Tag Archives: Greatest Commandment of all

Sunday Devotional: WWG1WGA

Mark 12:28B-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.

The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
‘He is One and there is no other than he.’
And ‘to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself’
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him,
“You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Throughout the three years of Christ Jesus’ public ministry on Earth, the Hebrew élites of scribes, rabbis and priests (especially Pharisees) continuously doubted, probed, and tested Him with questions that were meant to trick and entrap. The above passage from Mark 12 was such an instance, as is Matthew 22 which chronicles another test when the Pharisees asked Jesus “which is the great commandment in the law?”.

In both instances, Jesus answered that the first and greatest of all God’s commandments is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

As Mark 12 recounts, afterwards no one among the Hebrew scribes dared ask Jesus any more questions because they knew He is incontestible, and that Moses himself had said the same thing in Deutoronomy 6:2-6:

Moses spoke to the people, saying:
“Fear the LORD, your God,
and keep, throughout the days of your lives,
all his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you,
and thus have long life.
Hear then, Israel, and be careful to observe them,
that you may grow and prosper the more,
in keeping with the promise of the LORD, the God of your fathers,
to give you a land flowing with milk and honey.

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!
Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God,
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your strength.
Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today.”

With unassailable reasoning and crystal clarity, our Lord clears away the thicket of Judaic laws and rules that had accumulated and encrusted through the centuries by getting to the heart of the matter.

Think about it: If we love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with every ounce of our strength, then we would obey and be true to His other laws and commandments for the simple reason that we love Him.

The Ten (Commandments) follow the One (Greatest Commandment), logically and naturally.

To borrow a current motto: WWG1WGA!

See also the opposite of the Greatest Commandment of all, “Sunday Devotional: Narcissism, the first and greatest sin“, and this post on why Jews don’t believe in Jesus the Christ.

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

~Éowyn

Better than Drudge Report. Check out Whatfinger News, the Internet’s conservative frontpage founded by ex-military!

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Sunday Devotional: Whoever wishes to come after me must deny yourself

Mark 8:27-35

Jesus and his disciples set out
for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.
Along the way he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that I am?”
They said in reply,
“John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others one of the prophets.”
And he asked them,
“But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said to him in reply,
“You are the Christ.”
Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

He began to teach them
that the Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed, and rise after three days.
He spoke this openly.
Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,
rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the gospel will save it.”

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself”.

The above reading from Mark 8 wasn’t the only time when Jesus warned us about narcissism — the excessive love of self that expresses itself as selfishness, self-preoccupation, entitlement, and pride. In Mark 9:33-35, too, chastising the Apostles who were arguing who among them was the greatest, our Lord said in no uncertain terms:

“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”

The late author Christopher Lasch, in The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in An Age of Diminishing Expectations, maintained that narcissism is the disorder of our time. Indeed, the decade of the 1990s is given the sobriquet of the “Me Decade.”

Some are of the opinion that contemporary Western culture itself is narcissistic:

  • Psychiatrist Richard Fitzgibbons observed that the “predominant character weakness in our culture is that of selfishness”.
  • James F. Masterson, M.D., described American society as “signifying the virtual apotheosis of the interested self.”
  • Psychiatrist Alexander Lowen, in Narcissism: Denial of the True Self, said that in his forty years as a therapist, he (and others in the psychological profession ) had seen a marked change in the personality problems of those who came to him for consultation. Instead of the neurotic guilts, anxieties, phobias, and obsessions of earlier times, Lowen increasingly encountered narcissistic individuals saddled with depression, a lack of feeling, an inner emptiness, and a deep sense of frustration and unfulfillment.

Narcissism being “the disorder of our time” is due in no small measure to the increasing secularization, irreligiosity, and outright satanism of contemporary culture. As Fr. Juan José Gallego, the exorcist for the archdiocese of Barcelona, Spain, explains, the Devil’s favorite sin is pride.

See “Satanism as a new political movement in America” and “Satanism is now a cool thing in California, esp. Hollywood“.

