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Creator of the Angels Who Are Free Beings

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on God the Father
General Audience, Wednesday, 23 July 1986 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. Today we continue our catechesis on the angels whose existence, willed by an act of God's eternal love, we profess in the words of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed: "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen."

The angels are called from the beginning, by virtue of their intelligence, and in the perfection of their spiritual nature, to know the truth and to love the good which they know in the truth in a more full and perfect way than is possible to human beings. This love is an act of a free will, and therefore for the angels also freedom implies a possibility of choice for or against the Good which they know, that is, God himself. It must be repeated here what we already mentioned earlier in regard to man—by creating free beings, God willed that there should be realized in the world true love which is possible only on the basis of freedom. He willed therefore that the creature, constituted in the image and likeness of the Creator, should be able in the greatest degree possible to render himself similar to God who "is love" (1 Jn 4:16). By creating the pure spirits as free beings, God in his Providence could not but also foresee the possibility of the angels' sin. But precisely because Providence is eternal wisdom which loves, God would have been able to draw from the history of this sin, incomparably more radical inasmuch as it was the sin of a pure spirit, the definitive good of the whole created cosmos.

2. De facto, as revelation clearly states, the world of the pure spirits is divided into good angels and bad ones. This division is not the work of God's creation, but is based on the freedom proper to the spiritual nature of each one of them. It is the result of choice which for purely spiritual beings possesses an incomparably more radical character than human choice, and it is irreversible given the degree of intuitiveness and penetration of the good wherewith their intelligence is endowed. In this regard it must also be said that the pure spirits were subjected to a test of a moral character. It was a decisive test regarding first of all God himself, a God known in a more essential and direct way than is possible to man, a God who granted to these spiritual beings the gift of participating in his divine nature, before doing so to the human race.

3. In the case of the pure spirits, the decisive choice regarded first of all God himself, the first and supreme Good, accepted or rejected in a more essential and direct way, than could happen within the scope of action of human free will. The pure spirits have a knowledge of God incomparably more perfect than human knowledge. By the power of their intellect, not conditioned nor limited by the mediation of sense knowledge, they see to the depths the greatness of infinite Being, of the first Truth, of the supreme Good. To this sublime capacity of knowledge of the pure spirits God offered the mystery of his divinity, making them thus partakers, through grace, of his infinite glory. Precisely as beings of a spiritual nature they had in their intellect the capacity, the desire of this supernatural elevation to which God had called them. It made them, long before man, "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet 1:4), partakers of the intimate life of him who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, of him who in the communion of the three divine Persons, "is love" (1 Jn 4:16). God had admitted all the pure spirits, before and to a greater extent than man, to the eternal communion of love.

4. The choice made on the basis of the truth about God, known in a higher way because of the clarity of their intellects, has divided the world of pure spirits into the good and the bad. The good chose God as the supreme and definitive Good, known to the intellect enlightened by revelation. To have chosen God means that they turned to him with all the interior force of their freedom, a force which is love. God became the total and definitive scope of their spiritual existence. The others instead turned their backs on God, contrary to the truth of the knowledge which indicated him as the total and definitive good. Their choice ran counter to the revelation of the mystery of God, to his grace which made them partakers of the Trinity and of the eternal friendship with God in communion with him through love.

On the basis of their created freedom they made a radical and irreversible choice on a parity with that of the good angels, but diametrically opposed. Instead of accepting a God full of love, they rejected him. They were inspired by a false sense of self-sufficiency, of aversion and even of hatred which is changed into rebellion.

5. How are we to understand such opposition and rebellion against God in beings endowed with such profound and enlightened intelligence? What can be the motive for such a radical and irreversible choice against God? Of a hatred so profound as to appear solely the fruit of folly? The Fathers of the Church and theologians do not hesitate to speak of a "blindness" produced by the overrating of the perfection of their own being, driven to the point of ignoring God's supremacy, which requires instead an act of docile and obedient subjection. All this is summed up concisely in the words: "I will not serve" (Jer 2:20), which manifest the radical and irreversible refusal to take part in the building up of the kingdom of God in the created world. Satan, the rebellious spirit, wishes to have his own kingdom, not that of God. He rises up as the first "adversary" of the Creator, the opponent of Providence, and antagonist of God's loving wisdom. From Satan's rebellion and sin, and likewise from that of man, we must conclude by accepting the wise experience of Scripture which states: "In pride there is ruin" (Tob 4:13).

