledge of their times. Perhaps this is just something angels can do, or perhaps God makes it happen when He needs an angel to be visible and tangible for a particular mission.

Whether fallen angels can take physical form as well is unknown. St. Thomas believed it because he had heard what he considered credible accounts of incubi and succubi, but demon-rape, if it occurs, certainly seems to be a rare thing. History suggests they don’t do it commonly, or if they do, they do it without ever revealing their true natures.

Can the loyal angels possess humans? I would venture to say that they don’t, even if they are theoretically capable of it, because their mission when it comes to individual humans is to protect and guide, not to take over our wills and direct our actions personally.

I am sorry that there are not more definitive answers to your questions, but I hope you will count this as a sincere effort to engage with your curiosity.

worldwideweary, I hope you saw my responses to your posts. I didn’t only respond to animalis.

Roseeurekacross, I understand that there is not a lot dogmatically stipulated about angels, and you consider it speculation, but considering that many of our greatest Church Fathers and theologians did write on the topic, I think you do worldwideweary a disservice by repeatedly brushing off his questions, especially on topics that have been extensively and systematically written about by Church Fathers. And worldwideweary did originally post this on the philosophy board, so I think he understood that much of what could be said was based on philosophical inquiry. As for TA’s scientific knowledge, I think it’s possible to separate his philosophy from his scientific examples, where the example was only intended to illustrate a point he was discussing and not meant as proof of it. Or at least it is possible to understand the point he was trying to make with his example and to come up with more accurate examples today based on current knowledge.

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