C.S. Lewis, too, called pride “the great sin” and wrote that “it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

Like all narcissists, Lucifer’s choice to love himself more than God only condemns himself to misery. As poet John Milton so perfectly captured the fallen angel’s eternal misery in Paradise Lost:

Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell.

And what’s the antidote to narcissism?

Once again, Jesus had already given us the answer:

To love God with our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole soul, and with all our strength.

May the peace and love of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ be with you this glorious Sunday,

~Eowyn

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Sunday Devotional: The radical departure from Judaism

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem
gathered around Jesus,
they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals
with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.
—For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews,
do not eat without carefully washing their hands,
keeping the tradition of the elders.
And on coming from the marketplace
they do not eat without purifying themselves.
And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed,
the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds. —
So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him,
“Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders
but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”
He responded,
“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:
This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.

You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”

He summoned the crowd again and said to them,
“Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.

“From within people, from their hearts,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.”

The word “covenant” means a binding agreement; a compact; a contract.

Jesus, again and again, said that He came to make a new covenant:

“This cup that is poured out for you
is the new covenant in my Blood,
which will be shed for you.” –Luke 22:20

St. Paul, who was a Pharisee — a member of the ancient Jewish sect that emphasized strict interpretation and observance of the Mosaic law — further emphasized in Hebrew 8:13 that:

In speaking of a new covenant,
He makes the first one obsolete.

The above passage from Mark 7 makes clear that, in making a new covenant, Jesus is a radical departure from Judaism, which had become mouldy and encrusted with the writings and sayings of men (rabbis) — torturous instructions on dietary laws (Kashrut), personal hygiene, and day-to-day life, much like the Koran. Collectively known as the Talmud, those writings and sayings of men came to (and still do) supersede the Torah (Christians’ Old Testament) in importance.

But with a few chosen words, Jesus sweeps aside the minutiae of the Talmud and gets to the gravamen of the matter: It is what is in our hearts that counts, not meticulous observations of dietary dos and don’ts.

To do otherwise — to cling to “human precepts” and outward shows of dos and don’ts, while our hearts are evil — is to be hypocrites. And for being called out the pretentious hypocrites that they were, the Pharisees would nurse their hatred and malice, until they had their revenge at last on Golgotha.

Jesus, I love you with my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole mind, and with all my strength.

May the peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

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Sunday Devotional: An Ode to the Creator

Psalm 139:13-16, 17-18, 1-10

You formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works!
My very self you know.
My bones are not hidden from you,
When I was being made in secret,
fashioned in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw me unformed;
in your book all are written down;
my days were shaped, before one came to be.

How precious to me are your designs, O God;
how vast the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the sands . . . .

25

LORD, you have probed me, you know me:
you know when I sit and stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
You sift through my travels and my rest;
with all my ways you are familiar.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
LORD, you know it all.
Behind and before you encircle me
and rest your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
far too lofty for me to reach.
Where can I go from your spirit?
From your presence, where can I flee?
If I ascend to the heavens, you are there;
if I lie down in Sheol, there you are.
If I take the wings of dawn
and dwell beyond the sea,
Even there your hand guides me,
your right hand holds me fast.


And to think this awesome Creator loves us, you and me, every one of us.
He loves us so much that He humbled Himself by becoming flesh, endured unimaginable torture, to willingly die for our redemption.

God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, I love you with my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole mind, and with all my strength.
May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,
~Eowyn
See also “Stunning new study found human and all animal species today originated only 100,000 to 200,000 years ago“.

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Sunday Devotional: He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him

Mark 1:21-28

Then they came to Capernaum,
and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said,
“Quiet! Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

Jesus cast out demons
Only one of the following three can be true:

  1. The author of the Gospel of Mark was lying.
  2. Jesus was delusional in believing there are demons and that He has the ability to cast out demons.
  3. Mark was telling the truth — Jesus did drive out demons. That makes any priest or minister who refuses to address this subject a coward at best or, at worst, a liar by omission.