After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai pellegrini francesi

Je suis heureux d’accueillir les pèlerins des divers pays de langue française. Je salue en particulier les jeunes Assomptionnistes venus des cinq continents, en souhaitant que leur séjour à Rome, où ils approfondissent l’esprit de la vie religieuse, les aide à confirmer leur amour pour l’Eglise universelle.

* * *

Je souhaite la bienvenue au groupe du Patriarcat latin de Jérusalem qui vient se recueillir sur les tombeaux des Apôtres Pierre et Paul après être allé prier la Vierge Marie à Lourdes. Je félicite les courageux pèlerins des diocèses d’Anvers et de Gand qui sont venus à bicyclette depuis la Belgique, faisant preuve de courage et de persévérance. J’ai noté aussi la présence de Frères des Ecoles chrétiennes, avec des professeurs et des parents d’élèves du Sacré-Cœur de Saint-Brieuc.

* * *

Enfin, je salue cordialement le groupe venant du Cameroun. Chers amis, j’ai pu constater, en allant chez vous, la vitalité de votre Eglise. Que votre pèlegrinage au centre de la chrétienté enrichisse votre foi et stimule votre ferveur religieuse!

A tous ici présents, je donne de grand cœur ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai visitatori di espressione inglese

I extend a cordial welcome to the Lutheran group from Växjö in Sweden. Today is the anniversary of the death of Saint Birgitta here in Rome in the year thirteen seventy-three. May the memory of this great Swedish saint remind us of the many Christian traditions which unite us in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.

* * *

I also greet the ecumenical group from Greece. Your visit is a practical manifestation of the ecumenical path to which we are committed as Christ’s disciples. May God’s blessings be always with you.

* * *

A welcome likewise to the Eilat Dance Company from Israel, and to the members of the Jewish community here today. I take this occasion to renew the sentiments of friendship and goodwill which inspired my visit in April to the Jewish community of Rome. In the light of our common heritage, may we continue to meet one another as beloved brothers and sisters, and may we seek ever greater understanding between us.

Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors from the j various countries represented here I invoke Almighty God’s abundant blessing.

Ai gruppi tedeschi

Mit dieser kurzen wöchentlichen Glaubenskatechese grüße ich alle anwesenden Besucher und Pilger deutscher Sprache. Ich freue mich über eure Teilnahme an dieser Audienz und erbitte euch aus diesem Erlebnis weltweiter kirchlicher Gemeinschaft Festigung eures Glaubens und eurer Liebe zur Kirche Jesu Christi. Die jetzige Ferienzeit schenke euch nicht nur körperliche, sondern auch geistige Erholung, wobei ihr euch auch eure Verantwortung vor Gott wieder neu bewußt werdet. Mögen die Engel des Herrn euch mit ihrem besonderen Schutz begleiten. Von Herzen erteile ich euch und allen, die euch verbunden sind, den Apostolischen Segen.

Ad alcuni gruppi di pellegrini di lingua spagnola 

Deseo ahora presentar mi cordial saludo a todas las personas, familias y grupos procedentes de los diversos Países t de América Latina y de España.

En particular, a las Religiosas Josefinas de la Santísima Trinidad, junto con las antiguas alumnas y acompañantes, que celebran el primer Centenario de la fundación del Instituto. Me uno a vuestra acción de gracias a Dios por los abundantes beneficios recibidos y os aliento a un renovado entusiasmo y entrega en vuestra vida apostólica.

* * *

Igualmente saludo a las Hermanas de la Sagrada Familia de Urgel, acompañadas de la Madre General, que están realizando un curso de espiritualidad en Roma.

* * *

Sean también bienvenidos a esta audiencia: el grupo “Antorcha” de la Parroquia de San Bernardo de Sevilla, la peregrinación diocesana de San Cristóbal de la Laguna (Tenerife) alumnas del Instituto “María Inmaculada” de Córdoba.

A todos los peregrinos de lengua castellana imparto con mi Bendición Apostólica.

