“All spiritual substances, that is to say, of angels, and human souls, and devils, were made by the Creator innocent and perfectly simple. The fact that some of them turned to evil was an after-effect of their free will. It was by their own choice that they departed from the right way of thinking. If we say that they were so made by the Creator, we say that God is un unjust judge for sending Satan to the fire.
“There are certain heretics who say that matter is without beginning, and that matter is the root, and that the root is power, and an evenly matched power. To this you may fairly reply, ‘Which then is the conquering power? Certainly that of God. Then the vanquished is no longer a match, either in duration or in power.’ Those who say that evil is a substantive thing, know nothing. To God there is no substantive evil, according to His divine freedom from passion; but in us it works with full force and makes itself felt, suggesting all foul concupiscences. It is not mixed up with us, however, as some say, like the mixture of wine with water; it is as corn by itself and tares by themselves, though both are in the same field, as in a house, the thief in one part, and the master in another.” ~St. Macarius the Egyptian
To me it seems contradictory to say “spiritual substances” since we generally think of substances as being material rather than spiritual. But it is also part of the definition of substance that it can mean the essence of a thing, or its fundamental characteristics. So I guess that if we use that definition, it is appropriate to call spiritual things, spiritual substances. Still, spiritual beings might be more appropriate. But for this post, we will stick with the terminology of St. Macarius.
Categories of Spiritual Substances
St. Macarius puts the spiritual substances into three categories: angels, souls, and devils. But like most other things, every member of a category is not equal or identical to all others. We know that in the case of angels, all religions have indicated that there is a hierarchy of these spiritual beings. The same is true of devils. For starters, there are the devils that used to be angels and dwelt in Heaven. Then there are the offspring of those devils who have never been to Heaven and are, therefore, lesser devils, but often more evil because they don’t remember what a life in Heaven was like. In addition to that, we can assume there is a complex hierarchy of devils and demons just as with the angels.
The third category is human souls. Here things are not so obvious. Is their a hierarchy of souls? Is one soul more important, or of a higher rank than another? I have heard of no evidence that there is. An awakened soul is better than a dormant one, but that isn’t a hierarchy. And we often here of “old souls” in spiritual groups found on social media. But since souls are spirits and spirits exist outside the limitations of time and space, no soul can claim to be any older than any other. Being spirits, souls were not born and they don’t die, they just are. Continue reading “Spiritual Substances, Spiritual Beings”