“The finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist. (La plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu’il n’existe pas.)” -Charles Baudelaire, Le Joueur généreux, 1864.
The pusillanimous avoidance of all mention of devil, demons, and Hell by too many priests and ministers may account for why Americans increasingly no longer believe in the Devil.
A 2013 Harris Poll found that although a majority (74%) of U.S. adults still said they believed in God, that’s down from the 82% in earlier years. Nearly one-fourth of Americans (23%) identified themselves as “not at all” religious, nearly double the 12% of six years ago in 2007. Belief in miracles, Heaven and other religious teachings also declined, including:

  • 68% believed that Jesus is God or the Son of God, down from 72%;
  • 65% believed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, down from 70%;
  • Only 58% (fewer than 6 out of every 10 Americans) believed in the devil and Hell, down from 62%.

How curious it is that while 68% believed that Jesus is God, only 58% believed in the devil, which would imply that those 10% think our Lord Jesus Christ was lying or hallucinating when He exorcised demons in Gospel passages like Mark 1:21-28. And these are Christians!
How can we armor ourselves against the Devil if we don’t even believe he exists? No wonder Americans increasingly are debauched and depraved. Increasingly, Satanism is a cool thing. See:

The real irony is, as recounted in Mark 1:21-28, the Devil and other demons most certainly believe in and fear Christ our Lord:

“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

In fact, we know from countless first-person testimonies that just invoking the name of Jesus Christ repels demons. And did you know that Richard Gallagher, M.D., a board-certified psychiatrist and a professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College, says demonic possession is real?
What’s the best defense against the Devil and demonic possession?

Put on the armor of God; keep pure your body, mind, and soul; and be true to the First and Greatest Commandment of All (Mark 12:30):

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

Jesus, I trust in You!
~Éowyn

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Sunday Devotional: Who are our 'neighbors' and our 'enemies'? How are we to 'love' them?

In Matthew 22:36-39, a Pharisee asked Jesus, “Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?”

Jesus said to him, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbor as yourself.

More than 14 years ago, after a journey that took some 10 years, I returned to Him. Since my coming home, I can honestly say I have loved the Lord, my God, with my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole mind, and with all my strength.

But, knowing all the foibles of fallen humanity — foibles of which I amply partake — and the darkness of the human heart, I have not been able to “love my neighbor as myself.” Knowing my own wretchedness, I don’t even love myself with my whole heart, my whole mind, and my whole soul!

To love my neighbor as myself is difficult enough. But in Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus tells us we must do even more:

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

The above passages from Matthew 22 and Matthew 5 leave us with these questions:

  • Who are my “neighbors”?
  • What does “loving” my neighbors mean?
  • Who are my “enemies”?
  • What does “loving” my enemies mean?

Alas, most priests, if not all of the priests whom I’ve heard, don’t define or explain those terms — which is puzzling because the answers are given, of course, by Christ Himself.

In Luke 10:29-37, in response to the question “And who is my neighbor”, our Lord replied with the parable of the good Samaritan:

“A man fell victim to robbers as he went down to Jerusalem from Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise, a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Note that Jesus did not identify the robbers as our “neighbors”. Our “neighbor” is the man who “fell victim to robbers” who himself had done no wrong.
In Leviticus 19:17-18, it is said:

“You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

And so, Luke 10 and Leviticus 19 give us the definitions we need:

  1. From Luke 10’s parable of the good Samaritan, we learn that our “neighbor” is anyone we encounter in our lives, even strangers, who find themselves in foul circumstances through no fault of their own.
  2. From the parable of the good Samaritan, we learn that to “love our neighbor” means to treat those who are in need “with mercy,” that is, with kindness and compassion, and to provide assistance.
  3. But the “neighbor” in the parable of the good Samaritan was a man who fell victim to robbers through no fault of his own. What about people who find themselves in foul circumstances through their own fault? This is where “love your enemies” comes in.
  4. Our “enemies,” therefore, differ from our “neighbors” in that “enemies” are those who knowingly do wrong.
  5. That, in turn, implies that, unlike our neighbors, we are not to treat our enemies — those who knowingly do wrong — with mercy, kindness, compassion, and assistance.
  6. But we must still “love our enemies”. So how are we to love our enemies? As Leviticus 19:17-18 instructs, to love our enemies means that:
    1. We “rebuke” them: Rebuke is defined as “to criticize sharply“.
    2. We bear no hatred for them in our hearts.
    3. We do not seek revenge: Revenge is not the same as to mete out justice — revenge is defined as retaliation in kind or degree; to mete out justice is defined as “the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments”. (Just is defined as “morally upright or good”.) Unlike the impartial meting out of justice, “revenge” has an emotional component, which is where “hatred” comes in.
    4. We do not bear a grudge: Once justice is rendered, we let it go.
    5. We pray for them — that they repent and return to God.