Ai pellegrini polacchi

Witam serdecznie księdza biskupa Dąbrowskiego z Warszawy i wszystkich pielgrzymów: z parafii Narodzenia Matki Bożej z Myślenic; z parafii Przemienienia Pańskiego z Jabłonki, archidiecezia krakowska; pielgrzymkę katedralną z Tarnowa; pielgrzymów z parafii Chrystusa Króla z Gdyni; pielgrzymów z duszpasterstwa aliademickiego we Wrocławiu od ojców franciszkanów, parafia św. Karola Boromeusza; również z Wrocławia duszpasterstwo akademickie z parafii św. Antoniego, także ojcowie franciszkanie; z archidiecezji wrocławskie; z parafii Wniebowzięcia Matki Bożej w Lwówku Śląskim; z diecezji opolskiej pielgrzymów z dekanatu Zabrze; z diecezji szczecińsko-kamieńskiej pielgrzymów z parafii św. Krzyża w Szczecinie; witam profesorów Niższego Seminarium ojców franciszlzanów z Wieliczki oraz siostry zakonne; wreszcie uczestników grup turystycznych PKS z Warszawy, Almatur, Towarzystwo Polsko-Włoskie, załogę jachtu “Silesia” z Górniczego Klubu Turystycznego z Zabrza, PTTK z Krakowa, “Orbis”, Turystę, Gromadę z Wrocławia, Polaków na wypoczynku wakacyjnym w Capalbia, członków PZMot (Polski Związek Motorowy) Słupsk, Zielona Góra; grupę z Bydgoszczy; Zespół Tańca Ludowego “Gorzowiacy” . . . Prośmy Boga o to, żeby w nas zwyciężało zawsze dobro. Tego zyczę wszystkim tu zgromadzonym rodakom i wszystkim moim rodakoa w OJczvźnie i na emigracji.

Ad alcuni gruppi italiani 

Rivolgo ora un saluto cordiale a tutti i pellegrini di lingua italiana.

Un pensiero particolare va anzitutto ai due gruppi di emigrati italiani in Argentina e in Gran Bretagna, che prendono parte a questa Udienza. Vi ringrazio per la vostra presenza e vi auguro che questi giorni che trascorrerete nella madre patria siano per voi come un ritorno alle sorgenti e vi servano per attingere alle tradizioni di fede, di storia e di arte, di cui è ricca l’Italia, nuova lena e nuovo vigore spirituale.

Vi accompagni la mia Benedizione. 

* * * 

Saluto pure i giovani militari, qui venuti insieme con i loro Ufficiali e Cappellani, in rappresentanza delle Caserme romane “Caso Pretorio” e “Romagnoli”.

Vi accolgo volentieri, carissimi giovani, e vi esprimo l’augurio che il tempo del servizio militare vi sia utile per completare la formazione della vostra personalità e per prepararvi alle vostre future responsabilità nella vita sociale e in seno alle famiglie che vi formerete.

Il Signore vi benedica e vi assista sempre.

Ai giovani 

Ora il mio saluto ai giovani venuti a questa Udienza.

Carissimi, in questi giorni in cui le vacanze vi offrono più tempo libero, desidero esortarvi a dedicare conveniente spazio alla preghiera. Tutto ciò che nel corso dei mesi precedenti vi ha tenuto impegnati, quanto di nuovo andate scoprendo a contatto con realtà e modi di vita diversi, intuizioni, domande e progetti che affiorano al vostro spirito: tutto vogliate valutare di fronte al Signore, con una preghiera calma e attenta. La luce della sua verità si farà strada in voi e vi sentirete più pronti e generosi a seguirlo in quanto vi chiederà.

Vi accompagni la mia Benedizione Apostolica.

Agli ammalati 

Agli ammalati presenti, il mio speciale saluto.

Carissimi, in ciascuno di voi vedo riflesso il volto sofferente del Figlio di Dio. Vi sia di conforto questa verità che vi rende immagine della passione di Cristo e richiamo di solidarietà per i fratelli. Con la sopportazione delle pene fisiche e morali, nel nome e per amore del Signore, voi diventate una eloquente lezione di vita che, se fa constatare la debolezza della condizione umana, rivela anche che il Signore è l’unico amico e sostegno, donando le grazie necessarie nelle situazioni più delicate. Siete i più vicini al mio cuore ed una mirabile forza per la santità della Chiesa.

Con la mia Apostolica Benedizione.

Agli sposi novelli 

Un benvenuto e l’augurio cordiale agli sposi novelli.

Carissimi, avete voluto consacrare il vostro amore davanti al ministro della Chiesa, come prova che voi riconoscete nel Signore il vero vincolo della vostra unione. Vi invito a restare fedeli a questo patto: scoprirete a quale grande compito Egli vi ha destinati facendo di voi un segno del suo amore per l’umanità, e sperimenterete quanti frutti di bene matureranno nella vostra famiglia. Siate sempre felici come in questi giorni, e con tale auspicio vi accompagni la mia Apostolica Benedizione.

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