Skip to comments.Chief Exorcist in Rome, Fr. Gabriel Amorth, & the Absolute Primacy of Christ
Posted on 08/27/2007 5:29:22 AM PDT by fr maximilian mary
In recent times, an expert on angelology and demonology, the chief exorcist of the Diocese of Rome, Fr. Gabriel Amorth, wrote a most concise and lucid summation of the Franciscan thesis in his book An Exorcist Tells his Story. Before he tells his story, he begins by first stating some basic facts about Gods plan for creation. He writes (in Chapter 1):
All too often we have the wrong concept of creation, and we take for granted the following wrong sequence of events. We believe that one day God created the angels; that He put them to the test, although we are not sure which test; and that as a result we have the division among angels and demons. The angels were rewarded with heaven, and the demons were punished with hell. Then we believe that on another day God created the universe, the minerals, the plants, the animals, and, in the end, man. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve obeyed Satan and disobeyed God; thus they sinned. At this point, to save mankind, God decided to send His Son.
This is not what the Bible teaches us, and it is not the teaching of the Fathers. If this were so, the angels and creation would remain strangers to the mystery of Christ. If we read the Prologue of the Gospel of John and the two Christological hymns that open the letters to the Ephesians and the Colossians, we see that Christ is the firstborn of all creatures (Col. 1:15). Everything was created for Him and in the expectation of Him. There is no theological discussion that makes any sense if it asks whether Christ would have been born without the sin of Adam. Christ is the center of creation; all creatures, both heavenly (the angels) and earthly (man) find in Him their summation. On the other hand, we can affirm that, given the sin of our forebears, Christs coming assumed a particular role: He came as Savior. The core of His action is contained within the Paschal Mystery: through the blood of His Cross, He reconciles all things in the heavens (angels) and on earth (man) to God. The role of every creature is dependent on this christocentric understanding.
That makes things crystal clear.
Ping. God bless you...
Worthy read ping!
Interesting. I’ve read several of Fr. Amorth’s books on exorcism (us Protestants have to deal with that, too) and have been impressed with him. He “gets it” about the battle that we’re engaged in.
I seem to remember something from high school -- not doctrine, I don't think, but maybe educated speculation(?) -- that the idea of the Incarnation itself was the test. And I guess that, too, was a "hard saying" that not all the angels could accept.
Thus the evil one in Genesis 3 goes after the first woman, Eve, because he had been shown a vision of the Woman with Child and was immediately searching for herIs this the predestined Virgin? Let us tempt her! Let us ruin Gods plan and make ourself the center of creation! Let us entice her to be as gods (Gen. 3:5) apart from Christ! The serpent allured her and she disobeyed Gods plan which was that we might receive of the fullness of the Godhead (cf. Eph. 3:19; Col. 2:8-10; Jn. 1:16) and become partakers of the divine nature (2 Pt. 1:4) and sons of God (cf. Jn. 1:12-13) through the Incarnation.
Interestingly, when Jesus Christ walks this earth the demons recognize Him. I know who Thou art, the Holy One of God, says one demon (Mk. 1:24). Another legion of demons cry out from two possessed men in the country of the Gerasenes, What have we to do with Thee, Son of God? Hast Thou come here to torment us before the time? (Mt. 8:29). And the demons fear that He has come to destroy them (cf. Mk. 1:24; Lk. 5:34). Their recognition of the Incarnate Word and their fear of torment and destruction in His presence indicate that they have foreknowledge of Him and that their damnation and torture is to be subject to the God-Man and His Immaculate Mother whom they eternally rejected before the visible world was even created.
I knew I remembered the basics! Thanks for filling in the provenance and further details!
Fascinating, but how does this square with the temptations in the desert, where Satan seems to be addressing Christ conditionally ("IF thou be the Son of God")? It seems that Satan is not entirely sure that Jesus is the Messiah. And if he knew who Jesus was at the time, how did he withstand His presence without fleeing in knowledge of Him as the Incarnation? I can envision God giving Satan the opportunity to test Jesus as He allowed him to test Job. But I can't see how or why Satan would test Jesus if he was certain of His identity as the Son of God.
Yes, the devil and his legions are everyone's enemy, especially those who claim Christ as their King.
"I can do all these things in him who strengtheneth me. (Phil. 4:13). Amen!
At any rate, the Bible clearly reveals that the angels are under the headship of Christ (and not just fallen mankind).
St. Paul speaks of the Incarnate Word as the head of every Principality and Power. (Col. 2:10) & firstborn of every creature (Col. 1:15).
Countless references could be made to confirm this. For example, Philippians 2:10-11, At the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth and every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.