Recognizing the above definitions, to “love” our “neighbors” and our “enemies” is a task that is neither simple nor easy. When we falter, just remember this:
Jesus loves us this much
Offered in humility and love,
~Eowyn

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Valentine's Day and the meaning of true love

Today is Valentine’s Day — the day when TV commercials nag men to buy roses, candy, and jewelry for their wives or girl friends.
But did you know that the day is named after a real person, St. Valentine?
At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of February 14th. But the man for whom Valentine’s Day is named most likely was a priest at Rome who, in the second half of the 3rd century, was arrested and killed by the Emperor Claudius for secretly marrying Christian couples during a time of persecution in the Church. Legend has it that while he was imprisoned and waiting for his martyrdom, he sent letters to his fellow Christians signing them, “From Your Valentine.” (See joandarc’s post, “St. Valentine“)
The popular customs associated with Valentine’s Day probably came from a conventional belief in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on 14 February, i.e. half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair. Thus in Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules we read:

For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.

For this reason the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and as a proper occasion for writing love letters and sending lovers’ tokens. [Source: Catholic Encyclopedia]
So what is love?
I can find no better definition and description of true love than the words of St. Paul:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it is not pompous,
It is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered,
it does not brood over injury,

it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

And here’s the true meaning of Valentine’s Day:
God's Valentine to us John 3-16
The Greatest Commandment of all is to love God with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole soul, and with all your strength; and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
May the love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you today!
~Eowyn

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Sunday Devotional: How to fight for what is right

Luke 18:9-14

Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity —
greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
for whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Today’s reading is a sober and much-needed reminder of the difference between being righteous and being self-righteous.
Here are the definitions from Oxford Dictionaries:

  • righteous: A person who is “morally right or justifiable”; “morally good; virtuous”.
  • self-righteous: “Having or characterized by a certainty, especially an unfounded one, that one is totally correct or morally superior.

Jesus’ admonition in Luke 18 is about being self-righteous.
It’s an admonition that I especially must take to heart because I have this daily soap-box of Fellowship of the Minds.
warrior
Yes, we are to fight for what is right. But when you and I get all puffed out with righteous moral indignation, be sure that we’re not being self-righteous, for our Lord is “a God of justice, who knows no favorites.” (Sirach 35:12)
So what’s the antidote to self-righteousness?
Three things:

  1. Be sure that when we are on that moral high horse, our cause and our justice are God’s cause and justice.
  2. Humility: Don’t imagine that being righteous makes us morally superior or better than others.
  3. Love: The right kind of love. Not love of self — getting all puffy and grandiose that we are morally better than others — but love of God.

It’s always narcissism: our stumbling block is always narcissism.
Remember that the Greatest Commandment of all is to love God with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind, and with all our strength.
He is our lodestar. Always.
Jesus loves us this much
Fix our eyes not on ourselves, but on Him — while we battle for what is good, and right, and true, and just.
And then perhaps someday, when it’s time for us to go, we too can say what St. Paul said:

2 Timothy 4:7-8

I have competed well;
I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.

May the peace and love and righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,
~Eowyn

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Sunday Devotional: Narcissism, the first and greatest sin

James 3:16

Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every foul practice….