And when the Apostle maintains that the Incarnate Word is set above every Principality and Power and Virtue and Domination in short, above every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. And all things He made subject under His feet, and Him He gave as head over all the Church, which indeed is His body, the completion of Him who fills all with all. (Eph. 1:21-23; cf. Heb. 1).
Perhaps a failure to understand the nature of the Incarnation? A belief that it reduced the Second Person of the Trinity to a being he could tempt and thus triumph over?
Hoping that Father will correct me if I am wrong, and recognizing that this is somewhat tangential to the main topic...
I think that we should remember three points: 1) Satan could still fight and attempt victory over the incarnate Son of God. Satan is very “intelligent” in a sense, and yet stupid as he is blinded by pride. He is not omniscient. 2) Using the phrase, “if You are the Son of God” does necessarily mean that he did not believe or know Christ to be the Son of God. He was trying to tempt Jesus to prove Himself and to use His power for Himself. After all, 3) we are talking about the “father of lies.”
Anyone else directly on the main topic? This is great to read so far! I think that Father Amorth is right on and that he clearly shows why it is important to ponder and meditate on the primary motive for the Incarnation. These are not just brain games. Luadem Gloriae!
It's always sounded more of a taunt to me -- but I don't read Greek, so I don't know the original.
>> Fascinating, but how does this square with the temptations in the desert, where Satan seems to be addressing Christ conditionally (”IF thou be the Son of God”)? <<
1. You presume the devil’s words would always perfectly reflect the truth of what is in the devil’s heart?
2. Ever hear of a rhetorical question?
...not only that (what fr maximilian wrote), but there’s a further point, here:
Principalities, Dominions, etc., as used in the bible, have traditionally been understood to refer to angels. For every earthly principality (kingdom, nation, etc.), there is held to be a Principality (an angel). Such understandings are quite ancient.
There is a phylogeny of angels, which is medieval in orgin, I believe, but which derives from much more ancient sources:
MESSENGERS OF GOD TO MAN
Guardian angels or Malakh
Archangels: Fulfill important missions to man
Thrones or Ophanim
Cherubim or Chayat (having nothing to do with “Putti” the chubby children of Renaissance art)
Please don’t take it that this is Catholic doctrine, but just that this was how the ancient Christians understood the world. Hebrew Angelology dates back many centuries before Christ; there are 10 choirs of angels in Mainomides’ (sp?) hierarchy. Some (Malakh, Archangels, Principalities, Thrones, Seraphim, Cherubim) can be directly related to ancient Christian angelology, such as Pseudo-Deinysious’s 5th century work. Others (Elohim, Sons of God) are harder to relate, and even a little challenging to post-Isaiah’s radical monotheism.
Correction: Earthly principalities are ruled by archangels, not Principalities.
The nine choirs of angels are recorded in the Slavonic version of the book of Enoch. The Slavonic version was published near or slightly before the birth of Christ.
1. That doesn't explain his motive. If he already knew that Jesus was certainly the Messiah, what's his motive in tempting him? Surely, as the demons fled in Christ's presence because of His authority, Satan knew he couldn't possibly trick God.
2. But they weren't questions, they were commands. "If you are the Son of God, then DO this."
This is pure speculation on my part, but it also makes more sense with regard to the actual temptations. Satan, IMHO, was probing to see if Jesus were just another Jew or the Messiah, Himself. Satan appeals to three very powerful conditions of the Jews of that time:
1. Hunger - if stones could be turned to bread, all of Judea could be fed.
2. Detestation of the Pharisees and Saducees - Publicly casting Himself from the seat of Moses, only to be saved by the angels, would place Him above the hypocritical religious authorities and neutralize their corruption.
3. Hatred of the Roman occupation - Sharing power with Satan over all of Judea would mean the expulsion of the Romans and the establishment of whatever form of government the common Jews desired.
At the same time, if rejected, these temptations would confirm Satan's suspicions of Jesus:
The first temptation would prove if Jesus could perform supernatural miracles. The second temptation would prove if Jesus has authority over the angels. The third temptation would prove if Jesus desired earthly power like any other oppressed Jew of that time. If Satan knew for certain who Jesus was, these temptations would be moot.
Unfortunately for Satan, being up against Christ meant getting answers which turned his own logic against him, by citation of Scripture. When Jesus commanded it, Satan fled, and at that point, it's my opinion that Satan received his confirmation of Who Jesus is.
It's possible that both of our views are correct. It's possible Satan was tested at the beginning with the vision of the Madonna and child, and so knew that God would be incarnate through a Virgin, and was walking the earth at that time. It's also possible Satan didn't know for sure that Jesus was He, since, as the story goes, He was shown to the angels as an infant, not an adult.
In any case, it's a fascinating episode in the life of Christ. I appreciate the discussion.
Maimonides, also known as the Rambam (acronym for Rabbi Moses ben Maimon).
You having an off day? ;-)
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