Mark 9:30, 33-35

Jesus and his disciples…came to Capernaum
and, once inside the house,
he began to ask them,
“What were you arguing about on the way?”
But they remained silent.
They had been discussing among themselves on the way
who was the greatest.
Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,
“If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”

The above two Scripture readings are both warnings about Narcissism, the excessive love of self that expresses itself as selfishness, self-preoccupation, entitlement, and pride. The latter is “an excessively high opinion of oneself; conceit; arrogance” and as such, is rooted in an excessive love-of-self, which is narcissism.

Indeed, in a recent interview, Father Juan José Gallego, the exorcist for the archdiocese of Barcelona, Spain, says the Devil’s favorite sin is pride. C.S. Lewis, too, called pride “the great sin” and wrote that “it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

In Sin of the Angel, Thomistic philosopher Jacques Maritain more fully described what happened.

According to Maritain, the instant after an Angel is created, he must choose either to love God more than himself, or he refuses the grace with which he initially was gifted and elects to love his own self more. In the case of Lucifer, the second choice was made. By “a disordered act of the will—knowing that he does evil and willing evil”—Lucifer falls in love with himself, despite knowing full well God is infinitely greater than all created beings, such that every similarity he may have with God “fades before the dissimilarity.” Furthermore, Lucifer also perfectly understands that he must love God above all, a love that requires him to submit his will at “whatever sacrifice it may impose on a creature’s nature.”

Despite knowing all that, Lucifer still selects to love “without measure” his own grandeur and, in so doing, effectively elevates himself to be “like God.”

The sin of narcissism of Lucifer, therefore, was the very first sin. It was also the sin of our first parents.

After God created the first man and woman, Genesis recounts, they were settled in “a garden eastward in Eden,” an earthly paradise that amply provided for their needs, being lush with “every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food.” Our first parents were told they were free to eat from any of the trees save one, the tree of knowledge of good and bad. But God counseled them in no uncertain terms that if they were to disobey his command, they “shalt surely die.”

But the Devil appeared in the form of a serpent and said to Eve, “You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.”

The sin of Adam and Eve was thus more one of pride than of simple disobedience. Imagine the overweening conceit that could prompt creatures to breach the explicit command of their Creator—that inconceivably awesome being who made the universe, who is the uncaused cause, the alpha and the omega, omniscient, omnipotent, infinite, with no beginning and no end.
James 3:16 warns that “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice,” as seen in the consequences of Lucifer’s and our first parents’ sins.

We are familiar with the consequences of Adam and Eve’s Fall. In the case of Lucifer, Maritain observed that when the seraphim commits his first sin, “his interior order would have been shattered.” Henceforth, “he has no rule other than himself; and an endless proliferation of all sorts of other sins would have followed thereafter.” Truly, as Ecclesiasticus 10:13 records, “pride is the beginning of sin.”

And so, from his first sin of grandiose narcissism, other sins rapidly followed: pride, deception, envy, contempt, and eventual rebellion. Coveting God’s powers and perquisites, Lucifer is consumed with jealousy because, notwithstanding his own magnificence, he knows how little he is in comparison with his Creator. Towards the remaining angels who freely choose fidelity to their Creator, Lucifer has only disdain, holding himself to be “better than the other Angels, whose obedience he contemns.” And so Lucifer rebels. For as Milton explained in Paradise Lost, “To reign is worth ambition though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n.”

Both Maritain and Thomas Aquinas emphasized that in choosing evil “in full light,” Lucifer reveals to us the frightening and infinite power of free will. Having elected evil with complete knowledge, the seraphim has no excuse for his disobedience and accordingly is denied redemption. Nor does he ask for forgiveness: Having made his choice, he harbors no regrets. As Maritain put it, once the angel loses his innocence, “he does nothing but sin” and, in so doing, “freely fixes himself in evil.”

But like all narcissists, Lucifer’s choice to love himself more than God condemns himself to misery. As Milton so perfectly captured it: Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell.”

And what’s the antidote to narcissism?

The antidote is the Greatest Commandment of all:

To love God with our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole soul, and with all our strength.

For this is how much He loves us, wretched little beings that we are:

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

~Éowyn

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